Clubs join Braves in pursuit of Burnett
Wren, free-agent righty's representative hold first meeting
LAS VEGAS -- Braves general manager Frank Wren knew there would come a time when the Yankees would join in the active pursuit of A.J. Burnett. Thus, maybe it shouldn't be too surprising to realize that he isn't showing any definite sign of panic.
Amid speculation that the Yankees were preparing an attractive offer for Burnett, Wren met Tuesday afternoon with the free-agent pitcher's agent, Darek Braunecker. Both sides emerged from the meeting with a sense that there is still a mutual interest.
"We had a chance to sit down face-to-face for the first time," said Wren, who previously only had phone conversations with Braunecker. "I thought it went well."
While the Braves didn't improve the guaranteed four-year offer they made last week, Braunecker seemed pleased with the prolonged dialogue that he shared with Wren.
"There is mutual interest [between Burnett and the Braves]," said Braunecker, while also indicating that he planned to spend a portion of the evening hours meeting with the Yankees for the second time in less than 24 hours.
After a late Monday night meeting between the two parties, there were reports that the Yankees were preparing to financially trump the four-year, $60 million offer that the Braves provided Burnett last week.
But it's still unclear if the Yankees will be willing to include the fifth-year vesting option that the Braves have offered. Braunecker still contends that Burnett will be able to land a guaranteed five-year offer if he desires.
At the same time, Braunecker said the Yankees and Braves shouldn't be considered the only viable suitors. The Cardinals may factor into the equation within the next 24 hours, and it's believed the Orioles, Blue Jays and another unidentified team will be among the other teams bidding for the 31-year-old right-hander.
"We're anticipating something additionally may happen today with another club that's at least kind of kept a toe in the water," Braunecker said. "Their interest is contingent on something else that they've got working. If that falls apart, we anticipate them coming in and probably making this a really interesting situation over the next 24 hours."
Because of the flurry of recent attention, Braunecker doesn't believe Burnett will sign before the Winter Meetings conclude on Thursday. But at the same time, he says his client's future doesn't necessarily have to be determined after Sabathia signs with the Yankees, Dodgers or any other potential suitor.
Sabathia has made it known that he'd like to pitch for the Dodgers, and they certainly have made it known that they have definite interest in the big left-hander. But multiple Major League sources remain skeptical about their ability to find the funds necessary to better the monstrous offer the Yankees have made.
Obviously, the Braves are hoping that the Yankees win the bidding for Sabathia. If they don't, they'd certainly have the capability of providing Burnett an offer that Atlanta wouldn't be willing to trump.
"You have to do what is proper and apply it at the level that you can do it," said Wren, while explaining that he's not going to allow his plans to be significantly altered by actions taken by the Yankees and Dodgers.
While acknowledging that his client could receive a more substantial offer if he chooses to sign after Sabathia, Braunecker said that Burnett won't necessarily wait for the big left-hander to choose his next employer.
"None of this is contingent on what CC or anybody else does," Braunecker said. "If the right deal presents itself from the right club, we'll be prepared to act."
Along with continuing his pursuit of Burnett, Wren spent a portion of Tuesday talking to six different teams about potential trades and dispelling a number of reported rumors.
While the Braves have an interest in Rick Ankiel, they shot down a report that indicated they talked to the Cardinals about exchanging him for closer Mike Gonzalez. Another report that indicated Atlanta had talked about trading Blaine Boyer to St. Louis for Joe Mather also proved to be unfounded.
Providing reason for frustration, Wren and Royals general manager Dayton Moore were also once again forced to dispel yet another trade rumor involving Jeff Francoeur and Zach Greinke.
While a number of names have been brought up by scouts in the lobby, the Braves haven't even discussed trading Francoeur or Boyer this week.
There was also some talk about the Braves being interested in Gold Glove outfielder Nate McLouth. But the Pirates have provided every indication that they would ask for a significant compensation package in exchange for McLouth.
"There are certain guys that certainly we would need to get what we in our minds believed was an overpay," Pirates general manager Neal Huntington said. "Those are deals that you struggle to ask for. You don't want to get a reputation of always asking for too much, but there are certain players that are tougher to move. There are certain players that we are trying to build around."
Mark Bowman is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.