It's a quarterback driven mailbag this week discussing the top quarterbacks from Florida in this…
One Final Attempt At Burnett Before Moving On
The number one priority for J.P. Ricciardi on Monday afternoon will be to sign pitcher A.J. Burnett. The right-hander had a four-year offer from the Cardinals sitting on his fax machine for four days, and did not sign. Sources tell InsideTheDome.com that Burnett is hoping the Nationals come through with a competitive offer. "His wife prefers for her husband to sign with Washington" a source familiar with the negotiations told InsideTheDome. "She does not like planes and would not be comfortable living in Toronto or St. Louis for five years." We are told Burnett is taking his wife's concern seriously and hopes Jim Bowden, the General Manager of the Nationals, makes him a solid long-term offer. Baseball officials informed InsideTheDome on Saturday morning that Bowden will be receiving his budget for the 2006 season on Monday morning – just in time for the winter meetings. Bowden hopes he has flexibility in his 2006 budget to make a serious push for Burnett. "If his wife didn't have those concerns, he would have been a Blue Jay last week" one baseball official told us Saturday evening. "A.J. is a family man and is putting his family in front of himself at this point." Do not view Karen Burnett as the evil wife trying to dictate where her husband goes. Karen Burnett wants to be within driving distance of the Baltimore area, where she is originally from. Attempts to bring the Orioles into the bidding have failed, since the Orioles refuse to offer five-years for Burnett's services. Another interest factor that teams are thinking about is the arbitration deadline being just days away, and logic dictates for the clubs to wait for the December 7 deadline to pass, and therefore not lose a draft choice. The Blue Jays are already down a second round pick from the B.J. Ryan signing, and if they sign Burnett before December 7, they would also lose their third round pick. It's highly unlikely the Marlins will offer Burnett salary arbitration. Barry Zito Watch After learning that Barry Zito will be shopped in Dallas these winter meetings, the Blue Jays General Manager has shifted his focus from Burnett to Zito. Some believe Ricciardi thinks he has a good enough chance to land Zito, while others believe he is using the situation for leverage with Burnett. InsideTheDome mentioned yesterday that Mets General Manager Omar Minaya is targetting Zito as his No.1 target, and baseball officials believe the Jays will not outbid the Mets. The Blue Jays expect to make everybody available for Zito, including outfielder Vernon Wells. "I expect J.P. to focus most of the day Monday on signing Burnett, and if he senses he's running into a brick wall, will turn his focus to landing Zito. Being Dangled J.P. Ricciardi is going to be talking plenty of trades this coming week. The name that will be mentioned most often will be pitcher Miguel Batista. The Blue Jays would like to move his salary off the books for the 2006 season and increase their financial flexibility. Batista, a free-agent after the 2006 season, is scheduled to make just under $5 million this coming season. Another player Ricciardi would like to move is infielder Eric Hinske. The biggest need for the Jays right now is to find more offense in their lineup, and would like to move Hinske in order to free up salary and their own options. Second baseman Orlando Hudson is also a trade candidate. The Blue Jays have a surplus of infielders, including two former first round picks in Aaron Hill and Russ Adams. Ricciardi would not be afraid to trade pitcher David Bush or outfielder Alexis Rios if either or both bring back a strong middle of the order bat. Left-hander Ted Lilly is another pitcher Ricciardi hopes to trade. "J.P. has soured on Ted, and would move him if he finds the opportunity" said our baseball official. Numbers Game: Second baseman Orlando Hudson, first baseman Shea Hillenbrand, left-hander Ted Lilly and Scott Downs, right-hander Pete Walker, and infielder John McDonald are all eligible for salary arbitration. The combined salary of those players during the 2005 season was $8,435,000. Only Shea Hillenbrand ($3.87M), and Ted Lilly ($3.1M) made over $1 million last season. The Blue Jays have twelve players under contract for next season and those salaries are worth approximately $43,775,000. The Jays have eight more players that are under their control and will make approximately $300,000 - $400,000 in 2006.
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