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A.J. Burnett declines player option with Phillies, becomes a free agent

The right-hander is now a free agent and hopes to pitch for a contender next season.

Bob Stanton-USA TODAY Sports

A.J. Burnett has declined his option with the Philadelphia Phillies and is now a free agent, the team announced Monday night.

Burnett held a $12.75 million player option for the 2015 season but has decided to enter free agency instead. Some speculated that Burnett might choose to retire (he toyed with the same decision last offseason), yet according to Keith Law of ESPN.com, the veteran right-hander is hoping to sign with a contender this winter.

The 37-year-old Burnett battled through a hernia injury for much of the 2014 campaign, but still made 34 starts for the Phillies, marking the seventh straight season that he has reached the 30-start plateau. He finished with a 4.59 ERA and 4.14 FIP over 213⅔ innings, striking out 190 batters and walking 96.

A 16-year veteran, Burnett rebuilt his career after signing with the Pirates in 2012. In Pittsburgh for two seasons, Burnett posted a 3.41 ERA in 393⅓ innings, which made him a coveted commodity in free agency last winter.

Now Burnett is again on the open market, and considering his consistency over the past few years, the righty could be a smart addition for a contender looking to upgrade its rotation without paying top dollar for a free-agent starter.