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Epstein mulling Burnett

By Amalie Benjamin
Globe Staff / November 20, 2008
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Yesterday's deal that landed reliever Ramon Ramírez from the Royals for outfielder Coco Crisp doesn't necessarily mean the Red Sox are satisfied with their pitching.

With that in mind, general manager Theo Epstein spoke with Darek Braunecker, the agent for free agent righthander A.J. Burnett, Tuesday, according to a major league source.

While a contract offer might not be imminent, the Sox have serious interest in Burnett. But they are far from alone.

A number of New York media outlets have reported that the Yankees are also heavily involved in the pursuit of Burnett, who became available when he opted out of the final two years and $24 million of his five-year, $55 million contract with Toronto. And Toronto is reportedly bidding to bring Burnett back.

Burnett's injury history - which has led to just three seasons of 174-plus innings in his career - is not a major concern after he made 34 starts in 2008, going 18-10 with a 4.07 ERA and 231 strikeouts.

Interest in Baldelli?

The Crisp trade leaves the Sox with a hole in their outfield rotation. They will explore deals for a righthanded bat off the bench who can protect them in center field. Most of the Red Sox prospects are lefthanded hitters. One possibility the Sox are exploring is Rocco Baldelli, the Rhode Island native and former Rays outfielder/DH.

Mussina retiring?

The Yankees expect to enter next season without 20-game winner Mike Mussina. FoxSports.com reported that Mussina, 39, intends to retire and will make the move official this week . . . Don Wakamatsu, 45, became the first Asian-American manager in history when he was hired by the Mariners. "This is something I've looked forward to for a long time," Wakamatsu said . . . Lew Wolff has a way to shorten the postseason: Make the first round best-of-one. "I'd make it one-game-and-you're-out for the first series," the Oakland owner said. Begun in 1995, the Division Series has been a best-of-five format. "I've always thought a one-game wild card [playoff] would be a pretty good idea," said Bob DuPuy, Major League Baseball's chief operating officer . . . MLB won't increase spending next season for the first time in four years because of the deteriorating economy, DuPuy said.

Material from wire services was used in this report.

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