- Jerry Crasnick, ESPN.com MLB Sr. Writer
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LAS VEGAS -- The New York Yankees, making a hard late charge to beat out the Atlanta Braves for A.J. Burnett, offered the free-agent right-hander a guaranteed five-year contract Wednesday, a baseball source told ESPN.com.
The proposed deal is worth about $85 million, the source said.
Burnett's agent, Darek Braunecker, was believed to be seeking a deal approaching Carlos Zambrano's five-year, $91.5 million contract with the Chicago Cubs. Sources said Braunecker and New York general manager Brian Cashman were still engaged in discussions late into the evening Wednesday at the Bellagio hotel in an effort to address final contract details. Several New York players have also been calling Burnett and lobbying him to choose the Yankees over the Braves.
Burnett is moving closer to making a decision on his next destination, a source told ESPN.com, and a deal could be in place as soon as Thursday.
The Braves offered Burnett a four-year deal with a fifth-year option worth a guaranteed $60-65 million before the meetings. FoxSports.com reported that the Braves have since increased their offer to five years and $80 million, but ESPN.com couldn't confirm if that's the case.
The Yankees, intent on upgrading their starting rotation, agreed in principle to a seven-year, $161 million contract with CC Sabathia early Wednesday. If the Yankees can sign Burnett, indications are that they will turn their attention to former Milwaukee Brewer Ben Sheets, who will probably sign a one- or two-year deal after suffering from elbow problems late in the 2008 season.
The Yankees have also expressed interest in Derek Lowe, but are looking for a less expensive alternative if they have indeed invested almost $250 million in Sabathia and Burnett.
Jerry Crasnick covers baseball for ESPN.com.
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