It isn't known how far talks have progressed, but top Blue Jays executive Tony LaCava was spotted this week watching the Phillies' Double-A Reading team, an indication things are heating up.
The Toronto Globe and Mail reported that the Dodgers also were pursuing Burnett. However, it appears that talks with the Phillies may be more serious. Philadelphia is also reportedly eyeing Mariners left-hander Erik Bedard.
Burnett, 9-8 with a 5.23 ERA, has a complicated contract whereby he can opt out at year's end, which is the most likely scenario. However, should he falter badly or become injured, he can continue with a contract that is to pay him $24 million over the next two years, an option that could deter some teams from taking him. He also has a limited no-trade provision in his $55 million contract.
Burnett has said he would welcome a trade with "open arms'' to the Cubs, but their acquisition of Rich Harden from the A's seems to eliminate them as a potential suitor.
The Phillies have at least three good prospects at Reading -- catcher Lou Marson (.323), center fielder Greg Golson (.299) and pitcher Carlos Carrasco (5-7, 4.18).
The Phillies made a push for C.C. Sabathia but couldn't match the Brewers' stacked farm system and four-prospect offer, highlighted by top hitting prospect Matt LaPorta. Philadelphia's lead the NL East has been cut to 1½ games, thanks to a six-game winning streak by the New York Mets.
Phillies starters are only 31-31 with a 4.40 ERA, which is 10th best in the National League.