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Pirates notebook: Burnett undecided about pitching in 2014

Christopher Horner | Tribune-Review
Pirates pitcher AJ Burnett is introduced prior to the National League wild-card game Tuesday, Oct. 1, 2013, at PNC Park.

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'American Coyotes' Series

Traveling by Jeep, boat and foot, Tribune-Review investigative reporter Carl Prine and photojournalist Justin Merriman covered nearly 2,000 miles over two months along the border with Mexico to report on coyotes — the human traffickers who bring illegal immigrants into the United States. Most are Americans working for money and/or drugs. This series reports how their operations have a major impact on life for residents and the environment along the border — and beyond.

By Travis Sawchik and Rob Biertempfel
Tuesday, Nov. 5, 2013, 1:21 p.m.
 

A month has passed since A.J. Burnett last pitched, but the free agent is still undecided whether he will return. Free agents could begin signing with clubs at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.

“A.J. remains undecided,” his agent, Darek Braunecker, wrote in an email to the Tribune-Review on Tuesday.

Burnett led National League starting pitchers in both strikeout rate (9.8 strikeouts per nine innings) and groundball rate (56.5 percent) in 2013 but was not extended a qualifying offer by the Pirates. The one-year qualifying offer of $14.1 million guarantees clubs draft-pick compensation should the player sign elsewhere.

The qualifying offer figures to be below market value for quality free-agent starting pitching this offseason, though perhaps too high a price for the Pirates.

Burnett has indicated he would either pitch for the Pirates in 2014 or retire, though should the 36-year-old test the free-agent market, he could receive lucrative short-term offers.

McCutchen, Hurdle finalists for awards

For the second year in a row, Pirates outfielder Andrew McCutchen is a finalist for National League MVP.

The four major awards were voted on at the end of the regular season by members of the Baseball Writers Association of America. Winners will be revealed next week during hour-long shows on MLB Network: rookies Monday, managers Tuesday, Cy Young on Wednesday and MVP on Thursday.

Last year, McCutchen finished third. This year, he's a finalist with Diamondbacks first baseman Paul Goldschmidt and Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina.

Clint Hurdle, who completed his third season with the Pirates, is a finalist for NL Manager of the Year. The other two finalists are Fredi Gonzalez of the Braves and Don Mattingly of the Dodgers.

Tanner Awards banquet

The Pirates will be well-represented at the seventh annual Chuck Tanner Awards Banquet. The event will be held at 6 p.m. Nov. 16 at the Rivers Club, Downtown.

Team owner Bob Nutting will receive the Chuck Tanner Memorial Award, given to someone who helps advance baseball in Pittsburgh. Hurdle will be recognized as major league manager of the year. Long time Pirates employee Sally O'Leary will receive the inaugural Distinguished Woman in Baseball Award. Pirates broadcaster and former relief pitcher Kent Tekulve is the Lifetime Achievement Award winner.

Tickets are $180 apiece and are available at chucktannerbanquet.com or by calling 412-471-6210. Proceeds will go the Pittsburgh Rotary Club.

Travis Sawchik and Rob Biertempfel are staff writers for Trib Total Media. Reach Sawchik at tsawchik@tribweb.com or via Twitter @Sawchik_Trib. Reach Biertempfel at rbiertempfel@tribweb.com or via Twitter @BiertempfelTrib.

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