Source: Burnett to pitch again in 2014
After keeping the Pirates and the baseball world waiting for nearly the entire offseason, veteran free agent A.J. Burnett has decided to pitch in 2014, a source close to the situation told the Tribune-Review on Tuesday. Burnett was considering retirement.
Burnett's decision to return does not mean he will limit himself to pitching for the Pirates, though Burnett indicated that was his preference last season. The 37-year-old right-hander led the National League in groundball rate and strikeout rate last season, showing no signs of diminishing skills. The Phillies and Orioles also have reportedly expressed interest in Burnett, who makes his offseason home in Maryland.
“He's made the decision he is going to play,” said a source, speaking on the condition of anonymity. “I suspect he is going to open himself up to the market.”
Burnett earned $16.5 million last season in the final year of his contract, though the Yankees paid $8 million of his salary as a condition of the 2012 trade that brought him to Pittsburgh. Burnett was a key player in leading the Pirates to a 94-win season and playoff berth in 2013. He went 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA last season while pitching 191 innings.
The Pirates continue to express interest in retaining Burnett.
Pirates general manager Neal Huntington wrote in a text message: “Our process continues with A.J. Nothing new to report from our end.”
If Burnett is to return to the Pirates, it will be at a discounted price. The decision would be tied to a comfort level pitching in Pittsburgh, where he turned around his career after struggling in New York. The Pirates declined to extend a one-year qualifying offer of $14.1 million to Burnett in November, which would have given the club draft pick compensation had Burnett signed elsewhere. According to wins above replacement — a statistic developed to gauge a player's total contributions to their team — Burnett's 2013 performance was worth $20 million.
At the winter meetings, Huntington said the club was hesitant to commit roughly 20 percent of the team's payroll to one player. The qualifying offer marks a 19 percent share of $75 million payroll, which is where the Pirates' payroll is expected to be to open the season.
There's plenty of need for starting pitching in the game. Veteran right-hander Hiroki Kuroda has a similar profile to Burnett and signed a one-year, $16 million deal with the Yankees. Matt Garza recently signed a four-year, $50 million deal with the Brewers.
Pirates president Frank Coonelly did not sound optimistic regarding Burnett when speaking with ESPN last week: “We'd love to have A.J. back, but right now we've turned the page and we're heading to Brandenton (Fla.) thinking he's not going to be with us.”
The Pirates and Burnett ended last season on a sour note when Burnett was upset about not starting Game 5 of the National League Division Series against the Cardinals.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Pirates notebook: Taillon headed for surgery, Richard traded
- Pirates can’t overcome long rain delay, Indians in interleague setback
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Indians, July 4, 2015
- Shaken by economic, political turmoil, MLB forsaking Venezuela
- Liriano, Pirates complete sweep of Tigers
- Gameday: Pirates vs. Indians, July 3, 2015
- Liriano dominates former team as Pirates rout White Sox
- Pirates notebook: Cole cool about hostile comment
- Pirates minor league report: Kramer comes with power potential with short-season Black Bears
- 2B Walker, Pirates smash through Tigers pitching in road victory
- Pirates notebook: Pitchers’ ploys force Kang to adapt