Few really bought the retirement talk and A.J. Burnett will pitch in 2014, the Burnett camp has confirmed. As has been the case all off-season, Burnett isn’t suddenly going to decide to give the Pirates a hometown discount. Burnett not resigning with the Pirates yet has always been about money and the Pirates know it.
A baseball source told the Tribune Review today that Burnett will be opening himself up to the open market. “He’s made the decision he is going to play,” said the source, speaking on the condition of anonymity to the Tribune-Review. “I suspect he is going to open himself up to the market.”
It’s not hard to connect the dots that quote is coming from Burnett’s agent.
Despite sitting on a boat load of money, the Pirates have yet to show any interest in offering Burnett anything close to market value. Pittsburgh made a one year offer to Burnett in late December believed to be south of $10 million. Burnett made $16.5 million in 2013.
Just last week Pirates President Frank Coonelly told ESPN.com that the Pirates had “turned the page” on Burnett. While the Pirates have been operating under the mindset that Burnett won’t be back in 2014, they also don’t believe the market will be strong for Burnett. The market is flooded right now right with a number of quality starters, including Ervin Santana, Ubaldo Jimenez, Bronson Arroyo, Paul Maholm, Chris Capuano, Scott Baker and Jason Hammel.
There’s a chance among the likely suitors for Burnett that Pittsburgh will be in the same ballpark but this could be a James Harrison situation where Burnett’s ego is hurt by the Pirates asking him to take a significant paycut from what he made last season.
One Pirate official calls the Philadelphia Phillies the most likely landing spot for Burnett based on fit and talk of the Phillies willing to offer Burnett around $13 to $14 million per season. The Orioles have also been mentioned all winter as having strong interest in Burnett. Richard Durrett of ESPN Dallas reports the Rangers have interest in Burnett.
Many expect Burnett to stay on the East Coast.