There’s been some chatter lately that the widely held view of pitcher A.J. Burnett playing for the Pirates or retiring might not be the case.
The Pirates passed on giving Burnett a qualifying offer in the offseason. They would have been on the hook for about $14 million, which isn’t bad for a pitcher coming off a season with a 3.30 ERA and 209 strikeouts in 191 innings.
If the Bucs made the offer and Burnett signed somewhere else, the Pirates would have received a draft pick. That alone should have been incentive for a team that covets picks.
Of course, it’s the Pirates, so payroll appears to be the No. 1 priority for a team that should be flush with new TV money ($20 million to $25 million), a spike in attendance and interest.
Winning should be.
The team needed strong pitching to get a wild-card berth and Burnett was a big part of that.
As the team prepares for spring training in a couple weeks, Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole, Wandy Rodriguez, Charlie Morton and Edison Volquez shape that rotation. If you want to look at it positively, Liriano and Cole should be solid. If you want to be negative, all five have some issues.
Burnett would help solidify the rotation, especially if Jameson Taillon isn’t ready to make the leap to the bigs.
And back to the Pirates or retirement talk from Burnett.
It appears the Orioles and Rays are interested in his services.
Burnett can change his mind, especially if someone empties their wallet.
It appears the Pirates aren’t nearly as ready to do it. And that’s a shame.
– Rick Green