5 Landing Spots for A.J. Burnett Other Than Pittsburgh Pirates
5 Landing Spots for Burnett Not in Pittsburgh
Multiple outlets are reporting that A.J. Burnett has expressed interest in pitching in 2014, and there's a decent chance it won't be for the Pittsburgh Pirates. Over the offseason, the Pirates declined to provide the $14.1 million qualifying offer to Burnett which would have brought him back to the team in 2014.
There are two things here. First, Burnett was on record stating that he'd either retire or pitch in Pittsburgh in 2014. There's a good chance he meant it. At the same time, there's a good chance he meant it as a way to entice the Pirates to make the $14.1 million qualifying offer at the conclusion of last season. With the Pirates opting to not make the offer, they've essentially used Burnett's statement as leverage to command a smaller salary which will make him look like a liar when he turns it down.
Secondly, the Pirates don't really want Burnett back in 2014 because they are cheap. I don't need to cite all of the instances because we'd be here all day. They don't want to pay him $14.1 million when they can shout from the rooftops about the $5 million blockbuster deal they made with Edinson Volquez this offseason. Comparable pitching capabilities between the two, indeed.
The Pirates are going to screw this whole thing up as of course has been tradition over the last 20 years. They are going to take the good graces of a quality starting pitcher telling his fans he will play no other place than Pittsburgh and rub his face in it with an insulting offer (if they make one at all). They will make Burnett look like the bad guy in all of this and make the fans forget by heavily marketing ticket packages for all of the promotional fireworks nights. That's how things go with baseball in Pittsburgh.
5. Texas Rangers
The Texas Rangers need another arm to round out their starting rotation. No matter if Burnett signs, the ace of staff and reigning AL Cy Young Winner, Yu Darvish, cannot be displaced. Derek Holland, Matt Harrison and Martin Perez hold down the other three spots in no particular order. With a Burnett signing, there would be other guys like Colby Lewis on the outside looking in.
Here's a fun fact: In the 2012 deal that brought Burnett to the Pirates from the New York Yankees, Burnett wouldn't waive his no-trade clause that would have sent him to the Rangers.
The Rangers are No. 5 on this list for a reason -- not going to happen.
4. Washington Nationals
This is not a long shot by any means as the Washington Nationals have a desire to strengthen their pitching staff much the same as any team really. The only difference between the Nats and everyone else is that they've done this sort of thing before -- that is, sign a free agent starting pitcher to a short-term contract valued around $12-15 million, right in Burnett's wheelhouse.
It's close to home, he can mentor that Stephen Strasburg guy and they have a shot at winning are other reasons why this deal could make sense.
All reports of this cite sources close to Burnett but not Burnett directly (which isn't abnormal). Still, there is a chance that Burnett will not pitch in 2014. He may decide he simply lacks the desire to or perhaps he won't pass a physical.
2. Philadelphia Phillies
The Philadelphia Phillies have one of the better starting rotations in baseball with Cole Hamels, Cliff Lee and Kyle Hendrick occupying the first three spots. GM Ruben Amaro Jr. would really like to have another quality arm like Burnett. If the Phillies get him, two things will happen: 1) Numerous Pirates' fans will drive down to PNC Park, park their vehicles, get out and walk over to the Clemente bridge and jump for losing any player to their cross-state rivals (think football or hockey rivalry here) will be awful (though the lack of publicity and media coverage in Pittsburgh over the Marlon Byrd deal and subsequent lack of fan outrage was puzzling) and 2) The Philadelphia Phillies will have arguably the best rotation in all of baseball.
It's a fairly close drive to his home in Maryland, so it's a viable option for Burnett.
1. Baltimore Orioles
Burnett lives within close proximity to Baltimore, and he's reportedly expressed interest in remaining close to home. The Baltimore Orioles are looking for a quality arm to add to their rotation. If this isn't reason enough, keep in mind that Burnett will only want a one-year contract and no draft pick sacrifices need to be made to secure his services -- both of which are important factors for the Orioles.
The Orioles have been rumored in the market for Burnett this entire offseason, so it would be no surprise to find them the victors when pitchers and catchers report in a couple of weeks.