Just one day after a deleted tweet from Pittsburgh Pirates' bench coach Jeff Banister led some to believe A.J. Burnett would be soon to announce his retirement. However, Travis Sawchik of the Tribune-Review tweeted that a source confirmed Burnett would be pitching again in 2014, and would test the open market.
A.J. Burnett will return to pitch in '14, per source. Burnett will be open to pitching for a club other than the Pirates
Basically, Burnett didn't feel like leaving a kings ransom of a salary on the table, and decided to make himself available to teams that would be willing to spend more for his services than the Pirates. Teams that immediately come to mind include the Baltimore Orioles, Washington Nationals and Philadelphia Phillies, all of which are near Burnett's offseason home in Maryland. Sawchik reported that both the Phillies and Orioles had reached out to the right-hander. There is a very good chance Burnett could receive more on the open market than the $14.1 million his qualifying offer would have been worth had the Pirates decided to tender him.
Of course, Burnett could still decide to return to the Pirates, but if he had really planned on that, why not make his decision known sooner? At least soon enough so that the team didn't waste $5 million on Edinson Volquez.
Burnett had some of the most outstanding statistics in the NL last season, and a team will certainly be willing to pay him more than the Pirates, particularly since the team declined to give Burnett a qualifying offer. Therefore, he doesn't have any draft pick compensation tied to his signing.The Pirates will be certain to tell reporters that they remain interested in bringing back Burnett, but with the rate they would attempt to sign him at, it is almost a formality that A.J. will be wearing a different uniform come 2014.
Will fans cheer Burnett when or if he makes an appearance on the North Shore for his productive time as a member of the Bucs? Or will they choose to boo the pitcher for choosing to test the market after previously saying it was either "Pirates or retirement."Tags: A.J. Burnett, Baseball, MLB, Pittsburgh, Pittsburgh Pirates