Reports from Comcast Philadelphia and MASN claim that it's unlikely the Baltimore Orioles or Philadelphia Phillies will be signing free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett, who spent the past two seasons in the Pittsburgh Pirates' rotation. Washington has been rumored as a potential destination, but a source connected to the team said they would "most likely" stick with their current starting five. Arizona have expressed interest as well, but believed that Burnett would not be interested in pitching on the west coast, something he has been explicit about in the past.
New York, Tampa Bay and Toronto were all linked as possible suitors, but it is doubtful Burnett would want to return to the Bronx after his unsuccessful stint in pinstripes. Tampa is also rather far from his home in Maryland, but Toronto could have an outside shot at bringing back the pitcher who pitched north of the boarder between 2006-2008 and led the American League in strikeout during the 2008 campaign.
So that leaves the Pirates, who haven't said anything on the matter since Burnett's camp announced he was going to test free agency, the Blue Jays and the Nationals as the three teams who seem to have legitimate shots and bringing in Burnett. It doesn't seem as if Burnett will be getting as much money as recently predicted, as two of the bigger fish in the battle for him have reportedly dropped out.
With spring training under a week away, one would figure Burnett would want to make up his mind soon. But, that would go against everything else Burnett has done through the entire process. The Pirates might have a better shot at bringing him back than it seemed like they did a week ago, but they already have more starting pitchers than they have slots to fill. If the team signs Burnett, they could end up trading away another starting pitcher.
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