A.J. Burnett 50/50 on Retiring After the 2013 Season

A.J. Burnett is 50-50 on returning to baseball next year. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

A.J. Burnett is 50-50 on returning to baseball next year. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

Karen Price of the Trib reports that A.J. Burnett is 50-50 on playing baseball beyond 2013 or retiring. This is something we’ve heard all year, even during Spring Training before the season started. Burnett has said he would be open to a return to the Pirates. The only other team that has been heavily speculated has been the Baltimore Orioles, since that is Burnett’s home town. It’s hard to imagine that Burnett would have the same role in another city that he has in Pittsburgh, where he is currently the leader of the pitching staff, and one of the leaders of the team.

Bringing Burnett back would be a big boost to the 2014 rotation. Currently that rotation will feature Francisco Liriano, Charlie Morton, and Gerrit Cole. Wandy Rodriguez is expected to be back under a player option, although his health will be in question. There’s also Jeff Locke, who has good overall stats, but has struggled in the second half. If Burnett returns, that would create a situation where the fifth starter is either a healthy Wandy Rodriguez or Jeff Locke.

If Rodriguez returns and is healthy, then Locke would make a great depth option. As we’ve seen this year, depth in the rotation is extremely important. Beyond Locke, the Pirates would have Kyle McPherson and Phil Irwin returning from injuries, plus Jameson Taillon and Nick Kingham as possibilities for mid-season call-ups. Brandon Cumpton and Stolmy Pimentel would be options for early season depth starts in this scenario, although Pimentel would have to work out of the major league bullpen since he is out of options.

Burnett would definitely help the rotation next year, much like he’s helped the rotation in the last two years. More importantly, the pitching staff would retain their leader, which is also a bonus.

Author: Tim Williams

Tim is the owner and editor in chief of Pirates Prospects. He started the site in January 2009, and turned it into his full time job during the 2011 season. Prior to starting Pirates Prospects, Tim worked with AccuScore.com, providing MLB, NHL, and NFL coverage to various national media outlets, including ESPN Insider, USA Today, Yahoo Sports, and the Wall Street Journal. He also writes the annual Prospect Guide, which is sold through the site. Tim lives in Bradenton, where he provides live coverage all year of Spring Training, mini camp, instructs, the Bradenton Marauders, and the GCL Pirates.

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