MLBTR projects that Marlon Byrd will return to the Pirates. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

MLBTR Projects Burnett and Byrd Will Return to the Pirates

MLBTR projects that Marlon Byrd will return to the Pirates. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

MLBTR projects that Marlon Byrd will return to the Pirates. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

MLBTR released their 2014 top 50 free agents, complete with predictions on where each player will go. The rankings are the key thing here, showing how MLBTR stacks all of the players up against each other. The predictions are just fun, and don’t have a good track record for the Pirates. For example, last year the predictions had the Pirates signing Jeremy Guthrie, with Jason Grilli going to Milwaukee, Francisco Liriano going to Boston, and Russell Martin going to the Yankees. They did have the Pirates as a team in the market for a catcher.

This year the predictions seem like they could be accurate. The two players projected to go to the Pirates are A.J. Burnett and Marlon Byrd. Burnett was ranked as the ninth best free agent, and it’s not hard to see how he could return to the Pirates, since he has said he would play for them or retire. Byrd was ranked as the 24th best free agent, and MLBTR says a two-year, $15 M deal seems possible. That’s exactly what I thought Byrd’s market could be, working off the Ryan Ludwick deal two years ago.

Even more interesting than those two predictions are the amount of mentions the Pirates received. MLBTR had them as possibilities for the following players (with rankings):

12. Carlos Beltran

14. Stephen Drew

17. Nelson Cruz

21. Jhonny Peralta

30. Josh Johnson

31. Tim Hudson

If they went for a shortstop, I’d prefer Peralta over Drew, since Drew has some inconsistencies that have been heavily due to injuries. Beltran and Cruz would obviously be if they didn’t get Marlon Byrd. I could only see them going after Johnson or Hudson if Burnett retired. However, if Burnett came back, and they signed one of those two pitchers, that would open the doors for a trade from the rotation, and you might already know who I’ve suggested dealing and replacing with Josh Johnson.

It’s only a list of teams that could be interested, but I can’t remember the last time the Pirates were talked about this much in free agency. I guess that’s what happens when you make the playoffs, and have very few needs going into the following season.

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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, 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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  • elgaupo

    Could you imagine if we were this good and had this much money back when there were GOOD free agent classes. Our timing is always terrible. It’s like the compensation system starting the year AFTER Bonds and Drabek leave.

  • Hidden Vigorish

    I’ve been saying all along that Hudson would be a great Plan B if AJ decides to retire. I’d go a bit further with it. They can’t let Burnett drag his feet or Hudson or Johnson are likely to be off the market. If I were Huntington I’d start talking with Hudson’s agent immediately. If Burnett drags his feet more than a few days they need to switch gears. I want AJ back but Hudson isn’t much of a drop off and probably would be a little cheaper.

    • Richard Ya’Zhynka

      I agree that the Pirates would be wise to pursue Hudson or Johnson and that they can’t let Burnett “drag his feet.”

  • emjayinTN

    Tim: After listing their predictions from last year, how can anyone put any credibility in their predictions for 2014?

  • leefoo

    So tonight is the deadline for QO’s?

    I still don’t think they offer one to AJ.

    • Hidden Vigorish

      No downside in a qualifying offer. He won’t sign it. He won’t risk a contract in which he could possibly be traded next season. If he comes back he’ll negotiate an ironclad no trade clause.

      • Richard Ya’Zhynka

        Excellent point about the high probability of Burnett requiring a no-trade clause.

      • Andrew

        Agreed, if a deal is not constructed in the next 12 plus, (I do not know the exact time of the deadline), then the Pirates have to make a QO as a business decision.

    • emjayinTN

      foo: I think a QO would be the minimum expression of interest in AJ. The guy is still pitching like a #1 and has averaged close to 200 IP over the past two years, a K/IP, excellent ERA’s, and has been the leader of the team. For each of those years he earned his salary of $16 mil, and although the Pirates only had to pay $8 mil both years, the guy is certainly worth the QO minimum. If we make the QO then we may be able to talk 2 years for $20 mil or $24 mil. This is the “ticket to ride” and with AJ locked in, then the sky is the limit for NH to wheel and deal with the likes of Liriano, Jones, Tabata, and possibly a few others in the prospect system.

  • leadoff

    I hope they get AJ and I think they will and I don’t really care what it cost. I don’t think they are going out on the free agent market and do better or near as good as AJ. If Lincecum can get 34mil for 2 years, what is AJ really worth? There is no comparison between these two pitchers at this point in time.

  • leadoff

    Byrd for 15mil would be a steal and I hope the Pirates make a deal to keep Byrd.

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