Neal Huntington said that the Pirates couldn't afford $14 M for Burnett. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

A.J. Burnett Still Undecided About Retirement

Over the last few days we’ve gotten an indication that A.J. Burnett was still deciding between retiring and returning to the Pittsburgh Pirates. Ken Rosenthal reports that Burnett is still undecided on that decision.

This isn’t a big surprise, but it is significant because it’s the first time I’ve seen any report actually say that Burnett remains undecided. Until now it has mostly been speculation and connecting the dots. That process has led to other speculation, such as the fear that Burnett could sign with another team for more money.

The Pirates were one of at least two teams today that met with Bronson Arroyo’s agent. That gives some indication that they are starting to move on from Burnett, or at least thinking about alternatives.

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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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  • Andrew

    Busy day Tim.

    • Tim Williams

      That’s the winter meetings. I’ll take this over last year’s meetings where there was no news.

      • Jared

        Are you at the Winter Meetings, Tim?

        • Tim Williams

          No. I’m two hours away posting updates and finishing the Prospect Guide.

          • Jared

            I didn’t know because Bradenton isn’t that far from the meetings…my parents live conveniently in between.

  • Vicente Barletta

    I think Burnett found out he can still get one last big contract before retiring, so he wants the Pirates to make the first move and then say that he wants to continue pitching but the Pirates don´t have role for him.

    • buster09

      Yeah ,sure….sound thinking. ” I think….” who really cares what you are thinking ? I think you are wrong.

  • Jared

    Crazy thought, but what if AJ doesn’t want to return to the Pirates any longer but doesn’t want to appear to go back on what he said at the end of the season? So he waits until the Pirates cannot wait any longer and the Pirates sign or trade for a pitcher and then AJ decides he wants to pitch…that would, actually, give him a higher likelihood of getting more money than coming back to the Pirates too…and he’d appear to win the PR side of things.

    Just a thought.

  • Tim Williams

    To all of the complex theories, I’d guess Occam’s razor applies here. It’s probably as simple as him deciding between retirement and returning.

    • Jared

      Probably right…just a question/thought.

      Do you get the feeling that AJ has to decide by the end of this week/end of the winter meetings and that the Pirates, therefore, have to come away from the winter meetings with a SP?

      • Tim Williams

        They did say they had a deadline. I’d imagine they will spend the week looking at alternatives to prepare for that deadline.

        • Jared

          The Pirates seem more eager, thus far, to discuss a trade for a 1B…do you think they take the same approach with the SP? That is, after all, how they acquired AJ.

          Dempster could be another AJ-type trade candidate from Boston.

    • Vicente Barletta

      I don´t care how much money Burnett has made, it always comes down to $$$. Just look at Cano, he chose money over tradition.

      • jaygray007

        I dunno, man… Can we really compare a $15 millionish deal (vs whatever bargain the bucs might want vs Retirement) with a $240 millionish deal where the next highest offer was over $50 million less?

        Yes, money usually wins, but i don’t think it’s fair to think less of Cano for taking the Mariners’ offer.

        • Mr. Goodkat

          Agree. Apples and Oranges in this situation.

          I don’t blame Cano one bit. That’s a lot more cheddar than NY offered.

      • buster09

        Ha ! I know. You ,Vicente ,would have turned down the additional $ 65 million for those pinstripes ? C’mon man,be serious.

      • doby1404

        I don’t think Pirates want AJ at all. If so with what pitchers are signing for, 14 million would be a bargain and they would have tendered him.But what if he would have accepted? They don’t want him. PERIOD

    • emjayinTN

      Burnett came in as damaged goods and the Pirates benefitted from his WAR of 3 in 2012 and his WAR of 4 in 2013. Best two years of his career except for his last year in Toronto and his first year for the Yankees. His salary in 2012 and 2013 was $16 mil but the Pirates only were responsible for $8 mil each year. To me that means that the Pirates have already made $7.75 mil for 2012 ($15.75 mil – $8 mil) and $14 mil in 2013 ($22 mil – $8 mil) for a grand total of $21.75 mil in our favor over the past two years. I know AJ is strong of character, but sometimes people need a little urging on the strength of your want. How about a $16 mil offer for 2014 and a $12 mil club option for 2015 with a buyout of $1.5 mil.

      Think he was hanging on every word coming out of Doc Holliday this morning? Doc retired because his body betrayed him and he can no longer throw the way he wants to. Like I have said before, it is nearly impossible to walk away after the two years he has had in 2012 and 2013, and the level of acceptance from the fans of Pittsburgh and the young pitchers on the Pirates who see him as a leader. If my choice is a #4 guy like the RHP from Cincy or a No. 1 who pitched his heart out for my team the past two years, I am coming up with the offer.

      • Bruce Humbert

        So if you are right why not tender – you can always rip it up for a slightly better two year deal.

        Nothing is certain – but the BEST pitching option for the Bucs since the season ended was – and will always be AJ.

        And yes he is getting older – so there is risk of fall off or injury – but would you rather have 80% of AJ for next year and 70% of him for the following year – or a Bronson Arroyo for $30M

  • jaygray007

    Mrs Burnett and the Boys are probably getting antsy too.

    It’s getting weird. I feel like you’d know if you wanted to keep playing or not after like an hour of thinking.

    • Cato the Elder

      Have you never been confronted with a difficult decision?! That is not how it works at all, at least in my experience.

      • jaygray007

        “hour” was a little obnoxious for me to say. I just feel like you would know what you want after two months. And if you don’t, i agree with what you say below about how if it’s really that hard of a decision he should just hang up the spikes and spend time with his family. I’m (obviously) not him and can’t imagine what it’s like to turn down 10+ million dollars for a half a calendar year of labor though.

        • buster09

          jay : the guy has made at least ?$120 million in his career,so another $10 is not that big of a deal to him ….or his accountants. Only his agent,who you can bet is NOT telling him to retire.

  • piratemike

    If AJ is truly finding it this hard to make a decision he probably should go ahead and pitch another year, whether it is with the Pirates or not. This is a decision he has to live with the rest of his life. He should retire when he doesn’t have to think about it.

    • Cato the Elder

      That is funny, I would say the exact opposite: If AJ is truly finding it this hard to make a decision he probably should go ahead and retire. It is quite a commitment in terms of time and also quite a commitment to your teammates and organization. He should take as much time as he needs, but if he doesn’t REALLY want to play, he should hang them up. It has been quite a career and he doesn’t owe anybody anything.

      • piratemike

        The point I’m trying to make is later in his life he may regret that he didn’t pitch and he can’t go back and have a do-over. If he gets into a season and he thinks this was a bad idea at least he knows positively that he wants to retire.
        If he isn’t REALLY sure he wants to retire than that means he still has a desire to play.
        When and if he walks away it should be without a question mark for his own peace of mind.

      • buster09

        Plus 1 Cato.

  • leefoo

    Maybe AJ REALLY wants to keep playing, but REALLY wants to be with his family, also?

    Family usually wins, so maybe we’re waiting on Mrs AJ to make a decision on whether she lets AJ play another year?


    • piratemike

      I would assume that this is the main conflict. If he is truly having a problem deciding whether to play or not, being home is probably his biggest concern but look at what has happened to Burnett since he came to the Pirates…. he has been embraced by the city… after NY this has got to be gratifying and he has pitched maybe his best since he has been here and he has been a large part of the Pirates success…quite a difference than NY and who knows if NH does some stunning things the Pirates may make it to the WS (I’m not counting on it) and wouldn’t that be a great way to bow out?
      If he had health issues like Halliday it would be easy but this is a guy who is near the top of his game and he is a fierce competitor. Sitting on a couch my not agree with him.

  • IC Bob

    Maybe AJ wants a better deal then the Pirates are offering and is using retirement as leverage. Maybe the Bucs really don’t care if he comes back because they might be able to better utilize the 10 million. I also worry that conditioning is a year around job. If he is not preparing yet for the next season while he decides he may not be ready for the grind of a season. If thats the case we could get the AJ from the Yanks and that version wasn’t so good.

    • buster09

      Yeah Bob,right ! And just MAYBE the Moon landing wasn’t real and it is made of green cheese ?

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