Pirates are Still Talking With A.J. Burnett

Clint Hurdle was on 93.7 The Fan this afternoon and said that there is still a chance that the Pirates could sign the right-hander.

This gives a good opportunity to analyze where Burnett currently stands. At the beginning of the off-season, he said he was deciding between retiring and returning to the Pirates. Since that time, the only thing that has happened is that the Pirates didn’t make him a qualifying offer, and said they can’t afford him at $14.1 M.

I don’t think Burnett has changed his stance on only returning to the Pirates. If that were the case, I think we would have heard rumors by now that other teams were talking to Burnett. Also, while the Pirates aren’t willing to pay $14.1 M for Burnett, I’m sure other teams would be willing to pay more than that. If this was a situation where Burnett was just waiting to get paid, and he was open to signing with anyone, I think he would have signed with someone by now. That’s especially true with how many early moves we’ve seen.

For that reason, it seems Burnett is still deciding between retiring and returning to the Pirates. My feeling all along in this process is that he has made enough money in his career that he doesn’t seem likely to be swayed by a few million dollars. So I don’t think that the Pirates offering a few million more is going to make his decision.

I wouldn’t count out Burnett returning to the Pirates. That said, I wouldn’t place the odds that high, especially since he’s still deciding on whether to return.

Tim Williams

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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  • jaygray007

    A midseason comeback for half the price would be ideal.

    • http://www.facebook.com/stephen.brooks.581 Stephen Brooks

      That fits, since it’s right about the time Wandy’s elbow will detach from the rest of his body.

  • http://www.facebook.com/lee.young.161 leefoo

    I agree…had we known AJ was leaving for big bucks, we WOULD’VE tendered him just for the draft pick.

    It’s either us or the kids. I hope it is us, at least for one more year.

  • burghdood

    Wondering when the Pirate deadline might be-you know they’re trying to decide how best to deploy that $8-10kk that would go to AJB if he gives the thumbs up…have a feeling that if a good deal for a first baseman comes up during this window & involves that kind of $$; they’ll push their chips on that table-if nothing compelling materializes & they go with the “Internal Options” at 1B/RF & poss. SP’er; then AJ has a little more time to decide. I have a feeling that near Spring Training, AJ realizes that the end of his career is neigh, & he starts to get the itch for “Just on more year” (I kind of hope).

  • Pie Rat

    Burnett is a team player and brings more than just his stats to the table. I think he had a big role in bringing Martin in last year. I loved his hint to Wright that his visit to PNC park, the weekend before the All-Star game might not be pleasant if Pedro didn’t make the HR derby.

  • https://www.facebook.com/bruce.humbert Bruce Humbert

    I am convinced that this is the year Nutting pays down debt – no significant investments to improve the team – I set out my reasoning in another post – makes me sad – and sorry that I renewed my season ticket package.

    • csnumber23

      The team and system are finally built up and you’re still crying about how much money they spend. Posts like this are laughable to me.

      • Jared

        I am not one to cry about the size of the payroll, especially in the rebuilding years when it is useless to have a big payroll before you stock the minors. With that said, the Pirates I do believe are capable of having a $90-95M payroll and still be able to do the things we need to do to keep our minor leagues stocked…especially with the new draft signing pools.

        • csnumber23

          First you don’t just get your payroll to 90-95 mil just to do it. Who is to say that still won’t happen? Long way to go this off season. If there is a fit, I believe they will spend the money.

          • Jared

            I agree with you. I don’t think you spend money just to spend it…I think you need to spend the money in the right ways to get the right players: through trade where you take on revenue or by signing free agents. IF the market isn’t there to have that payroll and really impact your team then, yes, you shouldn’t just spend the money to spend it. I have stated this offseason where I would spend the money and how I would do it…this offseason is not a great one from the Pirates perspective. Not a lot of great talent in the areas they need that warrant the money and those that are talented enough come with pick compensation that, right now, I would not give up.

        • Gallatin

          Not sure this is the year to go all-in on payroll. It’s a weak crop of free agents who are getting even more over-payed than usual.

          And they really did get lucky with some trades and signings last season, moving the timetable up a bit. This organization is really built for 15 and 16, that’s when you get more aggressive in payroll and make the big push to contend once this crop of high value prospects break through.

          And then it’s time to blow it up again with an eye towards 18, 19, and 20.

      • buster09

        Plus 1 cs !

      • JoseGuillensArm

        Amen, can we all stop whining about the ownership group and enjoy the fact that we have a legit contender right now. If you really regret your season tickets I think plenty of people would be happy to take them off your hands

    • Cato the Elder

      If you’re not going to share your reasoning because you laid it out elsewhere, could you share how one might obtain this reasoning? I’m interested to know what evidence convinces you make such a bold and damning accusation. Please do tell

      • https://www.facebook.com/bruce.humbert Bruce Humbert

        1. Not tendering AJ – he has more value than the $14.1 and would have locked in a very solid rotation.
        2. Passing on Byrd – he would have solved the RF problem – provided a solid bat to protect Cutch.
        3. Not involved in Aoki – by all accounts – if you pass on Byrd because you think Aoki is a better option – fine
        He would cost less in dollars – but more in assets – but would allow you to move Marte down in the order
        4. Tendering Snyder – pretty much guarantees that they plan on sticking with a Snyder/Tabata RF platoon.

        As I said in my other post – it is Nutting’s team and his money – he is free to spend or not spend as he chooses.
        But Cincy and the Cards have payrolls over $100M – and the Cubs can spend at the level and will in the
        near future.

        I could add the Decker deal – trying to bottom feed for someone who wakes up one day a better hitter – or
        building “system depth”?

        So I don’t totally disagree with many of the points above – it is not a great free agent field – should not spend
        money just to spend money – need to be smart with spending. BUT none of the things that I find frustrating
        would have been “excessive” – and the payroll would still have come in at less than $90M. As a fan I think I am
        entitled to expect more from the team than we have seen thus far. I have done my part – season tickets and loyal
        through the darkest period any MLB endured.

        • http://www.facebook.com/alva.herman.1 Alva Herman

          I was going to go into a looong rant about people like you Bruce,but decided to just keep it short. People like you are just a little more than clueless and pay absolutely no attention whatever to the details when it comes to most of the signings you mention..

          • Y2JGQ2

            agreed again….

        • buster09

          Try explaining to me Bruce why NH would have attached a QO to AJ ? So then if AJ decides he wants to pitch in 2014 Huntingdon could then negotiate against his QO value ? Are you crazy or just have no idea how the Business of Baseball is carried on ?

          • https://www.facebook.com/bruce.humbert Bruce Humbert

            Well there are at least three reasons I can think of why a QO

            1. AJ is a proud athlete and knows he is worth MORE than $14.1 Million – not making the offer risks burning that bridge…
            2. Fills the rotation – no need to consider adding another starter.
            3. Allows you to get compensation if AJ decides he wants to pitch one or two last years in Baltimore or elsewhere.

            As for all of you folks putting Polanco in the HOF before his first Major League at bat – do a bit of research on how many 5 tool players who “can’t miss” do indeed miss.

            You only need look as far as Atlanta – they have two brothers who were destined to be stars – signed one to a big $75M contract – they COMBINED for a WAR of less than 1.0.

            A final thought – I love a good debate – I love posting a few things that are perhaps off of the main stream thinking. But I DO know a bit about business – baseball – marketing – brands and such.

            You are more than entitled to hold a different POV – and you may in the end be proven right – but try and do so with a bit of civility – or as Nathan did with a sense of humor – calling names is best reserved for the political arena.

        • ncap

          lolz Polanco “The Walking Toolshed”…. top ten prospect in the game so lets over pay to get aoki because its in division, or lets sign a breakout player who broke out at the elderly age of 36. While were at it lets go get raul ibanez to platoon with starling marte if we dont then nutting is cheap end of story right?

        • https://www.facebook.com/marty.leap Marty

          Serious question for you, Bruce. Have you ever heard of Gregory Polanco? Apparently, you have not. Signing Byrd for 2-3 years, like it would’ve taken to sign him, would have made zero sense because of Polanco. He’ll be here this summer and fix RF for the next 7 years.

          You are clearly just one of those people who love to rip Bob Nutting, you do it in almost all of your posts. It is also very obvious you know nothing about how the business side of baseball works.

    • https://profiles.google.com/100212786463678215436 Nathan Swartz

      If you feel that badly, I’ll gladly take those season tickets off your hands. Free of charge. I wouldn’t want you to sit in misery through 81 games. I would feel bad if you had to sit through the torture of watching an NL MVP, a young stud LF, a great defensive catcher picking people off, Liriano throwing gems, Grilli fist pumping after another save, Pedro crushing baseballs, Cole growing into an ace, Polanco breaking thru, and Taillon making his debut.
      If I were you, or Bob Martin, I’d jump ship now…save yourselves. The rest of us will suffer on your behalf.
      As for payroll, “if only we’d spend $60 million” so they do…and you complain. “If only they’d spend $70 million” so they do…and you complain. “If only they’d spend $80 million” and they will…and you’ll complain.
      Tired. Of. The. Complaints.

      • buster09

        Nathan : Plus a BIG 1 ! Much like you,Tired.Of.The.Complaints. Aoki indeed….

    • Y2JGQ2

      Convinced by…..stuff that has no validity. Thanks for your depressing opinion. The team has been profitable for a few years and thus is not an issue for paying down debt.

    • piraddict

      Bruce, what’s wrong with paying down debt? If we do that as a families it’s regarded as a good thing. If the Pirates do it their interest payments are reduced giving them greater financial freedom and flexibility in the future. What’s wrong with that?

  • jschwartz

    Really hope AJ comes back for one more year. I believe that’s all they need from him, and would also allow him to retire fairly young. I Aldo hope Karstens is brought back on a minor league deal. He’s an ideal number 5 if anyone goes down.

    • japple2298

      Were did Seattle and Oakland get all their money ? They are spending, BIG time. Both have the same problems as the Pirates.

      • buster09

        If you had taken the time to look for information” japple “,you might have found that the Mariners have 2 billion,( yes,that is BILLION ! ) dollars coming over the next 20 years from their regional sports network. Not only that,they have only one player prior to Cano signed to a long term lucrative contract. As for the A’s,you have to show me where they are ” spending,BIG time “. Like a few other posters here,it looks like your fingers got WAY ahead of your brain.

      • Jared

        I actually think you have it misunderstood. Seattle’s payroll coming into the Cano signing, I believe, was around $50M…that means, taking the average annual amount as the actual annual amount the Mariners are only at $74-75M in payroll…not that much more than the Pirates presently. Although, the Mariners do look to spend another good chunk (probably another $20M) before they are done.

  • freddylang

    I am anti extra long term deals like the ARod, Pujols, and probably Cano messes but when you have a chance to get a guy like AJ for one year it is not going to be a franchise killer and I just think you need to take the leap. Plus the one year deal makes him easy to deal for prospects at the deadline and shed salary if you are out of the race in July. If you are in the race, you are selling out games for the rest of the season and not worrying as much about 13-14 mil anyways. Just get it done already.

  • emjayinTN

    Tim: I liked it and wanted more info on the deadline. If it is a tossup between the dedication to the game and the team and his family, my advice to him would be to choose family 100% of the time. However, with two years like he has had for the Pirates, it is almost impossible for him not to want to be a part of taking the team further in 2014. If it is a matter of spending quality time with the family while he goes to work every day in his chosen profession, then maybe the FO needs to be a little imaginative about the package. I remember when he signed with Toronto, he insisted on so many round trips by Limo between Toronto and B’more, so obviously the BW (beautiful wife) does not like to fly. Also, how about leasing one of those shacks out in Fox Chapel, Oakmont, USC, etc. for the Burnett clan for the season. I am sure we have some imaginative personnel working in the system who could package this whole thing to make it hard for him to turn down. So, a bonus, and possibly $10 mil – $12 mil+, and a package of goodies for the family to be close in one of the finest cities in the US of A. And, it is not a measure of whether he makes enough to do all of that on his own, it is a measure of how much the Pirates are willing to put forth to provide every opportunity for him to enjoy both his personal and his professional families.

  • http://www.facebook.com/bob.martin.9003 Bob Martin

    What makes you think the Pirates are a contender now??? They had wholes at 3 positions and still need 1 starter if not 2. Just because they made the playoffs in 2013 doesn’t mean they will again, just go ask the Nationals how their season went after making the playoffs in 2012. I’ve been paying attention what teams are doing as much as anybody here is probably doing. The true NL contenders are adding offense and pitching some are adding both. Other than a few minor trades the Prates haven’t done squat to improve their departed players that left via FA or released.
    So to ask again what had the Pirates done so far that leads you to believe they win win either the NL central division or one of he two wild card spots?

  • Jared

    AJ is a target of the Orioles at the winter meetings to replace Feldman. T

    • emjayinTN

      J: Back to the AL East? B’more is a launching pad – probably a little less than Yankee Stadium, but still a hitter’s ballpark. I think guys like AJ, Francisco Liriano, and Mark Melancon like pitching in a park with enough length to allow them to get away with the majority of mistakes, and for a team committed to Defense first. Coming over from the AL, they get an automatic 11% benefit as the 9th batter is a pitcher rather than a DH for the pitcher who is making millions to crush the ball. B’more may try, but for AJ, PNC Park, the Pirates dedication to D, and only 4 hours from B’more, make us the best opportunity for his continued success. Instead of the limo, do one of those $500K Motorhomes and remember to hire a union driver out of LU #249! Treat him like a rock star because he has truly helped in every possible way to get this franchise turned around. We need leaders like him for at least one more year.

  • TonyC17

    Bob Martin, how are the pirates not contenders? Last year they had holes in thr same positions as this year and thry were contenders. They added at the deadline. Yes they may miss Burnett, but they went 11-12 deep last year with pitching. Do they need to make some moves? Yes but we are not even at winter meetings yet. Who would u have liked them to sign already? You are going to drive yourself nuts if you are panicking slready. They wanted Johnson. He wanted to go home. Took a discount to do it. You want them to sign Napoli, a guy with a hip disease, for 16 mil? Thrte are plenty of options out there. Chill out man

  • babeadamsforthehall

    You guys are awesome in a loathesome sort of way. Anyone who decries the ownership group gets dumped on as “not understanding” and gets called names. Way to group think gentlemen. Nothing like an attempt to have a good debate getting thwarted by name called and demagoguery. Well done.

    “If A.J. wants to get top-of-the-market money because he’s a top-of-the-market pitcher, it won’t be from the Pittsburgh Pirates,” Huntington said. “We like to think Pittsburgh is the place he wants to be. We want him to pitch for us.”

    That is a quote by your hero. GO NEAL!!!!

    So….AJ is supposed to take below market for the privelige of playing for the 2014 Pittsburgh Pirates. He is worth more than that per year on a multi year deal in the open market. And NH thinks that playing chicken through the press is the way to drive AJ back to the Pirates? Really???

    I can’t wait for the excuses to start to flow in the comments section if AJ does end up signing with another team. “We don’t need him anyway”. “I never really liked him because…”. “Taillon is the next Walter Johnson, so…”.

    Lowballing someone who has been such an important part of your team the past two years, and who would be a vital part of the 2014 team is lunacy. It amuses me to no end that anyone would think that extending the QO would have been the wrong thing to do in any way shape or form, especially with the way that the market has blown up over the past month.

    Seems to me that some here are more interested in rooting for the FO or NH as opposed to the team on the field.

    • buster09

      BabeAdams: Just in case you missed this earlier post of mine,I brought it back especially for you.” Try explaining to me( Bruce )why NH would have attached a QO to AJ ? So then if AJ decides he wants to pitch in 2014 Huntingdon could then negotiate against his QO value ? Are you crazy or just have no idea how the Business of Baseball is carried on ?

      • babeadamsforthehall

        Are you kidding? What are you talking about “bidding against his QO”? How exactly would he be doing that? AJ accepts the QO and yoou have the starter we need and you have him at, what has shown to be, a bargain price versus the insanity that is going on out there. If he rejects it and wants to negotiate, why is NH bidding against his own QO? Seriously. The offer was made, AJ rejects, offer is no more. NH is not beholden to make another offer that high. It no longer exists. AJ had his chance.

        And while we are at it, please explain to me the advantage of NOT making the QO should AJ end up signing elsewhere (which is far more likely now that: A. NH has said over and over in the press how the Pirates are lowballing the heck out of AJ and B: because ther is no longer a draft pick associated with his signing with another team).

        Finally, please explain to me just exactly how extending the QO to AJ in the first place would have been a bad thing. If AJ accepts, you have him at a bargain with no long term commitment. If he declines, you are in the same position you are in now. Except that you haven’t disparraged him in the press and you get a draft pick if he says no thanks.

        Seems to me that it is you who doesn’t understand these things.

        • Jared

          The qualifying offer makes perfect sense and clubs use it every year. So whoever suggested that the suggestion to use the QO does not align with smart baseball really doesn’t understand how baseball operates. Small market teams used the QO this offseason…and PP’s own Tim has flatly stated that he would have given the QO. Guess he doesn’t know baseball either…

  • Jared

    From our own Neil Huntington:
    “Quite candidly, the best free-agent acquisition we can make for the 2014 Pirates is A.J. Burnett,” Huntington said. “He would be a great addition to our club.”

    Read more: http://www.post-gazette.com/sports/ron-cook/2013/12/08/Pirates-held-back-by-Burnett/stories/201312080133#ixzz2mu9ABuzE

    • babeadamsforthehall

      Also from some on this board’s lord and savior:

      “If A.J. wants to get top-of-the-market money because he’s a top-of-the-market pitcher, it won’t be from the Pittsburgh Pirates,” Huntington said. “We like to think Pittsburgh is the place he wants to be. We want him to pitch for us.”

      1. Lowballing an important part of the team
      2. Doing it through the press
      3. Not being willing to pay ANYONE market value (except chuds like Barmess and Chris Stewart)

      Not.

      Very.

      Smart.

      • https://www.facebook.com/bruce.humbert Bruce Humbert

        babe,

        Thanks for chiming in…

        You forgot the brilliant Huntington adds of Barajas and McGehee ;-)

        • babeadamsforthehall

          NH hit on some lottery tickets last year in Martin and Liriano, so his recent trend is going very well. However, his past history of such acquisitions has been abysmal. Hopefully he has “figured something out” that he got so wrong in the past. Over and over again.