Last year during Spring Training, Rob Biertempfel came out with the news that A.J. Burnett was mulling retirement, but he would consider an offer from only one team if he returned: the Pirates.
There have been a ton of updates on Burnett this off-season, and each one of them has basically been the same thing we heard last March. Almost ten months after the original report, we’re still left with the news that Burnett is considering retirement, and that he would consider returning to the Pirates if he didn’t retire.
The latest report is from Jerry Crasnick, who says that the Pirates have “turned the page” on Burnett, but that they would welcome him back if he decides to return. Basically they expect him to retire, but would bring him back if he doesn’t retire.
That’s kind of where everyone’s thought process is right now. During the World Series, Burnett said he would take a week to make his decision. Almost three months later, he still hasn’t made a decision. That has led to a ton of speculation.
Some of the speculation says that Burnett wants to sign with another team. That stems from the fact that the Orioles have shown interest in Burnett, although the Orioles have said they haven’t heard any word from the starting pitcher either. Personally I don’t understand the “Burnett wants to sign with another team”. If that was the case, he would just sign with another team. The idea behind the “Burnett to another team” theory is that Burnett is waiting for the Pirates to move on, freeing him up to sign with another team. This only makes sense if Burnett is more worried about the opinion Pirates fans hold of him after he leaves. I don’t think he’d go through such a long, drawn out plan to sign with someone else, all just to preserve his relationship with a former fanbase.
My speculation is that Burnett is just leaning towards retirement. That seems to be the speculation from the Pirates as well. It’s simple Occam’s razor. Burnett said he’s thinking about retiring, and he hasn’t been talking to any teams about returning. The simple explanation is that he’s leaning toward retiring.
That doesn’t guarantee that he will retire. It’s certainly possible that he could come back. But until Burnett actually speaks up and gives us a real update, we’ll be left with the same non-news and speculation, wondering what he’s going to do.