Jayson Stark has an update on the Pirates/Phillies rumor involving A.J. Burnett, saying that the talks are “all but dead” (h/t Charlie at Bucs Dugout). Stark notes that the Pirates want assurances that Burnett won’t pick up his player option next season, but that they’ve been unable to get those assurances. Burnett could make as much as $14.25 M next season. Stark says that the Phillies are saying Burnett will retire, and Burnett is telling his teammates the same thing. Stark quoted another executive who noted that Burnett said the same thing last year.
It’s a risk for the Pirates to take on Burnett’s salary, especially with his history. Last year he said he would pitch for the Pirates, or retire. He spent most of the off-season deciding whether he would retire. Then he decided to play again in January, but wanted to talk to other teams. He ended up getting a massive deal from the Phillies, and that deal looks to be hurting now.
I looked at Burnett’s trade value over the weekend, and found that even with the current seller’s market, he’s worth negative value based on his current performance. The Phillies would have to pick up a lot of salary just to deal him and get two Grade C pitching prospects in return. And even if the trading price is low, and the Phillies picked up a lot of salary, there is still a lot of his contract remaining, and he hasn’t shown this year that he’s worth the cost. At this point he’s not even much of an upgrade over what the Pirates have in the back of their rotation.
If the talks are all but dead, then that’s a good thing for the Pirates. A deal for Burnett would be an attempt to add the pitcher that was with Pittsburgh the last two years, and that pitcher doesn’t seem to be around this year.