Pirates Don’t Seem to Like A.J. Burnett’s 2015 Salary

Jayson Stark has several updates over at ESPN, including an update on the Pirates and A.J. Burnett. Earlier this week we heard that Burnett preferred to go back to Pittsburgh if he was going to get moved. Stark says that sources tell him the Pirates would need assurance that Burnett would retire, rather than picking up his player option next year that would pay as much as $14.25 M. In the article earlier this week, I pointed out how Burnett is still owed a little over $25 M from the end of July to the end of his contract, as long as he makes 32 starts in 2014 and 32 in 2015.

Stark also says that it would be a surprise if the Pirates don’t add at least one pitcher, and maybe two. He says that they’ve been looking at potential seventh inning arms for the bullpen, rather than supplanting the current combo of Mark Melancon and Tony Watson as the late inning guys.

UPDATE 8:15 PM: Jon Heyman also says that the Pirates aren’t too excited about Burnett’s 2015 player option. He also says that the Pirates’ interest is believed to be mild at best, and might fall further if Burnett intends to pick up his option.

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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  • Zoltan McBurgher

    Please AJ just go away

  • Jeff Rhodes

    I don’t like his contract, either. I also don’t like his drop in velocity and the fact we’d have to give up a prospect to get him. Come to think of it, I’m not crazy about his tattoos, either. That about covers it, though.

    • http://www.facebook.com/andy.prough.3 Andy Prough

      I can live with the tattoos. It’s the untreated sports hernia I’m not wild about.

      • Jeff Rhodes

        Forgot about that. Still hate the tats, though. Just me.

        • Lee Young

          not just you

    • Mike C.

      If he could throw like Felix and come cheap i could care less about his history or if he had tatoos of ray lewis on his face.
      But sadly none of that is true, he justs sucks, so no thank you

      • http://www.facebook.com/andy.prough.3 Andy Prough

        He doesn’t suck. He’s battling through injury which isn’t going to get any better this season. With all that plus playing for a miserably bad team, he’s actually done as well as you could expect under the circumstances.

  • Scott Kliesen

    I’ll be surprised if he is acquired. Then again, I’d rather see Kingham promoted if a SP is needed.

  • S Brooks

    I’d be wary of making any deal contingent on “assurances” by AJ Burnett – fool me onceā€¦

    That said, hard to ignore that he had another good start last night. Registered 15 swinging strikes, kept the Giants off the scoreboard, gave up only 4 singles, and 2 of the 4 walks he issued came in his final inning, after he had already thrown 111 pitches.

    The ERA and FIP are coming down – 3.18 ERA/3.45 FIP over his last 9 starts. He’s pitching differently and it’s working.

    • Lee Young

      so who comes out of the rotation?

      • S Brooks

        Initially, Eddie. But I have very little faith that Cole will make it through the rest of the season unscathed. This team is going to need six starters, and Burnett – especially the way he’s pitching now – is a safer bet than Cumpton, Worley and, most likely, Volquez.

        • Lukas Sutton

          Statistically AJ isnt a better bet than Worley. Its history that makes us think AJ is better than Worley, but this year the stats show Worley is performing better. In nearly all areas.

          • S Brooks

            Well if you’re content to make that assessment based on Worley’s 6 starts, then okie dokie, let’s look at each guy since Worley debuted on June 15. Worley: 3.10 ERA/3.68 FIP, a tad over 6 1/3 innings per start. Burnett 3.28 ERA/3.27 FIP, a dad under 7 1/3 innings per start.

            I think after a brutal 6-start stretch from early May to early June, Burnett has returned to form. The K’s are down, but the performance is good and the peripherals match. I like Worley, don’t get me wrong, but I think going forward Burnett is the better pitcher.

    • csnumber23

      I certainly don’t want to see him back!

    • Lukas Sutton

      Gave up 6 runs on 10 hits in 5 innings the previous start. Didnt seem to be working super well during that start. Sure seems like a guy who has 2 poor starts, 1-2 good starts and 1 “meh” start a month. Like Volquez, but overpaid.

      • S Brooks

        That was the one start out of his last 9 that wasn’t a quality start.

        • Lukas Sutton

          Which is why the term “quality start” is useless. 3 runs in 6 innings isnt quality, its slightly above average to the rune of a 4+ ERA. I hate using a reporter created term as basis for anything. I would like to avoid my pitcher throwing for a 4 ERA.

          • S Brooks

            Ok then if you prefer in the other 8 most recent starts he has a 2.55 ERA.

  • John Marshall

    Had to turn away from AJ. He did do the Pirates wrong. Held them hostage making them gun shy on signing other players such as Morneau. I do think though he could be a big difference in this stretch run.

    • lonleylibertarian

      WOW! everyone is entitled to their own opinion – but not there own facts…
      1. The Pirates were not held hostage THEY chose to go in another direction – they could have had AJ for one year for LESS than the Phillies are paying him this year.
      2. If ANYONE should have had bad feelings it would IMHO be AJ – he and his agent KNEW he was probably worth more than the QO on the open market and the Bucs try and low ball him at $12M – THAT is an INSULT!
      3. The idea that the buds could not sign Bird or Morneau or anyone else because the money was “TiED UP” somehow in AJ just does not fly – the Pirates payroll is $30M or more lower than the other three teams they are contending with in the NL Central and around $12M lower than the last place Cubs.

      The failure to make a QO was a HUGE mistake – and I will continue to pound on it if they fail to make the playoffs – CHEAP does not alway work…

      • Andrew

        $12 million for a pitcher who after 2/3 of a season is projected to end up at 1.8-2.0 WAR. Seems like Dan Fox and Neil Huntington might have a little better information than us. Feel free to keeping pounding the table.

      • Lee Young

        Why would you want to QO a guy pitching like a #4 starter?

      • csnumber23

        Blah, a 37 year old AJ Burnett was not worth more than 12 Mil a year. I said it at the time and I am still saying it now. Insult? It is Burnett that said Pirates or retire, then we saw it was all about the highest pay check. I have zero interest in seeing him back. Especially at his price and not to mention having to give something to get him.

      • Paul Krzywicki

        I am with John on this one. AJ is still a strong No. 3 IMO. Plus, I like his fiery, win-at-all-cost attitude. Go get’em, albeit at the right price.

        • Lukas Sutton

          Nothing statistically shows AJ pitching like a mid-rotation guy this year for a team trying to contend. Even on our current team he is, again statistically, worse than Liriano, Cole, Morton and Worley. At best he is our 5 guy. Strong number 3 for a team not winning.

          • Paul Krzywicki

            It is hard to compare AJ from last year to this year, statistically, IMO because 2 things changed drastically. He went from a pitchers park to a hitters park and also went from having a plus defense to one of the worst defensive teams. Plus, you take away his 2-3 bad starts and he has been pretty consistent this season. I would trust him more than Worley in a meaningful game.

            • Lukas Sutton

              Except most sources that measure defense have us and PHI as pretty close, alllll of AJs issues stem from non-defense related issues (tough to blame a lack of velocity, way high walk rate and lower k rate on bad defense) and he hasnt been consistent since he has at least 1 start every month where he has given up 5 runs or more in 6 innings or less. So yes, if we take away his worst start of every month he aint bad (which you cant do and have validity). The guy has a near 4 ERA for a reason and it isnt defense or ballpark, its too many walks, not enough Ks and slower pitches. You trust him more than Worley because you remember last year. I trust Worley more because the stats show Worley is a better pitcher this year in nearly every metric. Better ERA, FIP, XFIP, SIERA. With a healthy Cole, AJ is the 6th best pitcher we have statistically. AJ is also hurt, and not going to get surgery until the offseason.

      • John Marshall

        AJ did hold the hostage $$$$ wise, trust me

    • SportOMania

      They never had any intention of signing Morneau.

  • Macchamp74

    Tim
    What about this report from Colin Dunlap that Tabata was a bad influence on Marte and they did not want him around Polanco?

    • cmat0829

      Who is Colin Dunlap’s sources? He’s barely above Mark Madden level in my view of spouting opinion as fact.

  • pilbobuggins

    I just saw that the phils are willing to eat most of howards salary to get him out of town,what if the pirates could work a deal with the phils for both aj and howard with the phils eating most of both salaries in exchange for a top fifty prospect and a low 100s prospect ( top fifty for aj, low 100 for howard)

    • lonleylibertarian

      Howard needs to go to the AL to DH – he and Pedro can battle for the HR title in that league for the next 4 or 5 years. Howard is a butcher defensively – worse than the two bums the Bucs currently trot out there believe it or not…

    • S Brooks

      Howard is owed 70 million dollars through the end of his contract. Even if “most” of his salary is, say, 80%, the Bucs would be assuming $14 million of the deadest dead weight that ever was. No frickin thanks.

    • csnumber23

      It is so clear you just love big names! Howard is DONE put a fork in him!

      • pilbobuggins

        I like guys who are better than what the pirates have at first now,even now in the twilight of his first base starter days he would out hit davis with one arm. In addition I brought this up because the pirates fo seems to look for trades where the other team pays a large part of the players salary. I.e. burnett and rodriguez. This seems up the pirates alley. Heck even if he’s a bench bat he would still hit more homers than ike and probably gabby combined.

        • S Brooks

          But Howard ISN’T out-hitting Davis. Or Gaby. Or Travis Ishikawa. And he plays in one of the hitter-friendliest parks in the NL.

          The guy is done. He is the Matt Morris of position players.

          • pilbobuggins

            He has more homers and rbis than davis and gabby combined, if the phillies are going to eat almost all of his salary I say take a flyer with very little risk and at worst you have a power threat on the bench,at best you have a guy who has been down the post season road many times and may just wind up being the guy who carries the pirates there. Is he a long term solution, no he is not,he is a veteran presence that the pirates could use for a playoff push. And all for a pittance which is right up the pirates front office alley.

            • S Brooks

              wRC+: Davis 105, Gaby 102, Howard 88. Which means even with the HR, he does less to help his team per plate appearance than either Gaby or Ike.

              Or if you prefer OPS: Gaby .714, Ike .706, Howard .682.

              Offensive runs above replacement (Fangraphs): Davis -0.9, Gaby -1.2, Howard -6.8.

              2B: Davis+Gaby 23, Howard 10
              TB: Davis+Gaby 147, Howard 140

              There are two other categories that Howard leads the duo in:

              K’s: Howard 118, Davis+Sanchez 88.
              Age: Howard 34, Gaby 30, Davis 27

              So the question is, how much of Howard’s $70M salary would you assume for this guy, who is under contract through 2016?

            • S Brooks
    • SportOMania

      Howard’s OPS this year is sub .700 against both lefties and righties. No thanks to him.

    • cmat0829

      WOW, Ruben Amaro would LOVE for you to be a GM in MLB. ALL OTHER MLB teams have turned down picking up Howard. He’s a mess. Another gem of a Phillies contract. Like Papelbon’s.

      Just laughing my ass off that most people want Pedro marched out of town with pitchforks but someone actually wants Ryan Howard in Pittsburgh????????

  • William Wallace

    Tell who in their right mind would walk away from that kind of money? Maybe they can get Tabata to retire.

  • Monsoon Harvard

    If Howard doesn’t cost anything, I’d take him. He’d be a good bench bat and he could easily win the first base job from what they currently have just by knocking in the runs that they constantly leave on base. He’d still out-homer Davis & Sanchez even if his average was the same as theirs. I think he’s in a slump right now anyway and he will pick it up just moving to a contender the way Derrick Lee did. Howard started the year hitting pretty good. He still has more home runs & RBI right now than Davis & Sanchez combined.

    I’d also take A.J. Burnett if he doesn’t cost much. I doubt they would have to give up any kind of prospect for either of them.

    • csnumber23

      Only way I would take Howard is if he was released, passed through waivers and then was signed at MLB veteran minimum. I would not give anything for him.

  • marcorincon

    Isn’t it ironic that A.J. may have burned his bridges with Pirates FO last winter and now they want him to say he’ll retire after 2014 before they’d take him back for an end of season rental? I say move on, don’t even get involved with A.J. at this point.

    • pilbobuggins

      I don’t disagree with the sentiment, it just seems to me that the other pitchers available that would be an upgrade for the pirates either cost to much in prospects or money. I hate to say it but aj may be the best option the pirates can afford that would actually help the team.

      • Lukas Sutton

        By best option, you mean option that doesnt cost any good prospects and will not be a huge money cost either and doesnt absolutely suck in every game. To get an actual mid-top rotation arm, you gotta pay something (especially at the deadline when prices are higher). It says something when we say “man, AJ comes cheap!” about how he is performing this year. AJ doesnt actually help us improve our rotation apart from maybe, and its close, being slightly better than our 5th best pitcher. 37 year old with a hernia who is barely outpitching Volquez most nights isnt a “best fit”.

        • pilbobuggins

          It’s not what I would do, l’m simply basing my analysis on what the pirates front office track record has been I.e. not ponying up the prospects or cash for top quality arms or bats that don’t come from their own farm ( martin being the lone overpay) I’m just pointing out that the pirates seem to go after players other teams don’t want and are willing to pay a large portion of the players salary. Do I think they can and should do better, sure I do,it just does not fit the pirates recent m.o. when making deals.

          • Lukas Sutton

            Which is a good reason why they wont go after any SP this deadline. They dont go after overpaid guys beyond age 36 often, and almost never when that is a SP. They love to trust the guys in house, and they have guys to trust. They also hate throwing away years of control on guys with bad contracts,which is why all rumors of AJ have “pirates lukewarm at best” included. Potentially having him making 8+ million next year clearly makes the pirates go “eh”.

  • John Marshall

    Never thought about it till the Liberian brought it up. Pedro to a AL team as a DH, excellent place for him. He can’t throw from 3rd and sucks for average.

  • cmat0829

    The correct title of this article should be ” Pirates confirm sky is blue, today is Friday”. DUH. NO ONE in their right mind (which disqualifies the Phillies’ management) would like the Burnett contract. Has anyone asked the Phillies, who were likely not competing with ANYONE, why they felt the need to structure this ridiculous mess?

    Stark has it right… Bucs likely are looking at pitching, 7th inning bullpen piece (or 2) and starters that could legitimately be their #3 (meaning an upgrade over Locke/Volquez/even Morton). Those guys are few and far between and will cost a lot (prospects) to acquire.

    Interesting tidbit and balanced perspective: anyone else notice that the Reds likely don’t have the ability to add even $2-3M in 2014 salary at the deadline? Not sure who their owner is, but expect Cincinnati’s version of “Cheap Nutting” mob to be parading outside GABP, right? With the Jays and Brewers also notably constrained, as well as the Royals, maybe NH was smart in not having a quick trigger in the Spring on spending that money and that improves our ability to add at deadline? All moot if we don’t take advantage of it, but helps to have balanced perspective on this stuff.