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A.J. Burnett still hasn’t decided if he’s retiring, so the Pirates keep waiting

Jan 20, 2014, 10:15 AM EDT

A.J. Burnett Getty Images

Two weeks ago Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage said he was assuming that A.J. Burnett will retire, but the 37-year-old right-hander has yet to make a decision with less than a month until pitchers and catchers report to spring training.

Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette reports that Searage reached out to Burnett in an effort to learn of his plans, but hasn’t heard back. General manager Neal Huntington has been speaking to Burnett’s agent, referring to the situation as “still working through the process.”

Burnett indicated early in the offseason that he’ll either call it quits or re-sign with the Pirates, which means Pittsburgh must be willing to spend another $10-$15 million in payroll and boot someone from the current rotation if he opts to return. They’d gladly do both given that Burnett was one of the best pitchers in the league last season, but it’s still putting the team in a tough spot.

  1. stex52 - Jan 20, 2014 at 12:25 PM

    My first reaction was, he’s an employee and they are paying him well; why isn’t he more considerate of their needs?

    My second is, would the Pirates look out for his interests if the ball was in their court? Probably not.

    • historiophiliac - Jan 20, 2014 at 12:30 PM

      People forget that “at will” can cut both ways.

      If he sucked, they wouldn’t wait on him, but that’s the beauty of skilled labor.

    • raysfan1 - Jan 20, 2014 at 12:49 PM

      My first thought, fair or not, was “Brett Favre.” However, he’s technically not an employee at this moment; he’s a free agent–he’s just made it clear that, if he decides to play, it will only be for the Priates. Neither side really owes the other anything. The Pirates know they are better with him than without him, so for now they are willing to wait.

  2. 4d3fect - Jan 20, 2014 at 12:30 PM

    “less than a month until pitchers and catchers report to spring training”

    Somehow that’s all I can see in this article.

    • Old Gator - Jan 20, 2014 at 1:49 PM

      Yep. Around the time of the Stupor Bowl, I start keeping an eye out for sentences like that.

      • stex52 - Jan 20, 2014 at 2:08 PM

        Oh, no. It means I haven’t started working on the fantasy draft at all. And time is running thin. I’m in trouble.

  3. gloccamorra - Jan 20, 2014 at 12:40 PM

    I think he’s gonna pull a Roger Clemens and decide he’ll pitch in June. That’s bad news for Searage, he has to teach Volquez how to throw fewer than 100 pitches in five innings, or the bullpen is toast. Come to think of it, NO WONDER Searage reached out to Burnett.

  4. cackalackyank - Jan 20, 2014 at 1:05 PM

    No, AJ is waiting to see what Tanaka get like every other starter. He is not dumb. Why sign with the Pirates now for 5-7 million less than he might get if he waits another 4-5 days to “decide”? There are four other decent starters not signed less than a month before pitchers and catchers report. Matt Garza, Ubaldo Jiminez, Ervin Santana, and Bronson Arroyo are their names.

  5. musketmaniac - Jan 20, 2014 at 3:42 PM

    this has nothing to do with tanaka or money. he wasn’t at his best at the end, being pulled for cole hurt his pride. He signs late, he starts late, he is stronger in September. just like his season in 2012 or liriano last year.

  6. drone501 - Jan 20, 2014 at 5:39 PM

    i would like to see them get a few more bats in the line up. byrd was good but not long term because of his age. morneau was ok but best years behind him. alvarez will be gone in two years. i see a letdown this year but big things ahead starting in 2015.. minor league bats will be ready for the majors.

  7. jcioffi1485 - Jan 20, 2014 at 6:42 PM

    oh puhleeeease. This dude is gonna pull a Jaime Moyer and pitch as long as teams are willing to pay him seven figures each year.

  8. musketmaniac - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:37 PM

    Like most teams the Pirates are going to rely on more than 5 pitchers to get thru the season. late may would be a perfect for him to join the rotation. Liriano, Wandy , Cole, Locke,Morton and Volquez will get the job done nicely until than. You can add jenmar and a few young guns to that depth list.

    • dylanthom2013 - Jan 20, 2014 at 7:53 PM

      Who has more upside: Cole or Taillon?

  9. penguins87and71 - Jan 20, 2014 at 9:15 PM

    I would say Cole right now.

    • dylanthom2013 - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:11 AM

      That’d be some 1-2.

  10. nymets4ever - Jan 20, 2014 at 10:35 PM

    The guy has a chance to become millions of bux richer just by saying yes, no pressure to even perform bc every penny is guaranteed. What’s the deal, dude? Trust me, there will be plenty of country music and deer to shoot in the backwoods of Arkansas with your redneck pals in 2015.

  11. musketmaniac - Jan 21, 2014 at 5:19 PM

    Cole, Tailon has to completely dominate aaa if he wants to pitch in the bigs pre September

    • dylanthom2013 - Jan 22, 2014 at 1:11 AM

      That’d be some 1-2.

  12. musketmaniac - Jan 21, 2014 at 5:24 PM

    I think A.j. is from Maryland

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