The Latest A.J. Burnett Non-Update

A.J. Burnett Pittsburgh Pirates
We’re still getting the same news on A.J. Burnett that we got last March. (Photo Credit: David Hague)

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.

  • It’s a little encouraging to hear he is working out and doing his offseason routine. He wouldn’t be doing that if there wasn’t a chance. I thinknit was Rosenthal who reported he was still working out.

  • Guys.

    Here’s how I see this playing out. I know how it is when you love the sport and you see your career winding down. Sometimes it takes you a while to make that change.

    I would wager A.J. would come back mid-season if the Pirates called on him. He could take his good sweet time getting ready and sign on with the Bucs probably when someone fails or gets injured.

    AJ has to know how many innings he has in his arm at his age. Some guys rely on roids to “improve” this late in their careers, but I see Burntett as a straight shooter. He knows he was getting tired toward the end of last season. Still, he gave everything he had and wanted to do more.

    Imagine the boost he could give a team signing on after the All-Star Break. Think about it like a semi-retirement? Or, maybe, he just doesn’t want to go and announce his retirement. Why does he have to?

    The pull of the game for an old warrior such as himself, and how much love he found helping the Bucs turn things around… You could hardly go out any better.

    Whatever it is, it is. We’ll just have to wait and see. And if there is another chapter in the A.J. Burnett story, I’ll be happy to read it.


    • SI: I agree that two years ago, with the end of his run in NY, he was more than ready to consider retirement. But, something happened that he or nobody else could ever predict – he became an excellent pitcher again, a solid No. 1, and also became the leader of the pitching staff, and one of the leaders of the team. I think his family got involved with the Pirate Family and it was an enjoyable two years. And, with children in school, he is weighing the possibility of being away for March, April, and May – I like your idea of him coming back in June/July, but I do not picture AJ as being the type of guy who will drag this on with that “just one more year” mentality. If it was quitting smoking, I think he would be in the group that just quits cold turkey, rather than the group that quits many times over many years.

      Has anyone even heard of whether he is throwing at this point? The older you get, the more prep you need, and if he is not working out right now, even June could be in question. Pitchers and Catchers 3 weeks away?

      • I did read somewhere that he was still working out, just don’t know where I read it at.

  • IMO: The Pirates set him free by not giving him a qualifying offer. At this point wouldn’t the Pirates have to dfa someone off the 40.

    • What do you mean by “The Pirates set him free by not giving him a qualifying offer.”? Even if they would have made a QO, he was under no obligation to accept it, and it would be meaningless if he retires. The only way it would help the team is if he would play for another team. So, in effect, by issuing a QO, the Pirates would have been saying “We don’t really believe you when you say the only options you are considering are returning to our team and retiring.” Nice message to send …

      • Most people believed at the time that by not offering a QO the Pirates sent the message that he wasn’t that valuable to them. In reality his market value is close to $17 million. By not giving a QO the Pirates gave up any further rights to Burnett. So it’s a matter of fact the Pirates set him free. Based on you’re own argument they set him free by not offering the QO and putting it in his court. It’s kinda like the saying if you love someone set them free. It would have been a good faith move by the Pirates to show that they want him back.

  • How about this…

    Do we really NEED Burnett this year. Not really. Nice luxury but no.

    We’re losing 2 starters after this season (Liriano and Wandy). Maybe year off and come back in ’15?

    • I don’t think we’d really want a take-a-year-off and then come back scenario next year. IF he retires, I would guess that he’s retired and the Pirates would keep it that way (or at least not bring him back in 2015)…just too much that can go wrong in that scenario (health-wise). He’d really have to keep up with his regimen.

  • Word around Balt is that he was offered 3yrs/$40mil, so if it was about the money, he would’ve gone.

    Therefore I think it IS retirement or the Bucs.

    If he comes back, it is a bonus.

    • foo- that makes no sense. If he is thinking about retirement, why in the world would he have ANY interest in signing a 3 year contract. He would likely be looking for the best 1 year deal if it was about the money, not a 3 year deal.

  • Well played sir. Well played indeed!

    Speaking of which, Balfour signed a 2 year $12 mill deal with the Rays today. How unlike WWTBD. So let’s give that meme a rest for a bit, shall we?

    • The Rays have often signed and paid for relievers so when it comes to relievers WWTBD has never and probably should never apply. Tim has pointed this out in the past.

  • No worries. He probably wouldn’t pass the O’s physical anyhow.

    • noochiebowl2000
      January 23, 2014 6:49 pm

      AJ is going to pull a Clemens and sit out spring training and April and be back and ready to go by June 1st. Along with a prorated salary. He will be fresher for the stretch run and won’t cost the Pirates a lot of money. And he can spend a few more months with his family.

      • Well chances are (hopefully) we would have no need for jim by June. He’s far more valuable to us before Taillon is ready, but sure….i wouldn’t be mad to see him come back. Just hasn’t worked as well for other pitchers (Oswalt for example)