Pittsburgh Pirates’ ace A.J. Burnett turned into a great story in 2012.
After a trade that brought him to Pittsburgh from the New York Yankees, Burnett had one of his finer MLB seasons, winning 16 games while posting a 3.51 ERA, the second best numbers of his 14-year major league career, all while emerging as a leader in a young Pirates clubhouse.
When the Bucs open the 2013 campaign April 1 against the Chicago Cubs at PNC Park, Burnett will take his rightful place on the mound as the Pirates Opening Day starter.
But will it be for the last time?
According to Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review, Burnett is considering retirement following the 2013 season.
However Biertempfel also notes that if the 36-year-old decides to keep playing, he might only consider an offer from the Pirates for next season.
“I enjoy it here and I enjoy these guys,” Burnett said. “If I was to keep playing, I wouldn’t want it to be anywhere else but Pittsburgh. My wife and I talk about it now and then. But it’s something I’ve got to put on the back burner. I’m just going to concentrate on this season, one start at a time.”
Burnett is in the final year of a five-year, $82.5 million contract that he initially signed with the Yankees, so he won’t be hurting for cash if he decides to walk away.
But that also could be very good news for the Bucs, as it may not take a huge deal to bring him back for a couple more seasons.
It’s worth noting that the Pirates and Burnett have not yet talked about an extension, but it’s something that should be considered if the price is right. Burnett fit in nicely as a Pittsburgh-type of guy and as long as he can still pitch, it would be nice to see him in a Pirates uniform.
However if this is Burnett’s final ride, it would be something if he played a major role in the Pirates breaking their two decade long losing streak.