Now that the Pittsburgh Pirates have decided not to tender starting pitcher A.J. Burnett a $14.1 million qualifying offer, the ball is in Burnett’s court on weather on not he wants to continue pitching at age 37.
According to his agent, that decision isn’t coming anytime soon as the right-hander is undecided on weather on not he wants to continue his career.
“A.J. remains undecided,” his agent Darek Braunecker wrote in an email to the Tribune-Review on Tuesday.
Burnett has indicated multiple times he would either pitch for the Pirates in 2014 or retire.
After a pretty productive season in which he led National League starting pitchers in both strikeout rate (9.8 strikeouts per nine innings) and groundball rate (56.5 percent, Burnett likely still has enough left in the tank to help the Bucs for one more season.
But at what cost? The Pirates still seem content on wanting to bring Burnett back.
“Nothing has changed in terms of our situation with A.J.,” general manager Neal Huntington told the Trib on Monday. “This decision is not a reflection of our valuation of A.J. It’s more a reflection of our desire to build a championship roster. A $14.1 million (offer) is a significant chunk of our estimated budget for next year.”
However the longer that Burnett takes to make his decision, it could put the Bucs in a bind.
Free agents could begin signing with clubs at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday, and the longer the Pirates wait on Burnett, the less time they spend on looking for a potential replacement.
They aren’t in too much of a hurry as signings won’t start happening for a few weeks likely, but once starting pitchers drop off the board, the Pirates don’t want to be waiting on a decision still.
You have to wonder what Burnett would be coming back for. The only things could be to get this Pirates team to a World Series.
Otherwise he has accomplished just about everything a pitcher could accomplish in his 15-year career.
He won a World Series rings with the 2009 Yankees and the 2003 Marlins (was injured and didn’t pitch). He’s thrown a no-hitter, eclipsed 2,000 career strikeouts and he was just a part of the streak-breaking Pirates team that broke through to make the playoffs for the first time since 1992.
Other than making an All-Star team and getting the Pirates to the promised land, there isn’t much left to do. The decision likely also won’t be about money, as he has already made over $120 million in his career.
It will be interesting to see what Burnett decides as the Bucs’ offseason strategy could revolve around his decision. For both parties involved, hopefully that decision is made in the upcoming weeks.