Oct 3, 2013; St. Louis, MO, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) throws to a St. Louis Cardinals batter during the first inning in game one of the National League divisional series playoff baseball game at Busch Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports

Pittsburgh Pirates Rumors: Could Nationals become players for A.J. Burnett


Pitchers and catchers report to spring training across Major League Baseball next week, but there is one person that could be absent from any deadline: Pittsburgh Pirates free agent A.J. Burnett.

Sep 17, 2013; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett (34) reacts on the field before playing the San Diego Padres at PNC Park. Mandatory Credit: Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

The saga between Burnett and the Pirates leading to Burnett testing the open market is well documented, but while all along the competition was viewed to be between the Bucs, Philadelphia Phillies and Baltimore Orioles, the Washington Nationals could play a role inn things as well.

According to CBS Sports’ Baseball Insider Jon Heyman, speculation is going around baseball circles that the Nats could consider a late play for the talented Burnett at a time some other would-be contenders seem to be fading away.

Heyman also notes that the Pirates should still be viewed as the leading contender for Burnett’s services, considering how well that marriage has worked since he came over from New York.

But with chances for the Orioles and Phillies reportedly diminishing, the Nats are seen as a team that could emerge as a possibility.

According to published reports Friday, the Baltimore Orioles and Philadelphia Phillies — considered the Pirates’ main competition for Burnett — might be out of the running to sign the free-agent right-hander.

I have thought, and still do think that ultimately the Pirates and Burnett will repair their differences and Burnett will be back in a Pirates uniform in 2014.

I may be in the minority there, but the market suggests that the Pirates are Burnett’s best option and as long as he remains unsigned, I still feel the Bucs are the favorite for his services.

But with pitchers and catchers reporting to Bradenton in four days, it would be nice to get a resolution to that situation by then.



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