The Pittsburgh Pirates wanted A.J. Burnett to remain with the club after last season, but instead he signed with the Philadelphia Phillies to make $16 million in 2014 and have a player option for the 2015 season that the Pirates were not willing to include.
Burnett (6-9) tossed a gem in his latest outing, going 8 strong while striking out six San Francisco Giants and allowing only four hits. The Pirates certainly like what Burnett could potentially do for them as they make a strong bid for a playoff spot.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports reports the Pirates are not interested unless Burnett does not pick up his option for next year. Heyman says the interest is probably “mild at best.”
This obstacle holding up a trade across the state of Pennsylvania could come in the form of $12.75 million. That is the amount that Burnett’s player option could rise to if he starts in 32 games this season. Right now he has 21, but will very likely reach the next mark of 24 which would give him more money on his option. Barring an injury, which would no doubt call off all trade talks, Burnett is likely to have a $12.75 million option for next season.
In the event a deal could be reached it’s hard to gauge what the Phillies could get in return for Burnett. Looking to the Pirates farm system might be the only place for Philadelphia to start, unless Pedro Alvarez is truly up for grabs given the emergence of Josh Harrison who can play third and outfield well. The Phillies are shopping for position players and Maikel Franco likely won’t be ready in 2015.
As for Burnett, he may remain on the Pirates’ radar, but the player option is likely to keep him from returning to Pittsburgh.
Last week the Orioles and Phillies began initial talks for a deal involving Burnett, but it appears no traction has been gained. The New York Yankees, in desperate need of starting pitching, have said they were not interested in bringing their old ace back.