Free agent A.J. Burnett decides not to retire, open to all teams

1/29/14 in MLB   |   Matthew_Shovlin   |   735 respect

Back in September, free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett said that he was "50/50" on whether he would retire at the conclusion of the season, and that if he were to pitch in 2014, it would be for the Pittsburgh Pirates. The Pirates, however, did not extend a qualifying offer to Burnett after the season, which put him in a tough spot. If Burnett does want to pitch again, he may have to do so for a different team.

Sep 27, 2013; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Pittsburgh Pirates starting pitcher A.J. Burnett release a pitch against the Cincinnati Reds at Great American Ball Park. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY SportsAfter taking some time to mull it over, Burnett has reportedly decided that he wants to continue his MLB career, and that he is open to all MLB teams.

Burnett has certainly endured an up and down career during his 15 years in the Majors, but he enjoyed two of his best seasons over the past two years. In 2013, Burnett posted a career-best 3.30 ERA over 191 innings, striking out batters at an NL-best rate of 9.8. It would be easy to deem 2013 as a fluke for Burnett, as he bookended a 3.30 ERA in 2002 with marks of 4.05 and 4.70, but he boasted a 3.51 mark in 2012, so it looks like he's found his groove, in large thanks to cutting down on walks.

Burnett was horrible during his three years with the New York Yankees before getting things turned around in Pittsburgh, so NL teams may put him higher on their priority lists than teams in the AL, but Burnett should be able to find a new home with relative ease. At the start of the offseason, Burnett was widely considered a top-15 free agent, and was arguably top-5 among free agent pitchers. With names like Masahiro Tanaka and Matt Garza off the market, the demand for a pitcher like Burnett should be high.

On the heels of two strong campaigns, Burnett should be able to net a two-year deal in the $30-35 million range. Of course, he may be unwilling to sign a two-year deal given his recent consideration of retirement, so there is a chance that he plays out the rest of his career on a year-by-year basis.
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