Is A.J. Burnett Riding Off Into The Sunset?

The question of A.J. Burnett sticking around for a 2014 season keeps coming up as the Bucs look to lock up a 2013 postseason berth.  We think a 2014 rotation without Burnett will be a gamble.  Look at what options the Bucs have…

Gerritt Cole will be the headliner.  Francisco Liriano will return.  Charlie Morton will get a bump in pay.  But the rotation past those three arms is questionable.

Jeff Locke and Kyle McPherson battled for the fifth spot in spring training with Locke winning the battle due to McPherson going down with an injury to his pitching arm that forced a scapel cut or three from Dr. Andrews.  McPherson’s return is questionable for the 2014 season.

Jameson Taillon is going to pitch in the Arizona Fall League, but certainly the Bucs won’t come out of the gate at the end of next March with Taillon on the roster.  We think he will be in Indy and working on a promotion sometime in July.

The talent is definently there with Locke, McPherson and Taillon.  Unfortunately so are the question marks.  One might consider Kris Johnson or stretching out Justin Wilson as another left-handed option.  Jeanmar Gomez is a thought.  Wandy Rodriguez is a huge question mark for 2014.

A deal for Burnett is an expensive insurance policy, but one that the Bucs are really going to have to consider.  Burnett is in the final year of that mega deal that the New York Yankees made him way back when.

One thing the Pirates will do is to make a qualifying offer to their right-hander which would be one-year and give or take $14 million bucks.

Although he has said he will go out a Pittsburgh Pirate, should Burnett sign for a mega deal on another big league club, the Pirates get compensation in the draft.

We trust Burnett at his word, if the Bucs want him back, they can make it happen.  As long as Burnett wants to play ball another year and after watching him pile up the strikeouts in 2013, it’s hard to imagine A.J. just walking away when there are still some innings in his tattooed right arm.

But it’s a long time until that decision is going to be made, their is some unfinished business tonight at PNC Park to take care of.  When the rain clears the Bucs are going to try to go a game up on Cincy with Burnett on the mound.

A solid start tonight could continue to make the decision to sign Burnett for next season a bit easier.

Tags: Pittsburgh Pirates

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