The free agent pitching market was given a jolt by yesterday's news that A.J. Burnett will return in 2014 and that he's open to pitching for a team other than the Pirates. Here's the latest batch of news and opinions about the veteran right-hander…
- With the Phillies having checked in on Burnett earlier this offseason, Ryan Lawrence of the Philadelphia Daily News notes that the Phillies could be aided by the fact that assistant GM Scott Proefrock is friends with Burnett and they live in the same neighborhood. Burnett and Cliff Lee share an agent in Darek Braunecker.
- Signing Burnett would put the Phillies over their stated payroll limit for 2014, though Jim Salisbury of CSNPhilly.com wonders if the team would spend extra to help attract the fans back to Citizens Bank Park. Trade protection could also be a factor; Burnett would definitely want some type of no-trade protection in his next contract since he wants to be near his Maryland home, and the Phillies only give out partial no-trade clauses.
- In order to fit Burnett into the Pirates' budget, MLB.com's Tom Singer proposes that the Bucs should offer Burnett a one-year, $17MM contract for 2014. Of that sum, $10MM would be deferred, which Singer feels is a win-win for both sides — the Pirates can keep their payroll in check, while Burnett gets to remain in a comfortable situation while still accepting a market-value contract.
- "Burnett might suddenly be the best free-agent starter left," writes Jeff Sullivan for Fangraphs. Burnett has had a better WAR over the last two seasons than Ubaldo Jimenez, Ervin Santana and Bronson Arroyo, and teams would be more amenable to signing Burnett to a short-term deal than taking a chance on a longer-term commitment to Jimenez or Santana.