pittsburgh-piratesPittsburgh Pirates pitching coach Ray Searage* told a radio station in Pittsburgh that he’s proceeding under the assumption now that 37-year-old righty A.J. Burnett is retiring. Burnett has had a very successful two-year run in Pittsburgh after a disastrous stint in New York, but has reportedly been contemplating retirement for some time.

And you’re wondering why I’m writing about this.

Well, for a while now, Burnett’s self-imposed options for 2014 appeared to be the Pirates or retirement, although the Orioles have long been connected to the free agent. Even as recently as two days ago, Dan Connolly reported a “sense that [Burnett] is the guy the Orioles want” to satisfy their offseason-long need for a starting pitcher, while acknowledging the possibility that Burnett could retire (or head to another team, in theory).

If Burnett does retire, as Searage has said he’s expecting, the Pirates and Orioles are suddenly left without a primary option for their rotation heading into 2014. Say, have we heard the Pirates and Orioles connected to any other pitching options out there?

That’s right: each of the Pirates and Orioles has been among the teams connected to the Cubs with respect to Jeff Samardzija, should the Cubs opt to trade the 28-year-old righty. While the baseball world waits on the Tanaka-Garza/Santana/Jimenez dominoes to fall before any possibility of a Samardzija trade resurfaces, it’s possible that the Pirates and Orioles have simply been waiting on Burnett. Neither team is believed to have the resources to sign any of those four premium free agents.

Now, all that said: do I think there’s a perfect system at work here, where the Pirates and Orioles will immediately hop on the phone with the Cubs about Samardzija the moment Burnett retires (or signs with one of them, but not the other)? Nah. The point here is mostly that, should Burnett no longer be available to either of these teams that would like him, their efforts to secure a starting pitcher may have to shift. They’ve been known to be interested in Samardzija in the past, though the price at the time may have scared them off, especially considering that Burnett was still a possibility. That’s as far we can go at this point. It’s just something to watch.

*(Which I read as “Sea Rage,” and I immediately picture giant waves rising up out of the ocean like fists, shaking them at a nearby skyscraper, screaming, “I’ll show you for upstaging my natural beauty! Sea rage!!!”)

  • bushybrows74

    My compliments on both the quality and quantity of articles on this site. We get 7-10 articles a week that are fresh and relevant. I go to the Chicago Tribune for an article that says that Tanaka is a free agent and the Cubs are interested. Sheesh.

  • Myles

    Seeeeeeeeea Raaaaaaaaage!!

    • cubzfan

      Would a power boat that set out on a sea rage get mad props?

    • Fishin Phil

      I got that Sea Rage on charter boat out of Cape May, NJ once. Took some Dramamine and it went away.

  • JB88

    “Sea Rage” – Sounds like a new Wave Runner.

  • Fastball

    I am pretty certain the Pirates have been planning on Burnies retirement. He stated right after the end of last season he was done. He could change his mind at the last minute. I would think the Pirates are filling his rotation spot from within their organization. So I wouldn’t count on them to come calling for Shark. I don’t hold much stock in Baltimore looking for Shark either. They are cheap as hell, they won’t part with any of their top pitching prospects and without those guys they have a hard time putting together what Theo would be looking for in trade. I think Baltimore goes out and signs a scrap pile starting pitcher to get them buy til either of their two kids are ready. This organization could make Ricketts look like a big spender.

  • http://bleachernation.com woody

    I was wondering if the Orioles signed Burnett would they lose a draft pick? After the report yesterday saying that Samardzija likely wouldn’t sign an extension with any team he is traded to I have to wonder just what in the hell he really wants? He says he wants to be a Cub. The Cubs say they want him. Do you get the feeling that there is more than money involved here? Remenber Shark was outspoken about Garza and Feldman being traded last year. I think there is some resentment remaining due to the methods being employed by this FO. I personally think we have hit a fork in the road. I think if we had ears to hear the back channel negociations we would find that Shark is basily saying if the FO wants to go all in on another 100 loss season then they can count him out. My hunch is that this Tanaka signing is a way for the FO to say they are commited to sooner rather than later. And if Tanaka is not signed it will probably be, see you later!

  • Teigh Cubs Teigh

    I personally can’t see the Pirates being active in trying to acquire Samardzija even if they do lose Burnett to retirement or another team. Any connection between the Pirates and the Cubs on Samardzija would likely be of the tire-kicking variety in my opinion. I think he would be a good fit, and I would love to see some of the young Pirates players and minor leaguers with the Cubs, but I would be willing to bet that they will continue to rely on internal solutions. It’s worked pretty well for them the last year or two and my assumption is that they would prefer to double down on their internal guys rather than trading them away just yet.

    Living in Pittsburgh I get a pretty good gauge of what the Pirates are up to and I think they’re content to avoid making a big splash this offseason. And surprisingly most of the Pirates fans I know are content to sit out from any major moves as well, so anecdotally I don’t see much in the way of fan base pressure out of fear of losing their new-found support forcing their front office’s hand in any way either.

    I hope I’m wrong though, I would love to ‘plunder’ their farm system.

  • Jay

    “Sea Rage” is the new Beck/Rage Against The Machine collaboration, right?

  • Porkslap

    Remember when the Cubs were good?

    • Porkslap

      Sorry for the snarky comment but I just feel saddened that we are already hoping to trade our best pitcher before the season begins. And he has two full years left on a rookie contract. Sigh.

    • ChiMike702

      Feels like 20 years ago.