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pittsburgh-piratesIn a surprising twist certain to have a significant impact on the pitching market …

A source tells Travis Sawchik that, despite prior indications to the contrary, 37-year-old righty A.J. Burnett is not going to retire. More importantly, he’s not going to limit his team search to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

After falling off in New York, Burnett had something of a renaissance in Pittsburgh over the last two seasons, posting FIPs of 3.52 and 2.80(!) in 2012 and 2013, respectively. He was worth 7 WAR over that span. He’s getting older, but there’s reason to believe he could still be very good in 2014.

So, assuming Sawchik’s report is accurate …

The first level Cubs-related stuff: do I see the Cubs going after Burnett?

Well, given that he’s likely to be a short-term, quality option on the market (not tied to draft pick compensation), I could see the Cubs having interest as a flippable asset. But, given that he’s likely to be a short-term, quality option on the market, I see him having many more competitive options out there. I suppose it depends on what Burnett is looking for: an opportunity to win (guys on the verge of retirement tend to favor such things) or a lot of money (maybe the Cubs could outbid the market on a short-term deal?). The Cubs could kinda-sorta give Burnett the competitive thing, you know, by flipping him to a contender in July. But, again, he might not really be looking for that.

The second level Cubs-related stuff: what does Burnett do to the market for free agents?

Since the Cubs are looking to pick up at least one more starting pitcher, preferably on the cheap, a quality option like Burnett can only help. Purely an example: maybe a suitor for Jason Hammel prefers Burnett, gets him, and then Hammel has to turn to the Cubs on their preferred deal. Hell, maybe Burnett’s presence softens the already soft market for guys like Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez, allowing the Cubs to swoop in for a song. I doubt that latter one, but it’s a consideration.

The third level Cubs-related stuff: what does Burnett do to the market for Jeff Samardzija?

Assuming the Cubs do try and shop Samardzija before the season starts: There’s obviously a slight negative impact here, given that teams needing pitching now have one more free agent option to pursue before giving up prospects for a guy like Samardzija. On the plus side, Samardzija is likely to be far more desirable, all things equal, than Burnett. On the down side, Burnett could head back to the Pirates or head off to the Orioles (who’ve been connected to him in the past), definitively taking them out of the market on Samardzija.

All in all, it’ll take a little time for the impact of this decision to fully be felt. It depends on which teams are interested in Burnett, and which teams he’d legitimately consider pitching for in 2014.

  • BlameHendry

    The guy is 37. We should even give him the time of day considering out situation. And I doubt he’s very covetable to many other teams at that age either, so the impact on Samardzija is probably 0.

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      Oy. You may as well have just quoted the portions about Burnett’s awesomeness the last two years and about why he could appeal to the Cubs on a short-term deal and then responded, “nuh uh.”

      • hansman

        Ya huh.

      • Brocktoon

        It’s not why would the Cubs pursue Burnett, it’s why in the hell would a guy who will be in demand and is looking for a short-term contract sign with one one of the worst teams in the league?

        He’s a Pirate or an Oriole.

        • Jon

          Cash $$$ brah…

          • Brocktoon

            If there’s one thing Tom Ricketts knows how to do, it’s throw around large sums of cash.

            • aaronb

              I certainly don’t see the Ricketts winning a bidding war against the Pittsburgh Pirates.

              • Brocktoon

                Not sure if sarcasm, but we lost one to them just last year on Jason Grilli. Which is the saddest thing imaginable.

    • Jon

      The only problem with that theory, is that at the age of 36, he put up a WAR of 4.

      He’s like a fine small batch bourbon.

      • Jon

        Now I want to go home and have some drinks.

    • ssckelley

      Since he has proved to pitch effectively his age does not matter. It only means someone won’t be dumb enough to give him a 10 year deal…..except maybe the Yankees.

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    Didn’t Burnett years ago go very public about his desire or love to pitch for the Cubs? I think before he sign with NYY.

  • Jon

    I’d offer 1/16 or 2/28 and see if that gets it done.

  • Kyle

    Burnett on a one-year deal would be awesome and also renew my annoyance that we didn’t get an outfielder to go with him.

    • ssckelley

      Agreed!

    • Jon

      ON the downside of course

      He doesn’t make the Cubs an immediate world series contender
      He would cost $$$ against the fictitious MLB salary cap we’ve invented
      He would mess with the plan
      He doesn’t come from the Red Sox or Padres organization.

      • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

        When the sun shines you complain it is too bright… don’t you?

        • Jon

          No, I complain that even with the sun it’s still too damn cold!

          • ssckelley

            You have a good point.

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            Yeah that sounds about right

      • When The Musics Over

        Don’t forget about every dollar not spent on MLB payroll being 100% reinvested into baseball operations. At this point, the baseball operations budget might include the stadium renovation, errrr….expansion.

        • aaronb

          They also include debt service, legal fees and owners dividend.

    • BenW

      Kyle – Nelson Cruz is available.

      I kid, I kid.

      I’d happily overpay for AJ if he’s open to us. Doubtful that he will be though – probably looking to win AND get paid.

    • When The Musics Over

      How much would you be willing to pay Burnett on a one year deal? How much would the Cubs be willing to pay him? How much would the Cubs have to go beyond a competitive team’s bid for his services to actually have him agree to pitch for the Cubs?

      The Cubs may have to pay $16M or something like that (using Koruda as a comp). I guess it could happen, though I’d say it’s unlikely.

    • Jason P

      I agree, but I think I’d actually prefer a two-year deal.

    • ari gold

      Gotta get to that magic 75 wins, right Kyle!

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    If we over pay for Burnett on a 1-2 year deal (maybe an option year added) I’d say it means the Cubs are absolutely looking to trade Shark.

    If I’m the Pirates I’m a little pissed off right now, because if he’s looking for one more paycheck they have no chance to land him.

  • mjhurdle

    There is 0% chance that Burnett signs with the Cubs. he is going to the Yankees.

    (in before Blackhawks)

    • ssckelley

      :D

      Damn, these blogs have all kinds of humor today. All the prospect porn Brett has been feeding us must have everyone in a good mood.

      • ssckelley

        Errrrrrr….except Jon

        • DarthHater

          Whaddya mean? This IS Jon in a good mood. You don’t want to see him in a bad mood…

          [img]http://farm8.staticflickr.com/7363/12197337534_83bb111a85_n.jpg[/img]

  • http://www.w2wn.net Cerambam

    I don’t think it will have tooo much impact on the shark market only because it seems to me that the cubs will hold onto him until the deadline at which point the teams interested in him can be largely different. Additionally, I believe Burnett will be successful this year (meaning competetive teams would go after him), but I can see many teams going after shark instead based on BOTH current competitiveness, 2 years of control, and the possibility of an extension for long term control. Combining these two ideas, I don’t believe that this is really that bad for the cubs similiar to what Brett said.

  • Cubsin

    Well, I’m not sure the Orioles and Pirates will even be in the hunt come late July. If he signed with the Cubs with the understanding that they’ll flip him to a contender, he’d be more likely to reach postseason play. But I don’t see much upside for the Cubs, since winning a few more games would cost them draft position and pool money as well as two-thirds of his 2014 salary.

    • Brocktoon

      And if the Orioles or Pirates aren’t in the hunt, they can’t trade him to a contender? Nobody who is actually in demand signs with a team knowing he’s not going to finish the year with them.

  • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

    Here’s a little bit of Burnett speaking about wanting to play for a Cubs back in 2008.

    http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2008/06/cubs-might-take.html

    • Jason P

      That was back when the Cubs didn’t suck. Now that he’s looking for his last contract, I think his sentiment might be different. Of course, I don’t know that for sure.

      He would certainly be a great addition.

    • coondawg

      Damn Rich Hill if he produced like he should of this would have been an entirely different team (2008 team) ugghh

  • Jason P

    Perfect fit on a high AAV 1- or 2-year deal. Without sacrificing future payroll flexibility, it would make us better short term and it would only cost money that wasn’t going to be used elsewhere anyway.

    Of course, Burnett might not want us, so that could be a problem. And realistically, Burnett doesn’t seem like the kind of pitcher this FO would pursue.

  • http://www.survivingthalia.com Mike Taylor

    He was considering retirement this year, if he’s signing anything, it’ll be a one year deal. No vesting options, no option years, no incentives.

    • Edwin

      Agreed.

  • FortyFour

    Kinda doubt Burnett would go back to Yankees and I am not sure that they would have him back either. It did not go too well for him when he last played for them.

  • Senor Cub

    Shark, Wood, Jackson, Arrieta, and Burnett…..now that is a scary rotation!!!!

    Let’s not get carried away…. I would rather they pitch Rusin, Villanueva, or bring back Baker. It’s not like Burnett would be holding a spot for someone, they don’t have anyone in the minors and Burnett can only burn you. He is not getting younger. Upgrade the toilets with that money.

    • aaronb

      Agreed! Or just pocket the money. Call it a little bonus for a great season Tommy Boy!

  • Rooster

    Seriously, AJ? Most of these threads are people trying to predict the future…mostly longshots. Fact of the matter is that the Cubs are years away from doing anything significant. These threads entertain us.

  • Ivy Walls

    Conjecture is a beautiful thing when it is not confronted with actuality. AJ Burnett is not going to walk away from $14-16M if he can still compete and still have someone there to pay for it. That is reality. Second, it would be nice to have a contender do that now, but most contenders have their rotation pretty much set and picking one now is a bit risky so what makes the whole scenario possible is that the Cubs are used to both get a contract (no risk for 2014), place him on the showcase block for a trade to a contender what the Cubs have done the last few years.

    The thing is if that is the plan than the only ceiling regarding money is A) what is the ceiling that a contender would be willing to pay for 2 months against Burnett’s continued effectiveness (see Dempster as to value, $15M over 6 mos is $2.5M per mo, or a July trade costs $5M for what is a Hendricks type of prospect, fine that is a system pick up). B) the risk to the Cubs is the $10M during the April-July and if Burnett blows out his shoulder/elbow or suddenly falls off in effectiveness.

    • Ivy Walls

      all in all Burnett is a path to buy another average to above average prospect.

  • Funn Dave

    As some people have pointed out already, the dude is old. Like, really old. So he’s not a good fit for the Cubs, who won’t be very competitive for the next year or two. And he’s not likely to affect the market for Jeff much, because Jeff will be looking for a long-term deal. So….

    • http://www.bleachernation.com Brett

      His age doesn’t really matter if the Cubs were signing him to flip.

      Samardzija’s contractual desires have nothing to do with the Burnett impact – the impact is if Team A signs Burnett instead of trading for Samardzija.

  • brainiac

    jed will only sign him if he’s on the waiver line first

    • Jon

      And coming off TJS

      • DocPeterWimsey

        And has the death sentence on 12 systems!

  • dan77

    why sign him leave the money for the 2015 budget 2014 is all ready down the tubes

  • Revery

    Suk-min Yoon signing soon per MLBTR? Wonder if Cubbies are still on him.

  • https://www.facebook.com/AnotherSpaceSong Bret Epic

    Was navigating to BN to ask this exact question.

  • Tommy

    How bout the Cubs offer him a fair amount of money, and tell him they’ll trade him to a playoff contender later in the year. It’s a win-win for him. He’d get the money he wants, and he’d get to be with a contender at the end of the year (something not guaranteed at this point).

    • DocPeterWimsey

      How is it guaranteed mid-season? Such trades are far from automatic.

      • Tommy

        Was just throwing out an idea, bud. Nothing is guaranteed in life – I realize this. The assumption would be that he would pitch well enough that teams fighting for playoff spots would want him and that the Cubs would be willing to do what it took to trade him.

        We are all just usually talking hypothetically here as we can’t foretell the future.

        • Brocktoon

          So if he signs with another team they would just hold on to him if they didn’t have a chance at the playoffs?

          Unless people think all the stories about him considering retirement were a fabrication, Burnett was considering sitting at home and doing nothing all year. I don’t think he’s avoiding retirement so he can go be miserable on a 65 win team for 4 months and then have them dictate where he has to play the final months of his career.

          • Tommy

            Well, what you think about why he’s avoiding retirement and his reasons for retirement may be entirely separate things. Fact is, only A.J. Burnett really knows what A.J. Burnett is thinking.

            I merely made a suggestion about a possibility of how the Cubs could attain him because, well, this is a Cubs site, and this was an article about Burnett and the possibility of him becoming a Cub was part of it. I didn’t say it was likely, I actually don’t think it’s likely. I merely gave it as an interesting possibility, and probably the only way Burnett would sign with the Cubs in my opinion.

  • TulaneCubs

    What the hell were the Pirates thinking in not offering this guy a qualifying offer?

    • YourResidentJag

      The Pirates bubble may have burst. It’s interesting to me that two waiver pickups where necessary to strengthen their offense, both of whom are with other teams now.

      • YourResidentJag

        *were

      • hansman

        People are prognosticating that the no central is locked up by the pirates, reds and cardinals for the rest of the decade and the Cubs are doomed because not enough free agents have been signed.

        Each of these teams have some significant weak points.

        • Brocktoon

          The Cardinals have one losing record in the 2000s. They still have a decent farm system, and have plenty of freshly graduated young players. They’re 2015 us only with 30 more wins.

        • Blackhawks1963

          The Cardinals are the most complete and deep organization in baseball. The Pirates are absolutely bursting with frontline talent in their system. You’re out of your mind if you don’t think both clubs are very well poised for a long time to come.

          • YourResidentJag

            The Pirates aren’t as good as you think. The Cubs are one-two frontline starters from being as solid right now, and that’s me saying this without any prospects yet to play in the bigs. The Cards…well….you’re right there.

            • Brocktoon

              Two frontline starters is a pretty huge deal. And the Pirates farm system is just about as good as ours. It’s not like they’re the Brewers. The only edge we have on the Pirates right now is the assumption that some day before I die Tom Ricketts will allow the Cubs to actual money.

              • YourResidentJag

                So, you don’t think the Cubs could obtain both with the 1st rounder this upcoming draft and a top pick in 2015. Granted it’s going to be awhile before they both come up to MLB…but still.

                • Brocktoon

                  I think banking on 2 consecutive high 1st round picks to become frontline starters is wishful thinking. I also don’t expect Huntington to sit on his hands for the next 3 seasons.

                  • YourResidentJag

                    And yet people we’re saying that about Taillon and Cole but apparently you have them as frontline starters for the Pirates, right??

                    • Brocktoon

                      No…You’re the one who said the Cubs needed 2 frontline starters to match the Pirates.

                      And there’s an ocean separating Taillon and Cole from unknown pitchers A and B who haven’t even entered the draft yet. They have track records and have avoided attrition as they progressed through the minors. Expecting a lock top producer from a hitter at the top of the draft is optimistic enough, expecting 2 consecutive pitchers to avoid their arms exploding and to progress as expected is silliness.

                    • Brocktoon

                      It’s like saying in the 2017 draft when we stop picking in the top 10:

                      Hey we should be able to pick up an elite CF here. “Wait that’s crazy”
                      Oh you probably said the same thing when people talked about Mike Trout.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      So, what does Cole and Taillon or their projections as being frontline starters have anything to do with the Cubs or future drafts or anything that might result? The Cubs could draft well and have they’re own Cole or Taillon in the next two years. Cole or Taillon could fail to adjust in the bigs or get injured. Who knows really? Did you know last year that they be solid starters, with one not even yet in MLB? Probably not. You’re a Pirates fan aren’t you? That explains why you’re so grumpy. :)

                    • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

                      I’ve been carting Cole around my fantasy team for two years, and I tried to draft Taillon in last year’s draft (but someone beat me too him and I snagged Fernandez instead).

                    • Brocktoon

                      Sadly, I’d probably be happier if I was a Pirates fan. Again, you’re the one who brought frontline starter into the equation, not me. The point stands though, you can’t just expect to snap your fingers and have a frontline starter.

                      I love our front office, and think we finally have a nice developmental system in place(not just players who we’ve gotten from being the 2nd worst team in baseball, but an actual system) but they’re not immune to failures. It’s happened to Epstein, it’s happened to Hoyer, it’s happened to McLeod.

                      I fear some people are setting themselves up for disappointment with our farm system expecting our BA projected 2016 lineup to work out perfectly. Guys are going to flame out, and making up a 30 win deficit isn’t going to just happen because we collected prospects.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Well, yeah, I did bring in frontline starter into the equation…and why not, it’s kinda what the Cubs are lacking. So, say they trade Shark to Toronto for A Sanchez..there’s potentially one. And you’re saying that if they draft #4 this year and 1, 2, or 3 in 2015 they’d miss on both drafts and not be able to acquire another?

                      That’s seems odd to me. BTW, Cole and Taillon haven’t proven anything either. It’s not these guys are 5 yr career MLB pitchers with tremendous track records.

                    • Brocktoon

                      So you trade Samardzija for Sanchez, you know have a guy with the potential to be a TOR starter. You’ve also traded away one of the few actual proven assets and kicked the can down the road another year or 2.

                      Cole and Taillon have proven a hell of a lot more than the Cubs 2014 and 2015 draft picks respectively.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      Again, Cole and Taillon have a track record of proving nothing in MLB. Yep, I trade Shark if Sanchez is the return. YES, YES, and YES! And if you think the Cubs are going to to be passing on the next couple of years for the hope of being competitive in 2016 or starting 2017, you may want get those Pirates tickets because that’s how things are panning out. Hate to say it you, but playoffs are coming for a while.

                    • YourResidentJag

                      *aren’t

              • Blackhawks1963

                Pirates have Cole, Taillon and several other high end pitchers. Plus some nice positional talent. To go along with McCutcheon, Alvarez, Marte and Walker is pretty damned exciting.

        • hansman

          And its even more interesting that we should not count on any cubs prospect yet other team’s prospects can be counted on to crush the Cubs.

          • Brocktoon

            I think the point (at least my point) is the Pirates and Cubs have comparable farm system rating wise. The difference is the Pirates are coming off of a 94 win season and the Cubs are coming off of a 66 win season.

  • Blackhawks1963

    There is minimal chance AJ Burnett wants to play for a dog club in 2014. Looks like he really wants to play for Baltimore in his home state and is still very open to Pittsburgh. My guess is he ends up in either of those places.

  • Blackhawks1963

    Likely interest in Burnett would include a lot of teams. Angels, Rangers (with Holland out), Mariners, Orioles (where I bet he lands), Tigers (no Fister and Verlander recovering), Royals, Indians, Braves, Mets, Pirates, Dodgers, Diamondbacks.

    Doesn’t cost a pick and probably wants a 1 or 2 year deal max. He will be gobbled up very quickly. Feeding frenzy in all likelihood unless he is singularly focused on pitching in Maryland.

  • YourResidentJag

    Chris Cotillo ‏@ChrisCotillo 58m
    #Indians, #Mariners remain favorites to sign Scott Baker. Decision expected in next couple of days.

  • YourResidentJag

    Chris Cotillo ‏@ChrisCotillo 2h
    Source on #BlueJays pursuit of Ervin Santana: “They will not even try until it’s too late.”

    • Blackhawks1963

      Santana has never been good. Some team will immediately regret the contract they give him. Hence probably why he is unemployed at this late stage.

      • http://www.bleachernation.com Luke

        The guy who posted a 6.0 fWAR on a FIP of 3.30 in 2008 has never been good?

        That’s ridiculous.

        • YourResidentJag

          He also had a solid season last year.

          • http://www.michigangoat.blogspot.com MichiganGoat

            Yeah he was good most years except 2012, a 127 ERA+ and 2.9 WAR in 2013 is soooooo horrible, but if Blackhawks says it it got to be true.

  • YourResidentJag

    Jon Heyman ‏@JonHeymanCBS 5h
    jays hoping to win FA waiting game; they like ervin, ubaldo & drew. samardzija also discussed. http://cbsprt.co/1creuR0

  • http://BleacherNation blewett

    We’re not signing Burnett. The most likely scenario is the one Brett pointed out where this helps us sign Hammel. Oh, and Jag’s point is valid. The Pirates proved you can draft two successful TOR arms in consecutive years. Cole is already good and Taillon might be even better. That’s really all he was trying to say. It’s possible. These are strictly my opinions!

  • Cheese Chad

    What is TOR?

    • Patrick W.

      Top of Rotation. Your #1 and #2 starters.

  • Cheese Chad

    Thank you! I kept seeing it thinking Toronto Blue Jays.

    • coondawg

      Packer fan smh….shaking my head. Lol

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