The Pirates needed pitching regardless, given the probable departures of Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez, so I won’t draw any Russell Martin-related conclusions from this one (in terms of available dollars). And, well, I get the feeling the Pirates already know they’re out on Martin, anyway.
Today, the Pirates brought back starter A.J. Burnett, who took a one-year sojourn in Philadelphia in 2014, on a one-year, $8.5 million deal (Jon Heyman). Apparently Burnett really wanted to return to Pittsburgh, because he declined a $12.75 million player option with the Phillies. Assuming he doesn’t need the money, I can’t really blame him.
It’s a great deal for the Pirates, who hosted Burnett for his very successful 2012 and 2013 seasons. Last year, Burnett posted a 4.59 ERA, but a 4.14 FIP and 3.95 xFIP. At 38 next year, he’s probably not going to be more than an innings eater for the Pirates, but they needed a dependable arm.
The signing probably doesn’t do much to the market, as Burnett seemed destined for retirement or the Pirates (maybe the Orioles), and the Pirates probably weren’t going to re-sign either of Liriano or Volquez anyway. Speaking of which, although I think this is a fine signing for the Pirates, as I look ahead, that Pirates rotation could be rough next year if they don’t get a nice impact from some of their young arms.