The Pittsburgh Pirates made no secret that they wanted starting pitcher A.J. Burnett back when free agency began. The veteran arm wasn’t sure if he wanted to retire however, so he told the Pirates he’d need time to think about it.
Pittsburgh had no problems with that and waited for Burnett’s decision. They continued to wait and wait until Burnett, just days ago (and days before catchers/pitchers were to report to camp) finally said he would be coming back.
The Pirates again extended their offer to Burnett, but he has continued to test the market despite that, something that has surprised Pittsburgh.
Burnett seems to be in full free agency mode, definitely testing the waters. There were reports late in the week that the Phillies and Orioles may no longer be in the hunt. The Pirates really want him back and have been surprised that Burnett has been testing the market.
The Pirates opted not to give Burnett a $14.1 million dollar qualifying offer before free agency began, something that Burnett reportedly would have accepted. But a small market team like the Pirates simply can’t be handing out those type of deals, one year or not.
Pittsburgh is still reportedly in the running for Burnett’s services, but it’s certainly been a strange courting to say the least.