For the past several months the assumption has been that A.J. Burnett would either retire or return to pitch for the Pirates, with calling it a career at age 37 seemingly being in the lead of late.
However, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune Review the free agent right-hander “will return to pitch in 2014” and “will be open to pitching for a club other than the Pirates.”
As both Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez would attest to the free agent pitching market was already very well-stocked for this late in the offseason and Burnett was one of the best starters in the NL last season, throwing 191 innings with a 3.30 ERA and 209 strikeouts.
It’ll be interesting to see if teams are willing to make a multi-year commitment for big money and/or if Burnett is even looking for multiple years considering he apparently gave strong consideration to never pitching again. And because the Pirates didn’t make him a $14.1 million qualifying offer they won’t receive draft pick compensation if he signs elsewhere.
The Reds have signed free agent reliever Oliver Perez to a minor-league contract, the team announced Saturday. The deal comes with a major-league invite and could be worth $1.25 million if Perez secures a roster spot this spring, with an additional $500,000 in potential performance bonuses.
Perez, 36, is coming off of a two-year run with the Nationals. He produced a 4.64 ERA, 3.3 BB/9 an d10.6 SO/9 through 50 relief appearances and 33 innings with the club in 2017. The veteran lefty hasn’t kept an ERA under 4.00 in at least four seasons, but he continues to be undeniably solid against left-handed batters, holding them to a .227/.301/.364 batting line over 18 1/3 innings last year.
While returning southpaw Wandy Peralta appears to have locked down a bullpen spot already, Perez will still compete for another role against fellow left-handers Cody Reed and Amir Garrett, both of whom also have experience in the rotation. If Perez doesn’t break camp with the team, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon notes, he’ll be permitted to opt out of his contract. The Reds are currently looking to bounce back from a dismal performance in 2017, one in which their bullpen ranked 28th among major league teams with a collective 5.63 ERA and -1.2 fWAR.