Pirates president wants A.J. Burnett back if he doesn’t retire

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A.J. Burnett has said he’s weighing whether to re-sign with the Pirates or retire at age 36 and Pirates president Frank Coonelly left no doubt that he’d like Burnett to re-sign for 2014, telling Bill Brink of the Pittsburgh Post Gazette:

We’d like to have A.J. back. Everybody has made that clear; we’ve made it clear to A.J. He’s got a decision to make, first and foremost, whether it’s time for him to spend more time with his family or whether he thinks he can go another year. If he decides that he wants to come back, we definitely want A.J. back.

Burnett pondering retirement could actually work in the Pirates’ favor in that he presumably won’t be looking for a multi-year contract. They also have the option of making him a qualifying offer, in which case Burnett could accept and get a one-year deal for around $14 million or the Pirates would get draft pick compensation if he were to sign elsewhere.

Burnett struggled in his playoff start, but threw 393 innings with a 3.41 ERA in two years with the Pirates, including 191 innings with a 3.30 ERA this season to finish a five-year, $82.5 million contract handed out by the Yankees once upon a time.

The 2019 Hall of Fame Class will be announced this evening

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This year’s Hall of Fame ballot was released just over two months ago. This evening at 6:15 PM Eastern, all of the arguing stops. Well, actually, it doesn’t stop, because it never stops. Not really. It just transforms into something more pointless, because as of then, the 2019 Hall of Fame class will be officially announced live on MLB Network.

The entire ballot can be found here. Two weeks ago I went through it, candidate-by-candidate, in order to determine who I would vote for if, in fact, I had a vote. For what it’s worth, I ended up with Mariano Rivera, Roy Halladay, Barry Bonds, Roger Clemens, Mike Mussina, Curt Schilling, Edgar Martinez, Larry Walker, Manny Ramirez. and Scott Rolen.

No, not all of those guys will be elected. I strongly suspect we’ll get three, with an outside chance at a fourth. Based on the best Hall of Fame voting tracker out there, Mariano Rivera is a lock. So too, it seems, is Roy Halladay. Edgar Martinez — on the ballot for is tenth and final time — likewise seems to have the support to finally make it. He was 20 votes short last year and, so far, he has picked up more than 20 new votes among voters who have revealed their ballots. Assuming that previous Martinez voters who have not released their ballots do not backtrack — a safe assumption — Edgar should, at long last, finally make it into Cooperstown.

The last guy who, at present, is trending above the required 75% is Mike Mussina who, at present, is included on 81% of public ballots. There is a tendency for the non-public voters to be stingier with their support, however, so there’s a pretty decent chance that Mussina will fall just under the threshold and will find himself back on the ballot next year. A jump from last year’s 63.5% support to something in the 70s, however, would bode very well for his 2020 chances. If he somehow makes it this year’s class will rival last year’s four-person BBWAA-elected class as one of the better ones in living memory.

Who will join Harold Baines and Lee Smith on the stage in Cooperstown in July? We find out this evening, just after 6 PM.