A.J. Burnett is a 36-year-old free agent with over $120 million in career earnings and is considering retiring to spend more time with his family. He has stated publicly that if he does pitch in 2014, it will only be for the Pirates. But the veteran right-hander isn’t going to take a pay cut after a superb 2013.
MLB.com’s Tom Singer has an idea that might make everybody comfortable:
Burnett is torn between his real family and the Pirates family? Neither professional pride — nor, for that matter, the union — would let him take a pay slash?
Burnett could satisfy both of those conditions by making a midseason return, a la Roger Clemens a few years back. That would allow Burnett family time, and for the Bucs to shoehorn the prorated portion of an eight-figure salary into their budget. And, just in case a jolt is needed both in the clubhouse and at the gate, imagine the impact of a mid-June Burnett landing.
Clemens posted a 2.30 ERA (194 ERA+) in 19 starts with the Astros in 2006 after inking a one-year deal in late May and a 4.18 ERA (108 ERA+) in 18 appearances with the Yankees in 2007 after signing May 6.
Burnett had a 3.30 ERA (107 ERA+) and 209 strikeouts in 191 innings this past year for Pittsburgh.
The Yankees appear to have moved on from free agent Manny Machado this winter, but could they be turning their attention to Rockies superstar Nolan Arenado? That’s the idea floated by Andy Martino of SNY, who hears that GM Brian Cashman has been involved in recent discussions concerning the third baseman. No official comments have been made to the press yet, though, and it’s not clear whether the Yankees would prefer to pursue Arenado prior to the 2019 season or partway through it.
The 27-year-old infielder earned his fourth consecutive All-Star nomination, Silver Slugger, and Gold Glove award in 2018 after slashing .297/.374/.561 with 38 home runs, a .935 OPS, and 5.7 fWAR across 673 plate appearances. There’s no question he’s provided immense value to Colorado’s lineup over the last half-decade, and his consistency and incredible power at the plate helped form the basis of the record $30 million arbitration figure he presented to the team last week. The Rockies countered at $24 million, however, and in doing so may have jeopardized their chances of convincing the infielder to forego free agency in 2020 and take a long-term deal instead.
Assuming he declines to negotiate an extension with the Rockies, Arenado’s decorated résumé and career-best 2018 numbers should attract plenty of interest around the league — a reality that could put considerable pressure on the Yankees (or any other interested party) to finesse a deal sooner rather than later. For now, the club is prepared to enter the 2019 season with hot-hitting third baseman Miguel Andújar, whom Martino speculates would be the “centerpiece” of any trade with Colorado.