The Pittsburgh Pirates signed Edison Volquez to a one-year, $5 million deal on Wednesday, so what does this mean for the future of A.J. Burnett?
According to a club source, the signing of Volquez will not hinder the Pirates from re-signing Burnett. Neal Huntington has said in the past that the Pirates could add a bounce back candidate and still have room to add Burnett.
Volquez pitched last season with the San Diego Padres and the Los Angeles Dodgers. He isn’t the ideal bounce back player as Volquez has definitely under-performed in his career. Last season he had a 5.71 ERA and in 2012 a 4.14 ERA. The right-hander has a career 4.75 ERA.
Volquez’s biggest issue is the amount of walks he issues. In his career he has a 4.75 BB/9 ratio. This is not the same situation as with Francisco Liriano, where he had two years of control issues. Volquez has always struggled in this department.
Ray Searage is an excellent pitching coach, but he is not a miracle worker.
With that being said, Volquez cannot replace the loss of Burnett. Can anyone really replace Burnett? No one can replace that passion, leadership and fire he has. The man loves the game.
So the question is will Burnett retire or return to Pittsburgh? How much can the Pirates afford to spend on him?
With the Charlie Morton contract extension and the addition of Volquez, the Pirates may not have as much left to spend on Burnett. Originally Pittsburgh was willing to spend between $8 million and $10 million. One has to imagine that figure may not be the same any more.
Will Burnett take anything less? The veteran right-hander was making $17 million dollars last year, some of which the New York Yankees paid.
According to 93.7 The Fan out of Pittsburgh, they reported that Burnett wants nothing less than the $17 million dollars that he made last year.
If that is the case, Pittsburgh cannot afford to dish out that kind of money, especially since they still need a first baseman.
There are no rumors of Burnett in talks with any other teams, so that makes one believe that scenario is out.
Burnett said during a phone call with 93.7 The Fan’s Collin Dunlap on Monday that he either wants to be in Pittsburgh or else be a family man.
The 37-year-old pitcher also hinted that he is not interested in making more money. He has given the stability to his family that they need. He is interested in pitching and winning a championship.
“I don’t see myself going out and testing and trying to get all the money or more money”, said Burnett. “That is not what I am in it for. That is what you play for when you’re younger. You play for the contract, the stability, to be able to take care of your family, your kids’ family. Like you mentioned I’ve got that so I have taken more pride in being a Pirate because of what I have been able to help, been able to do with other guys in the locker room. Not just A.J. Burnett, not just my numbers or what have you but the fact that I know that I made this guy better, I made this guy better, I made this guy better. I have helped this guy. I have done this. Things I never knew I had in me.”
Burnett gives a lot of credit to the city that helped turn his career around.
“I enjoy the city. My family loved the area. I love the area,” said Burnett. “The city took me in, they took me in more than any team in an city has in my whole career, before I even got here, and that was special to me. Without a doubt I’d love to be a Pittsburgh Pirate.”
However, Burnett says that he is still undecided at this time on returning to the Pirates or retiring. There is no interest in going elsewhere. He wants to either remain in Pittsburgh or retire and his family will decide that.
Obviously the Pirates and their fans want Burnett to come back, but with every day that passes the likeliness of that seems less.
Burnett was a huge part of the Pirates success, and one would think he will be welcomed back with opened arms if he chooses. His two kids are nine and 13, so if he chooses to walk away, no one can blame him.
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