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The Burnett timelines. More from Huntington. And how the Pirates wanted to spend $17 million

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SOUTH HILLS – Good morning to you, on this, the first day of the rest of our lives without the company of A.J. Burnett. One of the interesting details that surfaced last night was the Pirates offered Burnett $12 million to return to pitch in 2014, a deal that exceeded most speculative estimates. Jon Heyman first reported the offer and we then were able to confirm via a source.

The offer was a significant development. Not only were the Pirates apparently willing to raise their offer to be more competitive in the Burnett bidding but it also sheds some more light on their approach to the offseason.

 

THE BURNETT/PIRATES OFFSEASON TIMELINE 

After learning of the $12 million offer, the question then became ‘Why didn’t the Pirates just make Burnett the $14.1 million qualifying offer back in November?’ It’s because the Pirates preferred spreading their risk – and approximately $17-$19 million in spending power – rather than allocating most of it in Burnett.  Huntington told me yesterday the Pirates planned as if Burnett was not coming back.

 

The offseason timeline began with the Pirates electing not to extend a qualifying offer to Burnett and then on Nov. 19 they were deeply involved in the bidding for Josh Johnson. Johnson signed for $8 million with San Diego and there was some speculation the Pirates offered slightly more. But let’s assume they were willing to meet the $8 million pricetag. Johnson appeared to be one of their top “high-upside” pitching targets.

 

At the winter meetings in December, the Pirates became involved in the James Loney bidding with several national reporters suggesting he was atop their free agent wishlist. Later after Loney signed with Tampa Bay, Huntington noted at Piratesfest the Pirates were competitive in the annual average value of the deal ($7 million per) but were not willing to go to three years with Loney.

 

“I wouldn’t change anything we did or did not do this offseason,” Huntington said yesterday. “We had got to a point in time where we told A.J. if something comes together we’re going to need to know soon if we’re in or out because we are going to allocate those dollars elsewhere. The opportunities really never came to fruition.”

 

So the Pirates were willing to commit $15-17 million to Johnson and Loney in 2014, and then the additional $2 million for Clint Barmes.  This suggest the Pirates had about $17-19 million to spend this offseason. Again, Huntington doesn’t determine payroll but he determines how it’s allocated. He was hesitant to extend the QO – rightly or wrongly – out of the fear Burnett would accept and limit flexibility this offseason.

 

“From a value you standpoint you can argue that $14 million should have been a no-brainer and we understand that. But the reality is in ten to fifteen markets a qualifying offer, if accepted, becomes a large chunk of payroll and something – right or wrong -we were not comfortable in doing at that time. It’s always easy to look in hindsight. If he’d accepted the offer it would have had a significant impact on what we could have done … If would have affected our approach on the first base market, the right field market, and bullpen market. If we had crystal ball and seen this is the way it would play out maybe things are different.”

 

(Since, no free agent has ever accepted a QO, since Burnett seemed unlikely to take a paycut from his $16.5 m salary of 2013, since it took until Jan. 28 before he decided to return to pitch, I still think it was unlikely he accepted a QO).

 

Huntington added had Burnett accepted the QO the club would not have signed Edinson Volquez. Of course there are no crystal balls. The Pirates were close but missed on Johnson and Loney. That pairing, I believe, would have constituted their ideal offseason shopping.

 

MEMORIAL MOMENTS IN THE OTHER BURNETT-AS-A-PIRATE  TIMELINE 

 

Rob Biertempfel put together a comprehensive timeline of Burnett here. Some highlights:

 

2012

*Feb. 20 The Yankees trade A.J. Burnett to the Pirates for minor leaguers Diego Moreno and Exicardo Cayones. The Yankees agree to pay $20M of the $33M left on Burnett’s contract for 2012 and ’13.

*March 1 During a bunting drill, Burnett fractures a bone around his right eye. He has surgery two days later.

*June 28 Burnett beats the Phillies to become the first Pirates pitcher to notch eight straight wins since Dock Ellis in 1974.

*Aug. 16 Hanley Ramirez admires his two-run homer in the fourth inning, gesturing toward Burnett as he rounds the bases. When Ramirez strikes out in his next at-bat, Burnett yells at him to “Sit the (expletive) down!”

 

2013

*March 27 During an interview, Burnett tells the Tribune-Review he would only want to play for the Pirates if he doesn’t retire.

*July 25 In the midst of a bases-loaded jam, Burnett motions for relievers to stop warming up. That draws the ire of manager Clint Hurdle, who dressed down Burnett.

*Sept. 11 After a two-run single ticks off Clint Barmes’ glove, Burnett shouts angrily at the shortstop. They exchange words in the dugout but quickly patch things up. Burnett later says he was unhappy with the defensive shifts, not with Barmes’ play.

Wipe those tears away folks, it’s time to say goodbye.

 

NOW ABOUT THOSE $12 MILLION IN THE PIGGY BANK… 

The other interesting thing about the $12 million figure is it suggests the Pirates have relatively significant flexibility moving forward.

That seems like a number that could put them in the ballpark for a Kendrys Morales or Stephen Drew or Ubaldo Jiminez, or take on salary in a trade. The catch with the remaining free agents is they of course are tied to draft-pick compensation. It’s not just dollars.  Mike Trout and Michael Wacha have been recent late-first-round impact selections and you don’t want to miss on future All-Star. But on the other hand are clubs overvaluing those picks? On Clubhouse Confidential yesterday, there was a study shown where only 19.4 percent of players selected from 11-50 overall go on to produce more than six wins above replacement in their careers.

Huntington indicated at the winter meetings the club was unlikely to give up a first-round pick in such a signing. He said yesterday he wasn’t sure if the club had a major move in it before Opening Day. But he also noted this has been  a strange offseason.

 

-TS

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Comments

  1. LeeFoo says:

    Travis…exactly…people want to take all this in a vacuum. It doesn’t work that way.

  2. NMR says:

    Great work, Travis, although I’m gonna call you out on this one:

    “(Since, no free agent has ever accepted a QO, since Burnett seemed unlikely to take a paycut from his $16.5 m salary of 2013, since it took until Jan. 28 before he decided to return to pitch, I still think it was unlikely he accepted a QO)”

    How many times on this very blog have you written that qualifying offers suppress free agent contracts?

    You know darn well that Burnett wasn’t getting $16m on the open market with free agent compensation attached, and I’m sure his agent did as well.

  3. NMR says:

    Speaking of these awful qualifying offers that absolutely must be changed this very moment, how come nobody has bothered to mention that the system would’ve worked perfectly in this situation?

    The Pirates, a small market team, had a star player hitting free agency. They had the opportunity to retain said player with the qualifying offer that almost certainly would’ve been better than what other teams could match, given the draft pick compensation.

    Let me repeat, a small market team would’ve been able to retain a star player. Which is the entire point.

    But that doesn’t fit the narrative, does it?

  4. Arriba Wilver says:

    Foo—do you believe the sources’ reports now that AJ was coming back?

    :-D

  5. PetroSteel says:

    12M should have done it!

    Very happy to hear that the Bucs went that high! Very Disappointed that AJ did not keep his word because the offers were close enough.

    The Bucs did not give you a QO. Thank goodness for your sake becoause you got a couple Mill more.

    No way you could have expected the Pirates could compete for your services on the open market. So why lie and say that it would be the Pirates or retire? Why lie?

    So long AJ. Thanks for your time here…Don’t let the door hit you in the _ _ _ on the way out!

    Let’s play ball! Thanks NH, CH, BN for not signing this guy.

  6. Arriba Wilver says:

    ?

  7. Arriba Wilver says:

    I’m guessing you will boo him when he comes back? ;-)

  8. Travis Sawchik says:

    NMR, You might have a point and perhaps I’ve underplayed the chance of Burnett signing a QO. Still, I think in a pitching-starved market a player wouldn’t be crazy to think he could do better than the QO even if just seeking a short-term deal. Moreover, I don’t think agents/players foresaw how protective clubs would be of their draft picks.

  9. Nate83 says:

    I’m not sure it makes sense to say if they are willing to spend 12 in February on AJ why not 14 in November. 12 was probably already them stretching and offering more then they usually would because they came up empty in other pursuits.

    The bigger question is why is 17-19 million all they are willing to spend in this offseason where we know they had increased revenue of more then that and they are competitive. We also know that 2015 brings a lot of expiring contracts replaced by cost controlled players. I’m confident NH will find a way to spend that money at some point during this year. If for some crazy reason the Pirates are not competitive I could see it being used to extend somebody like Walker but if they are competitive it will be used at some point to improve this years team in my opinion.

    The 17-19 million just makes me feel like the money will be spent when the time is right comment isn’t exactly happening and that disappoints me more then the failure to spend that money up until this point. Maybe if the amount was 27-29 million we would have Loney on the team right now and a better option then Volquez at starting pitcher. My guess is we still wouldn’t have had AJ.

  10. Nate83 says:

    I personally will always root for AJ. He brought a lot to this team. I’m happy to hear 12 million was offered but I don’t hold it against anyone for taking the extra 4 million and being closer to home. We are talking about 4 million like it’s nothing but it is definitely something even for someone who has made as much as AJ in his career.

    I also am trying to keep in mind this isn’t a decision he made on his own. His family definitely influenced the decision as well. 80 miles away is much different then 200 miles.

  11. The Gunner says:

    Petro

    At least you’re not bitter over AJ’s departure.

    P.S. – You forgot to include FC in your last sentence.

  12. NMR says:

    Travis explained it perfectly, Nate…

    “So the Pirates were willing to commit at least $15-17 million to Johnson and Loney in 2014, and then the additional $2 million for Clint Barmes.”

    You spend $14m on AJ in November and you obviously can only have the chance of getting Barmes out of those three targets.

  13. NMR says:

    Still sounds like an awwwful lot of massaging to fit your own narrative, buddy.

  14. The Gunner says:

    Nate

    I, too, will root for AJ (except when he pitches against the Buccos.) He did a lot to get both the long time fans like us as well as many new fans interested in Pirate baseball in the 2 years he spent here.

    However, those fans in Philthadelphia are much more demanding than fans in the ‘burgh. Let’s hope the Bucs re-acquire him when the Philties have their fire sale at this year’s trade deadline.

  15. Jim S. says:

    In fact, I don’t think he was getting $16 million on the open market, NMR, until the Phils got bad Cole Hamels news.

  16. Jim S. says:

    I hear you, Gunner, except that I believe there is a 2015 option involved also. That might complicate things.

  17. 21sthebest says:

    I really wanted A.J. back and would’ve gone to the $16M figure. But I hope he gets lit up like a Christmas tree all year for playing to the fans last November with the Pirates or retirement and it’s not about the money hooey.

  18. dcpinpgh says:

    If you mean a real star, then a QO does nothing. No real stars are paid only $14 million. If you mean an “star” like “office hot” then I agree with you.

  19. Jim S. says:

    I have always been uneasy when people talk about $5 million, or whatever the current value is, per win on the open market because everyone has a different amount to spend on payroll. So, lower revenue teams cannot place such a high value on wins and then spend it. They need to be always seeking bargains. I believe Huntington alluded yesterday to understanding how one could justfiy AJ as a fair value at $14 million or $16 million, even though the Bucs could not match that amount. I believe that is what he meant a few weeks back when he was roundly criticized for saying the Pirates could not pay market value for players. I think he meant that the market generally sets a value that only the richest teams can afford.

  20. NMR says:

    Oh so now AJ wasn’t a “real” star? Lord. Keep pushing the narrative.

  21. NMR says:

    Amen.

    EASILY my biggest pet peeve in the baseball blogger community is the incessant push to analyze things on a $/WAR basis.

    The one and only situation analysis like that is at all useful is in the absolute abstract form, looking at the league as a whole. Otherwise, using it to judge value on a team by team basis is flat-out wrong. I promise you no actual real major league baseball organizations are using these numbers.

  22. Justin says:

    hopefully this post makes people realize that it wasn’t as simple as “WE ARE BEING CHEAP.” There is other cool stuff that they wanted to do with that money. David Todd, one of the bigger critics of the whole situation, tweeted this link out. hopefully he voices some of these ideas and helps calm down the part of the fanbase that he speaks to.

    Put that 12 million toward Chase Headley or Pablo Sandoval next year…
    Pedro/Sanchez platoon to end all platoons.

  23. MJS says:

    Travis,

    Are the Pirates going to use the surplus of relief pitching as ammo for lefty 1st basemen, I’m hoping Cruz goes to Mariners so Smoak becomes available he hits righty’s better and has power profile to fit in at PNC. Plus even with Rodney they need bullpen help. Maybe a Mazzaro/Gomez and Oliver for Smoak deal. There bargaining power should be high based on supply/demand. I would feel more comfortable with Lambo being backup plan. What are your thoughts?

  24. BostonsCommon says:

    “only 19.4 percent of players selected from 11-50 overall go on to produce more than six wins”…

    I’ll take that with a grain of salt, for a couple reasons.

    1. That number is going to be on the rise, industry wide. Has to be. With the elite training that is now available to prep level and younger ball players, year round across the country? Training, instruction, nutrition are all vastly superior now. And that’s before they’re even into a professional development system.

    2. If I’m NH, I don’t really care what other teams have done with their picks in that range. I look at the guys I’e drafted in that range, and keep in mind that I’m consistently getting better at what I do, and improving how we evaluate players.

    3. Speaking of guys I drafted in that range:
    - Reese McGuire (14)
    - Blake Taylor (51)
    - Barrett Barnes (45)
    - Wyatt Mathisen (69)
    - Josh Bell (61)
    - Stetson Allie (52)
    - Vic Black (49)
    - Brooks Pounders (53)
    - Tanner Scheppers (48)

    4. I see two guys who are already in MLB, albeit not for the Pirates.

    5. Its still pretty early for some of these guys, but I like the chances of all but Mathisen, Barnes, and Allie to at least get a cup of coffee.

    6. And barring injury, I like the chances of Black, Bell, and McGuire to all exceed 6 WAR for their career. Blake Taylor is an interesting kid too. Things could work out for him profiling as a lefty starter in PNC.. Or a lefty reliever that sits mid 90s.

  25. Andrew says:

    NMR I think you are reaching here, you have one potential instance where the QO could have worked for a smaller market team against how it has been used in the majority of cases, New York and Boston account for half the QO made. Then you have the Rays and Royals(likely) getting draft pick compensation. The system is just a tax on free agent salaries and should be abolished.

    Yankees: Kuroda x2, Swisher, Soriano, Granderson, Cano
    Red Soxes: Ortiz, Drew, Ellsbury, Napoli
    Rangers: Hamilton, Cruz
    Cardinals: Lohse, Beltran
    Braves: Bourn, McCann
    Nationals: LaRouche
    Rays: B.J. Upton
    Mariner: Morales (haha)
    Royals: Santana

  26. Travis Sawchik says:

    MJS,

    Huntington said at the winter meetings he thought the team had a surplus of relief arms to deal from. We already saw one such deal with Mikolas going to Texas for McGuinnes. So perhaps a larger such deal could be made. I think most relievers should always be available for the right price.

  27. Nate83 says:

    I agree it is a horrible way for us as Pirate fans to justify what is the appropriate amount for them to offer a free agent. It’s I nice tool to use to point out why exactly free agency is not the best way for a team like the Pirates to spend their money.

    As Jim points out the Pirates for the most part should not pay the 5-7 million value that is put on the per WAR numbers. They have to more efficient with their money then a team with twice their payroll. Getting Wandy and AJ for half of their actual salaries are great examples of getting players that added considerable value without giving up much. There is no way the Pirates had AJ on their team the last 2 years if they had to pay his perceived value.

  28. Andrew says:

    There has been some improvement in top pitching prospect (1-20 range) being successful more recently. Not sure if that is development or better ranking. But only hitters ranked 1-20 in the top 100 are successful more often than not. With success being defined as >2.5 WAR over first six years.

    One thing I find slightly assuming is the eternal optimism of fans have for their teams prospects. I have seen an endless trove of predictions of a successful rotation of Cole, Tallion, Glasnow, Kingham. Just using the success/bust rates of the top 100 in the most recent time period there is about a 2% of this happening.

  29. NMR says:

    1) I’m not sure this logic is sound. Even if we agree that players are getting better, then that inherantly means so is competition. If pitchers get better at baseball and hitters also get better at baseball, there is no increase in value overall.

    As for the prospect stuff, this is the kind of abstract talk that misses the point of winning, IMO. It assumes that the team will be at the same spot along the win curve when Prospect-X reaches the big leagues and contributes. In reality, 2 WAR from a free agent right now can be much, much more valuable than 6 WAR from a prospect five years down the road.

  30. I don’t see any way that Burnett would have accepted a deal that didn’t have trade protection. I feel pretty strongly for that reason he would have declined the QO.

  31. absolute59 says:

    So presumably this is not over as they still have about 10-12M they can this spring. Before we pronounce the grade on NH for this off season lets see what else he does.

    However, as things stand now instead of AJ and Barmes for 16.1M (if he offered QO and Burnett took it) we have Volquez and Barmes and an extra 9M to spend. If we made QO and AJ turned it down we would have Volquez, Barmes, an extra 1st round pick and an extra 9M spend.

    As of right now in hindsight it looks like NH’s gamble of not offering so he had more flexibility in how he spent his 17-19M did not pay off. But as stated above hopefully he is looking to do something with the money he still has in his budget.

  32. NMR says:

    One potential instance?

    The Indians used the system to their advantage last year to sign two free agents who would’ve never been in their price range without draft pick compensation attached.

    Stephen Drew could be had by any team in the league right now, again, because of draft pick compensation.

    It only doesn’t ever work if you conveniently choose to forget the times it works.

  33. BostonsCommon says:

    Solid point about the competition. Just my opinion that the Pirates should be hitting at a better clip than 20% on premium picks.

    And non of this was to say that the pick shouldn’t be used. Or it should be over-valued. I do think a premium pick should be valued accordingly. But if that pick can be used to bring an IMPACT talent to the Pirates, especially one that might be there for several years, then of course the pick should be used, especially considering where the Pirates currently sit on the win curve.

  34. BostonsCommon says:

    Glassnow is the only one of those guys who doesn’t have the floor of an MLB starter today. No reason not to think they will be in the rotation together for an extended period of time.

    And given the way he misses bats, I would think Glassnow has better than a 2% chance of joining them.

    Now will all four be aces? Of course not, but I don’t think anyone is suggest that all four will be.

  35. cmat0829 says:

    Hopefully the AJ debate can be put behind us at this point… seems pretty simple to me… the Pirates “liked” what AJ could bring to the 2014 team but did not make it an absolute priority in terms of where to allocate available $s. They did not tender the QO because they wanted to take a shot at what they identified as higher priorities. They swung — and missed — at Josh Johnson and James Loney. Not sure what value there is left in any debate about whether NH should’ve tendered the QO and whether AJ would have signed it. I tend to agree with Travis that AJ would likely NOT have accepted the QO. Reason being? He didn’t really have to… why would he have rushed to sign a QO when he most obviously could make more without signing one? Either from Pittsburgh or another team as pitching is always a sought-after commodity. But there are those that will be adament AJ would have accepted, and I think if we are all being intellectually honest, it’s a 50/50 proposition, so who cares?

    The only question worth asking, and always has been the only question, is WHAT NH will do with the $$s available to be invested in making the 2014 team better? If it had been Josh Johnson and James Loney, I’d be ok with that. It wasn’t. If it is nothing and just sit on those $$s, it will be disheartening and unacceptable. But there is plenty available to buy with those $$s, and there will still be plenty available after the season starts and and at the deadline. What will NH do? Time will tell.

  36. I understand their reasoning for how and why they wanted to allocate their budget. But by consistently drawing the line short they lost out on every player they truly wanted this offseason. Are they going to continue to do that or are they going to extend enough to make an impact signing on one of the few options that are still left?

  37. Jim S. says:

    BTW, Travis, have you heard any updates on the Korean relief pitcher the Bucs were said to be close to signing within the past week?

  38. Jim S. says:

    Very simple, Andrew. People always need hope. That tends to make them unrealistic. Pirates fans that hung around for those 20 years needed a large reservoir of hope.

  39. Nate83 says:

    I think 12 million for AJ and 8 million for Johnson and 15 million for 2 years of Loney was them extending themselves. It is more likely they trade to fill needs instead of signing free agents.

    Tampa Bay traded Shields during the off season after they made the playoffs and they are considering doing the same with Price this year. It’s the baseball economic model we live in. Small market and even mid market teams have to make tough decisions for the good of being competitive for the long term that often make the fan base scratch their heads.

  40. NMR says:

    Definitely agree with you there, buddy.

  41. Nate83 says:

    Jim I think he would have gotten 16 million in a true open market involving all 30 teams. He limited himself to only 3 or 4 teams. I do agree the Hamels injury played a role in getting him the money in his much smaller version of an open market.

  42. NMR says:

    Stinks.

    Just kidding. ;)

  43. Andrew says:

    Do not get me wrong I am optimistic about the Pirates system due to large number of prospects and sure as hell beats rooting for a team that doesn’t protect Joe Randa in the expansion draft, calls up Aramis Rameriz too soon, he hits arbitration early and then has to trade him to meet the MLB debt-equity ratio.

    That 2% number is based on success rates by top 100 slot and where the Pirates players currently rank, so it is crude and not a judgment on their respective ability, but pitching prospects fail at such a high rate, the more the better.

  44. NMR says:

    -FWIW, the logic behind why AJ wouldn’t accept the QO is what doesn’t sit well with me, not the opinion. I object to preaching for months how the QO suppresses free agent value only to completely ignore that because AJ is apparently special and different from the rest of baseball. Especially when that change of thought conveniently fits one’s opinion.

    You’re right, though. Who knows what this guys would’ve actually done.

  45. roger odisio says:

    Since Burnett said he only wanted one more year, the multiyear deal that most if not all others seek when faced with a QO is not likely relevant. He was more likely than most to accept I think.

    So what. If he accepts you’ve got a pitcher you need badly at a below market rate. If he doesn’t you pay nothing and get a draft choice.

    The main problem with your analysis is accepting the fake budget the Pirates offer as the justification for not signing AJ. They are contenders now, but still want to keep to last year’s budget with a few raises. They have lots of new revenue–e.g., TV money, higher ticket prices, rising attendance–and the prospect for further growth if they can put another winner on the field. This is a crucial time in the process of building the kind of fan base we all know is there.

    A front office that knows what it is doing sees Burnett as an investment, not an expense to be minimized.

  46. PetroSteel says:

    Nope

  47. bpn8pitt says:

    I could never see the Pirates going the QO route with the likes of Alvarez or Cole. Its likely they deal them when a year or two left and get something a little closer to being ML ready. Likely multiple players too. System is likely to change before that happens anyway. i think the union is already complaining about it.

    I understand you can find a Wacha or Trout late. But some drafts are leaner than others.

    I think the team friendly deals are going to swing back the other way too. Agents are going to look at these thin Free Agent markets and tell their guy to stick it out a few years. Especially with all the new TV deals in play now. Phillies had the cash, the location AJ wanted, boom, done. Kind of crazy what AJ would have got, no limits no?

  48. BostonsCommon says:

    Thoughts on this not-so-unlikely scenario?

    Liriano and Martin both back up their 2013 seasons with equally strong 2014 campaigns, and are primed to field multi-year contract offers as FAs.

    Will the Pirates make QOs on both of those players following the 2014 season, and risk committing $30M+ to 2 players? Or will they let them walk, along with the draft pick compensation?

  49. PetroSteel says:

    Gunner, just disappointed. That’s all. I won’t boo him. I will be shocked if he does well in Philly because of the stadium, fans there, team defense, best teammates. Best pitching coach. And I think he probably has that in the back of his mind? That’s what’s disappointing. But, who knows, maybe the wife (boss) made the decision for him?

    Btw…I didn’t forget FC. Didn’t expect that he was in anyway involved.

  50. PetroSteel says:

    Agreed! I’m thinking the extra might be for extending the core which might mean that the don’t spend it this year.

  51. Jim S. says:

    I hear you.

  52. NMR says:

    Excellent topic! I mentioned Liriano in this regard last week, but your right, Martin fits as well.

    I don’t think you can chance it with Martin, but you could probably convince me if Tony Sanchez takes a major step back this year.

    As for Liriano, I’m guessing his agent is paying an awful lot of attention to what Ubaldo Jiminez gets this winter.

    I think next winter will be the year the market adjusts to the QO rules. Agents now have two years worth of data that shows what kind of players are better off actually taking the offer.

  53. Jim S. says:

    I think their plan would obviously be to let them both walk, because they just told us that is going to be their preference all things being equal.

    Assuming they still feel good about Taillon and Kingham as 2015 contributors by the end of this year, that makes the decision even easier regarding Frankie. And, if Locke has a decent season as well, good bye Frankie.

    No way they would extend it to both of them. And, honestly, we know they don’t like $14 million to one guy under their current budget.

    If Sanchez does not look the part of a good MLB defensive catcher by the end of this season, and Martin is still going strong, I could actually see them extending the offer to Martin. I think they believe a catcher of his defensive abilities is that important. But, the list of catchers in MLB history who are at the top of their game as they get close to 35 is a very short one. So, this is a key year for Martin.

  54. Jim S. says:

    Probably. Did they find him on a game show?

  55. Thundercrack says:

    ” since it took until Jan. 28 before he decided to return to pitch, I still think it was unlikely he accepted a QO.”

    Interesting point from Travis that I never really thought about. My guess is that he really decided to return to pitch earlier than Jan 28. But the QO forces him make up his mind much earlier. Maybe he accepts the offer, maybe he declines because he isn’t sure. Or maybe he accepts the offer – and then waits 8 weeks to change his mind and retires. :-)

  56. NMR says:

    One key point of Huntington’s comments on the QO to AJ is that he felt there was a good chance of AJ accepting and THAT is what they were not comfortable with, given their other targets.

    If he doesn’t think either of these guys would accept, I see no reason he wouldn’t extend the offer.

  57. BostonsCommon says:

    Thats the who thing though. I could see Russ biting at QO… He’s not going to get $15M AAV with a draft pick tied to him…

  58. BostonsCommon says:

    Let me be clear here. I know NH is not planning on signing either of those guys… For a number if reasons really.

    But you know he wants the compensation picks. Does he risk $30M+ to try and get them?

  59. Steelkings says:

    No trade clause Gunner. AJ isnt going any where

  60. Steelkings says:

    The Pirates will receive 13 million in luxury Tax subsidies.

  61. Steelkings says:

    They will let them all walk because the Pirates covet prospects. Too many rule 5 problems are coming soon

  62. Steelkings says:

    Rotowire report

    According to John Perrotto of the Beaver County Times, the Pirates’ marriage with A.J. Burnett ended last fall when the club offered him a one-year, $8.5 million deal.
    Burnett was insulted by the offer, which would have represented a 47 percent paycut from his $16.5 million salary in 2013. The veteran right-hander had stated a desire to retire as a member of the Bucs, but he wound up accepting a one-year, $16 million free agent contract from the cross-state Phillies earlier this week. Perrotto notes in his Beaver County Times article that Pirates owner Bob Nutting recently bought his second ski resort. Pittsburgh’s final offer to Burnett this winter was one year, $12 million.

  63. Plattinum says:

    The Bucs have a number of potentially VG internal options to fill both the SP slot and !B and RF. If they are at all in the hunt in mid season, they have the 12 to 15 million to cover salary of a Byrd/Morneau/Wandy type of trade. The future of this team is already on the payroll, albeit some in the minors!

    Spending larger dollars on short term solutions and/or giving up draft picks at this time would not have been a wise choice! THe Pirates had a long term strategy when Neal and Co took over, and the only change is, as it is working. it has also developed a short term plan component, but the basics of the strategy have (fortunately) not changed.

  64. Donald says:

    I think the marriage ended when AJ got LIT UP by the Cardinals then got passed over for his next potential start. The $8.5Million thing was like a half-hearted last ditch suggestion of marriage counseling.

  65. Warren says:

    “pitching prospects fail at such a high rate, the more the better.” TINSTAAPP

  66. Andrew says:

    Everyone understands that Perreto was fired by service owned Ogden Newspapers, which is owned by Bob Nutting, the man has a personnel vendetta against the Pirates ownership, and I think the impertinent comment about the ski resort supports that notion. None of the numbers he has reported on Burnett have been confirmed or cited by any national writers or other Pirate’s writers.

    There is a different timeline reported by Trib and national reports that does not match what is presented in that article.

  67. jay says:

    I m trying to remember the timing…was the QO made before or after salaries for pitching seemed to skyrocket…maybe just bad memory but I remember thinking $$ were getting much higher…where would 14mil fit among starting pitching last year

  68. DP says:

    AJ was only costing the Bucs 8 million per year for the last two years. A 37 year old pitcher that cannot win on the road is not worth a raise (Pirates Budget) in the range of 12-16 million per year.

  69. Bizrow says:

    IMO, NH has a flyer after last season. IMO, NH has pretty much oversmarted himself this year.

    He’s a GM with perseverence, but is not flexible at all.

    Good thing is you believe in what you think, bad thing is you cannot stick with it

    The good fairy is not going to drop something into NHs lap again

  70. Matt says:

    At the end of the day all the Pirates got is Clint Barmes again what difference does it make? They make offers they know won’t be accepted to show everyone hey we tried its a farce. They still need to over pay for talent to come here. It took $5 million to EV to sign and should not have gotten more than a minor league deal the way he pitched last year.

  71. NMR says:

    Oh, you certainly aren’t going to get an argument from me if you believe the Pirates have more to spend.

    But Huntington doesn’t sign the checks. He’s gotta work with what he gets.

  72. NMR says:

    Hi jay,

    $14m seems to be fair value for a good pitcher around AJ’s age. Last year I believe Ryan Dempster signed for $13m per year with the Red Sox and Kuroda signed for $15m with the Yankees.

    The qualifying offer is indexed to the top X number of salaries across the league(I’m not sure of the number), meaning as all salaries increase, so will the qualifying offer.

  73. NMR says:

    You bet.

  74. NMR says:

    Perrotto is a hack.

  75. popsfan says:

    Odd that no one seems to care that Burnett is the liar in this situation. When he was with the Marlins, I found his character lacking, I hoped that was just immaturity, Apparently not.

  76. Foo says:

    Arriba Wilver….i hear voices….not sure what you mean by ‘sources’.

    Besides, if Jeff Locke and his teammates were surprised at AJ not coming back, well then….

    One last thing…. BLEEP you and your pies, AJ.

  77. Foo says:

    I’m with 21….I hope AJ Has a horrible year! Bigtime horrible.

    Everyone wanted you back, AJ. I guess 4 mil was too much to turn down for a guy who said “I’ve made enough in my career”.

    Bleep you, AJ. Now we know what REALLY motivates you.

  78. Foo says:

    And you believe what John “I have it in for the Bucs” Perotto writes?

    Ever since they fired him from Pirates Report, he has had very little good to say about this regime.

  79. Foo says:

    NMR…agree.

  80. Foo says:

    Russell Martin quote

    “I think we’re going to be better than we were last year. I don’t know what all the ‘experts’ are saying, but I consider myself an expert, and I think we’re going to do better.” — Russell Martin on the 2014 Pirates

  81. Foo says:

    NMR…agree…where did THAT gem come from?

  82. NorthPirateFan says:

    Not to advocate for signing of one of the free agents, I actually prefer the trade route for someone like Smoak, but not only do I agree there’s a tendency to over value those first round picks but in this instance I can’t help but think the Pirates might be over valuing this particular pick.

    Things are shaping up in such a way that it doesn’t seem to be a particularly deep draft and with the Pirates picking 25th is there really anyone they see still being available in that spot that’s a must have?

    I could understand getting hung up on not letting go of a draft pick if they were drafting 1 through 5 may maybe even 1 through 10, the 25th pick in relatively shallow draft???

  83. NMR says:

    I’m with you here, and I’m even a guy that is big on prospects.

    One thing nobody talks about is the flexibility that should come with now having a deep and talented farm system. Yes, the Pirates will ALWAYS have to stay ahead of the curve on drafting and development. Every pick is valuable in that regard.

    But the fact is that they’ve successfully built a system that should be capacle of keeping them competitive in future years. I have no problem trading a draft pick representing a kid that MIGHT be in Pittsburgh by 2017 for a player that can help push the current team through the playoffs.

  84. Jim S. says:

    But, that was his market – which is all that matters. I agree with you that he created the limited market. But, my point is he was not going to get $16 million from anyone until the Hamels situation and subsequent panic move by Philly.

  85. Jim S. says:

    I like where you’re going, MJS. But, I think they would have to give up more than Mazzaro/Gomez/Oliver to get Smoak. He has gotten a lot of ABs the last few years. I think it may take Wilson or Watson to pry him loose. I don’t think teams assign much, if any, value to Mazzaro and Gomez after having one good season. I think teams view last year as a fluke for both of them. And Oliver has no value on the market. That’s just my take.

    Of course, it is Jack Z. So, anything is possible. If we could swing that deal, sign me up today. I’d gladly swap in Morris for either Mazzaro or Gomez as well.

    But, your point is well taken that we could get a guy like him w/o hurting the bullpen too much.

  86. Jim S. says:

    +++, Boston.

  87. Jim S. says:

    He (Perotto) always seems bitter to me as well.

  88. NMR says:

    Waiting on pins and needles for the results of Wandy’s first bullpen session. And the next. And the one after that. And hopefully 30 more times during the season.

  89. Jim S. says:

    What a great quote, Foo! Thanks for that. I really love that guy.

  90. Jim S. says:

    I heard Searage on MLB Radio the other night, and he indicated that they are comfortable with where they think Wandy is at right now. But, by no means, did he say they were confident Wandy will give them 25-30 starts.

    I think the Bucs are on pins & needles as well. A healthy Wandy sure would go a long way toward cushioning the AJ blow.

  91. cmat0829 says:

    Last post from me EVER on the AJ topic, but since Perotto chimed in with his gems of information, I feel compelled.

    No doubt, no doubt whatsoever, that the Pirates did not PRIORITIZE re-signing AJ. If the FO, and likely Hurdle and Searage, really, really, really wanted this player back they would have been much more aggressive in October to make it happen…probably also includes making the QO and hoping, HOPING, AJ would actually take it. (I can find ZERO compelling logic that AJ would have accepted the QO, but already posted on that so will move on).

    Now, I’m sure NH and the Pirates would have ‘welcomed AJ back’ at a salary number that is within their budget AND AFTER they tried — and failed– to use AJ’s money on other players. So they made a $12M offer. Not sure what the ‘bombshell’ news is about the $8.5M offer in the fall…. it is absolutely consistent with AJ being farther down the priority list… if AJ at that point decided there was no way he’d re-sign with the Pirates, then good riddance. His “so-called deep loyalty for the Pirates” was not even skin deep if it could not withstand the business of budgets, priorities, and negotiation tactics.

    Would the 2014 Pirates be better with AJ as a starter than what the rotation looks like right now? No doubt. Can the $12M AJ turned down to “chase the cash” in Philadelphia be used to make the team better, perhaps even better than signing AJ would have made them? No doubt. Will it happen? Only NH knows.

  92. will says:

    a hoover dam..or maybe lake Michigan…Maybe ..someday The Nutting’s will have a scrooge “revelation”..not counting on it tho..

  93. The Gunner says:

    Have faith in NH – he will not overpay and the prices will be coming down toward the end of spring training. The newly chiseled Gaby will have a decent 1B platoon partner. I repeat, not an all star but, decent.

  94. NMR says:

    I agree, a healthy Wandy completely changes this rotation.

  95. LeeFoo says:

    pops…couldn’t agree more. He is a piece of $$$$ in my eyes.

    Everyone on that team thought he was coming back.

    I hope he gets his tattoos blown off in Philly.

  96. LeeFoo says:

    I’d love Smoak, but now that the Mariners don’t appear to be signing Cruz (they need a pitcher), it doesn’t look like Smoak will become extraneous.

  97. LeeFoo says:

    I, for one, have little confidence in Wandy’s health. I’d be surprised if he makes 10 starts (incl AAA).

    Call me VERY pessimistic.

  98. LeeFoo says:

    Foogot to add…I hope you call me WRONG!

    :) :) :)

  99. LeeFoo says:

    Capt Hindsight is ALWAYS, ALWAYS correct.

    I support NH in his decision making process throughout this whole saga. How was he to know that AJ would lie to him and go where the money is?

    Hopefully, they can fix Volquez and he can replace AJ’s innings. Remember that AJ himself was fixed by the Bucs. He had ERAs near SIX!

  100. BJ says:

    How can this be viewed as anything other than ownership yet again taking the cheap way out. The fact that the Pirates had a winning record last year was in spite of ownership not because of it. We have hailed the approach of the owner because of money spent in the draft. You need to spend somewhere. Byrd looked to be a great fit, he energized the team in the playoff run. Gone. Burnett was paid more be the Yankees the last 2 years. When the time came for the Pirates to pay he was gone. Enjoy the winning season in 13, it will be the last for many years. Cutch deserves better. So do the fans of the Pirates.

  101. Dave D says:

    Not mentioned much here is the possibility that AJ might be all used up and that’s a real possibility.

 
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