That doesn't mean that they plan to break ties with him. Burnett said that he'd be back in Pittsburgh if he didn't retire, and the qualifying offer is to guarantee a draft pick for a departing FA. It also guaranteed $14.1M for AJ if he accepted, and that's likely more than the Pirates want to pay, or even use as a starting point for negotiations.
It seems a bit penny-wise and pound foolish to us, but we're assuming that the move didn't occur in a vacuum and that FO has been in contact with AJ or his people.
Burnett, who will be 37 in January, put up a 3.30 ERA (2.92 xFIP, 3.10 SIERA) with a NL-leading 9.8 K/9 and 56.2 % ground-ball rate in 191 innings in his second season with the Pirates. His WAR was 3.0, which makes his market value about $15M. Various guesstimates have the Pirates looking to offer him $12-12.5M for a year.
So the Bucs are rolling the dice on AJ not playing the field; we'll see if it was a good bet. Still, low balling your top FA is a curious decision, especially with an influx of new national TV money. Maybe the Bucs are inviting him to leave.
The players who received qualifying offers this year are Robinson Cano, Hiroki Kuroda and Curtis Granderson (Yankees); Mike Napoli, Jacoby Ellsbury and Stephen Drew (Red Sox), Ervin Santana (Royals), Ubaldo Jimenez (Indians), Brian McCann (Braves), Nelson Cruz (Rangers), Kendrys Morales (Mariners), Shin-Soo Choo (Reds) and Carlos Beltran (Cardinals).
That roster includes a handful of guys the Pirates were said to be looking at; Napoli and Morales at first, Drew at SS, Beltran in the OF and maybe P Santana. The draft pick will limit the teams that can compete for them and probably eliminates the Pirates, not that they were anything but dark horses before the offers went out for that group.
- In other news, in the Player's Choice awards, Cutch was voted the NL Outstanding Player of the year by his peers for the second straight season, while Francisco Liriano was selected as the NL's Comeback Player of the year.
- Tim Dierkes of MLB Trade Rumors takes a look at the next group on the Bucco list, the arbitration-eligible gang - Garrett Jones, Neil Walker, Pedro Alvarez, Charlie Morton, Mark Melancon, Gaby Sanchez, Travis Snider, Michael McKenry and Vin Mazzaro.