The Orioles must sign A.J. Burnett.
After a horrible winter, signing of Burnett would show the increasingly cranky fan base that the team will do something meaningful to answer their complaints.
Tuesday’s news that Burnett had decided, barely two weeks before spring training opened, that he wanted to pitch this year and would hit the open market, qualifies as good news.
The word is that Burnett, who enjoyed pitching with Pittsburgh the last two years, wants to be paid as a No. 1 starter. That would seemingly inhibit the Pirates’ chances of re-signing him.
How much would the Orioles be willing to pay Burnett this year?
He earned $16.5 million last year. More than half of that was paid by the New York Yankees.
If the Orioles offered a one-year, $15 million deal, would he take that?
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Burnett would certainly be paid as a No. 1 starter in Baltimore. Chris Tillman is the nominal No. 1 pitcher, but he’s not even eligible for arbitration, and when he signs his 2014 contract in March, it will be for far less than $15 million.
The other starters, Bud Norris, Wei-Yin Chen and Miguel Gonzalez, will combine for just over $10 million.
The Philadelphia Phillies are supposedly interested in Burnett, but their projected payroll is nearly $160 million, about double the Orioles.
It will be fascinating to watch the Orioles’ pursuit of Burnett, who lives in Monkton, in northern Baltimore County. They tried to trade for him in 2005 and made a token effort to sign him as a free agent in 2009.
The Orioles need another starter, if only for 2014. If things work well, both Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman will be in the rotation a year from now.
Burnett has nine straight years of 10 or more wins. A 10th in Baltimore would be a nice addition to the Orioles.