Neal Huntington's latest comments on the A.J. Burnett saga continue to suggest that Burnett is unlikely to return to the Pirates next year.
"The unfortunate reality of the market is, if he's into that, he's gonna pitch somewhere else," Huntington said. "We've got funds we would gladly allocate to A.J. If he or others want a market-value deal, they'll sign elsewhere. It's not just Pittsburgh; there are other markets where different resources must be used as effectively as possible.
"There is money available, but the question is how do we build around A.J.? We've got some other soft spots to address, and where do we go there with the money that A.J. may ultimately cost us?"
I'm not sure how wise it is for Huntington to announce outright that the Pirates aren't willing to pay market value for any free agent, but there you go. There isn't much to say about this until we see how things play out, because the Pirates could have some plan to improve the team that doesn't cost much and doesn't involve Burnett. If that's the case, good for them! And anyway, words are just words, especially in the offseason. What Huntington actually does is what matters.
In the meantime, though, I remain concerned about the Pirates' unwillingness to spend even after a season that featured enormous support from the fanbase, and in a winter in which they could really charge into the following season with a full head of steam. I agree that they need to be cautious about money, but their unwillingness to pay Burnett even $14 million for a season perplexes me.
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