Pirates' General Manager discusses playoff rotation, re-signing A.J. Burnett

Jared Wickerham

Below is a partial transcript from this afternoon's press meeting with Pirates' General Manager Neal Huntington. Some highlights include:

  • The Pirates are very interested in bringing A.J. back next season; Burnett would like to finish his career a Pirate.
  • The club would like to keep all its acquisitions, but the reality is that tough choices are going to have to be made.
  • Wandy Rodriguez is focusing on getting the treatments that he wanted done.
  • Pirates seem open to bringing in a backup for Russell Martin next year. It would be done for the purpose of making sure Tony Sanchez continues to develop. (Obviously, bringing a backup would affect Michael McKenry's future, as well.)
  • Huntington strongly hinted that the club will carry four starters if they reach a divisional series. A.J. Burnett, Francisco Liriano, Gerrit Cole and Charlie Morton seem to be locks.

Re-signing A.J. Burnett

We're going to do everything within our power to keep A.J here. Our goal is to have A.J. be a Pittsburgh Pirate next year, absolutely.

Re-signing Acquisitions

We've got X number of dollars to spend. We've got some guys internally who are going to continue to make more money through arbitration. We'd love them all to return. But that's not going to be financially possible. And that's the reality of the market. Not just the reality of Pittsburgh, but of all small markets, and some large markets. We're going to have to make some tough choices. ... If you think getting here was tough, staying here is going to be that much more difficult.

Will Wandy Rodriguez return next year?

That's Wandy's call. Right now I think his focus was getting back healthy, getting the treatments done that he wanted done, and getting a chance to see where he is.

What has A.J. said about returning?

Basically the same thing that he has said publicly. That's he's loved it here. He felt wanted and welcomed here by both the fans and organization. That, if he decides to continue to pitch, he absolutely has an open mind to returning to Pittsburgh and would love to finish his career as a Pirate.

Tony Sanchez in 2014

Our challenge with Tony will be, What's the best way to put him in a position to be a successful big-leaguer? It's awfully tough to continue to grow and develop playing once a week. So where do we go with Tony? If we decide to bring someone in it's not a reflection on Tony Sanchez negatively, it's actually a positive. We want to make sure that if Russ Martin chooses not to come back in 2015 and chooses to go out on the free agent market that we have someone internally, Tony Sanchez, that we feel can go out and be an everyday catcher. At the same time, Tony is a very good Major League catcher, so how do we make sure we put the best 25 guys on the field?

Playoff Rotation - three or four man?

Our challenge is that we have four guys, and hopefully Jeff Locke will step up and be number five today, that we feel comfortable could win against any team in baseball. ... So we got four guys we feel completely comfortable with. And if Jeff Locke, for whatever reason - injury, fatigue - we have complete confidence there too. So I don't know if we want to drop anybody out. We've got complete confidence that we have four quality starters.

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