The Pirates have announced that they've signed A.J. Burnett to a one-year deal. Jon Heyman tweets Burnett will get $8.5 million.
This surprises me, if only because of the rumors that the Pirates let Burnett leave following the 2013 season because they simply disliked his attitude and his clubhouse antics. There's also the fact that they were unwilling to pay him $14.1 million after an exceptional season in 2013 but are now willing to pay him a significant percentage of that amount after a season in which he pitched much worse and got a year older. But the reasons why the Bucs might have interest in a pitcher like Burnett haven't really changed. He's still a strikeout/ground-ball pitcher who's a good fit for the Pirates' system. The Pirates also obviously needed help in their rotation, with Gerrit Cole, Vance Worley and Jeff Locke as the only healthy starters who were slated to return.
Burnett is coming off a 4.59 ERA season with the Phillies, but he underperformed his peripherals, just as he had before the Pirates acquired him from the Yankees. He was also pitching through a hernia issue. He'll be returning to the Pirates defense and ballpark that helped him post great 2012 and 2013 seasons, and that's good reason to hope for a rebound, even if a full return to his 2013 levels isn't likely. Burnett will be 38 in January, and he won't be able to pitch 200 innings per season forever. But we know his skill set is a good fit for the Pirates, because we've seen it. And the Bucs clearly have a need.
Burnett, by the way, rejected his player option for $12.75 million to pitch for the Phillies in 2015. Now he's taking two-thirds of that to pitch for a contender. That's not the sort of factoid that leads to games won or anything, but it is the sort of factoid that I enjoy as a non-Philadelphian. Burnett didn't want to pitch for any team but the Pirates, Ken Rosenthal tweets.