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Shots Across the Bow: The $14.1 million question

Bill Brink 1 year ago

BRADENTON, Fla. -- A.J. Burnett has made up his mind, and he's heading to Philly. In today's paper: Burnett agrees to terms on a one-year, $16 million contract with the Phillies.

And with that, welcome to spring training. The Post-Gazette's Bradenton bureau is up and running, and we'll have plenty of spring training content during the next month and a half. Before we get to that, though, we'll delve into Burnett yet again.

The Pirates offered Burnett $12 million, according to a source, a reasonable and fair offer yet below what the open market would bear. Burnett opted for the open market. A couple weeks ago, I wrote about Burnett's value in the current free-agent market and how Hiroki Kuroda would be a good comparison due to age and performance. Burnett's contract exactly matches what Kuroda agreed to with the Yankees.

A fair question I received on Twitter: If the Pirates offered Burnett $12 million, why not another $2.1 million? Make him the $14.1 million qualifying offer, and they'd be sitting here with an extra draft pick right now. An educated guess would be that the Pirates' offer at the qualifying offer deadline was lower than $12 million and they increased it as time passed and other teams expressed interest. That doesn't excuse them for not making the qualifying offer, but it would explain the reason they didn't just bump it up a couple million.

Had Burnett accepted the Pirates' offer, the deal would have made him the second-highest paid player on the roster behind Wandy Rodriguez at $13 million -- $5.5 million of which the Houston Astros are paying – and represented roughly 13 percent of a payroll that would have approached $90 million.

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Yankees shortstop Derek Jeter will retire after this season, likely setting himself up for a similar farewell tour as former teammate Mariano Rivera had last season. The Pirates travel to Yankee Stadium in May.

On the same day the Phillies signed Burnett, Cole Hamels said he will not be ready by opening day after feeling pain in his shoulder that was later diagnosed as biceps tendinitis.