Free agent right-hander A.J. Burnett intends to pitch in 2014 after months of speculation that he would retire, according to Travis Sawchik of the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Sawchik says that Burnett will not necessarily head back to the Pirates, meaning that he will likely test the free agent market.
Burnett, 37, was thought to be leaning towards retirement after publicly stating that he would either retire or head back to the Pirates in 2014. That no longer appears to be the case, and other teams are interested in signing him now that the starting pitching market has picked up.
Sources say that the Orioles are likely to add a starter by the beginning of spring training, and Burnett, Bronson Arroyo and Ervin Santana are all among the options they are considering. While it is unclear if Burnett would want to pitch at hitter-friendly Camden Yards, he lives in Maryland and is considered one of the team's top targets in free agency.
According to Richard Durrett of ESPNDallas.com, the Rangers have some interest in signing Burnett, but the potential of east coast restrictions may rule out that possibility. He is said to prefer the mid-Atlantic, so western teams looking to add pitching may have to turn elsewhere.
Burnett, who was 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts for the Pirates last season, instantly joins Santana, Arroyo and Ubaldo Jimenez at the top of the list of available free agent starters. He is likely to land a one-year, high value contract in the near future, further shaking up the slow-moving starting pitching market.