Despite previous reports to the contrary, it's beginning to look like Philadelphia Phillies' right-hander A.J. Burnett may be coming back next season. Per CBS Sports' Jon Heyman, people close to Burnett believe there is a "good chance" that the 37-year-old pitches at least one more season.
Burnett has the option to return to Philadelphia via a $12.75 million player option that he has until five days after the end of the World Series to exercise. Burnett's contract, signed last offseason, includes a $15 million team option for 2015 that becomes a $12.75 million player option if the Phillies decline the team option (which is likely) and Burnett makes at least 32 starts in 2014. He led the NL with 34 starts this past season.
Burnett has been on the fence about retiring multiple times in the past couple years. Just two months ago, Burnett stated his likely intent to retire following the season. Of course, with $12.75 million on the table, it's hard to see him walking away now.
Another one of his retirement ponderings came following last season, which prompted the Pittsburgh Pirates, Burnett's team at the time, to not offer the impending free agent a $14.1 million qualifying offer. Considering his age, it also appeared unlikely that he would get that much on the open market. However, the Phillies surprisingly exceeded the qualifying offer total, ultimately giving him a one-year, $15 million deal plus an option.
He responded with a rather dismal season, though he still proved to be quite the innings-eater, logging 213.2 innings pitched, which was the second highest tally of his career. Burnett also posted a 8-18 record, 4.59 ERA, 4.15 FIP, 8.0 K/9, 4.04 BB/9, and 1.0 WAR. He was brilliant with the Pirates in 2013, putting up a 3.30 ERA, 2.80 FIP, 4.0 WAR, and league-leading 9.8 K/9. Burnett is 155-150 with a 4.04 ERA, 2,370 strikeouts, and 38.5 WAR in his 16-year major league career.