Before anyone goes off on how the Orioles came up short on another veteran free-agent pitcher, that reported $16 million guarantee that A.J. Burnett got from the Philadelphia Phillies apparently is for just one year.
So, don’t bother taking the Orioles to task, because that’s a ridiculous price for a guy who wasn’t even sure he wanted to pitch this year and didn’t have a winning record in 2013.
Sure, he actually had a good year in spite of that 10-11 record (3.30 ERA, 209 strikeouts), but his numbers were not all that different from the 2013 line of Bronson Arroyo, who just signed a two-year deal with the Arizona Diamondbacks that calls for an average value of about $11.5 million (including a $4.5 million buyout for a club third-year option).
Maybe we’ll find out later that the base salary is $12 million with some kind of buyout clause attached to next year, but it appears that the Phillies just decided to make him an offer he couldn’t refuse.
The Orioles don’t do that kind of thing, which is a source of great frustration for their fans, but this would not have been the time to throw caution to the wind and spend 20 percent of their current payroll on one aging -- and perhaps ambivalent -- pitcher.
The Orioles were in the game with Arroyo, and they needed to find a way to close that deal. Burnett would have helped, but his most recent memories of pitching in the American League East were not particularly happy ones (34-35 record and 4.79 ERA in three seasons with the New York Yankees).
He was far more effective the past two seasons in Pittsburgh and helped the Pirates reach the playoffs for the first time in forever, so forgive him for wanting to stay in the National League.