If A.J. Burnett, the 37-year-old right-hander who lives in Monkton, is interested in pitching in 2014, the Orioles definitely want to make a run at him.
One Orioles source said this week that Burnett, who was 10-11 with a 3.30 ERA in 30 starts with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2013, would be at the top of the club's wish list if he were available on the open market.
On Tuesday, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reported that Burnett does want to pitch again this season and is open to talking to teams besides the Pirates.
Burnett is particularly intriguing to the Orioles because he likely would not command a lengthy contract – potentially only one year – and he's not tied to a first-round draft pick like other coveted free-agent starters such as Ervin Santana and Ubaldo Jimenez.
Plus, the Orioles have one distinct negotiating advantage with Burnett: He lives in northern Baltimore County with his wife and two preteen sons and, therefore, would be able to spend more time with his family if he pitched for the Orioles.
But he's also not far from Philadelphia, Washington and Pittsburgh, and there is a sense in the industry that Burnett's interest could include East Coast teams and not just the local Orioles or the Pirates.
Burnett is 147-132 in his career with a 3.99 ERA in 15 seasons with the Florida Marlins, Toronto Blue Jays, New York Yankees and Pirates.
He is 75-71 with a 3.63 career ERA in 195 games pitching for National League teams and 72-61 with a 4.39 ERA in 180 games for American League East clubs.
The Orioles have been connected with Burnett on several occasions, including exploring a trade with the Marlins for him in July 2005 that ultimately did not happen. Each of his previous times as a free agent (before the 2006 and 2009 seasons) Burnett was seen as a potential fit for the Orioles, but the club never hotly pursued him.
The Orioles' priority this winter has been upgrading the rotation, but the club has not yet signed a starter. The team has had dialogue in the past week or so involving starters Bronson Arroyo, Santana and Jimenez, though a signing does not appear imminent.