The Pittsburgh Pirates have signed right-handed starter A.J. Burnett to a one-year deal, they announced.
Burnett will make $8.5 million with Pittsburgh this season, according to Jon Heyman of CBS Sports. He recently declined a $12.75 million player option from the Phillies, which basically means that he was willing to take a $4.25 million pay-cut to pitch for a contender in the Pirates. Burnett was thought to be mulling over retirement, but the 37-year-old decided to give it one more shot.
The North Little Rock, Arkansas native was drafted by the New York Mets in the 8th round of the 1995 MLB Draft out of Central Arkansas Christian High School, but was flipped to the then-Florida Marlins, where he spent the first seven seasons of his big league career.
Burnett has since bounced around the major leagues, pitching with Toronto, New York (Yankees), and Pittsburgh before coming to Philadelphia in 2014 on a one-year, $15 million deal with an option for 2015. Burnett led the National League in losses last season, going 8-18 with a 4.59 ERA and a 81 ERA+ in 213.2 innings pitched, the most innings he's worked since 2008.
Burnett pitched for the Pirates from 2012 to 2013 and seemed to really enjoy his time there, going 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA and a 107 ERA+ in 393.1 innings, striking out 389 and walking 129. The 3.41 ERA was the lowest ERA in any two-year stretch over Burnett's entire career.
It says a lot about Burnett willing to take a pay-cut to go pitch for a winning team, but the need for another starter was there in Pittsburgh. Francisco Liriano and Edinson Volquez may or may not come back to the team, and if they don't, their rotation would include, Charlie Morton, Jeff Locke, Gerrit Cole, Vance Worley, and Burnett. He adds much needed insure to the team.