By the 5 p.m. ET deadline on Monday, the Pirates are expected to extend A.J. Burnett a qualifying offer of $14.1 million. It would merely be a technicality — qualifying offers are made to arrange Draft-pick compensation should the free agent sign elsewhere, and Burnett has already indicated his 2014 choices are to pitch for the Pirates or to stay home with his family.
Then the negotiations would begin.
On one side of the table: Pittsburgh GM Neal Huntington. On the other side: Karen Burnett and the boys, Allan Junior and Ashton .
Huntington: This is just a starting point, A.J. We’d be willing to go from here to a two-year deal, in the area of $25 million.
Karen: Being awakened on June mornings with the kids jumping on your bed is priceless.
Huntington: You’re a fixture, A.J. We need you.
Karen: I need you to re-wire that light fixture in the den. The boys can help you.
Huntington: We promise to give you the ball every five days.
Allan Junior: Hey, Dad, we’ll toss the ball to you every day, in the backyard. Then we’ll wrestle on the grass and down some lemonade.
Huntington: The guys in that clubhouse really look up to you, A.J. You don’t want to miss out on those fist-pumps from Jeff Locke with admiration in his eyes.
Karen: Hello? Hugs from Junior and Ashton with love in their eyes? You’re going to have to do better than that.
Huntington: Bringing the ring to Pittsburgh, A.J. — you can lead that drive.
Ashton: Just think, Dad — Little League Saturday mornings, you can drive us to the park.
Huntington: Walk-off wins in PNC Park, and here you come with the pie-in-the-face of the hero. You can’t replace that.
Karen: You’re right. Picking the boys up from school on a late-May afternoon, casting a line as I ignite the grill for the catch and the boys chase each other around the truck, tucking the boys in at night … Open House at school, Socials at church, front-yard sparklers on July 4. None of that compares.
Huntington: Can’t all that wait? What’s a couple more years? You’ve already done without it for 15?
A.J.: Yeah, that’s the whole point. We’ll have to get back to you on this.