Bucs must – and can – meet A.J.’s price. Here’s how
I think A.J. Burnett has a new conflict.
At the beginning, it was between continuing mound time and more family time. But now it’s between getting paid his open-market value, or accepting a [significant] discount to help finish the job in Pittsburgh, a city he has truly come to embrace.
And this is where Neal Huntington’s already-established creativity can make a reunion happen. The Pirates GM showed his ability to think outside the box with his dogged renegotiation of Francisco Liriano’s original deal after the left-hander had fractured his right arm last winter.
Now Huntington has to huddle with Darek Braunecker, Burnett’s agent, and make it happen.
This is how it could be done:
Establish Burnett’s true value. At his performance level yet his age , say it’s $15 million, a reasonable starting point.
Huntington then offers him $17 million — a $500,000 raise over his 2013 salary, just for good-faith.
But — and this is where the creativity enters — make $10 million of that deferred. Contract deferments are quite common — particularly when team elders volunteer for them for the specific purpose of easing their team’s financial burden in the pursuit of titles.
For someone obviously on the brink of retirement, what could be more appealing than guaranteed post-career income for a number of years? And with the increasing revenue stream from their share of MLB’s national TV contract, the Pirates could comfortable carry such an IOU for Burnett.
That’s it. Do it.