The Orioles are waiting to hear if A.J. Burnett wants to continue playing in 2014. The former Yankee starter said that he would consider retirement in the offseason, but he has yet to decide one way or the other. If he chooses to pitch, the Orioles are interested in signing him, a move that I am wholeheartedly in support of.
It's clear that he benefitted greatly from spending time in the NL Central, because his ERA in 2012 and 2013 was lower than it was at any point over the six years he spent in the AL East. Burnett has a 4.10 ERA against the Yankees, Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Rays, which is higher than his career 3.99. He also has a .822 OPS when pitching in Camden Yards and Fenway Park, over a span of 10 games apiece. So if the Orioles want to bring A.J. Burnett back to the American League East, I say let them.
It turns out the Tigers really liked Joba Chamberlain. Like, really, really liked him. Detroit GM Dave Dombrowski was pretty honest over their decision to go with Joba over fellow ex-Yankee Jose Veras:
"Yes we do, and no offense to Jose Veras because he's a solid guy and we liked him. We had an opportunity to bring him back. We like Joba. ... We had our choice of a lot of guys who are still out there for one-year deals -- maybe even a two-year deal in a couple different cases. I'm not talking about closer guys. We like Joba. We've liked him in the past. Our scouts that haved liked him. We realized that sometimes coming off Tommy John, it takes awhile to come back. ... The ability is still there. The velocity is still there. ... We like what he brings to our bullpen, so the answer to that is yes."
So they don't see him as a closer option or as a starter. It looks like Joba's career has been limited to middle relief, at least for right now. He will be reunited with ex-teammate Phil Coke in Detroit, and, as his agent relayed, "there was a lot of interest. There were a lot of opportunities out there for potentially even more dollars. However, the money wasn't a driving factor in this. This is more about opportunity. This is more about Joba feeling comfortable." Who actually offered even more money for him?
They better hope that his 4.14 ERA and 4.62 FIP since 2011 is due entirely to injury, because, if he proves to be healthy in 2014 and this is who he is going forward, Joba could make $3 million as a negative WAR player. For their sake, they better have made the right decision, though they probably wouldn't have the sentimental attachment the Yankees had to not DFA him if he stinks.
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