Though Tuesday morning marked the official start of the free agency -- meaning clubs can start signing free agents at will -- the veteran right-hander appears no closer to a decision. Burnett's agent emailed the Tribune-Review saying little more than "A.J. remains undecided."
The 36-year-old has been on the fence about retiring this winter since at least September, when he told reporters that his chances of returning next season were "50/50." Burnett has indicated in the past that he would only pitch for the Pirates if he were to play in 2014, but that may no longer hold true now that the club passed on making him the qualifying offer.
General manager Neal Huntington said that the club's decision to pass on the one-year, $14.1 million deal came down to budgetary restrictions, but there's no knowing how Burnett will interpret it. The right-hander earned $16.5 million in 2013, but only $8 million of that was paid by the Pirates.
Acquired by the Bucs in early 2012 after three mostly miserable seasons with the Yankees, Burnett really turned things around with Pittsburgh. The right-hander posted a 3.41 ERA over 393⅓ innings in two seasons with the club, leading all National League starters in strikeouts per nine (9.8) and ground ball percentage (56.5) for 2013.