Free agent pitcher A.J. Burnett is unlikely to sign with the Phillies this winter, as Jim Salisbury of CSN Philadelphia reports. In addition to that unlikelihood, a deal with the Orioles is doubtful as well, according to MASN Sports' Roch Kubatko.
Burnett, 37, only recently decided to return to baseball for the 2014 season. He had been quoted as saying he'd "be back with the Pittsburgh Pirates or retire." A return could be more likely if the O's are out of the picture.
Kubatko cites that the teams are beginning to get the feeling that "he wants to pitch [the] NL."
Of course there are many factors that play into his career results, but a quick glance at his AL/NL splits is a good indicator as to why he'd have a strong preference. In six American League seasons, Burnett has posted a 4.39 ERA in over 1,100 innings. In nine years on the senior circuit, he's put up a 3.63 ERA in over 1,200 innings. It's not a huge difference, but he clearly struggled in the AL East, especially with the Yankees.
Burnett might still end up back in Pittsburgh, but the Pirates are a small-market team, so they might have to get creative to meet Burnett's contract demands. The 15-year veteran played a huge role for their Cinderella-style postseason run last year. Bringing him back for 2014 could be a big step toward repeating that performance.
A few other NL clubs have been rumored to have interest, but a thinning of the field might be a good sign for the Pirates.
More from SB Nation MLB: