PITTSBURGH (93-7 The Fan)- USA Today baseball writer John Perrotto joined The Fan Morning Show on Thursday from the Winter Meetings in Orlando, Fla. to talk about the Pirates’ signings and how it affects the future of A.J. Burnett.
Perrotto says the signings of Charlie Morton and Edinson Volquez could be considered risks, but the price was right for both.
Morton signed a three-year extension worth $21 million with a $9.5 club option for 2017.
The 30-year-old Morton, who last season worked his way back from June 2012 Tommy John surgery, had been arbitration-eligible and slated for free agency following next season. In 2013, he pitched to a 3.26 ERA (108 ERA-plus) and 2.36 K/BB ratio in 116 innings. For his career, he owns an ERA-plus of 82 across parts of six seasons.
“Morton at that price is a good deal,” Perrotto said. “If he stays healthy, he is a good Major League pitcher. It’s a risk because of his injuries, but at that price, it’s worth it.”
Volquez signed a one-year deal worth $5 million.
Volquez, 30, went 9-12 with a 5.71 ERA (60 ERA-plus) and a 1.84 K/BB in 170 1-3 innings for the Padres and Dodgers this past season. San Diego released him in August after he went 9-10 with a 6.01 ERA (57 ERA-plus) in 27 starts.
“The Pirates have put an emphasis on strikeouts,” Perrotto said. “His stuff is still there. They think they can fix everything else.”
Perrotto said he is a little bit more of a gamble than what Francisco Liriano was because he felt Liriano was less of a project, but it could work out to be a good bargain again for the Pirates.
He believes that this has closed the door on A.J. Burnett, who may be seeking a contract similar to what he had last year at $17 million. The Yankees had paid most of that salary last year. Perrotto says from what he is hearing, Burnett would not be willing to take a pay cut for $8-9 million. That would be less now after the signings of both Morton and Volquez.
The Pirates also still need help at first base. The options have diminished over the past few days, but the Pirates are still being linked to James Loney, Adam Lind and others.
“Loney is the guy they want, but not at his price.” Perrotto said.
He believes he is seeking a three-year $27 million deal. He doesn’t think the Pirates are willing to go that high in years or price.
He says the Pirates will wait it out and see if the price drops.
The one name that has surfaced is short stop Stephen Drew, who the Pirates have shown interest in before. The deal-breaker with him is that he would be looking for $18-20 million over two years and since the Red Sox tendered him, it would cost the Pirates a top draft pick. He doesn’t see the Pirates giving up that much money and a pick, but admits it was interesting to hear they reached out so it might be one to watch.
Listen to the full interview here: