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The major domino in the 2014 MLB free-agent starting pitching market fell earlier this month when the New York Yankees signed Japanese ace Masahiro Tanaka to a mega-deal. As the time for pitchers to report to spring training nears, the other pieces look to finally be falling into place.
Last week the Baltimore Orioles shot to the forefront to nab A.J. Burnett, who flirted with the notion of retirement for the majority of the offseason. And according to multiple reports, both the O’s and their AL East rival Tampa Bay Rays were interested in adding him to their rotation.
Now, it looks as if it’s down to three. According to the Boston Globe, the Orioles, the Philadelphia Phillies and Burnett’s former squad, the Pittsburgh Pirates, are the favorites to land the right-hander for the 2014 season, while the Rays and the Toronto Blue Jays — another one of Burnett’s former teams — remain in the mix.
Last week when Peter Gammons reported the O’s interest in Burnett, he pinpointed that Burnett makes his home right outside of Baltimore as a key reason why the Orioles are the frontrunners in this race. FOX Sports echoed that sentiment, adding that the team is maintaining contact with him and is willing to eclipse the $100 million payroll mark if need be. According to the report, Ubaldo Jimenez and Ervin Santana are the Orioles’ fallback options.
The market is also developing for another starting pitcher. According to the Boston Globe, the Los Angeles Dodgers are “very interested” in Bronson Arroyo but are unwilling to give him a third year. That third year — whether it is encompassed in a three-year contract or a vesting option for a third year — remains a breaking point for not only the Dodgers but the Arizona Diamondbacks, Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, Minnesota Twins and Orioles, all teams that have shown interest in the 36-year-old veteran.
According to ESPN, not one club has made Arroyo an official offer despite garnering interest from upwards of a dozen teams. He’s been linked to the D-Backs and Dodgers the most, though Arroyo will likely have to settle for a two-year contract if he wants to sign on sooner rather than later.
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