PITTSBURGH -- A.J. Burnett will be on the mound for Wednesday afternoon's season finale. So Rod Barajas will be behind the plate, as the battery looks for an upbeat sign off to its reunion season.
Thereafter, their fates might diverge. Burnett will be back on the PNC Park mound in 2013, but Barajas' return to the Pirates is undecided.
The Bucs are virtually certain to decline the $3.5 million option they hold for 2013 on Barajas, which will not mean the club does not want him back. Rather, Barajas showed his cards a while ago, expressing an interest in returning to Pittsburgh even on a renegotiated deal.
In discussing the status of the 37-year-old catcher, manager Clint Hurdle was extremely candid -- as Barajas himself has been. All of the veteran's valuable intangibles have to be weighed against a .208 batting average, as well as a decline as a deterrent to opponents' running game.
"His ability to coach up pitchers and make in-game adjustments, and leadership skills, were very beneficial," Hurdle said. "He wanted more from the offensive side, and we were hoping for more.
"We'll have to make a relatively quick decision [contract options must be acted upon within five days after the conclusion of the World Series], and you look at what the alternatives might be. Is he a No. 1 or turning into a No. 2? Is it Michael McKenry's time to be a No. 1? Is there another No. 1 out there? We've had those conversations with Rod, and he understands very honestly where he is at this point of time in his career."