The Phillies signed A.J. Burnett in an offseason after Burnett originally told teams he would go back to Pittsburgh or he would retire. After changing his mind, Burnett went to the Phillies, instead of Pittsburgh. While Burnett had a great two years in Pittsburgh prior to this offseason and Pirates players were lobbying for him, Burnett appears to be a no-go for Pittsburgh.
Jayson Stark of ESPN.com included this note in today's "Rumblings and Grumblings":
The Phillies have been telling other clubs they expect Burnett to retire. And Burnett has told teammates the same thing. But the Pirates aren't willing to take a gamble that expensive. As an executive of another team put it, "He keeps saying he's going to retire. But he said that last year, too."
The Pirates might be interested should Burnett commit to retirement, but if a $12.75 million deal for next year vests, Burnett might actually accept.
One theory I have: the Pirates leaked this note out to the media on purpose. That way Burnett's agent has an opportunity to reach out to Pittsburgh (or simply publicly to all teams) and make such an assurance. Burnett and the Pirates are really a great fit for each other, and the Phillies certainly do not need Burnett to help them lose 87 games instead of 89.