Contrary to earlier reports that Jeromy Burnitz was about to sign with Baltimore, the player that Dallas Green treated like a son (ignoring him, burning him with cigarettes, criticizing him in front of family and friends, etc.) has a new suitor in the form of the Pittsburgh Pirates. From the Pittsburgh Post-Gazeete’s Dean Kovacevic.

Multiple reports out of Baltimore last week said Burnitz had agreed to a two-year deal with the Orioles worth between $10 million and $12 million. But Howard Simon, Burnitz’s Connecticut-based agent, insisted yesterday that no deal had been struck and that he had told reporters only that he was “staying in close touch” with the Orioles.

Simon’s focus in the past three days has shifted to discussions with Pirates general manager Dave Littlefield.

Simon declined to offer specifics, but it is believed that Burnitz’s contract would be for two years with a total value in the range of $12 million, which would make it the richest free-agent signing in the Pirates’ history. However much they are offering, it appears it is more than still-on-the-table offers from the Orioles and Houston Astros.

Though I cannot argue that Pittsburgh will be an improved team in 2006, there’s something very sobering for Bucs fans about the words “Jeromy Burnitz” and “richest free-agent signing in Pirates history” being in the same sentence. Even Derek Bell shuddered when he read that.