Pirates have eyes on Philly. But is it for A.J.?

Seeking potential rotation insurance for Gerrit Cole’s extended absence with a sore lat and an erratic Francisco Liriano, the Pirates have their eyes on the Phillies — as has been reported — but not necessarily on A.J. Burnett.

The Pirates were singled out as one of the clubs that scouted Burnett’s start on Friday — against the Braves. However, according to a reliable club source, the scout that night in Citizens Bank Park is assigned to the Braves, so he just “ran into A.J.”

However, the Braves have left Philadelphia but the Pirates still had a scout in Citizens Bank Park — for Cliff Lee’s Monday night start, the left-hander’s first since going on the DL on May 21 with a strained left elbow. Lee is a popular target of shoppers: As many as 10 teams reportedly are on site to check him out.

For the Bucs to get seriously involved for either veteran, the Phillies would have to cover the majority of the salaries owed them.

Burnett is still owed all of his $7.5 million signing bonus, the first payment of that due on Dec. 15, and the prorated portion of his $7.5 million salary for 2014. He also has a $1 million buyout on his $15 million  mutual options for 2015.

Lee’s contract calls fro $25 million this season and next, with a whopping $12.5 million buyout of his 2016 option of $27.5 million.

Tom Singer

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