If someone's going to steal A.J. Burnett away from his beloved Pirates, could it be the Washington Nationals?

Speculation is going around baseball circles that the Nats could consider a late play for the talented Burnett at a time some other would-be contenders for his services seem to be fading away.

The Pirates rightly should have always been considered the favorite to land Burnett considering how well that marriage has worked since he came over from New York, and with chances for the Orioles and Phillies reportedly diminishing, the Nats are seen as a team that could emerge as a possibility.

While a person with Nats connection suggested they'd “most likely' stick with their current rotation unless a “value” materialized, Washington should never be counted out of the mix for another starting pitcher, and as Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post pointed out recently, the Nats are known for making late winter acquisitions. Washington also isn't too far from Burnett's offseason home in Monkton Md., and may hold an allure as a National League team, like the Pirates.

Burnett certainly sounded like he has an especially warm spot for Pittsburgh when he suggested to 93.7 The Fan in Pittsburgh in October that it'd be either the Pirates or retirement for him, saying of Pittsburgh, “The city took me in, they took me in more than any city has in my whole career, before I even got here, and that was special to me. Without a doubt, I'd love to be a Pittsburgh Pirate.”