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Posted at 8:43 AM ET, 12/23/2010

Nationals reach two-year deal with Sean Burnett

By Adam Kilgore

The Nationals have reached an agreement with reliever Sean Burnett on a contract extension that will keep the left-handed reliever with the Nationals through the 2012 season with a dual option for 2013, according to a league source. The deal is pending results of a physical and could be official by this afternoon.

The deal means the Nationals will avoid arbitration with Burnett both this season and next and have an option for the first year of his free agency. Burnett will make at least $3.7 million for two years - $1.4 million in 2011 (which includes a $100,000 signing bonus) and $2.3 million in 2012. The Nationals can exercise an option for 2013 worth $3.5 million. If the do not, they owe Burnett a $250,000 buyout. Burnett can opt out if the Nationals exercise the option, with the buyout waived if he does.

Burnett, 28, is expected to be one of Manager Jim Riggleman's top late-inning options this season and could be a candidate to close games. He was perhaps the Nationals' best reliever this season despite an unsightly 1-7 record. Burnett had a 2.14 ERA in 63 innings over 73 appearances with 62 strikeouts and 20 walks while converting three saves. During the final two months of the season, Burnett allowed three earned runs in 26 1/3 innings.

One scout this season called Burnett a younger version of Scott Downs, whom the Angels signed to a three-year, $15 million deal. A run of contracts for relievers such as the one Downs received explains the Nationals' motivation to lock up Burnett, who will be eligible for free agency following the 2012 season.

The Nationals acquired Burnett in June 2009 along with Nyjer Morgan in a trade that sent Joel Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

By Adam Kilgore  | December 23, 2010; 8:43 AM ET
 
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Next: Brandon Webb comes off the market

Comments

Good signing. It is important to take care of your own young talent.

Posted by: GoNatsTerps | December 23, 2010 8:51 AM | Report abuse

Yep, and good for Burnett. It's got to be a great feeling to sign some paperwork guaranteeing you $3.7M in income.

Posted by: Sunderland | December 23, 2010 9:20 AM | Report abuse

One of the oddities from last year was that Clippard got credit for quite a few wins even when he pitched poorly and Burnett got credit for quite a few losses even when he pitched well.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 23, 2010 9:29 AM | Report abuse

And here I thought Rizzo was judging pitchers by their win-loss record... Great signing.

Posted by: bknesel | December 23, 2010 9:32 AM | Report abuse

I'm pretty sure that both Hanrahan and Milledge have been released by the Pirates. Not looking for people to bash or praise but who made that trade? Was Rizzo in charge yet or was that Bowden?

Posted by: sjm3091 | December 23, 2010 9:34 AM | Report abuse

Solid signing, there were times last year he looked unhittable. Nice work here by both sides.

Posted by: SCNatsFan | December 23, 2010 9:42 AM | Report abuse

Nope, Hanrahan is one of their co-closer candidates along with Evan Meek. He finally reasserted himself as a legitimate bullpen presence. Lastings, however, did not last with the Pirates and was released this winter. And I echo the other comments here...nice signing. Congrats to Sean.

Posted by: McKinley2 | December 23, 2010 9:44 AM | Report abuse

Love it! Our bullpen is fast becoming freakishly powerful.

Posted by: Capitalist-1 | December 23, 2010 9:59 AM | Report abuse

Aren't you supposed to be chatting?

Posted by: Cosmo06 | December 23, 2010 10:00 AM | Report abuse

Adam, where were you? You stood up the loyal T-Ham chatters. Bad form.

Posted by: mojo6 | December 23, 2010 10:12 AM | Report abuse

Good signing. This brings some stability to the team with a quality lefty

Posted by: cr8oncsu | December 23, 2010 10:24 AM | Report abuse

Happy to see some stability being put in place here. Burnett really came on strong in '10 and he deserved to be rewarded.

I would love to see a 2-year deal for Laroche go down... 3 years is too much... so if he won't take 2 years, I'd see if Derek Lee is willing to go for a 1 year deal and then regroup next off season.

I hope the signing happens today, right now! But, I would think it is possible everyone is shut down until after the holidays and this signing doesn't occur until after New Years.

But we'll see...

Posted by: Ghost7 | December 23, 2010 10:25 AM | Report abuse

sjm3091,
Hanrahan is likely to be the closer this year in Pittsburgh...his slider is practically unhittable. He is still with them.
Milledge was not offered a contract but they're trying to sign him to a minor league deal. He was a model citizen while with the Pirates and had a really high batting average with runners in scoring position. Could be a role/PH guy possibly. Since the hand injury his power hasn't returned.
With the Pirates' signings of Lyle Overbay and Matt Diaz Milledge sort of became the odd man out. Overbay will play everyday moving Garrett Jones to RF for a platoon with Diaz.
I hope things continue to go well for Burnett. It wasn't his fault, but, the Pirates' used their #1 pick on him(meaning a top 5 in the entire draft). There are certain expectations with that drafting position. He simply was never going to be the dominant starter Pirate fans were promised by our series of inept braintrusts running the team.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | December 23, 2010 10:28 AM | Report abuse

Getting Burnett inked is a nice move. However, he is not a realistic candidate to close.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 23, 2010 10:35 AM | Report abuse

Is this what Mark Lerner told us to look for under the Christmas tree??? If so, it's a good thing Mark doesn't celebrate Christmas, because this is like a seventh night of Hanukkah present.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 23, 2010 10:38 AM | Report abuse

Hate the way he wears his hat, but love the way he pitches. Good move.

Posted by: gwr14 | December 23, 2010 10:42 AM | Report abuse

sjm3091, Rizzo's trade, end of June, 2009.

Posted by: Sunderland | December 23, 2010 10:45 AM | Report abuse

AK, please accept my apologies for berating your apparent no-show. Glad to see you overcame the technical difficulties and are chatting up a storm. Good form.

Posted by: mojo6 | December 23, 2010 10:54 AM | Report abuse

"[Milledge] was a model citizen while with the Pirates..."

Well, there was this ( http://tinyurl.com/2cydexd ), although it doesn't look to me like he started it.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 23, 2010 11:25 AM | Report abuse

Sec3mysofa,
The only incident I remember while Milledge was in Pittsburgh was an argument he got into with former bench coach Gary Varsho during a game.
But even after that, Milledge said publicly Varsho was right to get on him.
When a team loses 105 games I'm surprised fights between players and coaches aren't weekly.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | December 23, 2010 11:36 AM | Report abuse

Come on. Burnett's a lefty, and lefties are supposed to wear their hats funny. I'm one, and I know.

Seriously, love the way Burnett pitched last season. That W-L record in no way reflects how well he did. If the Nats had kept Peralta, too, they would be pretty well set in the pen. I'd have no problem with either Storen or Burnett closing games.

Posted by: nats24 | December 23, 2010 1:05 PM | Report abuse

I so figured that they would drop a FA signing of some kind or a trade maybe on us before Christmas -- guess that is not likely to happen. I mean extending Burnett is a nice move and all, but he was going to be here in any event for a couple of years. Come on Rizzo, surprise me!!

Posted by: dfh21 | December 23, 2010 1:57 PM | Report abuse

That's not a bad Christmas gift! He had a very good year. Didn't he credit Pudge with getting him to throw his slider more?

Apparently the Nats just lost Aaron Thompson to the Pirates.

Posted by: derwink | December 23, 2010 2:56 PM | Report abuse

That's not a bad Christmas gift! He had a very good year. Didn't he credit Pudge with getting him to throw his slider more?

Apparently the Nats just lost Aaron Thompson to the Pirates.

Posted by: derwink | December 23, 2010 2:57 PM | Report abuse

The Burnett re-signing is a good move. This locks him up for two years at a reasonable cost & gives the team five arms (Burnett, Carr, Kimball, Rodriguez, Storen) to look at for possible closer duties in 2011.

Now, the team really needs to lock-down a 1B with decent range/glovework/hitting. Either D.Lee or LaRoche meets that criteria; I personally like LaRoche because he's both a LH-bat & younger than Lee. Settling for the likes of Kotchmann, Hawpe, etc in a platoon with Morse would be a big step backwards offensively.

Next, execute a trade for one of the likes of Garza(TB), Lowe(ATL), Zito(SF), or Kazmir(LAA). Any of these SP's would offer an inning-eating #2-4 option in the Nationals rotation, with some (Garza & Lowe) helping more than others (Zito & Kazmir).

An offer of 3-4 from a pick-list of Clippard, Kimball, Milone, Peacock, Marrero, Bernadina, Hood might pique some interest from Tampa Bay for Garza.

Atlanta might consider shedding some salary for an offer of Storen, Ramos or Norris, & a 'prospect' for Lowe & $$.

Just thinking that Cliff Lee / Zach Greinke wasn't the 'end of the rainbow', and that the Nationals can still do better than Carl Pavano as a SP.

Posted by: BinM | December 23, 2010 3:03 PM | Report abuse

@derwink:
Not confirmed though mlb.com as of yet, but not a catastrophic loss if true. Thompson struggled in AA-ball in 2010 (27GP, 5.65ERA, 1.59WHIP). His upside at this point is that he's a 23yo LHSP; If PIT claimed him to their 40-man, good luck to them.

Posted by: BinM | December 23, 2010 3:20 PM | Report abuse

BinM,
Pittsburgh just dropped Joe Martinez off the 40 man to add Correja. I seriously doubt they put Thompson on their 40 man.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | December 23, 2010 3:23 PM | Report abuse

Aaron Thompson had some real potential. The Pirates are quietly getting it done o nthe cheap right now. If they can somehow pitch, they are going to be much improved from last year.

Posted by: dfh21 | December 23, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

@BigDaddy:
IF they claimed him as a DFA from WSH, he has to be assigned to their 40-man, as that's where Thompson's corresponding assignment was.

Posted by: BinM | December 23, 2010 3:50 PM | Report abuse

The Nats are gonna need a really strong bullpen this year, with no upgrades to the starting rotation. All signs point to '11 being a washout, with more promises about how great we'll be in '12.

Another 95 loss season, another high draft pick. And more empty seats in the stadium.

Posted by: nyskinsdiehard | December 23, 2010 4:33 PM | Report abuse

@dfh21:
We've seen this before; What PIT is doing from 2009-2011 is very similar to what WSH did in 2006-2009; Accumulate as many 4-A+ (low cost, questionable value) players as possible in the off-season, then hopefully 'sort the wheat from the chaff' in Spring Training to build a ML-ready team.

Posted by: BinM | December 23, 2010 4:53 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to all who answered my questions - what a great site, all the information you need, questions answered, plus opinions. (and maybe every now and then some nastiness towards the FO)
I had high hopes for Thompson but he did not produce. I am pretty sure BinM is right, if he came off our 40 man, he has to go on theirs. did you guys see who Keith Law said we offered for Grienke? J.Zimm,Storen, and Norris. Kinda glad we didn't get that deal done but also interesting that neither Desmond or Espinosa is listed.

Posted by: sjm3091 | December 23, 2010 4:56 PM | Report abuse

If that is indeed true, I'm just as glad to let it go, too.

Thompson, btw, was the AA guy they got from the Yankees, so that trade didn't help either team much, unless you count having Nick be on somebody else's DL for a change a plus.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 23, 2010 5:42 PM | Report abuse

That should read "from the Yankees *for Nick Johnson*"

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 23, 2010 5:46 PM | Report abuse

According to MLBTradeRumors, the Pirates announced the Thompson claim.

"The Pirates announced that they claimed left-hander Aaron Thompson off of waivers from the Nationals and designated Wil Ledezma for assignment.

Thompson, a 2005 first rounder who turns 24 in February, posted a 5.65 ERA with 6.3 K/9 and 3.5 BB/9 in 141 2/3 innings for the Nationals' Double-A and Triple-A affiliates last year. The longtime Marlins farmhand has yet to appear in the major leagues."

Posted by: derwink | December 23, 2010 6:11 PM | Report abuse

All of which proves that the best thing that you can do for your son is turn him into a left-handed pitcher.

Posted by: mikecatcher50 | December 23, 2010 6:34 PM | Report abuse

Thompson came from the Marlins in the Johnson trade; Yanks signed Nick as a FA

Posted by: swanni | December 23, 2010 8:36 PM | Report abuse

BinM, I generally agree with a lot of your comments and consider you a true fan--but Zito, Kazmir, Lowe and their accompanying salary. Good grief, I'm at a loss for words.

Posted by: jcampbell1 | December 23, 2010 8:51 PM | Report abuse

Swanni, I sit corrected. Thanks.

Posted by: Sec3mysofa | December 23, 2010 9:14 PM | Report abuse

I keep coming here looking for a new post with an announcement of a Phase II signing to add on to Werth's.

Does this make me obsessive-compulsive?

Posted by: gilbertbp | December 23, 2010 9:54 PM | Report abuse

gilbertbp isn't OCD, maybe delusional though.

Posted by: generalike | December 23, 2010 10:14 PM | Report abuse

jcampbell, I've advocated trades similar to what BinM proposed earlier.
In general, for any trade, you have to give to get.
For some players (Greinke, Garza and the like), it's gonna cost top prospects. We have them, but they are rare and valuable to us.
For other players (Zito, Zambrano and the like), what you give in terms of prospects is not much at all, because you are taking on their lousy contracts and their current team is all too happy to be rid of them.

To the Giants, with Lincecum, Sanchez, Cain, Bumgardner, Zito is worth very little (regardless of what he earns). To the Nationals, Zito would be worth more than he is in SF, he'd be more useful to us.
And all it would cost is a couple prospects we could more easily afford, and we take on his silly contract for the next three years.

Zito has average 195 innings to a 4.09 ERA over the last two years. That's not horrible. It would definitely be useful to us for 2011 and 2012. (Keep in mind we still have plenty of guys on pitch and innings limits).

It's been reported we offered Storen, Zimmermann and Norris for Greinke.
So if having Greinke is an idea worth considering, isn't having Storen, Zimmerman, Norris and Zito also worth considering?

This presumes the Giants would unload Zito for a couple of lower level prospects. Perhaps they would, perhaps not. Here's betting there's a deal here to be had, one that is good for both teams.

Posted by: Sunderland | December 24, 2010 6:58 AM | Report abuse

Reprise of my pleas from last year's offseason. Oddly enough, the list still holds pretty much. Substitute a 1b for the backup catcher and you're good:

Santa baby, just slip a pitcher under the tree, for me
Been an awful good girl
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight
Santa baby, a backup catcher would be good, too - likes chew
I'll wait up for you, dear
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight
Think of all the fun I've missed
Think of all the batters that we haven’t whiffed
Next year I could be oh so good
If you'd check off my Christmas list
Santa honey, I want balls caught and really that's not a lot
I've been an angel all year
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight
Santa cutie, there's one thing I really do need, the deed
To Na-tion-als tv
Santa cutie, and hurry down the chimney tonight
Santa baby, just fill my stocking with strong biceps, and checks
Sign your 'X' on the line
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight
Come and trim my Christmas tree
With a Silver Slugger bought at Tiffany's
I really do believe in you
Let's see if you believe in me
Santa baby, forgot to mention one little thing, a ring
I don't mean on the phone
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2010 9:48 AM | Report abuse

Okay, replacement verse for the catcher:

Santa baby, I'd like an infielder with some pop - not FLop
I'll wait up for you, dear
Santa baby, and hurry down the chimney tonight

:-)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2010 9:51 AM | Report abuse

All,
"The Pirates announced that they claimed left-hander Aaron Thompson off of waivers from the Nationals and designated Wil Ledezma for assignment."
This would be in keeping with the nonsense we've become accustomed to as Pirate fans.
A power arm from the left side who would be useful possibly lost so we can attempt yet another reclaimation project.
Whenever Nats' fans get frustrated with ownership just remind yourself you could be a Pirates' fan.

Posted by: BigDaddy651 | December 24, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

@BigDaddy:
The really strange thing about the DFA is that the Pirates had already re-signed Ledezma for 2011 ($700k). Go figure.

Posted by: BinM | December 24, 2010 2:27 PM | Report abuse

1a1 I liked it last year and it was worth a repeat. I do wish we had made enough progress that it were not quite so apropos again.

Posted by: NatsFly | December 24, 2010 2:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, NatsFly. Agreed re. progress (or lack thereof).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2010 3:46 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, NatsFly. Agreed re. progress (or lack thereof).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

Gee, I just *love* this interface. :-D

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 24, 2010 3:47 PM | Report abuse

A nice reprise, 1a1. And thanks for being the closest we have to a moderator here.
Merry Christmas to all the Nats fans to whom it applies and good cheer to all else.

sec3, I hope 1a1 inspires you to come up with a lyric or two.

Posted by: nats24 | December 24, 2010 6:35 PM | Report abuse

Some first base talk if you don't mind; i'm in the D.Lee camp,LaRouche strikes out too much for me, i think Lee would be an obvious upgrade around the bag and he still has enough pop in his bat to minimize the loss of Dunn. I don't know what Lee's agent is asking for but i'm hoping Lee doesn't end up like Jermaine Dye and price himself out of the market and a job.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 24, 2010 6:36 PM | Report abuse

D. Lee had surgery on the hand that was bothering him last year, so I'd bet he could come back extremely well. His numbers were still respectable, despite the injury. The team that shall not be named is talking to him, too.

He'll turn 34 in Sept., so anything more than a year would be expensive. I like him better than the options the Nats already have, but he hits right-handed, and the Nats need a left-handed bat, badly.

An obviously question, as far as I'm concerned: Will the money that the Nats have to spend for Derrek Lee or Adam LaRoche produce a bigger payback than offering some minimal contract to Nick Johnson?

Laugh if you want, but NJ knows this likely would be his last chance. He's younger than D. Lee, and if the Nats could get a good year out of him, I would love to see it.

Posted by: nats24 | December 24, 2010 6:50 PM | Report abuse

Ode to June 8, 2010 (RIP, Dan Fogelberg)

Saw our young pitcher on the Internet
The snow was falling Christmas Eve
There was a video that I had to watch
And I didn't want to leave

I didn't recognize the arm at first
Until he threw a pitch inside
And then he buzzed one, and the batter cursed
And he soon struck out the side

But when he then gave up a hit or two
I had to wonder if they'd lied

Yet his fastball was incendary
So all who saw were satisfied
He moved them down so precisely
and I knew it was no tale
He had the batters flayling foolishly
'til they knew that they would fail

I went to have myself a drink or two
and thought they'd finally raised the bar
I got to thinking 'bout the years to come
but I didn't get too far

I drank a toast to foolishness
I drank a toast to now
Just hoping in my baseball bliss
perhaps someday, somehow

Posted by: nats24 | December 24, 2010 7:51 PM | Report abuse

1a, thanks.

For everything.

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 24, 2010 9:16 PM | Report abuse

Great Job natsfan1a1!!! I wrote a similar one when the stadium deal kept going up and down in 04 and 05! That is soo cool!

Posted by: CALSGR8 | December 24, 2010 10:20 PM | Report abuse

Thanks to 1a from me also.

Posted by: skidge | December 24, 2010 10:24 PM | Report abuse

(And all the best to everyone for the New Year!)

Posted by: skidge | December 24, 2010 10:27 PM | Report abuse

The ode was great, nats24!

Gotta go check what's under the tree (pleasebeafirstbaseman).

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 25, 2010 7:43 AM | Report abuse

p.s. Game 7 of the 1960 WS is supposed to air again today at 11 a.m. ET if anyone is of a mind to watch it...

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 25, 2010 7:45 AM | Report abuse

"Any more deals coming?

"'Look under the Christmas tree,' said Mark Lerner, a principal owner."

Thanks for nothing, Lerner, you schmuck.

Posted by: CoverageisLacking | December 25, 2010 8:47 AM | Report abuse

MERRY CHRISTMAS EVERYONE !!!!!!! I hope each and everyone of my fellow posters has a splendid holiday.

Posted by: dargregmag | December 25, 2010 1:17 PM | Report abuse

Thanks, dargramps. I wish the same to your and yours.

(I had some spiffy Nats sox under the tree but no baseball players yet...)

Posted by: natsfan1a1 | December 25, 2010 1:54 PM | Report abuse

Merry Christmas All!

Posted by: natbiscuits | December 25, 2010 2:44 PM | Report abuse

A few days ago on this very string, I brought up some trade prospects, and tagged some named players in return for the first two. Given that the Nationals are reportedly out on Webb (per ESPN), I'd like to address the other two, and one that Sunderland brought up now...

Barry Zito (LHSP,SF): Given the young SP core in San Fran, Zito may be the 'odd-man-out', based on his salary alone ($18.5M/yr through 2013). A proven RP (Clippard), and 1-2 SP 'prospects' (Meyers, Tatusko, Peacock as possibles) might tease him loose, if Rizzo doesn't ask for salary relief.

Scott Kazmir (LHSP,LAA): A pure 'salary relief' gamble. The Angels reportedly have some interest in Michael Morse; Make it Kazmir for Morse, straight-up, with LAA eating some salary. Granted, the Nationals eat a chunk of salary, but return a hitter without a set position.

Carlos Zambrano (RHSP,CUB): Expensive ($18M/yr through 2012+), volatile clubhouse presence, but is a bona-fide #1 when motivated. They do have some weaknessess that can be filled, at a cost. Offer possibly Lannan & Maya, along with Marrero, Lombordozzi & a low-A pitching 'prospect' as a straight-up trade.

Beyond that, it's signing Pavano as a FA or bust at this point - Not the best end-game, imo.

Posted by: BinM | December 26, 2010 4:19 PM | Report abuse

From Phil Wood's blog on the MASN site: "The first base question for the Nationals should be answered sometime this week, according to club sources."

Looks like that's the next deal or non-deal.

I think Zito would be the best choice even over Zambrano. He is a left handed starter, something they Nats are lacking beyond Lannan. He is the sort of veteran who may have something to prove and see the Nats as the place to do that. Might be they kind of guy to expose Stras, Zimmermann, Detwiler too?

There's still also Edwin Jackson with the ChiSox.

They might have to try to get both. But how much future can they afford to leverage in trades? Things look better but even with the noticeable age drop in veteran depth in AAA they still might create some noticeable holes?

Their strong suit looks to be relief pitching right now. After that Marerro and Moore who both project to AL DH guys.

Posted by: periculum | December 26, 2010 4:44 PM | Report abuse

Pavano still seems like another variation of Marquis, Livan and the younger John Lannan. If they resign Batista he would also fit the same mold? How many innings eaters do you need?

Posted by: periculum | December 26, 2010 4:51 PM | Report abuse

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