MLB.com’s Alden Gonzalez reports that left-handed pitcher Sean Burnett has reached a deal with the Angels for two years with a club option. Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times added that the total value of the deal is $8-million.
It’s comes as no surprise that Burnett did not end up back in Washington, as the potential split has been well-documented since Day 1 of the offseason. Burnett was seeking more money and more years than the Nationals were preparing to offer, and though he didn’t get the years he was seeking, The Washington Post’s James Wagner wrote yesterday that general manager Mike Rizzo “[didn’t] see a fit financially or term-wise.”
Burnett, originally drafted 19th overall by the Pirates in the 2000 draft, was acquired by the Nationals along with Nyjer Morgan in the trade that sent Joel Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge to Pittsburgh.
Though Morgan was considered the prize of the deal at the time, Burnett turned out to be a far more valuable commodity over the course of his Nationals career. Burnett’s ERA sat below 2.40 (2.14 in 2010 and 2.38 in 2012) in two of his full three seasons in Washington, and his third season still proved to be productive, as he posted an ERA under 4 (3.81 in 2011).
The Burnett loss could be a big one. Whether or not you believe in lefty/lefty, righty/righty match ups, having the option and the variety of lefties and righties in your bullpen is certainly not a bad thing. And with Burnett gone, Zach Duke is now the only left-hander in the Nats’ pen, and he figures to be a long reliever. Manager Davey Johnson does seem to believe in lefty/lefty, righty/righty, so having no lefty specialists is an issue.
With Burnett gone, this could further fuel the J.P. Howell/Nationals rumors that started yesterday, so we’ll continue to monitor that story.