Washington Nationals News: Sean Burnett And Reed Johnson Invited To Spring Training


It is only November, but the Washington Nationals invited two players to Spring Training this February in Viera. Today, the organization announced that left-handed relief pitcher Sean Burnett and outfielder Reed Johnson are being signed to minor league contracts with an invite to Spring Training:

Starting with Johnson, the Nats signed him late into Spring Training back in March, but he was not on the field as much during the year. Johnson played 17 games this season with a slash line of .227/.250/.273 with no home runs and three RBI’s. His season was ruined this year because of injuries to his calf, rib, and oblique.

Back in April, Johnson tore a tendon muscle in his calf during the Nats’ 13-12 comeback win over the Braves at Turner Field. He ended up being placed on the 60-day disabled list. He ended up returning to the team on September 27 against the Phillies, but he could’ve returned in August if not for a rib injury he suffered during a rehab assignment at high-A Potomac. Then, he ended up straining his oblique when sneezing.

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Despite Johnson’s injury woes, he still brings experience to the table having been in the Major Leagues for 13 seasons. While he will be 39 on December 8, you would think he has a shot to at least make the team off the bench and provide some outfield depth behind a player like Matt den Dekker.

As for Burnett, he is a reliever that has had to undergo two Tommy John surgeries over the course of his career. He has not pitched in the majors since May 2014, when he was with the Los Angeles Angels. Before joining the Halos in the 2012 offseason, Burnett was a part of the Nats’ bullpen.

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The 33-year-old was traded to the Nats from the Pittsburgh Pirates along with outfielder Nyjer Morgan in 2009 in a deal that sent reliever Joel Hanrahan and outfielder Lastings Milledge to Pittsburgh. During his four years in DC, Burnett was 8-15 with a 2.81 ERA, had 7.7 strikeouts per nine innings, and appeared in 69+ games in three of those four years.

His best season with the Nats occurred in 2010. Despite having a 1-7 record, Burnett appeared in 73 games, had an ERA of 2.14, and struck out nearly nine batters per nine innings. When he was last with the Angels, Burnett had three pitches in his arsenal. He had a fastball that averaged out at about 86 miles per hour (according to Fangraphs), a slider, and a changeup.

For the Nationals, these are two low-risk signings since the players are on minor league deals. Johnson, as previously mentioned, can add depth to the Nats’ bench and Burnett, if healthy, could be one of the candidates to be in the bullpen in 2016 when you consider the team’s primary left-handed option right now is Felipe Rivero.