6:23pm: Burnett stands to earn a $1MM base salary with $1.7MM in available incentives if he can crack the Nationals’ roster, MLBTR has learned.
3:20pm: The Nationals announced today that they have agreed to terms with veteran outfielder Reed Johnson and veteran lefty Sean Burnett on a pair of minor league contracts, which include invitations to Major League Spring Training. Johnson is represented by the Wasserman Media Group, whereas Burnett is a client of Munsey Sports Management. Both players have spent time with the Nationals previously.
Johnson, 39 next month, broke camp with the Nationals in 2015 but ultimately missed most of the season due to a torn tendon in his left calf. He appeared in 17 games with the Nationals but received just 24 plate appearances, hitting .227/.250/.273 in that limited time. Johnson has plenty of experience in the Majors, with parts of 13 seasons under his belt, but he’s served largely in a platoon/reserve fashion since 2009. Though he was once a premium defender in left, he’s been a tick below average over the past several seasons, and it’s tough to imagine him showing dramatic improvement in that regard coming off a serious calf injury. Historically, he’s fared quite well against left-handed pitching, batting .310/.363/.464 in his career. He’ll give the Nats some outfield depth, which the team figures to continue pursuing in the likely event that Denard Span signs elsewhere this winter.
The 33-year-old Burnett has just 10 1/3 innings in the Majors dating back to 2012 due to 2013 shoulder surgery and the second Tommy John surgery of his career in 2014. Prior to this most recent pair of surgeries, Burnett had solidified himself as a quality left-handed reliever. He inked a two-year, $8MM contract with the Angels prior to the 2013 season before suffering the shoulder injury, and that contract was earned largely based on the strength of his previous work in the Nationals organization. From 2009-12, Burnett, compiled a 2.81 ERA with 7.7 K/9 against 2.9 BB/9 in 201 1/3 innings with the Nationals. He’s held opposing lefties to a .228/.293/.336 batting line over the course of his career and represents a nice buy-low candidate for a Nationals bullpen that is in need of plenty of options.