Sean Burnett Rumors

Sean Burnett Will Decline Option

Sean Burnett's contract with the Nationals contains a $3.5MM mutual option for the 2013 season, but the left-hander is expected to decline his portion in hopes of securing a multi-year deal, according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson. Burnett's decision doesn't necessarily spell the end of his time with the Nats. His "first priority," writes Ladson, is to return to the Nationals on a new contract.

Burnett signed a two-year, $3.95MM extension with Washington in December of 2010. He rewarded general manager Mike Rizzo with 113 1/3 innings of 3.10 ERA ball to go along with a 7.1 K/9, 2.6 BB/9 and also picked up six saves. He was particularly effective this past season, tallying a 2.38 ERA with career-best marks of 9.1 K/9, 1.9 BB/9 and a 57.4 percent ground-ball rate. Since the beginning of the 2011 season, only eight left-handers have topped Burnett's 139 relief appearances.

Burnett could look to multi-year deals given out to left-handed relievers over the past several years, perhaps targeting something in the two-year, $8-9MM range. Fellow southpaws Javier Lopez ($8.5MM), Pedro Feliciano ($8MM) and Hisanori Takahashi ($8MM) all signed for similar totals. Burnett could also look to recent extensions for Sean Marshall (three years, $16.5MM) and Glen Perkins (three years, $10.3MM), though Burnett hasn't been as dominant as either of that pair.

Burnett was originally acquired from the Pirates along with Nyjer Morgan in a trade that sent Joel Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge to the Buccos. If and when Burnett declines his option, the Nationals will not have to pay him the $250K buyout they hold over their own half of the option.

Should he decides to entertain offers from other teams, the 30-year-old Burnett's combination of youth, effectiveness and durability will make him one of the top southpaw relievers on the free agent market.


Quick Hits: Cardinals, Nationals, Rodriguez

Congratulations to Buster Posey and Fernando Rodney, who were named MLB.com’s comeback players of the year for their respective leagues. Rodney had a historic season, posting a 0.60 ERA and striking out more than a batter per inning in Tampa Bay. Posey had an MVP-caliber year after missing most of the 2011 season with a broken leg and damaged ankle ligaments. Here are today’s links…

  • The Cardinals, now just one win away from another World Series appearance, are doing just fine without Albert Pujols, Yahoo's Jeff Passan writes. St. Louis’ roster looks just as scary as it did a year ago thanks to an abundance of homegrown contributors.
  • The Cardinals are believed to have offered Pujols a seven-year deal with three player options last offseason, Bill Shaikin of the LA Times reports. St. Louis GM John Mozeliak said Pujols was a "special part" of the organization. "In a normal — or in a more sterile — environment, we wouldn't pursue those types of things," the GM told Shaikin.
  • The Nationals' bullpen might be overhauled this offseason, Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post writes. Sean Burnett will likely hit free agency and Tyler Clippard could be traded. The Nationals figure to tender Tom Gorzelanny a contract and should have interest in re-signing Mike Gonzalez. Kilgore wonders if Ryan Madson could be a free agent target for Washington.
  • An American League scout suggested to Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com that no teams would be interested in Alex Rodriguez, who’s owed $114MM plus bonuses over the course of the next five years (Twitter link). For more on the Yankees’ offseason plans check out this collection of links.

Nationals Notes: DeRosa, Burnett

The Nationals finished the regular season at the top of the heap, but last night their impressive season ended at the hands of the Cardinals.  There’s always next year for the Nats, though one veteran says that he may decide to call it a career.  Here’s the latest out of Washington..

  • Mark DeRosa was left pondering his future after last night’s game, writes Amanda Comak of The Washington Times.  The 37-year-old believes that he has been hampered by injury in recent years and is capable of doing more, but isn’t sure if another opportunity will come along this winter.  Then again, the veteran noted that he wasn’t expecting a phone call last year either before the Nats signed him to a one-year deal in December.
  • Reliever Sean Burnett seems likely to turn down his end of the $3.5MM mutual option he has for the 2013 season, but he would ultimately like to return to the Nats, writes Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post.  Burnett will undergo surgery next week to take care of a bone spur issue, according to a person familiar with his injury.
  • Earlier today, we learned that Edwin Jackson would like to stay with Washington as he gets ready to hit the open market.  Adam LaRoche also reiterated his desire to stay put but disclosed that contract talks have yet to really advance.


Olney’s Latest: Choate, Bell, Isringhausen, K-Rod

In today's Insider-only blog post, ESPN's Buster Olney notes that while the market for right-handed relief pitching is bountiful, the market for lefties is pretty thin. The Nationals will talk about Sean Burnett but the Cubs will not discuss Sean Marshall, though one southpaw to keep an eye on is Randy Choate. Olney says the Yankees have already asked the Marlins about his availability.

Here are the rest of Buster's rumors…

  • The Padres are unlikely to trade Heath Bell to the Diamondbacks even though the latter would love to have him. Padres owner Jeff Moorad used to run the D'Backs.
  • "The key guys this time of year really aren't the general managers," said one GM. "The owners are the key guys. Because they'll decide whether to add payroll, and when to raise the white flag on the season."
  • Jason Isringhausen of the Mets is "destined to draw a whole lot interest" because he's cheap and experienced. A handful of GMs feel that a Francisco Rodriguez trade is "all but impossible" because of his vesting option.
  • Teams have received their preliminary 2012 schedule, and the chances of realignment dwindle with each passing day.
  • Labor negotiations are progressing as scheduled, though recent buzz that a new Collective Bargaining Agreement could be announced at the All-Star Game has been dismissed.

New York Notes: Rodriguez, Burnett, Budgell

The latest from New York, where Derek Jeter will attempt to reach the 3,000 hit plateau against the Rays tonight. The Yankees' captain is two hits away from reaching the milestone…

  • Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez met with Scott Boras and two of the agent’s associates both before and after yesterday’s game against the Dodgers, according to Brian Costa of the Wall Street Journal. Other agents have also contacted Rodriguez, who is currently represented by Paul Kinzer of Wasserman Media Group, as MLBTR’s Agency Database shows.
  • Kinzer called Rodriguez's meetings with Boras "a sad part of the business," according to Costa (Twitter link).
  • Rodriguez will not become a free agent if he completes 55 games and his $17.5MM option for 2012 vests. Otherwise, he’ll receive a $3.5MM buyout and hit the open market this offseason.
  • The Yankees appear to have interest in Sean Burnett, but ESPN.com's Buster Olney cautions that the Yankees were simply doing their regular scouting when they saw the Nationals left-hander pitch recently (Twitter link).
  • The Mets signed tenth round pick Matthew Budgell, according to Adam Rubin of ESPNNewYork.com (on Twitter). Jim Callis of Baseball America notes that the high schooler obtained an over-slot bonus of $225K (Twitter link).

Rosenthal On Braves, Yankees, Royals

Though some teams are still in the process of deciding whether to buy, sell or hold, others are developing a clear sense of what moves they intend to make this month. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports has the latest on the trade deadline, which is just over three weeks away… 

  • The Braves, who have limited payroll flexibility, aren’t sure if they’re going to upgrade their offense, but they could pursue a right-handed hitting outfielder. Atlanta could probably afford an outfielder like Ryan Ludwick, Josh Willingham or Michael Cuddyer if they also obtained cash to cover the player’s salary (though that would likely mean giving up better prospects in the trade).
  • The Phillies may end up pursuing some of the same right-handed hitters as the Braves. Philadelphia is also exploring trades for relievers now that Jose Contreras, Brad Lidge and Ryan Madson are on the disabled list.
  • The Yankees would like to acquire a top-of-the-rotation lefty, but they’re more likely to add a left-handed reliever. New York’s preference is for a southpaw who can retire right-handed hitters as well as lefties. The Yankees are targeting a number of left-handers, including Sean Burnett of the Nationals, who is not yet available.
  • The Royals will listen to offers for all of their players, but rival executives tell Rosenthal that Joakim Soria is likely staying put, since the asking price for him is high. 
  • Yankees catcher Jesus Montero has limited appeal to the Royals, since they doubt he’ll be able to stay behind the plate long-term.
  • The Royals expect to compete from 2012-14.

Yankees Have Interest In Sean Burnett

The Yankees have expressed interest in Nationals lefty reliever Sean Burnett, though the two clubs have not yet had any discussions according to MLB.com's Bill Ladson (Twitter links). Craig Heist of WTOP 103.5 FM in Washington originally reported the rumor. Ken Rosenthal of FOX Sports says that the Yankees have discussed Burnett internally, but Washington has not yet made him available (on Twitter).

New York has been looking for left-handed bullpen help basically all season, since they learned that free agent signing Pedro Feliciano would miss considerable time with a shoulder injury. Burnett, 28, has an ugly 5.59 ERA in 29 innings this year, but he's held lefties to a .224/.304/.347 batting line against. He is under contract next year ($2.3MM) with a club option ($3.5MM) for 2013 ($250K buyout).


Nationals Sign Sean Burnett To Two-Year Extension

The Nationals have officially signed Sean Burnett to a two-year extension. The $3.95MM contract, which was first reported by Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post, covers Burnett's final two seasons of arbitration eligibility and includes a mutual option for 2013. Agent Jim Munsey represents the left-hander. 

The 28-year-old became a key reliever for Nationals manager Jim Riggleman in 2010, his first full season in Washington. Burnett, a product of the deal that sent Joel Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge to Pittsburgh, posted a 2.14 ERA with 8.9 K/9 and 2.9 BB/9 in 63 innings last year. The former first rounder limited hits and homers and induced lots of ground balls (54.3% ground ball rate) as usual.

Burnett will earn $1.4MM, including a $100K bonus, in 2011 and $2.3MM in 2012. The mutual option covers Burnett's first free agent year and would pay him $3.5MM or a $250K buyout. The Nationals won their arbitration case with Burnett last offseason (775K vs. 925K), which presumably saved them money on this extension.


Nationals Aggressively Pursuing Greinke, Garza

The Nationals are "aggressively pursuing" a trade for Matt Garza or Zack Greinke, according to Adam Kilgore of the Washington Post. However, Kilgore’s source doesn’t expect Washington to trade for either pitcher. Earlier today, ESPN.com's Jerry Crasnick reported that Royals GM Dayton Moore is actively gauging the market for Greinke.

The Rays and Royals could have interest in Ian Desmond and Jordan Zimmermann, but the Nationals are not likely to move either player. However, Kilgore hears that the team would move Danny Espinosa “in a heartbeat.” Roger Bernadina would be available and it’s possible that the Nationals would consider trading Drew Storen or Sean Burnett, according to Kilgore.


Revisiting The Burnett-Morgan-Hanrahan-Milledge Trade

On June 30th, 2009, the Pirates traded reliever Sean Burnett and outfielder Nyjer Morgan to the Nationals for reliever Joel Hanrahan and outfielder Lastings Milledge.  With exactly one year in the books, which side is ahead?

Hanrahan has tossed 63 innings for the Pirates with a 3.00 ERA, 11.9 K/9, 4.6 BB/9, and 0.43 HR/9.  He's totaled 1.0 WAR for the Pirates.  His fastball velocity has increased since the trade, to the point where he's averaging 95.4 mph this year.  Hanrahan will be arbitration-eligible for the first time after this season, and he's under team control through 2013.  He's part of a strong late-game relief trio in Pittsburgh, along with Evan Meek and Octavio Dotel.

Milledge is hitting .281/.339/.384 in 490 plate appearances for the Pirates.  He's played 928 innings in left field, but has moved to right field since Jose Tabata's promotion.  He's totaled 1.2 WAR for the Pirates.  Like Hanrahan, Milledge is arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2011 and under control through 2013.

For the Nationals, lefty reliever Sean Burnett has a 2.96 ERA, 7.7 K/9, 4.0 BB/9, and 0.70 HR/9 in 51.6 innings.  He's totaled 0.4 WAR for the Nats.  That value came entirely from 2010, as he's increased his K/9 to 8.1.  He's earning $775K this year after losing an arbitration hearing in February.  Burnett is under team control through 2012.

Morgan is hitting .291/.345/.368 in 530 plate appearances with 41 stolen bases in 59 attempts for the Nationals since the trade.  His 2.7 WAR comes entirely from 2009, as he's actually had negative value in 2010.  Morgan's '09 season ended in late August with a broken wrist.  It's been a rough 2010 season offensively, and Morgan leads the league with 11 times caught stealing.  Morgan has tallied 1,000 innings in center field in his time with Washington.  After the season it appears that he'll miss the Super Two cutoff by a few days, meaning he will not be arbitration-eligible until after the 2011 season.  Morgan is under team control through 2014.

I'd rather have Hanrahan than Burnett at this point, and the Pirates' reliever is under team control for an extra season.  Morgan's last two months have been discouraging, but he might be better than Milledge defensively and is under control for an extra year.  While the Nationals are ahead 0.9 in WAR, this challenge trade remains something of a toss-up a year later.