Burdi was released by the Diamondbacks in Spring Training. Arizona had claimed him off waivers from the Orioles last fall but elected not to keep him on the 40-man roster heading into the season. After passing through release waivers unclaimed, the 27-year-old will try to pitch his way back to the big league level with the Nats.
A first-round pick of the White Sox in 2016, Burdi was an elite college closer at the University of Louisville. The hope had been that he’d carry that success through the minors quickly and emerge as an immediate late-game weapon for the South Siders, but injuries have thrown him off course. The right-hander had run his fastball as high as 102 MPH in college, but he suffered a 2017 UCL tear that required Tommy John surgery and kept him out for all of 2018. Upon returning, Burdi’s velocity had fallen into the low-mid 90s. He’d rediscovered his arm speed by 2020 and made his MLB debut that year, but he’s struggled with both free passes and longballs over the past couple seasons.
Burdi owns a 7.79 ERA in 17 1/3 innings over 15 big league appearances with the White Sox and Orioles between 2020-21. He worked 28 2/3 innings of 6.59 ERA ball with those teams’ respective Triple-A affiliates last season, punching out an excellent 34.5% of batters faced but allowing nine home runs with an elevated 13% walk rate. He’ll look to bounce back from that rough 2021 showing and carve out a spot in a Washington bullpen that has posted below-average marks in both ERA (3.94) and SIERA (3.62) over the season’s first few weeks.