Later this afternoon out in Southern California, Sean Burnett will be introduced as a Los Angeles Angel. As his contract became official earlier this week when he passed his physical, the Nationals continued their search to replace the left-handed mainstay in the back of their bullpen.
Burnett ended up with the Angels because the Nationals, according to a person with knowledge of the situation, did not compete with Los Angeles’s offer. Burnett, according to the person, will make a minimum of $8 million over two years and his deal could be worth $13.25 million over three years.
Burnett will receive a base salary of $3.75 million in 2013 and 2014, with $250,000 of his 2013 salary coming as a signing bonus. He could make an additional $625,000 in each of those years based on games pitched incentives. Burnett, who has averaged 70 games the past four seasons, will make the entire bonus if he reaches 65 games pitched.
Burnett has an option for 2015 worth $4.5 million that will vest automatically if he appears in 110 combined games over the next two seasons. If he does not, the Angels can either exercise the $4.5 million option or buy him out for $500,000.
Two days before Burnett agreed to the deal with the Angels, Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo said Burnett “was not a fit financially” for the Nationals. Burnett pitched the second half of the 2012 season with a bone spur in his left elbow, which required arthroscopic surgery following the playoffs. The operation is not expected to hinder Burnett’s preparation for 2013.
The Nationals have shown interest in J.P. Howell, a left-hander who pitched the last seven seasons for the Tampa Bay Rays, and Howell has said he would be interested in pitching for the Nationals.
If the Nationals cannot sign Howell, then could still feel comfortable with what they have. Their right-handed relievers, especially Tyler Clippard and Ryan Mattheus, have been highly effective against left-handed hitters. They also signed lefty Bill Bray to a minor league deal. While Bray missed most of 2012 with an injury, he has held lefties to a .218 batting average in his career.