The Washington Times - December 3, 2012, 07:48PM

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Washington Nationals would like to retain left-handed reliever Sean Burnett. They’d like to keep him as a valuable member of their bullpen, slotted into the seventh inning and working with his heavy sinker before Tyler Clippard and Drew Storen.

But Burnett’s market, which includes at least the Brewers, Angels and Cardinals, has most likely become too robust for the Nationals. Burnett is likely to command at least the three years and $18 million Jeremy Affeldt got from the Giants, and it wouldn’t be surprising to see him top that as he’s three years younger than Affeldt and, by many accounts, had a slightly better season in 2012.

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That appears to be a little too rich for the Nationals’ blood.

“We like Sean, we’d like to bring him back, but it has to make sense for us,” said Nationals general manager Mike Rizzo. “Right now, I don’t see a fit financially or term-wise.”

The Nationals are still looking for a second left-handed reliever after they signed Zach Duke to a one-year deal on Monday afternoon. They don’t view it as an extreme necessity (and even someone like Michael Gonzalez could be re-signed to fill that role) because they are confident in their right-handers like Clippard, Storen and Ryan Mattheus, to get out left-handed batters equally as often.

But that, and the fact that Burnett has yet to sign, did allow Rizzo to leave the door at least cracked open for the Nationals to get back into things, but it sounds unlikely.

“He hasn’t signed with anybody yet,” Rizzo said. “And we’ll see where it leads us.”

Burnett had a 2.38 ERA in 70 appearances last season, and he posted those numbers despite pitching for much of the second half of the season with a bone spur in his left elbow that was removed after the season. ..