MLB Winter Meetings: Sean Burnett signs with Angels, Nationals turn focus toward J.P. Howell

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Washington Nationals parted ways with left-hander Sean Burnett on Wednesday afternoon when Burnett agreed to a two-year deal with a club option with the Los Angeles Angels. 

The deal, which was confirmed by a person with knowledge of the agreement, is worth $8 million with a $4.5 million option according to the Los Angeles Times. It is pending a physical. 

That is south of the three years, $18 million that lefty Jeremy Affeldt got from the San Francisco Giants but still a $2.45 million raise per season over what Burnett made in 2012 for the Nationals. Burnett had a 2.38 ERA in 2012 in 56 ⅔ innings of work and was valuable for his ability to get both left-handers and right-handers out. He also pitched much of the second half with a bone spur in his left elbow, which was removed after the season.

The Nationals, on the other hand, turned their focus toward J.P Howell, the former Rays reliever who had a 3.04 ERA in 50 1/3 innings in 2012. Manager Davey Johnson, who managed Howell in the past for Team USA, likes what he could bring to the team. 

The market for the 29-year-old to this point has been somewhat difficult to discern. But with Burnett and lefty specialist Randy Choate, who signed a three-year deal with the Cardinals, off the board, it likely leaves the Nationals competing with at least the Brewers for his services. 

Burnett’s deal could help lower the cost of Howell for the Nationals as many evaluators view him as just a tier below Burnett, talent-wise. Michael Gonzalez, Manny Parra, Tom Gorzelanny and George Sherrill are some of the other left-handers still available.

The Nationals had at first hoped they might be able to retain Burnett but ultimately Rizzo didn’t “see a fit financially or term-wise.” He will no doubt be missed in D.C. where he was a popular teammate and favorite of Johnson.

“I’ll miss Sean Burnett,” Johnson said Tuesday. “He’s probably going to go somewhere else. But we had a great core out there that got along very well and helped each other not only on the field but off the field. And you don’t want to with that mix too much.” 

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About the Author
Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak

Amanda Comak covers the Washington Nationals and comes to The Washington Times from the Cape Cod Times and after stints with and the Amsterdam (N.Y.) Recorder. A Massachusetts native and 2008 graduate of Boston University, Amanda can be reached at and you can follow her on Twitter @acomak.

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