Nationals Arm Race

"… the reason you win or lose is darn near always the same – pitching.” — Earl Weaver

Setting the Market for Sean Burnett


The price of lefty relievers like Sean Burnett has gone up. Photo Winslow Townson/Getty images via

Word came down yesterday that the Giants have re-signed their own lefty specialist Jeremy Affeldt to an expected 3 year, $18M deal.

No wonder Sean Burnett declined his side of the 2013 mutual option (for $3.5M) he had in his last contract.  Because clearly, if Affeldt is getting a $6M AAV contract at the age of 33 after a 3 year stint with San Francisco in which he posted a 3.09 ERA, 1.32 whip and a 117 ERA+ over 175 IP in 187 games, then Burnett should be in line for even more.

Burnett’s numbers over the last 3 years:  a 2.76 ERA, 1.231 whip, 144 ERA+ and throwing 176 1/3 innings.  And he’s only 29.

So, if Burnett is younger, has better numbers across the board in nearly identical IPs but throwing in much more of a hitters park than Affeldt does in San Francisco, what can we expect for Burnett’s contract demands now?  10% more than what Affeldt got?  20% more?  And, more importantly, will the Nats match it and spend $6-$7M/year on a left-handed specialist?

Even more to the point, if this is the market for relievers … perhaps this team should think twice before non-tendering someone like Tom Gorzelanny, who may be a bargain at something close to his 2012 $3M/year salary.

In any case, I think one thing is clear; there’s going to be some serious money spent this off-season on players that one may not think are really that worth it.  Will the Nationals jump in and spend the money they’ll need to in order to compete?

Written by Todd Boss

November 13th, 2012 at 9:35 am

7 Responses to 'Setting the Market for Sean Burnett'

Subscribe to comments with RSS or TrackBack to 'Setting the Market for Sean Burnett'.

  1. It’s all about supply and demand.

    Sign Lefty!!!!

    Brandon Davis

    13 Nov 12 at 1:58 pm

  2. If that’s the market for Burnett, then all of a sudden John Lannan doesn’t look like a bad deal either.

    kevin r

    13 Nov 12 at 3:10 pm

  3. I know! I’m rewriting parts of my arbitration post as we speak. It’d make the Nats decision a bit easier if they had ANY loogy depth at all. But they don’t, so they’re forced to either overpay to keep their own guys.

    Todd Boss

    13 Nov 12 at 4:35 pm

  4. I think I would have to let Burnett walk before committing a big contract to him this season. I just can’t see any world where it is justifiable to commit 3 or 4 years and $20-$25 million to a lefty reliever when the team will need that money for Zimmermann, Desmond, Stras etc. Also given that Clippard handles lefties very well (career .182/.268/.325 slash against lefties) and Stammen was succesful against lefties as well (.197/.274/.331) it may not be as imparative to keep Burnett.

    My vote is for targetting Michael Gonzalez on a 1, maybe 2 year deal, and giving Gorzelanny a chance at a few more “specialist” chances next season.


    13 Nov 12 at 5:02 pm

  5. Let’s face it, signing a bullpen guy for anything longer than 2 years is a bad idea.
    That said, the Nats need Burnett badly,and they have the money, so it should be a no-brainer.

    Mark L

    13 Nov 12 at 7:20 pm

  6. But (playing devils advocate here), if Burnett/Affeldt are worth 3 year $18M deals, what is Gonzalez now worth? He just finished a pretty good career-reclamation season but is much more of a lefty specialist than Burnett (.179 BAA vs lefties versus .297 versus righties). I’m not saying he’s getting millions and millions of dollars, but I do think his price is going to be rather ridiculous compared to what most people thought they’d be getting him for. The issue is, the Nats have NOBODY rising that we can “develop” into a lefty reliever. The team has clearly given up on Severino. VanAllen was awful this year. The next best option may be Pat McCoy but he’s so young. AFter that the next best guy with any sort of decent numbers as a left handed reliever is Christain Meza in low-A. The Nats have a gap in terms of lefty reliever development in the farm system and are going to be forced to pay to fill it.

    Todd Boss

    14 Nov 12 at 9:41 am

  7. In general I completely agree; locking up/guaranteeing money to fungible assets such as bullpen arms is folly. Even closers. In this situation though, it may be a good gamble to give Burnett a 3 year deal. He’s been relatively durable (no injuries since he joined us, despite the off-season elbow clean up issue that he just had), he’s been reliable, he’s better than just a one-out match up guy. And he’s only 29, so we’d be signing him at his theoretical peak.

    Todd Boss

    14 Nov 12 at 9:43 am

Leave a Reply