Washington Nationals: Sean Burnett Will Decline Option for 2013 Season

Kenny DeJohnAnalyst IIIOctober 22, 2012

ST LOUIS, MO - OCTOBER 08:  Sean Burnett #17 of the Washington Nationals pitches in the eighth inning against the St. Louis Cardinals during Game Two of the National League Division Series at Busch Stadium on October 8, 2012 in St Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Jamie Squire/Getty Images)
Jamie Squire/Getty Images

Left-handed setup man Sean Burnett is expected to opt out of his contract with the Washington Nationals, making him a free agent this offseason (via Bill Ladson of MLB.com).

Burnett and the Nationals share a mutual option that would pay the lefty $3.5 million if it was picked up. This amount was a result of the extension he and the Nationals agreed upon in 2010.

While a source (via Ladson) claimed that Burnett will be seeking longer than a one-year contract, his first priority will be to remain in Washington.

After starting five games in 2004 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, Burnett did not reappear in the majors until 2008. From that time on, he has been a reliable reliever.

Last season in Washington was arguably the best of his career. He posted a 2.38 ERA over 70 appearances (56.2 innings) while striking out 57 batters.

He also recorded two saves while Drew Storen was on the disabled list.

Burnett is extremely value to the Nationals, as he has the versatility to be more than just a lefty specialist. General manager Mike Rizzo should pull out all the stops in an effort to bring him back.

It's not out of the question for a team to offer Burnett three years and around $12 million. If he's as willing as most believe to return to Washington, he may be inclined to accept a bit less money.

Burnett went under the knife to remove bone spurs from his pitching elbow last week, but he's expected to be ready for spring training. The surgery should have no bearing on his new contract.

Look for Burnett to be back with the Nats next summer.