WASHINGTON — The Nationals have acquired left-handed reliever Sean Burnett, as first reported by SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo.
With Sammy Solis going on the disabled list, Oliver Perez’s struggles (5.61 ERA, 52 appearances) and Felipe Rivero going to the Pirates in the Mark Melancon deal, Washington’s bullpen has been in dire need of another lefty arm.
Burnett was pitching for Minnesota’s Class-AAA affiliate, the Rochester Red Wings, for whom he has a 2.15 ERA in 29 appearances. He has reportedly signed a minor league deal with the Nationals. According to Minnesota-based reporter Darren Wolfson, Burnett was able to opt out of his deal with the Twins. He signed with the Nationals with hopes of making the big league roster as a September call-up.
Burnett has moved around quite a bit in 2016. After signing a minor league deal with Washington in the offseason, Burnett failed to make the big league roster and chose to exercise an opt-out clause in his contract allowing him to become a free agent. He later agreed to a minor league deal with the Dodgers, pitching to a 2.35 ERA in seven appearances for their Class-AAA affiliate in Oklahoma.
After opting out again, Burnett signed a minor league deal with Atlanta. He didn’t allow a run in his six appearances for their Class-AAA affiliate, Gwinnett, but opted out of that contract in May, eventually signing a minors contract with Minnesota. Burnett has a 1.91 ERA overall in 2016.
He previously pitched four seasons for the Nationals (2009-2012), leaving via free agency for the Angels. Shortly into his debut season with the Angels in 2013, Burnett underwent surgery for a torn flexor tendon in his pitching elbow.
Burnett’s return in 2014 didn’t go so well; he had a 13.50 ERA after his first three appearances. An MRI revealed a torn UCL (elbow), requiring he undergo Tommy John surgery, the second of his career. The Angels declined his option for 2015.
The Nationals have not announced the deal at this time.