Burnett’s price continues to rise

With every deal signed by a prominent free agent reliever, Sean Burnett’s price goes up a bit more.

As a result, his chances of returning to the Nationals could be decreasing.

The Reds have agreed to a three-year deal with right-hander Jonathan Broxton, a contract which will pay the hard-throwing reliever $21 million, according to FOX Sports’ Ken Rosenthal.

The deal also includes a $9 million club option for 2016 with a $1 million buyout.

This comes after the Giants signed left-hander Jeremy Affeldt to a three-year, $18 million deal two weeks ago.

I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again: It’s a good time to be a free agent.

Burnett is widely considered the top left-handed reliever currently available on the free agent market. He’s just 30, has posted a sub-2.40 ERA in two of the last three seasons, has some closing experience and can get both righties and lefties out.

Burnett is coming off minor elbow surgery, which he underwent after the Nationals’ postseason run ended in mid-October, but his elbow is not expected to hinder him at all as he prepares for the 2013 season.

There’s a legitimate market out there for a guy like Burnett, and as we’ve already seen this offseason, a lot of teams have a lot of money to throw around.

Burnett has said that he would like to return to the Nationals, but given the payday he could be in store for, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see him land elsewhere.

The Nats would like Burnett back, as well, but will they be willing to hand over $20 million or more for a guy who would do most of his work prior to the eighth inning?

Maybe, but probably not.

The Nationals need to figure out how to fill out their bullpen when it comes to left-handed relievers. Tom Gorzelanny will likely be tendered a contract to again serve as the left-handed long reliever, but with Burnett and fellow lefty Michael Gonzalez both free agents, the Nats have a clear hole in their ‘pen at the moment.

Burnett was a valuable piece of the Nationals’ bullpen the last few years, and he’d certainly be missed if he ends up leaving. But given the money he’ll likely be offered by other teams around the league, we might have seen the last of Burnett in a Nationals jersey.

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