Nats unlikely to re-sign Burnett, plus Duke notes (and a cool link)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - Sean Burnett has been a hot name since becoming a free agent. One report has eight teams in the mix for the left-handed reliever.

The Nationals are one of the teams that have interest in Burnett, but given the way the market has played out so far, Nats general manager Mike Rizzo says he doesn’t expect to have Burnett back in D.C. next season.

“We like Sean, we’d like to bring him back, but it has to make sense for us,” Rizzo said. “Right now, I don’t see a fit, financially or term-wise. But he hasn’t signed with anybody yet, and we’ll see where it leads us.”

Burnett, 30, posted a 2.38 ERA in 56 2/3 innings for the Nats this season. As the top left-handed reliever currently on the market, he’s likely to land a three-year deal in the $15-20 million range, which essentially means Burnett has pushed himself out of the Nationals’ price range.

The Angels are reportedly one of the more interested teams in Burnett, and Brewers GM Doug Melvin told reporters that he’s been in contact with Burnett’s agent, as well.

While Burnett is likely to walk, the Nats brought back one left-handed reliever today, re-signing Zach Duke to a one-year major league deal.

Duke will essentially replace Tom Gorzelanny as the Nationals’ left-handed long-reliever, and he’d be available to make a spot-start if needed, as well.

“I think we’re going to keep him stretched out in spring training and see where we’re at with the fifth starter spot,” Rizzo said. “He’ll give us some depth, a guy that’s started in the past, that can start games.

“I think the same can be said about Christian Garcia. We’re going to keep him stretched out. And they’ll be in the mix for a fifth starting job, or at least as starting depth. And if not, (Duke will) kind of fill that long left-hander that Davey (Johnson) likes in the bullpen.”

The Nats would like to add a second left-handed reliever, but Rizzo feels it’s not a necessity because most of the Nationals’ righties (namely Tyler Clippard) are effective against left-handed hitters.

Meanwhile, PR representatives from the 30 major league teams took to the podium here in the media work room earlier this afternoon to make a cool announcement.

Major League Baseball has organized a charity auction benefiting Stand Up To Cancer, an initiative inspired by the numerous cases of public relations officials in the sport who have been diagnosed with cancer in recent years.

Fans can bid on a number of “team experiences,” including batting practice sessions, ballpark tours, a round of golf with a player and much more.

There are two Nationals-specific auctions: One is called the “Be Cool at School” experience, and involves Drew Storen and Tyler Clippard going to the high bidder’s child’s school and eating lunch at his/her table in the school cafeteria, while the other is a “Draft Day” experience, and will allow the winner to be in the draft room when Rizzo and the Nats make their first-round selection in the 2013 First-Year Player Draft on June 6. The winner of that auction will also get to attend that day’s draft news conference and will receive two tickets and dinner in the PNC Diamond Club for that night’s game against the Mets.

You can bid on the Storen/Clippard auction here and the draft day auction here.

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