The latest on LaRoche, Burnett (Nats re-sign Duke)

NASHVILLE, Tenn. - As is seemingly always the case at the Winter Meetings, negotiations for a certain player have taken a bit of a surprise turn.

Jayson Stark of ESPN.com has cited an MLB executive on a team that's interested in Adam LaRoche as saying that the Orioles are in on LaRoche "hard."

The Orioles weren't expected to be one of the major players for LaRoche given their reluctance to hand him a three-year deal when they offered him a contract in the winter of 2010. Also, the O's have previously said they'd be more likely to trade for a hitter than sign a free agent.

It's unclear how "hard" the Orioles are in on LaRoche, but they better be willing to give up three years to get him this time around.

If no deal comes in for three guaranteed years, LaRoche is more than likely returning to the Nationals and taking them up on their two-year offer.

Like LaRoche, Sean Burnett has been a hot name in Nashville today. A bunch of teams are in on the left-handed reliever (Mike DiGiovanna of the Los Angeles Times reports eight teams have interest in Burnett), and the Angels appear to be one of the front-runners for his services.

Burnett could command a three-year deal in the range of $15-20 million.

Update: The Nationals have re-signed left-handed reliever Zach Duke to a one-year major league contract, a source confirmed.

Duke was with the Nationals' organization in 2012, spending most of the season at Triple-A. The 29-year-old made the International League All-Star team and went 15-5 with a 3.51 ERA in 26 starts at Syracuse.

He was brought up to the Nats as a September call-up, and went 1-0 with a 1.32 ERA in eight big league relief appearances.

Duke will be given a shot to replace Tom Gorzelanny as the Nationals' left-handed long reliever. Duke's been a starter much of his career, but made 12 relief appearances with the Diamondbacks in 2011.

The Nationals non-tendered Gorzelanny on Friday instead of paying the veteran lefty somewhere between $3-4 million in arbitration. The terms of Duke's deal were not immediately available, but his contract is expected to be significantly less expensive than the one the Nats could have given Gorzelanny for 2013.

This now gives the Nats one left-handed reliever under contract for 2013. They'll look for at least one more, with Michael Gonzalez one option to look out for.

The Washington Times first reported Duke's signing.

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