MLB.com's Bill Ladson: Washington Nationals' Sean Burnett Likely To Decline Option

30-year-old left-hander Sean Burnett finished the 2012 season, his fourth in Washington, with a (1-2) record, two saves, a 2.38 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 12 walks (1.91 BB/9) and 57 Ks (9.05 K/9) in 70 games and 56.2 IP. The 30-year-old former Pittsburgh Pirates' 1st Round pick (2000) struggled late in the season, and it was later revealed that Burnett had been dealing with irritation in his left elbow throughout the second half of the 2012 campaign.

Once the Nationals were eliminated from the postseason following their Game 5 loss to St. Louis, there were almost immediately reporters that Burnett would undergo surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. According to a report from Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore earlier this week, the pitcher had surgery and would reportedly be ready for the 2013 season:

Burnett was in the second year of a 2-year/$3.95M dollar deal in 2012. According to a report by MLB.com's Bill Ladson this afternoon, the lefty is expected to decline the mutual option for 2013 which would pay the veteran of six MLB seasons $3.5M next year and instead become a free agent. If he does elect for free agency, the Nats will have a five-day window after the World Series to negotiate exclusively with the reliever if he wants to return to the NL East champs.

The Nats MLB.com beat reporter wrote this afternoon that his sources say, "Burnett will be looking for more than a one-year deal, but his first priority is to stay with the Nationals." Should he become a free agent, Burnett will join a relatively short list of left-handed relievers on the market this winter.

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