Tom Gorzelanny avoided arbitration when he signed a 1-year/$3M dollar deal with the Washington Nationals in January of 2012. After starting at least 50% of the time from 2009-2011 the 30-year-old, '03 Pittsburgh Pirates' 2nd Round pick acquired by the Nats in a 3-for-1 deal with Chicago that sent prospects A.J. Morris (RHP), Graham Hicks (LHP) and Michael Burgess (OF) to the Cubs, made just one start with the Nationals in 2012, filling in for left-handed starter Gio Gonzalez so the 21-game winner could rest up before Game One of the NLDS with St. Louis. With the exception of that one start, Gonzalez pitched in long relief for the NL East Champions throughout his eighth MLB season.
Gorzelanny finished the year with a (4-2) record, a 2.88 ERA, 3.97 FIP, 30 walks (3.75 BB/9) and 62 Ks (7.75 K/9) in 45 games and 72.0 IP. In explaining the decision to non-tender the lefty before Friday night's deadline to offer arbitration-eligible players contracts for 2013, D.C. GM Mike Rizzo told the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore on Saturday that it wasn't about any issues with Gorzelanny's performance, but more a matter of salary with the veteran pitcher likely due to receive a raise in arbiration over the $3M he made last season.
"For the amount of money we would have to pay for the role we’re asking him to do, we didn’t think that made sense to us,'" Rizzo told the WaPost Nats beat writer. The Nationals would like to have Gorzelanny back, just not at the salary he might have received. The decision to non-tender Gorzelanny left the Nationals without a left-handed reliever with major league experience on the 40-Man Roster.
The Nationals did, however, sign a lefty with major league experience to a minor league deal recently when they added former Astros' reliver Fernando Abad and Washington Post writer Thomas Boswell suggested last week that the Nats may have already signed veteran lefty Zach Duke after he had success last season at Triple-A Syracuse. The Nationals continue to have interest in bringing Sean Burnett back as well according to reports this weekend.
Sean Burnett declined the option for 2013 included in the 2-year/$3.95M dollar deal the veteran left-hander signed with Washington in 2010 that would have paid him $3.5M next season and became a free agent hoping to get a multi-year deal either from the Nationals or another team on the free agent market. MLB.com's Bill Ladson (@washingnats) reported on Twitter Saturday night that a source told him the lefty was looking for a 4-year deal this winter with the St. Louis Cardinals one of the teams out there expressing interest in Burnett's services.
Most people following the market this winter have said they expect Burnett to sign something more in line with the 3-year/$18M dollar deal San Francisco Giants' left-hander Jeremy Affeldt got. Burnett's agent Jim Munsey told reporters Saturday night that the reports of his client asking for a 4-year deal were inaccurate according to the Washington Post's Adam Kilgore (@AdamKilgoreWP). If the Nationals don't bring back either Gorzelanny, Burnett or Mike Gonzalez, who also became a free agent after spending 2012 in D.C., the market for left-handers this winter is relatively thin.
Of course, Nats' GM Mike Rizzo did acquire both Gorzelanny and Burnett in trades, so maybe the general manager has another deal in mind to help restock the bullpen with lefties for manager Davey Johnson...?