As Washington Post writer Adam Kilgore reported on Thursday, both left-handed hitting first baseman Adam LaRoche and left-handed reliever Sean Burnett declined their options for the 2013 season, as expected. LaRoche signed a 2-year/$16M dollar deal with a mutual option for 2013 that would have paid the 32-year-old first baseman $10M in 2013. Burnett, 30, signed a 2-year/$3.95M extension in 2010 that included a mutual option that would have paid him $3.5M next season. As the WaPost's Mr. Kilgore reported, "The Nationals exercised their half of the $10 million option for LaRoche and a $3.5 million option for Burnett, but both players declined with the belief they can receive a multi-year deal(s) on the open market."
MLB.com's Bill Ladson (@washingnats) wrote on Twitter on Wednesday that though the Nationals and LaRoche have talked about a long-term deal in the recent past, "He and the Nats have not talked in about a week," though as previously reported, "LaRoche wants to return to the Nats." In a follow-up article this afternoon, the Nats beat writer for MLB.com added that when the two sides last spoke, they were, "... at the beginning stages of contract negotiations."
LaRoche missed significant time in the first year of his contract in 2011 while dealing with and eventually having surgery to repair a torn labrum in his left shoulder. The nine-year MLB veteran posted a .271/.343/.510 line with 35 doubles and 33 HRs in 154 games and 647 PAs over which he was worth +3.8 fWAR. Burnett, acquired along with former Nats' outfielder Nyjer Morgan in a June '09 trade with Pittsburgh that sent Joel Hanrahan and Lastings Milledge to the Pirates, has spent the last four years in the Nationals' pen. In 2012, the left-hander dealt with elbow issues late, but posted a 2.38 ERA and 2.79 FIP with 12 walks (1.91 BB/9) and 57 Ks (9.05 K/9) in 70 games and 56.2 IP in which he was worth +1.1 fWAR. As soon as the Nats' postseason run ended, the veteran reliever had surgery to remove bone chips from his elbow, but he's expected to be ready to return to the mound at full-strength by Spring Training.
The Nationals' window to negotiate exclusively with both players ends Saturday at which point the two will be able to negotiate with the rest of the league.