Angels have interest in free-agent reliever Sean Burnett
NASHVILLE — The Angels have expressed interest in reliever Sean Burnett, but the competition for the veteran left-hander could be stiff.
At least seven teams, including St. Louis and Milwaukee, are looking at Burnett, a free agent who had a record of 1-2 with a 2.38 earned-run average in 70 games, striking out 57, walking 12 and giving up four homers in 562/3 innings for Washington last season.
Burnett, 30, complements a sinking 90-mph fastball with a slider and changeup. He is expected to command a three-year deal for between $15 million and $18 million, a price that may have pushed Washington out of the running for him.
“We like Sean, we’d like to bring him back, but it has to make sense for us,” Nationals General Manager Mike Rizzo told reporters Monday on the first day of baseball’s winter meetings. “Right now, I don’t see a fit financially.”
The Angels, who are also pursuing relievers such as Mike Adams and Koji Uehara, want to fill a bullpen void left by Friday’s trade of Jordan Walden to Atlanta for starter Tommy Hanson.
Will Zack be back?
Angels General Manager Jerry Dipoto’s other priority is to add a starting pitcher, and there are numerous free-agent options, including Zack Greinke, Anibal Sanchez, Kyle Lohse, Edwin Jackson, Ryan Dempster, Sean Marcum and Joe Saunders.
There has been heavy speculation the Angels are no longer in the running for Greinke, whose price tag could soar to the six-year, $150-million range.
Asked whether he was surprised by such talk, considering the deep-pocketed Angels spent $317.5 million in one day to sign Albert Pujols and C.J. Wilson last winter, Dipoto said, “Sometimes speculation is just what it is, speculation.”
But Dipoto did not seem overly confident about retaining the star right-hander when asked whether he would be disappointed if Greinke signed elsewhere. The Angels gave up three top prospects to acquire him from Milwaukee in July.
“You’re not going to hit on every target you have,” Dipoto said. “The great likelihood is you’re going to have to shift somewhere along the way and move toward a different target.”
Trolling for Trout
American League rookie of the year Mike Trout is among the players Team USA has requested be made available for the World Baseball Classic in March, but no decision has been made on whether the Angels’ star outfielder will play.
Many general managers and managers fear the WBC poses an injury risk, and Dipoto would probably block the participation of players such as Pujols and Wilson, who underwent minor surgeries after the season. But if a player is healthy, Dipoto, a proponent of the WBC, won’t stand in the way.
“I think the WBC is a great opportunity for Major League Baseball to operate on center stage worldwide,” Dipoto said, “and there’s something really neat about representing your country, no matter where you’re from.”
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