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MLB Milwaukee Brewers

Winter Meetings 2012: Milwaukee Brewers Likely to Sign Reliever Sean Burnett

Brad Mills-USA TODAY Sports

The Milwaukee Brewers appear very interested in free-agent reliever Sean Burnett and are likely to sign the left-hander at Major League Baseball’s winter meetings if the right deal can get done.

Burnett began his career with the Pittsburgh Pirates in 2004, but was traded to the Washington Nationals in 2009 along with former Brewer Nyjer Morgan. The Nationals parted ways with Lastings Milledge and Joel Hanrahan to acquire Burnett and Morgan.

The 30-year-old has put up solid numbers over the last four seasons as he has averaged a 2.86 ERA, a 1.20 WHIP, 48 strikeouts, 19 holds and 58 innings over that span. Burnett posted a 1-2 record with a 2.38 ERA, 1.24 WHIP, 57 strikeouts, a career-high 31 holds and two saves in 56 2/3 innings last season with Washington.

Milwaukee would be very lucky to acquire a pitcher of Burnett’s talent and his presence would instantly improve the Brewers’ Major League-worst 4.66 bullpen ERA in 2012. Milwaukee would like nothing more than to get a deal done at the winter meetings so they can move on to another reliever and/or veteran starting pitcher. However, Burnett’s agent, Jim Munsey, is not in attendance at the winter meetings, while Burnett and his wife recently had a baby.

Burnett declined a $3.5 million mutual option with the Nationals so he could test out free agency. This means it will most likely cost the Brewers a pretty penny to sign the reliever, especially since the Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis Cardinals are also highly interested in acquiring Burnett. St. Louis appears likely to offer him a two-year deal so Milwaukee would have to at least match that. The Brewers would want to sign Burnett for at least that long anyways so it is certainly not a deal breaker.

Depending on if the Brewers sign him, it will be interesting to see how they utilize him in the bullpen. Jim Henderson is currently the assumed setup man for closer John Axford, but Burnett certainly has plenty of experience in that department. Milwaukee may only want to use him as a left-handed specialist but I believe he would be the perfect eighth inning pitcher.

Michael is a MLB and NBA Featured Writer for Rant Sports, but covers topics for various teams in baseball, basketball, and football. Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter @MichaelTerrill and on Facebook.