Burnett likely to decline option, become free agent

Burnett likely to decline option, become free agent

WASHINGTON -- Left-hander Sean Burnett often said he would like to return to the Nationals for the 2013 season, but it was learned on Monday afternoon that he most likely will not pick up his option, which would make him a free agent.

Both Burnett and the Nationals have a mutual option worth $3.5 million. If he declines the option, Burnett would forfeit $250,000, according to Cot's Baseball Contracts.

According to a baseball source, Burnett will be looking for more than a one-year deal, but his first priority is to stay with the Nationals. Burnett and general manager Mike Rizzo were not available for comment.

Burnett is coming off one of his best seasons in the big leagues, appearing in 70 games and posting a 2.38 ERA in a setup role. In his three-plus seasons in Washington, Burnett has a 2.81 in 245 games with nine saves.

Last Thursday, Burnett had two bone chips removed from his left elbow, but he is expected to be ready for Spring Training.

Bill Ladson is a reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, All Nats All the time. He also could be found on Twitter @WashingNats. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.