Multiple sources are reporting that the Angels are finalizing a two-year deal, with a club option, with left-handed reliever Sean Burnett.
#Angels have signed LH RP Sean Burnett to a 2-year deal with a club option, source said. Pending physical.— Alden Gonzalez (@Alden_Gonzalez) December 5, 2012
Alden Gonzalez is also reporting the money should be less than the $9.5 million that Kyuji Fujikawa got on his two-year deal with the Cubs, so this seems to be a perfectly reasonable signing from a financial standpoint if that proves true.
In adding Burnett, the Angels not only improve their overall bullpen depth but they've given themselves more flexibility since they now have two lefties for what seems like the first time in the Scisocia era. This should free up Scioscia to break away from more traditional bullpen roles and use Scott Downs, who is also effective against righties, in any variety of situations. Burnett is no slouch against righties either, but they do hit him a good bit better than lefties, so he will likely work mostly as a LOOGY-type in Anaheim. One could argue that he is overqualified for that role based on the stellar numbers Burnett posted in 2012 which include a 2.38 ERA, 2.79 FIP, 9.05 K/9 and 1.91 BB/9.
Don't get too excited though as Burnett has a touch of Ervin Santana Syndrome in that he has been alternating great seasons with lousy seasons for the last four years. While his ERA hasn't gotten any higher than 3.81, he has twice posted a FIP over 4.50 and seen his K/9 rate dip down to 5.24 back in 2011. Some of those struggles could be related to him being over-exposed to righties in Washington where he played a bigger role in the bullpen and was thus not able to specialize as much.
As with most relievers, there is some risk here. In particular, Burnett has some health red flags. While it did not hinder him, Burnett owned up to pitching with elbow soreness most of last season (maybe we might want to wait to see if that pending physical comes back clean before we consider this official, eh?).
This likely puts a bow on Jerry Dipoto's well-planned overhaul to the bullpen as the Halos now essentiall have their top five relievers locked in. That leaves one long relief spot that is likely to go to Jerome Williams and then one more spot that Dipoto could fill via free agency but, more likely, will use as an audition slot for youngsters like Steve Geltz, Michael Kohn and Bobby Cassevah and so on. Regardless of who fills that final spot, there is little doubt that, at least on paper, the Angel bullpen should be significantly better than the last few years. In fact, this might be the strongest bullpen since the glory days of the K-Rod/Shields/Donnelly/Weber bullpen.
Good work, Jerry. Now, go and get Greinke and I think we can call it an off-season.
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