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Nats don't expect Burnett to return

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Nats don't expect Burnett to return

NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- The Nationals are resigned to the fact they aren't likely to re-sign Sean Burnett.

With as many as eight clubs in the mix for a left-handed reliever who could command a three-year contract in the neighborhood of $15 million, general manager Mike Rizzo all but conceded defeat this evening.

"We like Sean. We'd like to bring him back. But it has to make sense for us," Rizzo said. "And right now, I don't see a fit financially or term-wise. But he hasn't signed with anybody yet. We'll see where it leads us."

Burnett is the best available lefty on the market this winter after posting a 2.38 ERA in 70 appearances for the Nationals last season. He's the rare reliever who has established a track record of consistency and durability, boasting a 2.85 ERA while appearing in 283 games over the last four years (third-most in the majors).

Despite that track record, the Nationals are reluctant to make a long-term commitment to Burnett -- or any reliever -- given the typical volatility of the position.

They'll need to fill Burnett's role, however, and prefer for his replacement to be left-handed. Veteran Michael Gonzalez, who had a 3.03 ERA in 47 games for the Nationals last season, is a candidate to return on a one-year deal.

Fellow lefty Zach Duke, who signed a one-year contract of his own today, will be used as a long reliever and potential starter in case of injury.

"We'd like to get a second left-hander [in addition to Duke]," Rizzo said. "It's not a necessity, because our right-handers get out lefties so well. But in a perfect world, we'd like to get a second left-hander in the bullpen."

As things currently stand, the Nationals are looking at a bullpen of closer Drew Storen, setup man Tyler Clippard, Duke and right-handers Ryan Mattheus, Craig Stammen and Henry Rodriguez.

Right-hander Christian Garcia, who impressed out of the bullpen in September and made the postseason roster, will be stretched out next spring to potentially become a starter either in Washington or at Class AAA Syracuse.

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Nationals avoid arbitration, reach deal with Bryce Harper and three others

Nationals avoid arbitration, reach deal with Bryce Harper and three others

The Washington Nationals avoided arbitration and agreed to one-year deals today with Bryce Harper, Anthony Rendon, Tanner Roark and newly acquired catcher Derek Norris.

If team's and players didn't agree to contracts by today's 1 p.m. ET deadline, an independent arbitrator will rule on the contract at a later date and decide how much the player will play for in 2017. 

Harper and the Nationals agreed to a $13.625 million deal, which was significantly more than the $9.3 million contract that was projected by MLB Trade Rumors. Last season, coming off his 2015 MVP campaign, Harper made $5 million. The 24-year-old will be a free agent after the 2018 season. 

Harper is coming off a disappointing season by his standards, in which he hit just .243 with 24 homers, which was way down from his total of 42 dingers in 2015. 

According to multiple reports, Rendon signed for $5.8 million, Roark signed for $4.315 million and Norris' deal was for $4.2 million.

Roark made just $543,400 last season, which he vastly out-performed. Roark was one of the most consistent pitchers in the National League last year as he won 16 games and posted a 2.83 ERA in 210 innings of work. 

With today's signings, all of the Nationals' arbitration-eligible players are under contract for 2017. 

Related: Tanner Roark to replace Max Scherzer on World Baseball Classic roster

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LOOK: Bryce Harper got married in suit jacket lined with pictures of wife

LOOK: Bryce Harper got married in suit jacket lined with pictures of wife

Nationals star Bryce Harper has a bold fashion sense, that's for sure. Just take a look at that hair. But he a more romantic fashion risk for his own wedding with a custom suit jacket. 

He opted for a navy blue tuxedo with black piping. It was the lining that really stood out as special. 

If you look closely, you'll see photos of Harper and his wife, Kayla, decorating the lining of the jacket. 

There's also the date of wedding and script reading "Mr. and Mrs. Harper." 

He credited the makers of his tuxedo, Stitched, in the tweet. 

MORE NATIONALS: Nationals’ Bryce Harper ecstatic to see bride on wedding day