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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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Bryce Harper reportedly will come off the disabled list tomorrow

Bryce Harper reportedly will come off the disabled list tomorrow

Bryce Harper's (probably) back. 

With just over two weeks left in the regular season, the Nationals star is set to be activated off the disabled list, according to the Washington Post's Chelsea Janes:

Harper hasn't played since August 12, when he slipped awkwardly on the first base bag while trying to beat out a grounder. He suffered a signifcant bone bruise, although the injury looked considerably worse than it ended up being. 

Before getting hurt, Harper was hitting .326/.419/.614 on the year with a 1.034 OPS and 29 home runs. 

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Nationals, without their big guns, fall to Mets

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Nationals, without their big guns, fall to Mets

NEW YORK -- Travis d'Arnaud hit two home runs and the New York Mets ended a three-game skid, rallying past a watered-down lineup of Washington Nationals 7-6 on Friday night.

Washington manager Dusty Baker said he needed to "give my big boys much needed rest" with the playoffs nearing, and not a single regular started for the NL East champions. Star Daniel Murphy pinch hit in the eighth and flied out.

MORE NATS: RATHER HAVE THE CUBS, BREWERS, OR CARDINALS IN NLDS?

The Nationals begin the Division Series in exactly two weeks. If the current standings hold, they would host the World Series champion Chicago Cubs to open the best-of-five matchup.

Adam Lind hit a three-run homer for Washington. It was the Nationals' 203rd home run this season, matching the franchise record dating to 1969 when they were the Montreal Expos.

Howie Kendrick had an RBI double and prized prospect Victor Robles lined a two-run triple in the fifth that put Washington ahead 6-1.

Nationals reliever Shawn Kelley exited in the eighth inning because of an apparent injury. He' has struggled this season and missed more than two months because of back problems.

Nori Aoki had three hits for the Mets, including a go-ahead double in the sixth inning off Joe Blanton (2-4).

Chasen Bradford (2-0) pitched a scoreless inning for the win.

Jeurys Familia, the Mets' third pitcher in the ninth inning, came on to strike out Robles with runners on first and third for his fourth save -- his first since May 5. Familia, who missed three months after surgery to repair a blood clot, entered as part of a double switch, with Kevin Plawecki taking over at catcher for d'Arnaud.

D'Arnaud hit a solo homer in the second and connected for a tying, three-run drive in the fifth that finished starter Edwin Jackson. That gave d'Arnaud a career-best 15 homers and marked his second multihomer game, the other coming in April against Washington.

MORE MLB: POSTSEASON BRACKET PROJECTION (THURSDAY)

Mets starter Robert Gsellman allowed six runs in five innings. He moved up a day to pitch in place of ace Jacob deGrom, who was moved back in the rotation until Sunday because of a stomach illness this week.