Report links Nationals to A.J. Burnett... sort of

Report links Nationals to A.J. Burnett... sort of
February 7, 2014, 8:15 pm
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As the winter winds down and pitcher and catchers ready to report, the Nationals have been rather quiet in recent weeks. Sure, they've made some minor moves, but none of them have been the sort of late offseason surprise that Mike Rizzo has shown a penchant to make.

That could change, however, rather soon as the remaining free agents start lowering their prices and compromise for bargain deals. Jon Heyman of says, in fact, he wouldn't be surprised if the Nationals signed starter A.J. Burnett.

Here is what Heyman wrote on Friday evening:

Speculation is going around baseball circles that the Nats could consider a late play for the talented Burnett at a time some other would-be contenders seem to be fading away.

The report is somewhat vague in that it does not directly link the Nats to Burnett, it simply draws up the possibility. But given the source, it's likely there is some truth to the connection.

The Nationals kicked the tires on Grant Balfour last month after it appeared other teams were losing interest. Nothing came of it as Balfour found a deal with the Rays. Perhaps their still looking to improve the roster with a significant addition.

What makes Burnett's case interesting is that he has an offseason home in Monkton, Md., according to Heyman. Could Burnett try and chase another ring with a team that plays just down the road?

[RELATED: Nats players respond to offseason trade rumors]

Burnett has been excellent for the Pittsburgh Pirates for two seasons now, enjoying a bit of a rejuvenation in his mid-30s. Over the last two years he's gone 26-21 with a 3.41 ERA in 61 starts.

Even if the Nats have contacted Burnett, they are probably just doing their due diligence. If the veteran's demands are indeed falling, it's wise to at least look at the price tag. Right now they have a good crop expected to compete for the fifth spot in the rotation in spring. But bringing in Burnett would solidify their staff with a former World Series-winner.