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12/23/10 1:16 PM EST

Reliever Burnett signs extension with Nats

WASHINGTON -- Nationals left-hander Sean Burnett avoided arbitration by signing a two-year extension Thursday. The deal is valued at $3.7 million, according to a baseball source.

Burnett will earn $1.4 million, which includes a $100,000 signing bonus, in 2011, and $2.3 million in '12. There is also a mutual option for 2013. Burnett could make even more money the next two years if he becomes the club's closer. For example, he could make $250,000 if he finishes 55 games.

Burnett was arguably the MVP of Washington's bullpen this past season, going 1-7 with a 2.14 ERA in 73 games. Members of the media have speculated about making Burnett a closer, but he has faced mostly left-handed hitters.

Burnett, along with center fielder Nyjer Morgan, joined the Nationals in June 2009 in a trade that sent reliever Joel Hanrahan and outfielder Lastings Milledge to the Pirates.

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.