Yankees sign outfielder Billy Burns to minor league deal
For the fourth time in less than a month, the Yankees have signed a veteran player to a minor league contract that includes an invite to spring training. This time it’s former A’s and Royals outfielder, Billy Burns.
Yankees general manager Brian Cashman sure does love him some inexpensive and potentially expendable veteran players he can ink to minor league contracts.
With left-handed relief pitchers, Rex Brothers and Daniel Coulombe — and shortstop Troy Tulowitzki raring to report to Tampa, FLA in mid-February, the Yanks came to terms with 29-year-old speedy outfielder, Billy Burns.
Having spent parts of four seasons with the A’s and Royals, Burns’ most productive year was in 2015 with Oakland. In 125 games (career-high 555 plate appearances), Burns slashed .294/.334/.392/ with 70 runs scored, 18 doubles, nine triples, five homers, 42 RBIs and 26 stolen bases.
Unfortunately, Burns was never able to replicate his production in ’15 and was soon relegated to a bench player. After only seeing the light of major league day for seven games in 2017, he spent all of last season at Triple-A Omaha.
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In 102 games for the Royals’ top-flight minor league side, Burns slashed .255/.315/.316 across 376 at-bats, while scoring 51 runs, nine doubles, four homers, 36 RBIs and 10 stolen bases — a far cry from the type of player that once looked like a legit big league difference maker.
Though Burns does possess the ability to play all three outfield positions, he’ll need to have an exceptional spring with the stick to even stay in competition for a spot down at Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.
Having made a total of six errors while in the majors, Burns boasts a career .987 fielding percentage with 455 putouts and six assists across 1766.2 innings in the field.
With Clint Frazier expected to compete with Brett Gardner for playing time in left field (that is when Giancarlo Stanton isn’t deployed there), Burns is little more than minor league depth should a crisis of injuries occur — or a pinch-runner come roster expansion on Sept. 1.