The Yankees added to their outfield depth Friday, reportedly signing speedy 29-year-old Billy Burns to a minor-league contract. That report came via Michael Meyer of the Mets blog MetsMerized. Jon Heyman of Fancred confirmed the signing in a tweet Saturday.
Burns is a switch-hitter with experience in all three outfield positions. Of course, with his kind of speed, he’s played the majority of his big-league innings in center field. In 242 MLB games with Oakland and Kansas City, Burns owns a career .270/.308/.353 slash line with five home runs, 55 RBIs and 46 steals (75% success rate). That line is mostly buoyed by his stellar 2015, where he hit .294/.334/.392 for Oakland. Since then, he’s been a .233/.269/.293 hitter in the MLB.
The Atlanta-native played all of 2018 at Triple-A in the Royals organization, hitting .255/.314/.316 with four homers and 36 RBIs in 102 games. He saw a marked decrease in stolen base success, stealing 10 bases in 18 tries (56% success rate). Again, he saw the majority of his time in center field, with his next highest number of innings coming in left field.
Besides providing a third outfielder for the RailRiders, Burns will likely be in MLB camp as a non-roster invitee in the same role as Shane Robinson in 2018. Hopefully, he won’t be starting in a pivotal August series at Fenway Park. The Yankees showed how important outfield depth can be last year, and I would think signing Burns is just an initial step after losing their once formidable depth to trades, the Rule 5 draft and injuries. I’d imagine a plethora of similar signings