It certainly looked like one of the better signing of the offseason: after missing out on Milton Bradley, the Rays inked Pat Burrell to a two-year, $16 million contract to take over as their DH. He was coming off four straight seasons with OPSs around 890 and he had averaged 153 games during those seasons. Sure, there’d be a period of adjustment for him coming over to the AL, but he projected as a well above average DH and he’d come at a fair price.
Of course, things haven’t worked out that way. Burrell hit .250/.349/.315 with one homer in 30 games before going down with a neck injury that cost him a month. He entered the All-Star break at .232/.341/.347. He did do solid work for a month and a half after that, coming in at .257/.335/.493 with nine homers and 27 RBI in a 40-game span through Sept. 2. However, he’s hit .147/.238/.206 in 22 appearances since.
The truly remarkable thing is that Burrell has gone the whole year without a homer against a left-hander. He’s hitting .207/.338/.259 in 116 at-bats against them. All 14 of his bombs have come against righties. Between 2005-08, Burrell had 38 homers in 587 at-bats versus southpaws.
Burrell’s career is at a crossroads now. He’s obviously far more comfortable against National League pitching, yet his poor defense limits his value in the Senior Circuit. The Rays figure to try to exchange him for another lousy contract over the winter. Burrell for Bradley is one idea that will get tossed around. The Cubs wouldn’t want Burrell, but since he’s only signed for one more year, they’d save $12 million as part of such a swap. The Rays, though, would have big problems taking on that kind of salary for 2011 when so many of their young players will be big significant raises then.
Perhaps Burrell could be swapped for a reliever who has fallen out of favor. Kyle Farnsworth in Kansas City and Scott Linebrink in Chicago would be a couple of possibilities. The Rays would likely be better off keeping the 33-year-old and hoping for the best rather than taking on someone who would require a longer commitment. They can always release him and dig up a DH elsewhere if he struggles out of the gate again in 2010.
Free agent right-hander Tim Lincecum isn’t ready to hang up his cleats just yet. At least, that’s the word from Lincecum’s agent, Rick Thurman, who says the 32-year-old is still “throwing and getting ready for the season” (via Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News).
Lincecum may not be ready to enter retirement, but another quote from Thurman suggests that he’ll be picky about where he pitches next. He doesn’t appear open to pitching overseas, and despite not having a contract for 2017 (or even any serious suitors), the right-hander is set on pitching in the big leagues this year. Whether or not he’s willing to take a bullpen role to do so remains to be seen.
While Baggarly predicts some interest in the veteran righty, there’s not much in Lincecum’s recent history to inspire faith in him as a starter, or even a reliever. He picked up a one-year, $2.5 million contract with the Angels following his hip surgery in 2015, and went 2-6 in 2016 with a 9.16 ERA, 5.4 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 over 38 1/3 innings. At this point, a minor league contract seems like the surest path back to major league success, though he’s unlikely to find an open spot on the Giants’ or Angels’ rosters anytime soon.
Free agent right-hander Jeff Manship has reportedly signed with the NC Dinos of the Korea Baseball Organization, according to FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The righty was non-tendered by the Indians in December.
Manship, 32, completed his second season with Cleveland in 2016. He delivered a 3.12 ERA, 4.6 BB/9 and 7.5 SO/9 rate over 43 1/3 innings, a slight decline after posting an 0.92 ERA with the club the year before. During eight years in the major leagues, Manship carries a 4.82 career ERA, 3.6 BB/9 and 6.4 SO/9 in multiple stints with the Twins, Rockies, Phillies and Indians.
The right-hander will be joined by fellow MLB transplants Eric Hacker and Xavier Scruggs, each of whom took one-year deals with the Dinos last month. Steve Adams of MLB Trade Rumors notes that each KBO team is allowed up to three foreign players, so Manship will round out the trio when he joins the roster. Any salary terms have yet to be disclosed.