Right-hander Jared Burton has agreed to a minor-league contract with the Yankees that includes an invitation to spring training.
Minnesota declined its $3.6 million option on Burton in December, making him a free agent.
Burton was strong setup man for the Twins in 2012 and part of 2013, but his velocity and performance slipped in late 2013 and that continued in 2014. Overall last season he posted a 4.36 ERA and 46/25 K/BB ratio in 64 innings.
At age 34 he’s certainly still capable of being a solid middle reliever.
Jason Giambi has announced his retirement after 20 seasons in the majors, issuing a statement via the New York Daily News.
Giambi played until age 43 by hanging around as a part-time designated hitter/pinch-hitter/unofficial hitting coach, but he struggled to stay healthy for the Indians last season and last topped a .700 OPS in 2011 for the Rockies. It’s been seven years since he logged more than 400 plate appearances.
Giambi was in the running to become the Rockies’ manager two offseasons ago, but decided to keep playing and not pursue a coaching job when Colorado settled on Walt Weiss for the gig. If he wants to go into coaching now, there will be plenty of teams interested.
Oakland’s second-round draft pick in 1992, he played seven seasons for the A’s–including winning an MVP award in 2000–before leaving to sign with the Yankees as a free agent. He spent seven seasons in New York before moving on to Colorado and finished up in Cleveland.
Overall he hit .277 with 440 homers, 405 doubles, 1,366 walks, and a .916 OPS in 2,260 games, including a five-season run from 1999-2003 in which he hit .311 with a .444 on-base percentage and .596 slugging percentage while averaging 40 homers, 120 RBIs, and 120 walks per year. Giambi made five All-Star teams, won one MVP and finished runner-up for another, and ranks fifth in on-base percentage and eighth in OPS among all active players. Helluva career.
On this date 11 years ago the Rangers traded Alex Rodriguez to the Yankees in exchange for Alfonso Soriano and Joaquin Arias.
At the time Rodriguez was 28 years old and the reigning American League MVP. He’s been with the Yankees ever since, hitting .291 with 309 homers and a .920 OPS in 1,293 games while winning two more MVP awards and one World Series title.
And as you might expect from a longtime Yankee who performed so well, both in terms of individual accomplishments and winning a championship–including hitting .365 with six homers and a 1.308 OPS during the 2009 title run–Rodriguez is universally beloved by all New Yorkers and embraced by team management.
Wait, no. Scratch that. The exact opposite. Happy anniversary!
Michael Wacha reported to spring training early and threw a bullpen session over in the weekend in front of Cardinals manager Mike Matheny, saying afterward:
I definitely wanted to come into spring training ready to go. Obviously I’m not going full-out bullpen there. I was real happy with the way the ball was coming out. The way pitches were looking and coming along. There’s still a bunch of work left. It’s definitely making good progress.
Wacha battled a stress reaction in his shoulder last season and enters this year as a major question mark, but Matheny told Derrick Goold of the St. Louis post Dispatch that the 23-year-old right-hander “has something to prove” and has given every indication that he feels good.
With a 3.04 ERA and 159/52 K/BB ratio in 172 career innings through age 22 he’s a huge part of the Cardinals’ plans this season and long term, so keeping Wacha healthy and getting him back on track is one of the biggest stories to watch during spring training.
Eric Young Jr., who was non-tendered by the Mets in December, has agreed to a minor-league deal with the Braves that includes an invitation to spring training.
Young is very fast and offers some defensive versatility, but realistically he’s ill-suited for any position other than an outfield corner and a career .653 OPS doesn’t really fit there very well.
Young is a switch-hitter, so the Braves could look to platoon him with the right-handed-hitting Jonny Gomes in left field. Or they could keep him in a true bench role, for pinch-hitting and pinch-running.