Yankees sign Billy Burns to minors deal

Billy Burns
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It’s been a minute since Billy Burns was at the top of his game. The 2015 Rookie of the Year nominee hasn’t appeared in a major league game since the middle of the 2017 season, but a promising surge in Triple-A last year seems to have caught the eye of at least one major-league team this winter. Per reports from Brandon Warne of Zone Coverage and Fancred’s Jon Heyman, the Yankees inked the veteran outfielder to yet another minors pact for 2019.

Burns, 29, spent the entirety of his 2018 run with the Royals’ Triple-A affiliate, slashing a respectable, if underwhelming .255/.314/.316 with four home runs, 10 stolen bases (in 18 chances), and 36 RBI through 425 plate appearances. While he’s not all that far removed from his .294-average, 26-stolen base totals with the A’s, there’s nothing to suggest that he’s capable of supplanting any member of the Yankees’ starting outfield trio of Giancarlo Stanton, Aaron Hicks, and Aaron in 2019 (with Brett Gardner and Clint Frazier waiting in the wings if Stanton is utilized at DH). At best, he’ll provide the club with some solid minors depth and a serviceable pinch-running option, should they choose to recall him from Scranton/Wilkes-Barre at any point during the season.

Beyond the outfield, the rest of the Yankees’ roster is still up for revision. GM Brian Cashman said Friday that recently-acquired shortstop Troy Tulowitzki will start for the team in 2019, suggesting that any plans they might have to acquire free agent Manny Machado would see the star infielder shifted to third base. Sans Machado, the Yankees are expected to fill out the remaining gaps in their infield with Miguel Andújar at the hot corner, Gleyber Torres at the keystone, and Luke Voit at first base.

Phillies’ Bryce Harper to miss start of season after elbow surgery

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PHILADELPHIA – Phillies slugger Bryce Harper will miss the start of the 2023 season after he had reconstructive right elbow surgery.

The operation was performed by Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles.

Harper is expected to return to Philadelphia’s lineup as the designated hitter by the All-Star break. He could be back in right field by the end of the season, according to the team.

The 30-year-old Harper suffered a small ulnar collateral ligament tear in his elbow in April. He last played right field at Miami on April 16. He had a platelet-rich plasma injection in May and shifted to designated hitter.

Harper met Nov. 14 with ElAttrache, who determined the tear did not heal on its own, necessitating surgery.

Even with the elbow injury, Harper led the Phillies to their first World Series since 2009, where they lost in six games to Houston. He hit .349 with six homers and 13 RBIs in 17 postseason games.

In late June, Harper suffered a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch and was sidelined for two months. The two-time NL MVP still hit .286 with 18 homers and 65 RBIs for the season.

Harper left Washington and signed a 13-year, $330 million contract with the Phillies in 2019. A seven-time All-Star, Harper has 285 career home runs.

With Harper out, the Phillies could use Nick Castellanos and Kyle Schwarber at designated hitter. J.T. Realmuto also could serve as the DH when he needs a break from his catching duties.