Billy Burns
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Yankees sign Billy Burns to minors deal

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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.

Dellin Betances to open season on injured list

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Yankees GM Brian Cashman said on Tuesday that reliever Dellin Betances will begin the regular season on the injured list due to inflammation and impingement in his right shoulder, the YES Network’s Jack Curry reports. Curry adds that Betances will try throwing again in three to five days.

Betances, who turns 31 years old later this month, has allowed two runs on two hits and two walks with four strikeouts in 3 1/3 innings this spring. He has experienced diminished fastball velocity, which is now explained by his injury. The right-hander is coming off of another excellent season in which he posted a 2.70 ERA with 115 strikeouts and 26 walks across 66 2/3 innings.

Fortunately, the Yankees have more than enough depth in the bullpen to withstand Betances’ absence. Aroldis Chapman, Adam Ottavino, and Zach Britton will handle the late innings and Betances will slot back in whenever he is healthy.