FEB. 20: Burton’s contract contains four opt-out dates, and his incentives, which are based on appearances, kick in when the right-hander pitches in his 20th game, reports Mike Berardino of the St. Paul Pioneer Press (All Twitter links). Burton will receive $30K bonus for appearing in his 20th game, and he’ll earn an additional bonus that increases by $10K for every five games from that point forward. His final bonus will be worth $120K and come at 65 games. Burton can opt out on March 31, June 1, Aug. 1 and Aug. 31.
FEB. 17: Burton will earn $2MM if he is in the big leagues, Jon Heyman of CBSSports.com reports on Twitter. The deal also comes with $750K in available incentives.
FEB. 16: The Yankees announced that they have signed right-hander Jared Burton to a minor league contract and invited the former Twins/Reds setup man to Major League Spring Training. Burton is a client of Pro Agents, Inc.’s Dave Pepe.
Burton, who turns 34 in June, latched on with the Twins on a minor league deal following a shoulder injury that cut his Reds career short. (The presence of former Reds GM Wayne Krvisky in the Twins’ front office likely played a role in that move.) With Minnesota, Burton revived his career, working to an excellent 2.18 ERA with 8.0 K/9, 2.3 BB/9 and a 48.5 percent ground-ball rate in 62 innings in 2012. That strong performance netted him a two-year, $5.5MM extension with the Twins.
Minnesota paid a $200K buyout on Burton’s $3.6MM option for the 2015 season after Burton took a notable step backward this past season. Burton’s K/9 rate dipped to 6.5, and his BB/9 rate ticked up to 3.5 all while his ground-ball rate (38.5 percent) and fastball velocity deteriorated (92.9 mph in 2012; 91.5 in 2014). However, Burton still possesses an effective split-finger changeup (which he’s termed a “splangeup” in the past) that has been his best pitch in recent years. If he can rediscover some of his fastball effectiveness and/or some of his control, he could re-emerge as a useful bullpen arm for the second time in his career.
Burton’s been a durable arm for Minnesota since returning from injury, averaging 64 innings and 68 total appearances over his three-year stint there. Dellin Betances, Andrew Miller, David Carpenter and Justin Wilson are all locks for the New York ’pen, and they’ll likely be joined by Esmil Rogers and Adam Warren. Burton will compete with pitchers such as Chasen Shreve, Andrew Bailey and Jose De Paula for a slot in manager Joe Girardi’s relief corps.