The Rays recently agreed to a minor league contract with reliever Ryan Burr, according to his transactions log at MLB.com. The right-hander has confirmed the agreement on his Instagram page. He’s headed to the team’s Florida complex for now but will presumably be sent to Triple-A Durham after he builds into game shape.
Burr hasn’t pitched since being released by the White Sox in mid-June. He’s made eight relief appearances for the South Siders this year, allowing seven runs (six earned) through nine innings. Optioned to the minor leagues in late May, Burr quickly wound up on the injured list with an undisclosed health concern. Chicago released him a few weeks later. Injured players can’t be placed on outright waivers, so the only options for Chicago to take him off the 40-man roster were to place him on the MLB injured list or release him.
A former Diamondbacks draftee, Burr never reached the majors with Arizona. He’s suited up in parts of four MLB seasons with the ChiSox, however, including a career-high 36 2/3 frames last year. Burr posted a 2.45 ERA in 2021 but only struck out 21.9% of batters faced while walking a very high 13.9% of opponents. Those strikeout and walk numbers are generally in line with his career marks.
That said, Burr has shown some reasons to believe he could be a solid middle reliever if healthy. He works in the mid-90s with his fastball, averaging 94.5 MPH during his big league time this season. He’s also generated grounders on over half the batted balls he’s surrendered in his career, and he owns a 3.16 ERA over parts of three years in Triple-A.
Now that he’s in the Tampa Bay organization, Burr could theoretically be a postseason option if he impresses the club over the next five weeks. Players in an organization by September 1 but not on a team’s 40-man roster can be added to the playoff roster to replace a player on the injured list via petition to the commissioner’s office. Of course, his initial priority will be getting back to full strength and pitching his way back to the majors.