Blue Jays claim Alex Burnett off waivers
La Velle E. Neal III reports that right-handed reliever Alex Burnett, who has made 174 appearances out of the Minnesota Twins bullpen over the past three seasons, is officially no longer with the organization
. After being placed on outright waivers, presumably to make room on the 40-man roster for outfielder Wilkin Ramirez, Burnett was claimed by the Blue Jays on Friday.
It's not difficult to see why a team like Toronto might want to chance it on Burnett. He brandishes a hard fastball and a slider with some real snap. Back when he was first breaking into the Twins bullpen at age 22 I thought he might develop into a pretty nice option for the late innings.
But he didn't develop. Neal wrote in his report that "Twins officials were unhappy with [Burnett's] spring, saying he had taken a step back." In general, it seems that the 25-year-old has gone nowhere but backwards, with K-rates dropping from 18 percent in 2010 to 15 percent in 2011 to 12 percent last year. This spring he was a complete mess, coughing up 15 hits and seven walks in 8 1/3 innings while striking out only one of the 46 batters he faced.
That was apparently the last straw for the Twins. This move is a little surprising considering what a constant Burnett has been in the big-league bullpen over the past few seasons, but I guess we can mark it down – along with Drew Butera's recent demotion – as evidence that the "no more scholarships" policy is being enforced.
Meanwhile, we'll have to hope that Burnett doesn't join the likes of Craig Breslow and Grant Balfour as relievers the Twins gave up on too hastily.