Blue Jays: Why not bring back Andy Burns?
After a season where the Blue Jays needed middle infield depth, it might be worth checking into a familiar face in Andy Burns, who played in the KBO in 2017.
As the Blue Jays look to their 2018 season, one of the biggest priorities is upgrading the middle infield depth in the organization. In 2017 the Blue Jays only had 116 games played between their starters, Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis, which resulted in Ryan Goins and Darwin Barney playing nearly full time throughout the year.
While they both contributed admirable efforts, the Blue Jays were in desperate need of a greater offensive contribution. It’s expected that Mark Shapiro and Ross Atkins will pursue upgrades for the position, and there are several options on the MLB free agency market.
One of those options could be a familiar face that has played in the organization before, and one that didn’t even play in the MLB in 2017. How about Andy Burns?
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Burns played in the KBO in 2017 for the Lotte Giants, and had a fantastic first season in a new country. He batted .303/.361/.499 with 15 home runs and 57 RBI while playing in 116 games. This is an obvious uptick in what he produced in North America, but he’s been making steady improvements throughout his career, and was a serviceable minor leaguer before making the move.
He spent from 2011-16 in the Blue Jays organization, and spent the majority of the year with the Buffalo Bisons where he hit .230/.285/.352 and chipped in eight home runs, 25 doubles, and 38 RBI. He did make it to the big club for 10 games and had just seven at bats, so his opportunities were limited to be sure.
While he may be very comfortable in the KBO, it’s also possible that he could parlay his solid 2017 season in Korea into another MLB opportunity. If that’s the case, the Blue Jays should consider a reunion, if he’s willing to come back to the organization that is.
Granted, he’s not the sexiest option that will be on the market, but his ability to play second base, shortstop, and third base is an asset the Blue Jays will need in 2018, and his bat appears to have taken steps forward as well. Yes, the competition in the KBO isn’t at the same level that you’ll see in the MLB, but he wouldn’t be the first person to perform well there, and then come back to the MLB to greater success. Surely you haven’t forgotten Eric Thames already?
At 27 years old, he still has potential for growth, especially when you look at the recent history of other Blue Jays taking step forward. He’ll be cheap, versatile, and is very familiar with the organization. He won’t, and shouldn’t be the first option pursued, but if the front office can’t find a more secure alternative, why not look into it?
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There are certainly worse options out there.