The regular season is over for the Tampa Bay Rays, but an offseason filled with plenty of moves is about to begin. In a bit of a preview to that, one actually happened while the Rays-Cleveland Indians game was still ongoing. The Toronto Blue Jays have claimed right-handed reliever Cory Burns off waivers from the Rays, ending his brief tenure with the organization.
Burns, 26, rebounded from a rough stint in the Texas Rangers system this season to rebound once joining the Rays. In 23 appearances between Double-A Montgomery and Triple-A Durham, he managed a 2.32 ERA and a 29-10 strikeout to walk ratio in 32.2 innings pitched. Burns certainly didn’t do anything wrong during his time with the organization, but he was squeezed out by two factors: the Rays’ bullpen depth and their need for 40-man roster spots. Burns is a solid reliever, but he doesn’t throw overly hard, usually staying around 90 MPH with his fastball. He played pretty well, but he didn’t force the Rays to keep him given all the other arms they have around.
In addition, the decision for the Rays was not just between Cory Burns and their other relievers but between Burns and any other player they would want on their roster. It makes things complicated enough that the Rays had a full 40-man roster with Matt Moore and Jerry Sands both set to come off the 60-day DL following the season, and then there are players that will need protection from the Rule 5 Draft. Cory Burns is a decent enough pitcher, but the Rays have players who they prioritize more.
The Rays wanted to keep Burns, so they tried to sneak him through waivers. If it had worked, they would have liked to have him as relief depth at Triple-A Durham. At the end of the day, though, Burns is a replaceable middle reliever, so the day was undoubtedly going to come when he would be designated for assignment. If they had managed to keep him in the organization so, that would have only been a bonus.