The Nationals, who traded a lefthanded reliever to the Athletics a little more than two weeks ago, get one back in Jerry Blevins for minor league outfielder Billy Burns.
Blevins, a 30-year-old lefty, had a 3.15 ERA in 67 appearances in Oakland last season. The A’s have lefthanded relief depth with Sean Doolittle, Fernando Abad (who was traded from the Nationals on Nov. 25) and potentially Drew Pomeranz, who was acquired Tuesday from Colorado. Washington gets a speedy, 24-year-old outfielder in Burns, who stole 74 bases in 81 attempts in 2013.
Billy Burns, of
Age: 24. Bats: B.
Transactions: Selected by the Nationals in the 32nd round of the 2011 draft.
Service time: 0. Option Used: 0/3.
Burns is a premium athlete who has made himself into a prospect despite his small stature. Burns hit .353 with a 73/76 walk/strikeout mark and 70 steals in 79 tries during his strong three-year career at Mercer, and the Nationals snagged him in the 32nd round of the 2011 draft. Burns has a slap-and-dash approach from the left side and a little more strength from the right side. He has no power and does not try to hit home runs. His game is built around his top-of-the-scale speed, which allows him to beat out infield hits and bunt his way on base regularly. Burns is capable of making dazzling plays in center field but is actually a better defender in left. His arm is below-average, and he worked on improving it in instructional league and showed fringe-average arm strength. He should return to Double-A to start 2014 but could reach Triple-A by the second half.
Jerry Blevins, lhp
Remaining commitment: First-year arbitration eligible, earned $1.1 million in 2013. Eligible for free agency in 2016.
The Nats, seeking a lefthanded reliever after trading Ian Krol to the Tigers in the deal for Doug Fister, had been connected to free agents Scott Downs, Boone Logan or J.P. Howell. Perhaps as insurance in case those options don’t work out, they opted for the relatively inexpensive Blevins, who went 5-0, 3.15 with a 1.07 WHIP, 52 strikeouts and 17 walks in 60 innings last year. Just 64 percent of the runners he inherited were stranded. He was also much better against righthanded hitters (.190/.267/.314) than lefties (.253/.299/.402).