Burks will help instruct and develop players during spring training and will assist Indians general manager Mark Shapiro and his staff with personnel decisions. Burks' primary responsibility will be to work with and evaluate outfielders.
"We are very pleased to have Ellis rejoin the Indians organization," Shapiro said. "A professional of his caliber represents the values and attributes that the organization is seeking to instill in its young players."
Burks, 40, retired last season after spending the year with the World Series champion Boston Red Sox. He was limited to 11 games because of knee trouble.
Burks played for Cleveland from 2001-03, batting .287 with 66 homers and 192 RBI in 317 games. He played 18 seasons in the majors, finishing with 352 career homers and a .291 average.
A two-time All-Star, Burks had his best season with Colorado in 1996, batting .344 with 40 homers and 128 RBI. He led the NL in runs (142), total bases (392), slugging percentage (.639) and finished third in MVP voting.