Monday, August 4, 2014

Jordan Schafer, reserve outfielder

Jordan Schafer makes a catch last month
for the Atlanta Braves.

The Twins have had quite the parade of "fourth outfielders" this year. They waived Alex Presley coming out of spring training; he was grabbed by Houston. They had the brief Jason Bartlett delusion; that ended with his retirement. They brought up Darin Mastroianni for 11 at-bats and then waived him; Toronto grabbed him. They claimed Sam Fuld off waivers from Oakland, and that settled things until Oakland decided they needed him after all, and the Twins traded him back for a starting pitcher.

Which left the Twins without the traditional fourth outfielder, defined as a bench guy, often left-handed or a switch hitter, who can play center field. Fourth outfielders are generally legs and a glove; if they were truly quality hitters, they'd be regulars. That's a good description of Fuld; while he had a strong stat line with the Twins (on base percentage .370), his career OPS+ is 85, meaning that he's 15 percent below league as a hitter.

On Sunday the Twins announced that they had landed Jordan Schafer on waivers from Atlanta. Schafer is a former third-round draft pick who has split his five-year major league career between Atlanta and Houston. He's five years younger than Fuld (27) and an even weaker hitter (OPS+ for his career 68). He's fast (88 career steals and just 22 caught stealings), but the defensive metrics aren't particularly high on his defense.

Schafer is not as good a fourth outfielder as Fuld, but the move down in the role for the Twins makes sense to get the rotation upgrade -- assuming, of course, that they take advantage of the rotation upgrade by actually activating Tommy Milone, something they have yet to do.

The Twins haven't announced a move to get him on the 25-man roster (they had an opening on the 40 man roster created when they DFA'd Matt Guerrier). With today's off day, they can wait until Tuesday to make their move.

My guess: Chris Colabello goes back to Rochester. I assume the Twins want to take a sincere look at Kennys Vargas, and Colabello hasn't done much since coming back up.

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