Monday, December 19, 2016

Oh, Shuck

The Twins have signed outfielder J.B. Shuck, veteran of four major league teams over five seasons, to a minor league deal.

The left-handed batter is not much of a hitter, and is regarded as stretched defensively in center field. He's certainly not threat to become a regular, and he's flawed even as a fourth outfielder.

I think he's most likely to fill the roster role of Logan Schafer, who got 74 plate appearances with the Twins in August-September after injuries hit the outfield and has since signed a minor-league deal with Baltimore: stashed in Triple A and available if the major league roster deteriorates, Not much to see there.

There is another possibility, of course. As matters stand, the Twins outfield projects to be Eddie Rosario in left, Byron Buxton in center and Max Kepler in right, with Robbie Grossman as a reserve and Rosario and/or Kepler shifting around when Grossman is in the lineup.

Grossman had a fine season at the plate -- his .828 OPS was second on the team among players with more than 330 plate appearances and led all American League left fielders -- but he was awful defensively. It's possible that the new regime will opt to sacrifice some offense to have a fourth outfielder who can help the pitchers get outs.

In that connection, it's worth noting that Derek Falvey and Grossman crossed paths last year in Cleveland, where the Indians declined to bring Grossman up and instead let him go to Minnesota in May. Presumably Grossman's fielding failings had something to do with that.

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