With the Winter Meetings in full swing in Nashville, Tennessee, the Cleveland Indians announced late Monday that the team had claimed right-handed hitting outfielder Joey Butler off of waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays.
Cleveland made a corresponding roster move, designating minor league left-handed pitcher Jayson Aquino for assignment to create room on the 40-man roster.
The acquisition of Butler unites the team with the same player who spoiled Carlos Carrasco’s no-hit bid in Tampa on July 1st. Carrasco was one strike away from throwing the first no-hitter by an Indians pitcher since May 15th, 1981.
Butler spent the 2015 season in the Tampa organization, starting the season at Triple-A Durham. After a .317 average and 15 RBI in his first 22 games, he was called up to the Major League squad and would remain there for all but eleven days he would spend in mid-August back with the Triple-A Bulls.
At the MLB level, he appeared in 88 games, hitting .276 with eight homers and 30 RBI. Combined with his 31 games of action in the minors, he hit 14 homers and drove in 54 runs on the year. He hit three homers in each of his first two months with the parent club before a drought through the summer. He ended his season with a pair of blasts and six RBI on October 4th in a 12-3 win over the Toronto Blue Jays.
He was designated for assignment on Thursday after the club acquired catcher Hank Conger from the Houston Astros on Wednesday. Butler will turn 30 just over three weeks before the start of the 2016 season. He appeared in the Tampa lineup as both a left and right fielder and a designated hitter this past season and also saw five seasons of action in the minors in center field, but he has not played there since 2013.
Butler was a 15th round pick in the 2008 draft by the Texas Rangers. He made his debut with the club in 2013, appearing in eight games. Following that season, he was selected off of waivers by the St. Louis Cardinals and would appear in six games for the club before his release in late May of 2014. He would play overseas with the Orix Buffaloes of the Japan Pacific League before returning stateside when he signed with the Rays this past January.
Aquino, 23, was acquired by the Indians in a cash exchange at the end of July from the Pirates. He was designated by Pittsburgh on July 22nd to make room on their 40-man roster for Pedro Florimon. The left-handed starter had spent the bulk of his career in the Colorado Rockies system before spending time at the High-A level for the Blue Jays, Pirates, and Indians this season. He was 1-3 with a 2.45 ERA in six starts for Lynchburg and a combined 5-11 with a 3.28 across all minor league stops in 2015.
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