For the fourth time in less than three months, corner infielder Richie Shaffer is on the move. His newest destination is Cleveland, as the Indians claimed him off of waivers from the Cincinnati Reds on Thursday.
In a corresponding roster move, the Indians have designated 26-year-old minor league first baseman Jesus Aguilar for assignment to create a spot on the 40-man roster for Shaffer.
The whirlwind offseason for Shaffer, a first round pick in the 2012 draft out of Clemson by the Tampa Bay Rays, continued this week as he joined his fifth organization in less than 70 days. After spending parts of the last two seasons on the Rays’ MLB roster, he was dealt in November to the Seattle Mariners in a five-player deal that netted the Rays three minor league prospects.
In the middle of December, the Mariners placed him on waivers and he was claimed by the Philadelphia Phillies, who in turn placed him on waivers a week later. He was claimed by the Reds on December 23.
Shaffer owns a career .246/.333/.437 slash line across 501 games in five minor league seasons. He hit .189 with a .307 on-base percentage in his first 31 games with Tampa in 2015 with three doubles, four homers, and six RBI. He appeared in 20 games last season for the club, hitting .250 with a .315 OBP with six doubles, a homer, and four RBI.
He has played in the corners throughout his professional career, logging the bulk of his innings in the minors at third base but the majority of his MLB innings at first base. He has also played sparingly in right field at both levels and briefly in the minors in left field.
Shaffer is expected to compete for a bench role for the Tribe in Goodyear, Arizona, beginning next month.
As for Aguilar, his designation may spell the end of a long run in the Cleveland Indians organization.
The big right-handed slugger joined the team in November of 2007 when he signed as a non-drafted free agent out of Maracay, Venezuela, at the age of 17. He made the climb through the farm system, showcasing power and run production while hitting for high average, but those results did not show during his brief opportunities in the Majors with the team.
He made his debut in 2014, appearing in 19 games while hitting .121 with four singles and three RBI. He hit .304 with 31 doubles, 19 homers, and 77 RBI at Triple-A Columbus. He saw just seven games of action for the Indians in 2015, hitting a much-better .316 in the limited action with five singles, a double, and two RBI. At Triple-A, he hit .267 with 29 doubles, 19 homers, and 93 RBI.
In 2016, he hit .247 for the Columbus Clippers with 26 doubles, 30 homers, and 92 RBI. He was hitless in nine games with the Indians at the end of the season, going 0-for-6 at the plate with a strikeout.
He put together a strong showing in winter ball with the Margarita Braves of the Venezuelan Winter League, hitting .314 in 42 games with eight doubles, ten homers, and 22 RBI following the completion of his pro season.
The Indians have seven days to trade Aguilar or place him on irrevocable outright waivers.
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