November 2, 2012 at 1:45 am by David Lee under Atlanta Braves, Transactions
Center field seems to be coming full circle in Atlanta, although maybe it’s not a complete circle.
The Braves claimed Jordan Schafer off waivers from the Astros on Thursday, giving Atlanta an option for fourth/fifth outfielder or Triple-A depth.
After getting sent to Houston in the Michael Bourn deal, Schafer returns to the Atlanta organization during the same offseason as Bourn’s projected departure for the free agent market.
If bringing back Schafer means nothing more than minor league depth, I don’t care about this move and it’s probably not even worth this post. However, if Schafer is signed as a fourth or fifth outfielder (depending on whether the Braves platoon left field), it does make a difference, if just a slight one.
Fourth outfielders do play defense from time to time, and Schafer isn’t very good at it. He makes bad breaks on line drives and takes bad routes to the gaps at times, and he relies heavily on speed. Schafer’s one advantage defensively – and perhaps his entire game – is his strong arm.
Defensive metrics back up my claims, as well. For his career, Schafer has been worth -24 defensive runs saved and -10.2 UZR. Someone will be quick to say he’s good defensively based on speed, but speed doesn’t equal good defense, and I’d like to think we’re beyond that line of thinking by now.
Schafer’s offensive struggles are well-documented. He owns a career line of .221/.305/.301 with a .274 wOBA and 68 wRC+. He’s also had injury issues, including separating the AC joint in both shoulders, fracturing a middle finger and left wrist surgery. At 26 years old, his potential is pretty much tapped out.
As I said, if the Braves are bringing Schafer back as minor league depth, this move means little to nothing. If they expect him to play defense in a pinch, or more if he has to fill in for an injured starter, his below-average fielding does not make this a worthwhile move. A lot of this depends on how the outfield will shake out by spring.