Richie Shaffer saw a slight downturn in his power numbers in 2016 but was a much better hitter overall as compared to his 31-game stint in 2015. His .250 average represented a 61-point improvement over the previous season's .189 figure, and seven of his 12 hits impressively went for extra bases. Shaffer has the ability to play both corner infield spots, but his contact rate remains a major concern. He's posted a strikeout rate well over 30 percent in both of his Rays stints, along with respective contact rates of 57 and 63 percent. Significant improvement in this area would enable Shaffer to flash more of the power he's already demonstrated at the minor league level, where he's tallied double-digit homers in four different stops. After he was traded to Seattle in November, Shaffer bounced around the league before being claimed by Cleveland in January. If he happens to earn a role for the Indians, he could go off in his new home park. But he's still just a speculation for deep fantasy rosters.
Shaffer was reassigned to the Indians' minor-league camp Sunday. Shaffer was hoping to win a reserve role in the corner infield, but the contact issues he displayed during Cactus League play (22 strikeouts in 57 at-bats) undermined any chance he had at breaking camp with the team. Expect him to open 2017 with Triple-A Columbus.
Shaffer is competing for an Opening Day roster spot at third base, Jordan Bastian of MLB.com reports. Shaffer, the first-round pick of the Rays back in 2012, split time between the majors and Triple-A level last season for Tampa Bay. He appeared in 20 games with the big club but didn't do anything of note outside of his high strikeout percentage.
Shaffer received an invitation to attend spring training. Shaffer spent the 2016 season with the Rays and split the season between Triple-A Durham and the big club. However, his performance was unimpressive at both spots. Over 20 games with the big club, he hit just .250 and struck out in 33 percent of his at-bats.
The Indians designated Shaffer for assignment Monday, Paul Hoynes of Cleveland.com reports. Shaffer will depart his fifth organization of the offseason, after having previously owned 40-man roster spots with the Rays, Mariners, Phillies and Reds. The 25-year-old was a member of the Indians' 40-man roster for less than a week, but if he goes unclaimed off waivers, he'd likely stick in the organization as Triple-A depth. Shaffer has flashed solid pop during his time in the minor, but a lack of contact may prove to be his undoing as he looks to establish himself as a viable big-league option.
Shaffer was claimed off waivers by the Indians on Thursday. This is the fifth stop so far this offseason for Shaffer, and quite possibly not the last. The 25-year-old slashed .227/.329/.367 with 11 homers in 428 at-bats with the Rays' Triple-A affiliate in 2016, and will merely add depth at first base if he is able to break camp with the big league club.