Citing outfield depth, Twins release Schafer

Club no longer had need for second center fielder

Citing outfield depth, Twins release Schafer

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Twins released outfielder Jordan Schafer, who had been out with a knee injury since mid-May, the club announced Thursday night.

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Schafer, 28, had been on the 15-day disabled list since May 16 with a strained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. He had been working out at Target Field, but instead of a rehab assignment, the Twins decided to release the six-year veteran. It opens up a spot on the 40-man roster for the Twins, who still need to add right-hander Ervin Santana once his 80-game suspension is up on July 4.

"I ended up meeting with him [Thursday] afternoon and we have outfield depth, so we decided to go a different direction here," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said before Friday's game. "We've got enough people, so I didn't see how it was going to work. So we made that decision and it gives him an opportunity to get a job some place and move on."

Schafer won the center-field job out of Spring Training, but he hit just .217/.250/.261 with five RBIs and three stolen bases in 27 games. He fared better with the Twins last season, hitting .285/.345/.362 with a homer, 13 RBIs and 15 stolen bases in 41 games after being claimed off waivers from the Braves on Aug. 3.

With top prospect Byron Buxton the club's regular center fielder and Aaron Hicks on the 15-day disabled list with a strained right forearm, the Twins no longer needed another center fielder on the roster. They also have Shane Robinson as a fourth outfielder, as he passed Schafer on the depth chart. Corner outfielder Oswaldo Arcia is also at Triple-A Rochester.

"I think the biggest thing is we've had an influx of young outfielders here," Twins manager Paul Molitor said Friday. "There's not a lot of space. And Robinson is an extra outfielder for now. But I don't know how it'll shake up. We still have Arcia down there, and then Buxton, Hicks and Rosario. It just became a bad fit. The discussions were that we didn't have room for him up here and Triple-A didn't make sense for where he's at. So we're giving him a chance to get another job and it's the best-case for both sides."

• The Twins agreed to terms with third basemen Travis Blankenhorn (third-round pick) and Trey Cabbage (fourth round) on Friday. Blankenhorn signed for under slot at $650,000, while Cabbage signed for over slot at $760,000, according to MLB.com's Jim Callis. Cabbage was at Target Field on Friday and took batting practice with the Twins before the game.

• The Twins also announced they have signed 20 of their 40 picks in the First-Year Player Draft, including seven of their top 10 picks. Of their top 10 picks, only right-hander Kyle Cody (Competitive Balance B), outfielder Chris Paul (sixth round) and left-hander Jovani Moran (seventh round) are unsigned. The Twins, though, are confident all three will eventually sign.

Rhett Bollinger is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Bollinger Beat, follow him on Twitter @RhettBollinger and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.