The Atlanta Braves have re-acquired outfielder Jordan Schafer today by claiming him off waivers from the Houston Astros. Schafer spent over six years in the Braves minor and major league clubs before being part of the trade that brought center fielder Michael Bourn to Atlanta from Houston in 2011.
One has to wonder if this is not a preemptive Plan-B move by the Braves in preparation for the possible departure of Bourn, who is sure to draw a great deal of interest and command a high salary in free agency this coming year.
Schafer, who hit 211 with 27 stolen bases in 106 games for the Astros last season, had won the starting center field position with the Braves as a 22-year-old rookie in 2009 despite the fact that he never played in any level higher than Double-A. He was suspended for the first 50 games of the 2008 season for a human growth hormone violation of minor league baseball’s drug policy. Schafer stole a combined 22 bases for the Braves and Astros in 2011, but he was arrested in October 2012 on felony possession of marijuana charges.
Bourn, who stole 42 bases as the lead-off man for the Braves last year, hit .311 in the first half of the season but then went into a tremendous slump, dropping his average to .225 after the All-Star break. He struck out a career-high 155 times in 155 games.
Shafer was highly thought of in the Braves organization, but never seemed to reach his full potential while in Atlanta. Unless he has matured immensely and figured out how to hit major league breaking balls on a regular basis, it doesn’t seem to me that Schafer is a viable option at the lead-off spot for the Braves.
The Braves also sent catcher J.C. Boscan and pitchers Erik Cordier and Robert Fish outright to the minors. Boscan has refused the assignment and elected free agency.