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Cleveland Indians claim outfielder Joey Butler off waivers from Rays

You wanted more low-risk moves? You got it.

Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Indians have claimed outfielder Joey Butler off waivers from the Tampa Bay Rays, the team confirmed on Twitter earlier today. Butler, 29, was designated for assignment by the Rays on December 3 to make room for Hank Conger, who the Rays acquired in a trade with the Houston Astros. In order to make room for Butler on the 40-man roster, the Indians also designated starting pitching prospect Jayson Aquino for assignment.

Butler is far from a home run offseason move, but he is at least an interesting piece for the Indians. In 297 career plate appearances over three years, he has slashed .274/.330/.412 while hitting eight home runs and stealing five bases. The right-handed batter has a bit of a platoon split, although he is one of those strange hitters that are more effective against a same-handed pitcher. Over his career he has a wOBA of .316 against lefties and a .333 wOBA against righties, so he is at least league-average against both.

While it did not show through much last season, Butler had a great eye at the plate throughout his minor league career, sporting a double-digit walk rate at the Double- and Triple-A levels. If he could find that approach and an improved power stroke this could wind up being a great low-risk signing for the Indians.

Butler has significant playing time in both corner outfield spots, so he could easily fill in while Brantley rehabs after torn labrum surgery for however long his recovery time actually is. His splits do not make him a good platoon partner for Chisenhall, however, who also struggles against left-handed pitchers. If Butler stays on the team all season, it may be as a fourth outfield spot where he will also be competing with newly-acquired Colin Cowgill and former first-round draft pick Tyler Naquin. He could also be part of a revolving door designated hitter position that the Indians look like they are going for at this point.

Among Indians fans, Butler is most known as "that guy" who broke up Carlos Carrasco’s no-hit bid with only one out remaining. A line drive sailed just inches over a leaping Jason Kipnis’ head and broke it up.