The Braves announced on Monday that they’ve acquired infielder Ryan Schimpf from the Rays in exchange for a player to be named later or cash. To clear a spot on the 40-man roster, Atlanta placed right-hander Josh Ravin on outright waivers. He’s already cleared waivers and been sent outright to Triple-A Gwinnett, per the team.
Schimpf, 29, is perhaps the current poster boy for three-true-outcomes hitters, as 52.7 percent of his 527 career plate appearances have ended in either a home run (34), walk (69) or strikeout (175). Remarkably, his 34 career home runs are more than the 28 singles he’s amassed in the Majors. In all, he’s walked at a 13.1 percent clip in the big leagues and struck out in 33.2 percent of his trips to the plate. He’s a .195/.317/.492 hitter in those 527 PAs.
Setting aside Schimpf’s extraordinarily unique offensive stat line, he’ll bring to the Braves another option to slot in at the hot corner early in the year as Atlanta awaits the emergence of prospect Austin Riley. Schimpf has a couple of minor league options remaining, so he needn’t be exposed to waivers at the end of camp if the Braves don’t want to bring him north to open the season.
Presently, Johan Camargo figures to be the primary third baseman for manager Brian Snitker, though Camargo’s ultimate role seems likely to be one of a utility infielder. While the 24-year-old Camargo hit .299/.331/.452 last season, he did so with the aid of a gaudy .364 average on balls in play and just a 4.7 percent walk rate. Given his below-average hard-contact rate and above-average infield fly rate, Camargo looks exceedingly unlikely to support a BABIP near that level and, barring a significant improvement in his walk rate, will likely see his average and OBP come down by a fair margin in 2018.
In theory, Schimpf and Camargo could actually make an interesting platoon. While Camargo is a switch-hitter, he posted a putrid .254/.287/.349 slash against right-handed pitching last year but a terrific .403/.434/.694 slash against lefties. The same BABIP caveats that apply to Camargo’s overall season are even more true of his work against southpaws (.481 BABIP in 76 PAs), but he’s generally been a better hitter against lefties than righties throughout his minor league career.
Schimpf, meanwhile, has hit just .205 against righties but paired that with a .329 OBP and a .537 slugging percentage, giving him a stunning .303 isolated power mark against righties in his brief big league career. He’s also capable of playing second base, so he could hold down a bench spot and serve as a late-inning power option in addition to his work as a potential platoon partner for Camargo, if the Braves are so inclined.
As for the 30-year-old Ravin, he totaled just 16 2/3 innings out of the Dodgers’ bullpen in 2017 before being acquired by the Braves (whose new GM, Alex Anthopoulos, had previously been in the L.A. front office) in a minor offseason swap. Ravin struggled to a 6.48 ERA in that small sample, though he did punch out 19 hitters and average better than 96 mph on his heater in that time. His Triple-A work in 2017 was much better, as he logged a 4.33 ERA and averaged a hefty 14 strikeouts per nine innings, albeit against 4.8 walks per nine. Ravin’s career has been slowed in recent years by a 2016 car accident as well as an 80-game PED suspension that same year.