Shane Robinson has now been outrighted off of a 40-man roster for the second offseason in a row, but this time around he has to be feeling a little better about where his career is heading.
The St. Louis Cardinals left the veteran outfielder behind one year ago after he slashed a miserable .150/.227/.200 in 47 games. It couldn’t have been an easy time for Robinson, who had been with the Cardinals organization since being drafted in 2006. Fast forward to 2015, and the Minnesota Twins are removing Robinson from the 40-man roster not because of his talent, but because he’s simply not a good fit for the club anymore.
Robinson, who will turn 31 at the end of the month, was a non-roster invite to Twins camp this spring and earned a spot on the Opening Day roster with a .300 average over 19 Spring Training appearances. He then went on to serve as Minnesota’s fourth outfielder all season long, posting career-highs in hits, triples, runs batted in and steals over 83 games — which was only the third highest total of his Major League career, meaning he didn’t need a career-high in at-bats to reach those numbers.
He provided a strong glove at all three outfield positions and even pitched a scoreless inning on August 8th, turning some heads when he sent Cleveland Indians outfielder Jerry Sands down looking with a knuckleball.
Minnesota has a roster jammed with a core of talented young outfielders, highlighted by elite prospect Byron Buxton while also including speedsters Eddie Rosario and Aaron Hicks and slugger Oswaldo Arcia. A Torii Hunter return is also a very real possibility for the Twins, making it very difficult for Robinson to get any playing time with such a big log jam in the outfield; clearly making his release this offseason very different from what happened a year ago.
His days with Minnesota are definitely in rear view mirror, but Robinson has clearly earned a spot on some team’s 25-man roster next year with bounce back season. There will be a number of clubs looking for a fourth outfielder and Robinson is everything you can ask for in that role; a decent bench bat, good base runner, reliable fielder, experienced and he’ll come at an extremely reasonable price on a low risk contract at the same time.
He’s earned his next job and as the label of journeyman slowly begins to attach itself to Robinson, he can start to be the always ready for anything reserve outfielder that he was for the Twins in 2015.