In order to activate Kevin Kiermaier from the disabled list, the Tampa Bay Rays made what you’d might consider the obvious move and designated Rob Refsnyder for assignment.
ROSTER MOVE: OF Rob Refsnyder DFA, OF Kevin Kiermaier will be reinstated from 60-day DL on Tuesday. #Rays— Steve Carney (@stevecarney) June 19, 2018
Refsnyder, 27, is famed for his flash in the pan prospect status with the Yankees, but has bounced from team to team as a 25th man with the lofty expectations of a utility role. The Rays viewed Refsnyder differently, believing he would benefit from a consistent role and one position to defend.
That position was ultimately left field, his college position, where Refsnyder’s defense has impressed as of late with some great moves of the sliding variety...
...while also showcasing a competent arm for an outfield corner.
But even above average defense without an above average bat makes it hard to stick with a major league roster. “Walksnyder” was boasting a 17%+ walk rate, but his OBP has remained a replaceable .314 as his batting average had yet to climb above .200 in part time play (starting nearly half of the Rays games, appearing in 40 of 73 overall).
A former fifth round draft pick, Refsnyder was valued for his ability to hit for average as a prospect, which is why he was moved to the infield in pro-ball. Curiously, Refsnyder made a shift in approach to trying to hit for power prior to joining the Rays, but the powerstroke never came.
With the Rays he was asked to be himself, and in more than 100 plate appearances, Refsnyder’s offensive contributions were not significantly better than his direct competition on the roster: Johnny Field. Despite clear comfort in a left field role, being without Field’s perceived positional flexibility made Refsnyder the logical fit to go.
Best friends with Field from their college days, it made waves when the Rays opted to bring Refsnyder onto the roster instead of Field, the in-house option. Now Field and his .267 OBP remains as the Rays assess who is and is not part of the long term future of the club.
Field is expected to platoon with Mallex Smith in left field moving forward.