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Former Oakland A’s outfielder claimed off waivers by Cleveland Guardians

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Ramón Laureano, who was designated for assignment by the Oakland A’s over the weekend, has landed in the middle of a division playoff race.

The 29-year-old outfielder was claimed off waivers by Cleveland and figures to move right into the middle of the Guardians’ outfield mix.

Laureano goes from the team with the worst record in baseball (32-80) to a team battling for the A.L. Central title. Cleveland (54-58) trails Minnesota by just 4.5 games. The Guardians likely will have to win the Central to return to the playoffs for the second year in a row. They entered the day 8.5 games out of the final spot in the AL wild-card race.

The A’s placed Laureano, who appeared to be a budding star for the franchise in 2019, to make room for the return of center fielder Esteury Ruiz from the 10-day injured list. But it also could signal that top prospect Lawrence Butler might soon arrive in Oakland.

Butler, 23, had a breakout spring training despite never playing a game above Single-A until this season. Butler hit .285 with 10 home runs in 284 at-bats at 67 games at Double-A and has more than held his own in 21 games since being promoted to Triple-A Las Vegas and is serving as the team’s regular right fielder. Butler has a slash line of .279/.333/.519 with the Aviators and has hit five home runs in 79 at-bats. Butler blasted a 448-foot homer over the center field wall on Monday night in Albuquerque, New Mexico.

Although injuries have contributed to a .213/.280/.364 slash line for Laureano this season, the six-year veteran is a low-risk claim for Cleveland, which has been on the lookout for more offensive punch against left-handed pitching. Only the Brewers, Mets and Twins have a lower team batting average against left-handed pitchers than the Guardians (.233) and their 24 home runs against lefties is tied for the second-fewest in the majors.

Laureano, who bats right-handed, is hitting .290 with a .793 on-base percentage against left-handed pitchers this season. Overall, he has hit six home runs with 21 RBI, and eight stolen bases in 64 games. He missed two weeks in April with a strained left groin and returned in mid-July after missing nearly a month with a fractured right hand.

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