According to Ken Rosenthal, the Reds have come to terms with Skip Schumaker on a two-year deal, pending physical etc.
Schumaker will be 34 at the start of 2014. He played for the Dodgers last season (.263/.332/.332) and eight seasons for the Cardinals before that. So he’s another former Cardinal signed by Walt Jocketty – Ludwick, Edmonds, Cairo, Rolen, and Renteria.
Here are my first thoughts:
1. He’s versatile, playing 2B and all three OF positions for the Dodgers and Cardinals.
2. As a lefty hitter, he’s got a better split against right-handed pitchers. He slashed .295/.357/.385 against RHP in 2012 with the Cardinals.
3. Bob Nightengale from USA Today calls the move “terrific” and Schumaker a “class act” — so maybe it helps fix the clubhouse?
1. He’s got no power and no speed.
2. He’s not particularly good at any of his defensive positions.
3. He’s signed for two seasons at an age when middle infielders decline rapidly.
4. His split against RHP last season isn’t that great (.265/.338/.333) and his 2012 split is aided by an unusually high BABIP of .351 (career .333).
5. Sabermetrics still trying to incorporate “classiness” into WAR
What This Means
Schumaker has never played major league shortstop. It’s difficult to envision the plan for him to be strictly a utility infielder, at least assuming Jack Hannahan is the other. Hannahan is signed for 2014 and he doesn’t really play SS either.
I’ve got three ideas, all varying degrees of terrifying: (1) Schumaker will be the Reds every-day second baseman once Brandon Phillips is traded, or (2) the Reds are counting on Billy Hamilton being on the roster and Schumaker will split time with Hamilton at second base and Hamilton will be the backup shortstop, or (3) the Reds are going to eat the last year of Hannahan’s contract (about $1 million) and sign another utility IF who can play 3B and SS.
Or maybe some horrifying combination of those things. The last of those three options could make this OK depending on who the additional signing would be. I guess Schumaker could be signed to be the LH backup outfielder instead of Xavier Paul (.253/.349/.426 vs RHP in 2013).
If the universe of possible free agents is confined largely to former Cardinals, I’d have probably preferred Mark DeRosa, who played 2B and 3B for the Blue Jays last year and had a higher OPS than Schumaker. DeRosa just announced he was retiring, so we might have been able to sign him for only one year. And, did I mention he has the most important qualification, apparently, of being a former Cardinal?
I’d like this signing a lot more if Schumaker played SS and could therefore fulfill the role as a true UT player. But given the current and likely configuration of the roster, this move looks more like one that will yield Schumaker quite a bit of playing time.