In a series of roster moves today, the Reds claimed claimed outfielder Gabriel Guerrero (Diamondbacks) and catcher Juan Graterol (Angels) off waivers. In order to make room on the 40-man roster for Guerrero and Graterol, the Reds designated catcher Ramon Cabrera and pitcher Keyvius Sampson for assignment.

Guerrero will turn 23 in a couple of weeks, and he’s noted for two things: he has a ton of raw ability and he’s the nephew of Vladimir Guerrero. Like his famous uncle, Guerrero swings at everything. Unlike Vlad, Guerrero hasn’t hit for any power since rising above A-ball. I guess I can squint and see a fourth outfielder here; he’s still young with tools that make the scouts drool. If I squint harder, I see Yorman Rodriguez. If he’s going to have a chance at a real career, Guerrero needs to hurry up and get on with it.

Juan Graterol will be 28 next year, and he’s spent the last decade bouncing around the Royals, Yankees, and Angels systems. From a quick look at their respective minor league statistics, I can’t see why the Reds think he’s any better than the 27 year old guy he’s replacing, Ramon Cabrera. Then again, Cabrera isn’t really a big league catcher either, so I’ll just assume the Cincinnati scouting reports give them reason to believe Graterol has a chance to stick as a backup catcher. I can’t imagine Cabrera will be claimed off waivers, and he’s likely to accept the demotion to Triple-A, so at least the Reds might gain a little organizational depth at the position.

The interesting move here is seeing Keyvius Sampson designated for assignment. Perhaps the Reds think he will clear waivers. From my vantage point, I’d be surprised if another team didn’t take a flyer on him. Sampson has a live arm and has shown reason for optimism at various times (including a pretty good stretch for Louisville this past season). On the other hand, he’ll be 26 soon, and if the Reds lose him, what have they lost? Sampson’s ceiling is probably fifth-starter; more likely, he could develop into a useful reliever. But then, this Reds bullpen is so good, they don’t need more useful relievers, right?

All in all, not much to see here, just some organizational reshuffling. Maybe, just maybe, Guerrero will turn into something worth getting excited about.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at

Join the conversation! 27 Comments

  1. I’m just scratching my head. I hope the FO knows what they are doing because this just does not make sense. Particularly the DFA’ing of Sampson.

    • I had the exact same thought. Scratching my head. Not sure I see how we’re improved at all from these moves.

    • Actually I was hoping they’d cut Sampson or Ohlendorf or Jumbo to get to 39 and draft a Rule V gamble in early December. I hope picking up these two don’t prohibit them from freeing up one slot for a Rule V dart throw. Rule V seems like a good way to get a good relief power arm. Bats are less likely, but hey, never know.

      Sampson, Josh Smith, they already hit any ceiling they have and it isn’t much. If we mourn losing someone like Sampson, we have really sunk to low expectations.

  2. The more churn you have in the minors, the more likely you are to find something useful. Also, the more likely you are the lose something useful…I suppose.

  3. I can see some benefits to the Guerrero signing. 22 years old and at AAA is not bad at all really. Maybe he can put it together. He still has some time. I think Ohio-Jim nailed the reason on the other thread for the swap of catchers, is that Graterol still has an option or 2 left.
    I had an oversight to the free agent list when I perused it last week, but now see that former RedSox player Brock Holt is a free agent. He is just 28. This might be one FA the Reds kick the tires on. We Reds fans have lobbied hard for him in the past. His versatility would play big with the 2017 Reds. He could hold 3B down until Senzel arrives and move Suarez to 2B, or keep Suarez at 3B and he could play 2B if Herrera isn’t ready and BP is gone. He can play all 3 OF positions, play LF if Duvall struggles early, can play CF if BHam gets hurt, and can play RF is Schebler struggles early. Versatility would be a key ingredient for the Reds in 2017 if they have B. Holt, Alcantara, and Irabarren on the roster.

  4. I don’t know I feel like Sampson was very inconsistent while at the majors. Yes it was a small sample size but I never felt comfortable with him coming in front the bullpen and I think he might have started a few games too. Not really that sad to see him go.

    I will say he performed a lot better at AAA though.

  5. Very interesting that Sampson went before Diaz.

    • Yes. Especially given where the Reds are at as a team.

    • I agree with Tom Diaz is not good.

      • I know the merits of Jumbo were talked about on previous threads, but this was the first thing that crossed my mind, too: As inconsistent — to put it nicely — as Sampson was, HE gets DFA’d and Jumbo stays?

        • I wouldn’t have DFA’d Sampson in this move either. And, being in danger of beating a dead horse, I’ll post some quick numbers.

          Diaz ERA 2014-2016: 3.38, 4.18, 3.14
          Sampson ERA 2015-2016: 6.54, 4.35
          Diaz xFIP 2014-2016: 3.17, 3.20, 4.60
          Sampson xFIP 2015-2016: 4.97, 5.34

          Diaz’ numbers have been better across the board. Diaz’ numbers were better than Cingrani’s the last three years as well according to xFIP. Yes he’s older than you’d like, but he’s still on a rookie contract so his production clearly outweighs his contract at this point.

          I honestly think people have a hard time seeing Diaz’ value and contributions to the team because he’s overweight and being overweight is tied to being lazy.

  6. Interesting that Reds are awarded a potential back up catcher on the day both Tony Cruz and Bryan Peña were “granted” free agency. I wouldn’t be surprised to see one of them or somebody similar in Reds ST camp on a minor league deal although I would hope DW sets his “third catcher” sites higher than either of them or the likes of Graterol since I doubt Mesoraco will be a significant contributor in 2017.

  7. Wake me when we make a move which actually generates a headline.

  8. Nothing to see here, people. Move along.

  9. The only positive aspect I see in this move is that Gabriel Guerrero is the nephew of Vladimir Guerrero. And Gabriel does not seem to be an OBP type guy.

  10. Hopefully the Reds have stopped looking for middle infielders. You never have enough pitching or power hitting corner infielders and outfielders.

  11. Here is an interesting move. The Brewers apparently going to non-tender slugging 1B Chris Carter (led the NL with 41 HR in 2016) rather than pay up in arbitration. Carter OPSed at .821 , OPS of +114. However his net WAR was 0.9 due to lousy defense. Regardless the estimates are he would have pulled a minimum of $8M to perhaps as much as $10M had he gone through the arbitration process.

  12. Not much to get worked up about on the acquisitions unless something eventually clicks with Guerrero whose main positive may be his young age. But Sampson DFA’d while Diaz stays on the 40 man roster is a head scratcher. Sampson was as good as or better than Cody Reed at AAA. That’s not to say he’ll automatically succeed in MLB, but he did have better results than Reed in Cincinnati. To my eye Sampson has a higher floor and a higher ceiling than Jumbo. Given the struggles of the pen and Diaz’ record of (negative) contribution, I’m disappointed by this move. I don’t think he’ll make it through but I hope somehow Sampson clears waivers.

    • That last line brings a thought to mind…….

      Perhaps Sampson has been deliberately exposed to see if anyone bites on
      the waiver wire. If they do, is there any possibility that the Reds would pull him back and discuss him as a trade element – even in the knowledge that they’d have to DFA another (more likely?) body in the short run to do so?

  13. I’m losing faith. I have defended trades and the plan but this makes no sense at all. The guys they chose not to protect on the 40 man only to do this. It should be illegal to mention Vlad and Gabby in the same sentence even if it was his son and not his nephew. Gabby has ZERO plate disclpline, no plate recognition whatsoever. He simply doesn’t see pitches, at all. That cant be fixed. He is basically a poor mans yorman, except yorman has produced more at higher levels. And they dfa D him only to do this. Baffling. Simply baffling.

    • A friend of mine mentioned this weekend that he thinks the Reds are going to be bad for a decade. Hard to argue against it.

      • I’ll tell you what I think in 2026…

      • I think mediocre for the next decade is far more probable. Their plan as I see it unfolding sets a high floor, but a low ceiling.

  14. I like the moves so far. Nothing earth-shattering, but I really like that the FO is not in love with mediocre young players or already past-prime prospects.

    They have cut lots of players I wanted cut. Josh Smith, a 30 year old 5.00 ERA pitcher that many loved for some strange reason. Ohlendorf, Sampson, Cabrera and several others. We have yet to lose anything of value for the rebuild.

    I can see losing Jumbo and his HR fueling arm, but he did manage to get ERA down after a good second half. Still, I don’t see much upside with him at his age, so cut away if a good Rule V player is ripe for picking.

    • I’m with you. I have no idea if Graterol or Guerrero will develop and-or contribute with the Reds, but we know what we have with Cabrera (decent bat, below-average defensive catcher) and Sampson (likely a career AAAA-type player at best). Nothing at all wrong with giving a couple of other similar players with some potential upside a chance to demonstrate higher value.

Comments are closed.

About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at


2016 Reds, 2017 Reds


, , , ,