2017 Reds / 2017 Spring Training

Reds designate Jumbo Diaz for assignment, claim 1B Christian Walker

As reported by the Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan:

Jumbo Diaz left for the World Baseball Classic yesterday, and today we discover that he has been designated for assignment:

The 33-year-old Diaz is out of options, and will have to be passed through waivers before he can be outrighted to the minors. He’d bounced between the majors and minors for much of the last three seasons, but managed to post a 3.65 ERA in 138 major-league innings. Still, he struggled with command and giving up the long ball.

The 25-year-old Walker is a former fourth-round pick of the Baltimore Orioles in 2012. He’s played mostly first base but transitioned to the outfield in 2016. He hit a offensive plateau the last two seasons, recording an OPS around .750 each year. The Orioles designated him for assignment early in spring, and the Braves claimed him off waivers as a result.

Since the departure of JJ Hoover from the Reds bullpen, Diaz has served as the whipping boy for a certain segment of Reds fans. I’d say Diaz has been unfairly maligned. Sure, he has had some disaster outings (how many relievers haven’t?), but over the last three years, Diaz has been a solid, somewhat above-average reliever (138 innings, 3.65 ERA, 110 ERA+, 144 strikeouts). Diaz has been a useful piece of the bullpen puzzle (especially considering the fact that he didn’t debut until age 30), though he’s an expendable piece, as well.

As Buchanan notes, however, this doesn’t necessarily mean that we’ve seen the end of Diaz in a Reds uniform. It’s conceivable (likely?) that Jumbo will clear waivers and accept assignment to AAA.

Stay tuned. I wouldn’t mind seeing Diaz back in Cincinnati at some point. I also won’t lose any sleep if he’s thrown his final pitch as a Red.

Our friend Doug Gray has lots of thoughts on Jumbo, which I encourage you to read here. He also has this to say about new Red Christian Walker:

Getting back to Christian Walker, he’s spent parts of two seasons in the big leagues. In 2014 and 2015 he played in 13 total games with the Orioles, hitting .148/.258/.296 in 31 plate appearances. Last season he was in Triple-A Norfolk all season. In 552 plate appearances he hit .264/.321/.437 with 29 doubles, two triples and 18 home runs. He struggled with plate discipline, walking just 40 times and striking out 138 times.

Christian Walker will be 26-years-old this season. He’s got good power in his bat, and there’s more in there than he’s shown if he can figure out a way to make more contact. He’s a poor outfielder and a solid first baseman when it comes to the defensive side of things. I actually wrote about him when he was designated for assignment two weeks ago and the Reds passed. The best argument at the time was that he had big home/road splits, and his home park is known to sap power. On the road he hit .274/.321/.520 with 15 home runs. At home he hit just .254/.320/.355 with three home runs.

With all of that said, Christian Walker’s best bet to help the team is as a pinch hitter. He’s not going to bring any defensive value or base running value. He’s not going to be starting over Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler or Joey Votto. If one of the corner outfielders isn’t producing the team will turn to Jesse Winker.

As always, go read the entire piece.

So there you have it. We’ll talk about it because we’re eager to discuss anything surrounding the Reds, but what we’re essentially discussing is a contender for the last spot in the Reds bullpen and a waiver claim who might be able to sneak his way onto the roster as the 25th guy. Not earth-shattering either way.

28 thoughts on “Reds designate Jumbo Diaz for assignment, claim 1B Christian Walker

  1. I was listening to the game the other day that he turned from an 8-0 lead to an 8-4 HR derby… Marty was quite perturbed as usual. He was surmising that the bullpen is in good enough shape this year that such performances won’t fly… and well, I guess not.

    If Jumbo is gone for good, I won’t miss him too much. Fair or not, I have have associated with losing more than winning. I’m willing to have others get a turn.

  2. If he makes the team, he’s a legit backup for Joey at first. This time of year though, I don’t get very excited about fringe guys coming and going.

  3. It’s probably confirmation bias on my part, but I think that the Reds have a better than average record when it comes to waiver claims fringe players. Does this comport with anyone else?

    When I was a kid, and if I’m honest up to about 10 years ago I was desperately grateful for any Reds news during the off-season. Even early spring training did not have a lot of interesting news unless a player was holding out injured or newly traded.

    Now we have sites like this and redsminorleague.com to get us through the rough patches

    • Short answer is they have other guys who they wanted/ needed on the 40 man more than Walker at this point. This is a very fluid time of year for the back end of rosters with a lot of coming and going, Maybe the Braves juit wanted to get a first hand look at him and were unimpressed. Maybe they claimed him only for potential organizational depth and intended to waive him all along in hopes of slipping him through waivers

      It is not all that unusual for a player aging past prospect status to be dropped from a 40 man roster with options remaining. Tony Renda had multiple options remaining during the off season when Reds outrighted him off of their 40 man roster. Same for Jon Moscot who is recovering from TJ surgery and was outrighted. Yet, here Renda is several months later in the Reds camp very much in competition for a bench spot with the 2017 Reds. If he wins a spot, somebody else will come up short in the game of musical chairs and be off the 40 man to make room for him to come back on.

  4. Jumbo gots to go!! Good call!! He was decent when he threw 100 but hangs too many sliders in big spots! Make sure youth is served and he’s 33!

  5. Not sure why we need a back up 1B. Flexibility is key on the bench and he’s pretty much limited to 1B (got this guy named Votto who’s pretty good), or a subpar outfielder. Good but not great power. I don’t really get it.

  6. If Winker keeps hitting in spring training, maybe the Adam Duvall trade watch is starting. 3-4 teams are very interested in Duvall. Duvall, other than Iribarren, is only backup 1B Reds have.

    • I’d trade Schebler before I’d give up on Duvall. Duvall doesn’t have crazy splits like Schebler. Duvall has a 3b arm too….better for RF!

    • Hey — Where did you see that teams are interested in Duvall? Genuinely interested as I must have missed it.

  7. I’m probably one of the few who hate to see him go, especially for a guy with very limited flexibility. I’m very familiar with Walker. The guy hits better than his numbers the past couple years in the O’s system. That said, he really is limited to 1B and he doesn’t hit well enough to be a starting 1B. I’m not really sure what the Reds are thinking here aside from they think they have better options for the pen. I’m not so sure they do but whatever.

    • Kivlehan is having a good spring. Maybe Walker is seen as organizational depth in case Kivlehan ends up making the Reds or as sweetener in a deal of some sort?

    • Assuming Herrera and Winker start in AAA, there are really only 2 bench guys on the 40 man in Alcantara and Tucker. So they are gonna have to start clearing some spots on the 40 man just to fill out the opening day roster.

      With Jumbo going to the WBC, they probably thought it was a good time to try to run him through. And if they lose him, well they were gonna have to lose somebody anyway. They decided to take a flyer on a possible bench bat, but Walker is probably just a placeholder and someone like Jennings or Rayburn will get that spot.

      All the more reason to start Herrera in the majors on opening day and give he, Peraza, and Cozart each 4 starts per week. The 40 man roster is getting crowded.

  8. This Reds management team has proved VERY adept at managing the 40-man roster during the off season. The timing of the DFA and the claim for a backup 1B with very limited appeal as a hitter just screams manuvering to clear a 40-man roster spot they are going to need later this spring. I really think the Reds are simply trying to slid the big guy through waivers and keep him available for final roster moves at the end of spring training or during the season if a reliever falters or an injury dictates a roster move in the bullpen.

    I just don’t see any efficacy in claiming Walker, other than he will be an easy DFA down the road and they won’t care at all if they lose him on a waiver claim. He may actually be outright released since the Reds are probably going to need playing time for actual prospects in AAA and AA and 1B provides a good option for keeping guys in the lineup and getting them PA’s.

  9. I won’t miss him. If the Reds pick him back up he’ll just hang out in Louisville. Jumbo is a fringe player at best nothing to get overly excited about. Pretty sure nobody is canceling their season tickets over this.

  10. Front Office is suppossed to manage the roster (?), however I can’t understand how come they DFAd Selsky back in January after the trade with Marlins instead of Jumbo at the time, somebody explains.

    • Biggest reason was probably questions about who they could trust in the bullpen. I keep hearing about how horrible Jumbo was but the numbers don’t back those accusations up. It did seem like he gave up the gopher ball(s) at just about the worst time and when he get hit, he got hit hard. Overall however, he has been an above average MLB relief pitcher. 3-3 with a save. 138 IP, 3.65 ERA, 9.39 K/9, 3.33 BB/9, 4.13 FIP, 3.63 xFIP. Last year his ERA was a lot better than his peripherals and his K and BB rates trended in the wrong direction. Could be a sign of him going in the tank but the sample size is 43 IP.

      Apparently the Reds feel they have better bullpen options but they may not have been as comfortable about that idea back when Selsky was DFA

      • The Straily trade and Jumbo’s non-performance sealed his fate. When the Reds got Austin Brice from Miami, it made Jumbo expendable if he wasn’t performing. He got pounded.
        I think the Reds decided to roll the dice, DFA him, and see if he is still there after he goes through waivers. If he is, fine. If he isn’t, then oh well.
        I think also, that some of the minor leaguers have looked good so far in the 3 weeks the Reds have been in camp. Like you said, better options. And only 2 spots to fill if Brice is included, 3 if he is not. Lots of guys to still look at.

        • If all the Reds BP options are better than Diaz, that’s a good thing for the Reds.

        • Forgot about Storen, so it may only be one spot open, 2 without Brice. That’s a lot of competition for 1 or 2 spots even without Jumbo.

  11. I have been screaming for this move for awhile glad Dick Williams finally heard me!! Jumbo’s better numbers have always came after he done gave the game away!! Three K’S in a row ain’t worth nothing after you done gave the lead away with a 3 bomb lol!! I see this Walker kid probably going to Pensacola to start the season because I feel like we really need to start grooming another everyday 1B!!

    • He has 3 losses on his record. He apparently didn’t blow a ton of games. I’m not sure why people dislike him so much. His biggest issue has been he gives up more than his fair share of HR. Overall however, he hasn’t been nearly as bad as some people seem to think he’s been.

      • People remember the HRs and not so much the walks, hit batters, and wild pitches etc that position runners to score on otherwise benign quiet grounders that just slip through the infield to score runs sometimes written off to bad baseball luck..

        • I think it’s what sticks in your brain. My recollections are the home runs, so his overall numbers surprise me. My recollection of Suarez as a shortstop is all of the errors. He may or may not have been as bad a SS as I thought he was.

      • Ya I never got all the Jumbo hate. Ya he gave up a some home runs. Everybody does. My guess is a lot of people judged him on his body type.

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