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.