The Cincinnati Reds have signed utility infielder Derek Dietrich to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training. First reported by Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic.

Dietrich (29) is a left-handed batter. He can play anywhere in the infield except for shortstop. He played quite a bit of LF for the Marlins. So he has a lot of utility. The Reds have salary space to take on Dietrich’s $2 million major league contract if he makes the team.

Dietrich has a more than solid bat. He hit .265/.330/.421 for the Marlins last year.

What really catches the eye is his road split (away from mammoth Marlins Park) of .290/.363/.496 and a wRC+ of 133. For comparison, Joey Votto’s wRC+ was 131 last year, Eugenio Suarez was 135 and Scooter Gennett was 125.

Dietrich isn’t a plus defender at any position.

First impression, this is an outstanding signing by the Reds. Dietrich has a great chance of making the team. At a minimum, he’s insurance for Alex Blandino who is recovering from injury. Dietrich would be a great veteran bat on the bench. His availability gives the Reds huge lee-way to make another deal.

55 Responses

  1. Matt WI

    Seriously. How are so many other teams asleep at the wheel.? He’s not a world beater, but this is a guy that probably shouldn’t have been able to be signed at this point, much less to a minor league deal. Look out, Blandino.

    • SultanofSwaff

      Agreed, it’s a head scratcher. You’d think the bottom feeders would be all over this guy.

  2. Oldtimer

    By huge deal, I suppose that means Scooter Gennett. But Gennett >>>>> Dietrich. And Kemp >>> Dietrich, too. Gennett and Kemp were 2018 NL All-Stars. Dietrich is utility INF/OF.

  3. Steven Offenbaker

    With a 13 man man pitching staff the only way he can make the team is if they send Senzel to AAA, trade Kemp, or Blandino is not ready or sent down. I like this signing, I hope they find a way to keep him.

  4. Scooter Rolen

    Great signing to add major league depth. Could definitely be a nice bat off the bench, especially if the road splits carry over! Front office has really had a fine offseason.

  5. Matt Hendley

    I think he will be the star of the LOU Bats until a trade or injury. Blandino can play short so he is safe. Could be wrong though.

  6. Brad

    I appreciate how Reds are adding a year of development for guys that may have been promoted too early. Guys like Blandino, Ervin Mahle, Romano, etc all get another year at AAA, save service time, improve (in theory.) A $2M one-year deal for a guy like Dietrich merely replaces an Arb 2 or 3 deal for someone like Blandino. Instead of that year being 2024, now it becomes 2025 as Blandino will more than likely not accrue a full season of service time in 2019. Similar concept for Ervin, Mahle, Romano and other due to the one year offerings to Roark, Wood, Puig, Kemp.

    Overall, have to like what Reds front office has done to work toward a .500 team in 2019. Spend some money to appease a fan base. Not mortgage future by retaiing top 6-7 prospects. Trade for players than can be flipped at July trade deadline (Kemp, Puig, Wood, Roark, Dietrich) and save ~$17-18M (if anyone would take Kemps remaing $, which they wont). Masterful combination of understanding business side by baseball side.

    I am hoping for a 78-win pace. Dont think they can get to 88-wins and a Wild Card. Would rather they be far enough off to sell in July and replace the Gray, Downs, Long, Rainey spots with a similar player for each of Kemp, Puig, Wood, Roark, Dietrich and potentially Gennett.

    • Mason Red

      I just have to ask if you really think the Reds made the offseason moves just to hopefully improve to 78 wins? And you really want them to be “far enough off to sell in July”? I’d rather see them “far enough in” to be buying in July. I understand about being realistic and I don’t expect worst to first but I am hoping this team to be at least in the Wild Card conversation.

      • Matt Hendley

        Speak for yourself, i am calling it now, wire to wire

      • Shchi Cossack

        The Old Cossack calls shotgun!!!

      • Bill

        I’m all in with Matt and the Cossack.

  7. Jordan Barhorst

    The fact that he can’t play short means one of three things:

    1) They’re planning on using him to be a lefty bat off the bench, which means one of Schebler or Kemp are gone
    2) They’re planning on moving Scooter, who has a very similar profile to Dietrich
    3) He’s the most talented “camp depth” the Reds have had maybe ever

    • Matt WI

      I’ll hope it’s option #3. Beats “having Jack for that.”

      • D Ray White

        Oh God, that utterance never gets old. Thanks Walt, just thanks.

        That said, I like this signing. The key to building a successful organization is acquiring useful players and putting them in positions where they can maximize their skills. The NFL Pats have built a dynasty this way. Dietrich has some useful skills, and provides insurance in case Blandino can’t go. I like a roster with flexibility. Dietrich provides that. Shrewd signing. It’ll be even better if the Reds can find a decent deal for Scooter and slide Senzel into 2nd.

  8. WVRedlegs

    I would suspect that when position players reported Blandino might not have been as far along in his rehab as had been hoped for.
    This also signals that Senzel won’t be on the opening day roster.
    If it is going to be a 4 man bench with 1 C, they will need bench versatility.

  9. AllTheHype

    Dietrich’s defensive metrics are somewhere between bad and horrible at every position he plays. With 13 pitchers, there is only 1 positional bench spot avail (other 3 are backup C, 5 OFs incl Senzel at some point in April). Unless the team thinks Senzel is the backup SS (doubtful), there’s no room for Dietrich barring injury. He’s too defensively challenged to warrant a spot.

  10. Eric Wormus

    I don’t think this signing tells us anything about Blandino. Dietrich isn’t good defensively and has no chance to back up SS. If they were concerned about Blandino I think you’d see them go out and sign Jose Iglesias. I can’t imagine he’d end up signing for much more, if any more, than Dietrich.

    Dietrich/Scooter/Schebler are all in certain ways kind of redundant. If Ervin isn’t on the 25 man roster, the team still doesn’t have a regular CF let alone a back up CF on the roster, and if Dietrich takes Blandino’s roster spot, they won’t have a backup SS either. I can see how Senzel could slide from 2B to SS to give Peraza a day off with Dietrich playing 2B on those days, but that would mean Senzel is the every day 2B. I can’t see how starting CF’er Nick Senzel would also back up Peraza at SS, but I guess anything is possible. This team is certainly going to hit.

  11. Steve Mancuso

    If the Reds think that Suarez can play SS for a few weeks if necessary, they could decide to go with Dietrich as the sole IF bench guy. Blandino to AAA.

  12. Matt Hendley

    There is of course the option that detrich goes to the minors himself…can play every day, work on defense every day. Make him a better defender and then bring him back up.

    • AllTheHype

      At 29 and six seasons in MLB, I don’t think he’s going to magically improve defensively with a little extra work. It’s safe to assume he’s reached the peak that his talent provides defensively.

      • Matt WI

        Agree. He’s beyond “project” status at this point.

    • jazzmanbbfan

      Nice thought Matt but I’m guessing at age 39, he is what he is as a defender and time at AAA isn’t going to make him appreciably better. I suppose it’s just a matter of opinion, or something, but do the Reds really need to carry 13 pitchers, especially to start the season

  13. SaveTheFarm

    Am i the only one who thinks there is no way they break camp with Kemp on the roster? Counting Senzel that’s five outfielders, I don’t see that working out too well. You have to play Puig and Winker almost every day. I would bet that Kemp goes to an AL team as mainly a DH.

    • AllTheHype

      Possible, but if it hasn’t happened by now, not probable.

    • Matt WI

      I’m afraid there are about $20 mil reasons he stays on the roster. Yes, less the money the Dodgers gave I suppose… it’d be very interesting if another team took on much of that contract until they see him in action again.

      • SaveTheFarm

        I think San Diego is paying part of his salary, the Dodgers are paying part, and the Reds would probably have to pay part too if they traded him. He was amazing for most of the season last year and I think he would kill it here….but who sits? Winker needs the playing time and Puig is a better defender than Kemp. I have been wrong before but I think they try to ship him somewhere else.

      • Colorado Red

        Bottom line,
        The Reds are paying 14 mill.
        Anything SD is paying, is part of the 7 mil.

    • greenmtred

      I wonder if the answer to this hinges on whether or not Senzel looks like the starting centerfielder? If not, Kemp isn’t so redundant, since Puig or Schebler would likely play center and a corner spot would open up.

    • D Ray White

      Kemp to the AL is the obvious choice. If he starts out hot he could be flipped to a DH/outfield needy team for a decent-ish prospect, more so if the Reds provide some salary relief. Gennett fits the same scheme, only IF/DH.

    • Bob Purkey

      I agree, but the Reds would have to absorb a lot of that money, so I tend to think that it will be Schebler

  14. scottya

    Love this signing! I can’t believe we got him on a minor’s deal. WRC+ on the road of 133!

    Dietrich can back up Votto at first, Scooter at second and Suarez at third. He also can fill in the corner outfield.

    • scottya

      Is it possible that roster’s move to the rumored 26 before the 19′ season? I’m asking, i’ve read that is one of the players proposals.

      Either way Blandino can hang in AAA as needed as far as I’m concerned.

      • AllTheHype

        MLBPA would love to have rosters at 26. But MLB has no incentive to do it now. They’ll keep it in their back pocket as a concession item for next CBA.

  15. Matt Hendley

    LHP- winker, puig, kemp RHP- winker , schebler, puig- to start the season. There are these things called injuries as well. A backlog is better then forcing the likes of mason williams and detrich taking everydays in the corner.

  16. Sliotar

    Dietrich had 3 of his 4 greatest of months of wRC+ on the road, ever in his career, in 2018.

    wRC+ by month in 2018
    Mar/Apr 2 (51 plate appearances)
    May 200 (44)
    June 231 (62)
    July 172 (41)
    August 91 (45)
    Sept/Oct 74 (35)

    wRC+ by Month Overall in 2018
    Mar/Apr 78 (123)
    May 152 (81)
    June 165 (107)
    July 92 (91)
    August 81 (96)
    Sept/Oct 77 (53)

    Thanks….FanGraphs Splits Tool.

  17. Sliotar

    Dietrich faded in last half of season, aging, sub-par defender.

    Zero risk in bringing him in on a minor-league deal.

    However, the notion that guys signed for millions, established in the infield, coud be bumped/moved/moved around feels like envisioning somethng that really isn’t likely to happen.

    Other teams are actively shying away from most guys around 30, producing less than 1 WAR, like Dietrich is.

  18. Tom

    Solid depth signing, especially if Blandino isn’t ready.

    Man, I love how we’re all arguing over the best options for the bench. What a good problem to have.

  19. scottya

    Bench: Really a strong offensive bench.
    Kemp WRC+ 107/122
    Schebler WRC+ 98/109
    Dietrich WRC+ 102/109
    Farmer WRC+ 79/76 & 104 in AAA
    Casali – DL
    Blandino – DL/AAA

    • greenmtred

      It would be nice if there were a good glove or two on the roster, if only for late innings. But it does seem likely that they’ll hit.

  20. Choo Choo Coleman

    Great sign! Big pop in that bat! Frees Reds up for one more big trade… Schebler or Gennet & reliever to CLE for Greg Allen, Yu Chang & prospect or Gennett & Reliever to LAD for Joc Pederson & prospect!

    • LWBlogger2

      If I thought Joc Pederson could play CF regularly then I could maybe, maybe, maybe see it if I squinted really hard.

  21. scottya

    More stats for the old school types:

    Derek Dietrich Road Numbers: 966 AB’s, 39 HR’s 114 RBI’s, .351 OBP, .465 SLG & .816 OPS

    “Age 29” season in 2019.

  22. Chris

    This team is creating a serious logjam – a problem magnified by the apparent insistence on carrying 8 relief pitchers. There’s a ton of position-player talent, but the pieces don’t exactly fit together.

    Starters:
    Barnhart
    Votto
    Scooter
    Peraza
    Suarez
    Winker
    Senzel
    Puig

    Backup C: Casali

    Three from this group:
    Kemp (LF, RF)
    Schebler (OF)
    Connor(-Eyed) Joe (Rule 5 pick – 1b, 3b, OF, possible C)
    Dietrich (2b, 3b, OF)
    Blandino (all)
    Ervin (OF)

    I really don’t see it adding up. They *really* need to go with seven relievers (or six!) — they’re supposed to have a good rotation now, right? *And* maybe still find a trade partner for Matt Kemp.

    • Matt Hendley

      Detrick is on a minors deal, will have to prove he belongs in the majors. Joe is a rule 5, can be returned just like that, blandino may be injured and ervin legitimately needs work on his defense perhaps in AAA. Schebler and Kemp create the strongest 4th and 5th OF in the majors.

    • BK

      Senzel or Suarez can play SS on occasion with Blandino and Trahan at Louisville. Connor Joe’s 40-man spot goes to Dietrich unless Casali opens the season on the DL. Having legitimate ML talent on the bench is a plus: regulars get planned days off, team prepped for inevitable injuries. A bench of lefties Schebler and Dietrech paired with righties Kemp and Casali is formidable.

  23. Matt Hendley

    Puigs making the push for an extension it would seem, or simply saying all the right things.

  24. Sliotar

    “Schebler and Kemp create the strongest 4th and 5th OF in the majors”

    Holy hyperbole, Batman.

    Never did I think a minor-league signing of a marginal guy from a tanking team would spark the comments I have seen here and on Twitter today.

    IMO, Kemp and Schebler are no better than 3rd best reserve OFs …. in the division. Maybe the worst.

    Better (easily)
    CHI- Happ and Zobrist (once Russell returns from suspenion, Baez then to 2nd)
    STL- Jose Martinez and Tyler O’Neill (young and + defender)

    Arguable
    MIL- Gamel and Thames (though he wasn’t horrible in the field)
    PIT- Chisenall and Reyes (meh and meh)

    Kemp is in his age 35 season, projected at 0.5 WAR (Depth Charts) and 0.2 WAR (Steamer)

    The idea of someone else wanting him, even to DH, feels remote without the Reds basically eating virtually all of the salary, like they did with Brandon Phillips.

    • BK

      I’m sure the Reds would move him (ans eat significant salary) if an offer came back with some value. Who knows, maybe Connor Joe forces the Reds to drop their price. That said, I look forward to seeing Kemp come off the bench and mash lefty relievers this season.

    • Matt Hendley

      Jose martinez is a 1st baseman….on a good day, and a DH on a bad one. He can mash…but so could thames. I thought Happ was a regular and Zobrist defenatly gets enough time to be considered one. Still think kemp os worth keeping for PH and the occasional start against lefty’s

    • Tampa Red

      You have an interesting way of defining “4th and 5th OF”

      Zobrist started 64 games in the outfield and Happ 88. And those are just the starts. Do those numbers scream 4th and 5th OF? No, of course they don’t. The Cubs don’t really have a single, everyday outfielder, not in the traditional sense. As a whole, I’m not really sure whose OF I’d prefer going into 2019, Cubs or Reds. I like them both, but if Senzel turns out to be a legit big league CF, then I think I’d prefer the Reds.

      Jose Martinez is an awful, terrible, rotten OF’er and the Cardinals really don’t even plan in using him in the OF this season. Tyler O’Neill is a decent prospect, who also struck out 77 times in 270 AB’s. If you think those two are better than Kemp and Schebler, then I want some of what you’re smoking.

  25. Mark

    I think a trade is being worked on but who and for what is the question?

  26. Shchi Cossack

    The potential Dietrich (age 29) signing and the Joe (age 26) acquisition in the rule 5 draft present some interesting opportunities and possibilities if DW and DB can find a way to keep either or both players thru the 2019 season. I don’t see any imminent trade indicated by the potential Dietrich signing to a minor league contract. That was simply an opportunity seized by DW and NK when the availability of Dietrich on a minor league deal became available.

    Dietrich away OPS against MLB pitching:
    2013 (.732 in 111 PA)
    2014 (.733 in 88 PA)
    2015 (.860 in 143 PA)
    2016 (.811 in 231 PA)
    2017 (.811 in 242 PA)
    2018 (.859 in 278 PA)
    Career (.816 in 1093 PA)

    Joe in 1018 against AA/AAA pitching:
    .299/.408/.527/.935 in 435 PA

    Dietrich can flat out hit at the MLB level, just not so much in the atrocious monstrosity of a stadium in MIA. How much offensive improvement could he achieve playing in the NLCD with home games in GABP? While a defensive liability at 2B & LF and a marginal defender at 3B & 1B, he can certainly provide defensive flexibility as a utility player. He’s still in his prime and with 2 seasons of team control via arbitration thru 2020. I’ve not seen any indication of a possible opt out in his proposed contract, but that could certainly be a possibility.

    Joe had a fabulous season in 2018 at the upper levels of MiBL, but those 435 PA could simply be an outlier. They could also be an indication that the young player finally began fulfilling his 1st round draftee. The really interesting aspect of his 2018 season was the possibility that he might be capable of hitting MLB pitching as a rule 5 draftee. He’s a defensive liability but provides defensive flexibility for a corner IF and OF positions as a utility player. The key could really come down to his ability to catch as a 3rd catcher on the 25-man roster, freeing up Barnhart or Casali as an additional PH when not starting.

    The outlook for starting the season on the 25-man roster looks cloudy for Blandino and Casali, creating a possible opportunity for both Dietrich and Joe to make the 25-man roster coming out of ST. The Reds also have options for short-term coverage at SS if Peraza is unable to take the field defensively. That could be a ticket to AAA for Blandino once he is activated from the IL or even to begin the season. The Reds must be willing to carry 5 utility players (7 relievers) for Joe to remain on the 25-man roster when Casali is healthy. Casali and Barnhart are both under team control thru 2021 with Stephenson progressing up thru the minors, but Joe’s long-term role at the MLB level is probably as a utility player, but that emergency backup cat c her role can be a real asset for a talented manager.

    The Reds would (and should) certainly listen on offers for Schebler and/or Kemp, but I hope both OF are on the 25-man roster when the 2019 season begins. I believe playing time will be at a premium for both Schebler and Kemp, with Winker, Senzel and Puig getting the bulk of playing time across the OF grass, but Schebler and Kemp could provide significant contributions as primary power bats off the bench.

    Both Dietrich and Joe will have something to prove in ST and possibly early in the season if they hope to contribute at the MLB level for the Reds.

  27. old-school

    The Reds have more money to spend. Craig Kimbrell is not getting an Aroldis contract. His only chance to save face is AAV. Sign him to a 2 year $30 million contract with $1 million in incentives for All star per year. He pitches when David Bell needs him. David Hernandez and a few others might not replicate their 2018 seasons.

    • Matt Hendley

      Not the worst idea. I bet kimbrel has contracts in hand already and is waiting, *sigh like the rest of us, for the manny brice saga to play out