A busy January continued for the Reds on Monday as they checked another item off the wish list by signing outfielder Fred Lewis to a one-year contract worth $900,000. …
“I think I’m done,” Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. “These are a couple of pieces we felt we needed.”
The Reds were in search of a left-handed-hitting outfielder for the bench and a potential leadoff hitter and the club has nabbed both with the 30-year-old Lewis, who was given a big league contract.
Lewis was signed over fellow free-agent outfielder Scott Podsednik, a veteran lefty leadoff hitter who was also courted.
“We felt we had more upside with Lewis, both with his age and in having control over him for a longer period of time,” Jocketty said. “We liked his all-around game. We think he’ll fit in well with our club. He feels he’s capable of stealing more bases than he did. I’m anxious to see what he can do. He’ll be a fun guy to watch.”
Quick and dirty analysis: I like the signing. Certainly, I prefer Lewis to Podsednik, for what that’s worth. Lewis plays all three outfield positions, but we can expect to see him primarily as the left-handed part of a platoon with Jonny Gomes in left (although I’d prefer he platoon with Chris Heisey, frankly).
Defensively, opinions vary, but he’s probably somewhere around average. Offensively, Lewis hits for very little power, but he gets on base at a decent clip and runs well. Contract-wise, he’s inexpensive and the Reds will actually control Lewis through 2013 (through the arbitration process) if they choose to hang onto him.
This isn’t the big splash we were all hoping for in left field, but it’s a reasonable part of a patchwork solution out there.