As reported by Mark Sheldon:

As Spring Training nears, the Reds may be nearing another deal to address their bench. They are working on a Minor League deal with former Rays outfielder Desmond Jennings, a source confirmed to MLB.com.

Jennings, 30, spent all seven of his big league seasons with the Rays. He’s a career .245/.322/.393 hitter with 55 home runs in 567 games.

Injuries plagued Jennings during his last few years in Tampa Bay. In ’15, he was limited to 28 games because of left knee injuries and later a tooth infection that ended his season. In ’16, he was bothered by a left knee contusion and a hamstring injury, limiting him to 65 games. Jennings batted .200/.281/.350 last season with seven homers and 20 RBIs before he was released on Aug. 26.

Jennings is 30 years old, but he had three or four pretty effective seasons for the Rays from 2011 to 2014. His career slash line is .245/.322/.393. A good defensive player, he’s a candidate to be the fourth outfielder for the 2017 Reds…although I’d prefer Arismendy Alcantara, all things considered.

UPDATE: According to Jon Heyman, the Reds have signed Jennings. It’ll be a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

16 Responses

  1. Ethan L

    Perhaps he could be kind of a stopgap kinda guy. He could occupy the bench at the Big League level instead of having a younger guy be called up and get limited playing time. That way a guy like Winker, for example, could get more playing time in AAA until there’s room for him at the Big League level.

  2. cfd3000

    As long as he’s behind Hamilton, Duvall, Schebler and Winker on the depth chart I’m fine with this as an insurance policy / added depth move. Otherwise, what? It’s not quite like signing Chuck Knoblauch to compete for the second base starter’s slot with Brandon Phillips, but I don’t see how it adds anything either. Oh well. Pitchers and catchers soon, right?

  3. Daytonian

    Good piece. Good signing. Provides a capable fourth outfielder and adds strength to what had been a pretty weak bench. On a minor league contract, too. Nothing to complain about here.

  4. PDunc

    Jennings was a top-10 overall prospect in 2010. Averaged 3 fWAR from 2011-2014 playing LF and CF for the Rays then had injury issues in 2015 and 2016.
    If he shows he is past the injuries and can replicate something close the level of play he showed 2011-2014 then I think he could be a great addition backing up Hamilton in center and getting some time in the corners as well.

  5. Chuck Schick

    Why would you devote resources to the bench when you’re still trying to determine who can start? Jennings was a top prospect who is now willing to sign for nothing. Why wouldn’t you take a shot. If he sucks then you just move on.

    This is perhaps a 72-75 win team that needs to use this year to cement who has a future and who doesn’t. Their bench is irrelevant at this point.

    • redsfan2016

      There’s nothing wrong with signing him to a minor league deal with an invitation to Spring Training. This is exactly what the Reds should be doing. It is akin to the Bengals’ signing players with an invitation to Training Camp. I would much rather sign him for the league minimum, and have him surprise me, leading to a contract like you mentioned above. What if we signed Bourn and he made the team, but was getting paid a salary of $5MM? That doesn’t make any sense to sign someone for that kind of money to sit on the bench. If you find the logic behind the Arroyo deal, who has not pitched since 2014, then you have to find the logic behind this deal. It is a very similar situation, where you take a guy who has not played much the past couple of years due to injury, and give him a chance to compete. This is EXACTLY the type of a deal that Williams should be making.

    • Carl Sayre

      I would guess that to get Bourne even at the same money it would mean a Major League contract and that would mean exposing another prospect off of the 40 man roster? That is in the form of a question because I am unsure and I am also unsure that Jennings gets anymore than ML minimum? I see this as a very low risk to see if there is any reward!
      I have just a little more rambling but why not even if they sign Jennings to a minor league contract play BP in CF some during training? I am sure that sounds nuts but maybe the thought he might be the utility guy will make him more open to a trade?

  6. Scott Carter

    Let’s not forget that this is a MINOR league signing with an invite. It is possible he won’t even break camp with the team. It is possible that he will make the team and then be a bust during the season. (We have seen a bunch of those lately) And it is possible that he makes the team and reverts to something close to what he was before his injuries and becomes a solid utility OF for Reds. Just know way to know. The only thing I do know is that I don’t want to see Winkler’s service time wasted sitting on the bench. Although I would have been fine with Irribarren filling that role.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Scott, I think your perspective is right on. The Reds do not need any of their younger prospects sitting on the bench as pinch-hitters. Jennings is someone who they can take a look at, and if he can hit, then he has value as a reserve and as a pinch hitter. If not, he is released or goes to Louisville. No-brainer signing, as far as I am concerned.

  7. PDunc

    I’m not sure how this is a “zero upside signing.” This is a guy who, when healthy, has put up 3 fWAR per season. He shows during spring training he is no longer healthy then let him go, but if he looks healthy during ST then the upside could be a good outfielder at league minimum price.

  8. Jason Linden

    Consider that the Reds have at five players who figure to see time in the OF – Hamilton, Duvall, Schebler, Winker, and Peraza (assuming no trade of Cozart).

    Jennings is insurance and nothing else. He’s currently 6th on the depth chart, but if healthy can potentially provide ML value if one of the other players falters. There is no risk to this, he won’t make much if he does make the team and he’s unlikely to make the team at all.

  9. ohiojimw

    Perhaps he plays passably almost anywhere but isn’t quite elite at any spot. Sounds to me like it may be the old jack of all trades syndrome.

  10. Abdul

    The Reds amaze me. Why go out and purchase another contract for a 30 year old that has been injured for 3 years (Marshall, Bailey, Mesoroco)? Why not give one of your young players a chance that’s played in your organization? Geez, it’s tough being a Reds fan.

  11. ohiojimw

    IF (big if) 😉 Jennings makes the team and Cozart is moved putting Peraza at SS, Jennings becomes the back up CF and allows them to cover CF when Hamilton is down (as inevitably he will be from time to time) without disrupting the entire defensive alignment.