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.

25 Responses

  1. 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.

  2. 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.

      • Bill

        I’m all in with Matt and the Cossack.

  3. 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

    • 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.

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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.

    • 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.

    • 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.

  7. 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.

  8. 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.

  9. 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

  10. 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.

  11. SultanofSwaff

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

  12. 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

  13. 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!

  14. 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.

  15. 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.


    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.

  16. Mark

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

  17. 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.