The Cincinnati Reds were busy this afternoon, making a full set of moves. They announced via twitter that they have claimed outfielder Nick Martini off of waivers from the San Diego Padres and that they traded for right-handed pitcher Justin Shafer from the Toronto Blue Jays in exchange for cash. I still don’t understand why we don’t just say that teams bought a contract in that situation, but I don’t make the rules.

To make room on the 40-man roster, the Reds designated two players for assignment. Right-handed reliever Jimmy Herget and outfielder Brian O’Grady are now on waivers. O’Grady is currently playing winter ball in the Dominican Republic for Aguilas Cibaenas where he’s posted a .750 OPS through 13 games played with 10 walks, two doubles, and two home runs.

Let’s start off by looking at outfielder Nick Martini. He’s a 29-year-old left-handed hitting outfielder who has only spent parts of two seasons in the Major Leagues. In 2018 and part of 2019 he played with the Oakland Athletics. During the 2018 season he hit .296/.397/.414 in 179 plate appearances. This season with Oakland he went 1-11 before being placed on waivers and picked up by the San Diego Padres. He played down the stretch for San Diego. In 96 plate appearances he hit .244/.344/.317.

At the plate he shows the ability to walk and get on base. There’s not a lot of power in his bat, though. He’s never reached double digit home runs in his career in a given season. This past season in Triple-A Las Vegas he hit .328/.432/.482 with 49 walks and 51 strikeouts in 329 plate appearances. Originally drafted by St. Louis in the 7th round, he’s added some power as he’s come through the minors, but it’s still not a part of his game.

Over the last two seasons, which is as far back as I chose to go, Nick Martini shows pretty big splits at the plate. Let’s take a closer look.

Against right-handed pitching, Nick Martini has actually been pretty good. He draws a bunch of walks, makes contact at an above-average rate, has hit for average, and shown enough pop to make pitchers respect him a little bit. As a platoon guy, that could certainly be useful.

When it comes to the defensive side of things, he’s played left, center, right, and first base in recent years. In the Major Leagues almost all of his time has come in center, with 496 of his 514 innings coming in left. It’s possible he could be an emergency center fielder, but he’s only played in 40 innings in center since the start of 2017.

For funsies – he has also pitched a few times in his career. And that includes a hitless inning for Oakland in 2019. He also walked two batters and struck out a batter in that inning. His average fastball velocity? 68 MPH. Eat your hearts out. Oh, and Nick Martini has one option remaining – so he can head to the minor leagues in 2020 if necessary.

Justin Shafer is coming over from Toronto. The 27-year-old right handed reliever spent 2019 splitting time between Triple-A and the Major Leagues. In Triple-A he posted a 3.52 ERA in 30.2 innings with eight walks and 35 strikeouts. While with Toronto his ERA was similar – posting a 3.86 mark in 39.2 innings, but his walk rate ballooned as he handed out 25 free passes. That did come with 39 strikeouts, though, as he continued to miss bats.

Shafer brings with him a five pitch mix, though he rarely uses his change up. What he does rely on is a mix of a 4-seam fastball, cutter, slider, and a sinker. That’s not something you often see from a reliever. His fastball averages 95 MPH and topped out at 97.2 during the 2019 season. His change up and slider both work in the mid 80’s, and his cutter come in around 89-91. According to Fangraphs pitch values, his 4-seamer and his sinker are above-average offerings, while the slider was well below-average.

An interesting note on Justin Shafer is that until mid-season of 2018 he was a big time groundball pitcher, with a career rate of 56%. But since the mid-season point of 2018 that rate has shot down to 37%.

Nick Martini’s Baseball Reference page and stats can be found here. And the Baseball Reference page for Justin Shafer can be found here.

21 Responses

  1. Hotto4Votto

    Not much to see here other than roster churn at the fringes. Happens every year, these guys aren’t likely to stick around all winter.
    Schaffer with 32 BBs in 48 IP with a 1.64 WHIP. Not sure what the Reds see here other than big K numbers. And not sure why Herget was the roster casualty over guys like Smith, Romano, or Alaniz. Martini makes even less sense to me, seems he’s a poor man’s version of Winker.

    Oh well. Nothing to get excited about or worked up over either way.

    • Northern Ky reds

      Not sure what’s going on. We have to stop making these meaningless moves. I guess we’ll wait until the end of free agency to get something done. For once just get who you want and stop being cheap. Our reputation around baseball is just horrible .

      • BhamRedsFan

        Yes because almost all free agents have signed.

      • Charles Lackey

        Reds do a lot of talking and do nothing as far as getting top players on the team. They admit they have enough players to sign and trade but they rather sign 2nd or lower tier players. WHY?

      • Doug Gray

        Neither of these players were signed. Both were incredibly low cost acquisitions. Every team in baseball makes these kinds of move five times every single offseason just about. If the Reds have done nothing but these kinds of moves come March, complain. When two teams have signed actual free agents at this point in the offseason, you’re getting ahead of your skis a bit on the complaining that the Reds “do a lot of talking and do nothing” part.

    • Scott C

      I agree, I was bewildered too. More so in who was DFA’s rather than who was picked up. “Nothing to see here. These aren’t the droids you were looking for.”

  2. Tom Mitsoff

    It’s fair to say that Martini’s OBP was what attracted the Reds. They are certainly searching everywhere for players who can get on base.

    • Matt WI

      Inclined to agree. There are worse skill sets to collect.

  3. Clammy

    Surprised they let O’Grady go instead of Schebler. Although Schebler might be a better defender, O’grady is younger and had a much better year, especially power numbers.

    • Hotto4Votto

      Good point about Schebler. O’Grady s versatility and options would seem to make him a better roster fit. Not to mention he’s not coming off a dreadful year and surgery like Schebler. .

      • Still a Red

        If Schebler were to clear waiver, he could walk.

  4. Doug Gray

    More contact, more on-base instead of a little more defense, way more power, and way less contact?

    • Doug Gray

      I have no clue, RojoBenjy – I was simply trying to come up with a reason why.

      I would have preferred to keep O’Grady. To me, I’ll trade off the power, speed, and defense for O’Grady over what Martini brings.

      But, I can understand why someone would feel more comfortable with Martini as a bench/platoon guy, too.

  5. MBS

    I liked both O’Grady and Herget, but neither have faired well in the Majors. They both will probably remain in the organization.

    • Jim m

      The Reds already got an outfielder from the Padres just recently. Now another one? Whats the diff between Travis Jankowski and now Martini? Both are left handed hitting bench type outfielders…

  6. Ryan

    Could Maratini be a possible platoon partner with Aquino? Brings the exact opposite of Aquino. Lack of power but solid plate discipline.

  7. SteveLV

    A question, Doug. Do you know if Boddy’s role includes pitcher selection or is he just coaching who the Reds give him? I could ask the same of Johnson, but assume he is consulted on moves.

  8. RedNat

    The reds simply won’t give up on schebler. Got to hand it to them

  9. Jefferson Green

    While Herget may wind up developing a bit more and becoming a solid middle reliever, his stats seem to point to a guy for whom there is a lot of doubt as to whether he can ever be particularly effective in MLB (more of a typical AAAA player who doesn’t quite have the ‘stuff’). Getting a pitcher with a little more ‘stuff’ to work with seems like an decent chance to take, especially with this coaching staff.

    As for having to DFA O’Grady, the Reds must have internal data that points to Martini being a better bet. They may also be hoping that at this time of year they can sneak O’G through waivers and keep him. Overall, the kinds of moves that rarely have big impact in isolation, but do matter in the big picture as competent depth and upside development of players has to happen in enough cases to strengthen the team in aggregate.

  10. earl

    These deals are mostly about depth as I don’t think they are 40 man roster players. I’d imagine they will be in Louisville unless something happens like team injury or improvement on the player.