The Cincinnati Reds have re-signed Derek Dietrich for the 2020 season. The utility player signed a minor league deal and got an invitation to Major League spring training. He has been assigned the number 35 this year, according to Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic, as the number he wore last season was taken by Wade Miley.
Despite hitting just .187 last season, Derek Dietrich was still roughly a league average hitter overall thanks to a .328 on-base percentage and a .462 slugging percentage. A very large part of the value that Dietrich brought while at the plate was from being hit by a pitch – which happened an incredible 25 times in just 306 plate appearances – and hitting the ball into the stands. His 19 home runs was a new career high, and it came in much less playing time than he had the previous two years with Miami.
Much like last season, there’s not a clear path for Derek Dietrich to a job as a starter. Last season when spring training began, Dietrich, who had mostly played second base, was behind Scooter Gennett on the depth chart. But when Gennett went down with an injury late in the spring, it led to some movement in the middle infield. But even then, Dietrich was behind Jose Peraza at the position – though that didn’t last quite as long as most expected as Peraza struggled and Dietrich began to see some early playing time.
The first nine weeks of the 2019 season were huge for Dietrich. On June 2nd he was hitting .269/.373/.700, and less than a week earlier he had just cracked three home runs in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. Things were going very well at that point of the season. But everything fell apart from that point forward. In the remaining 57 games he played that season he hit .099/.283/.207 with just two home runs. He was hit by 17 pitches in that span, but only had 12 total hits. It’s the kind of slump that gives players nightmares.
Blake Trahan gets a spring training invite
The Cincinnati Reds have also extended an invite to Major League spring training to minor league infielder Blake Trahan. He saw brief action with the Reds in 2018, playing in 11 games and going 3-14 (.214) (all singles, no walks, no hit-by-pitches). Last season, aside from a short rehab stint in Greeneville, Trahan spent the entire year in Triple-A Louisville where he hit .226/.279/.319 in 101 games for the Bats. In the offseason he played in the Dominican Winter League, hitting .176/.235/.187 in 101 plate appearances.