Every year teams will sign players to minor league contracts and give them invites to spring training. Usually these deals are for guys with Major League experience, but also ones that haven’t had plenty of success recently. Nate Jones is not one of those guys, but he still took a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds despite owning a career ERA of 3.12, and his ERA never being higher than 3.48 over the last five seasons. It hasn’t been the performance on the mound that’s held back Jones from getting a guaranteed deal – it’s been the lack of time on the mound.

In 2017 he threw just 11.2 innings. In 2018 he threw 30.0 innings. And then last year he threw just 10.1 innings before his season came to a close in May when he underwent flexor mass surgery while a member of the Chicago White Sox. Jones, despite being very good when he has been on the mound, is sort of a reclamation project. Not only had he been unable to stay on the mound with any sort of consistency, he was also coming back from a major arm surgery (I mean, all surgeries are major when you think about it – but you understand my point, hopefully).

This spring Nate Jones has pitched in three games. That’s hardly worth talking about if we are going to only be looking at the stats he’s put up. Spring training stats are notorious liars. But if we wanted to talk about the stats, he’s allowed a run on three hits and a walk in 3.0 innings with two strikeouts.

What is worth talking about, though, is how he’s throwing. Throughout his career, Nate Jones has averaged 97.3 MPH with his fastball. In 2019, though, that number was just 94.9 MPH before he was diagnosed as injured and had surgery.

Yesterday he took the mound on the road against the Colorado Rockies. That’s important to note because the Rockies home stadium in spring training has pitch tracking set up for the public. Nate Jones didn’t need much work to get through his outing. He threw just eight pitches on the day – five fastballs and three sliders. His fastball was between 96.2 MPH and 97.4 MPH. His slider was between 87.3 and 88.7 MPH. The velocity he had shown before the injury that required surgery is back.

And that brings us back to the question that’s the title of this article: Can Nate Jones make this roster? The answer, of course, is yes. He can. But we should also be saying that he should, assuming he remains healthy through the spring. Jones has been downright dominant at times in his career, and above-average at every single step of it. The 34-year-old right-handed reliever will require a roster move to be made to be added to the 40-man roster if the Reds decide to keep him around – but that doesn’t feel like much of a hurdle or really, a consideration that should come into play if he does show he’s healthy.

15 Responses

  1. Doc

    When surgery is on you, it’s minor surgery. When it is on me, it is major surgery!

    • Doug Gray

      As someone who has had more surgeries than I’ve got fingers and toes (and I’ve got all of them), I still think in terms of major and minor surgery. Perhaps it’s due to the fact that I’ve had so many of them and never really had an issue. Of course, I also understand how insane it is to think that way. Weird world I’m living in.

      • Roger Garrett

        I would say it isn’t weird but rather you are blessed as I was after having colon cancer and 6 surgeries in 22 months

  2. JayTheRed

    I too have been routing for Jones. I hope he does make the team. When healthy he seems very consistent and with his velocity being back up that’s a good sign. Hopefully if he doesn’t make the team he will stick around with us. I too am not sure if he has any opt outs. Hoping he doesn’t. I know the sample size is tiny but I’ve been looking at his pitches and they seem pretty solid to me.

    Here’s hoping he makes it.
    Oh on a side note. Reed has not really impressed me in his outings. He seem ok’ish. I know its spring training but I have a feeling about him either being traded or released since he is out of options. Don’t know if he would just accept a trip back to the minors and I don’t know if anyone would want to take a flyer on him either.

    • SultanofSwaff

      Aside from the one bad outing, Reed has been pretty good. The HR he gave up monday came one pitch after the ump totally hosed him on a strike 3 call….next pitch, bam. No excuses for lack of focus, but…..

      I dunno, I don’t see an appreciable difference between Reed and Garrett. The Reds would be crazy to expose Cody to waivers.

      • Roger Garrett

        I agree Reed makes the team.Reds knows he will be gobbled up quickly.He is a lefty with good stuff and somebody who doesn’t expect to compete would say here you go and lets see what you have got over 25 starts.Other teams wouldn’t miss that chance like we did.

  3. Scott

    Why has everyone forgotten about Sal Romano? The kid has thrown the ball this spring better than Sims and Reed. If anyone deserves to make the team it’s Sal.

    • Jefferson Green

      His track record says he has not been ready for MLB, and every team in baseball passed on him when they could have claimed him for free just a few weeks ago (which surprised me). With Sal not on the 40 man, he is almost guaranteed to be ticketed for Louisville where he will get a chance to show that he is a better pitcher than before.

      • MK

        Jones isn’t on 40-man either and it seems those same teams passed on giving him a roster spot as well. With your thinking Jones does not have a chance either.

        Jones has really done nothing to stand out in ST so I could see him getting at least a month in Louisville before getting a big league shot

      • Redsvol

        good point MK. Why bring him up unless you absolutely have to (i.e., no options and live arm). If it comes down to Reed or Jones, I’d prefer to keep someone like Reed around for a month to see how he does during regular season and then make decision on Jones. There is almost always call-ups and send-downs in May based on bullpen performance in April.

    • HoF 13

      If I understand how these things work (which has only about a 0.5 probability), the Reds can keep Romano all year in the minor leagues and he is stuck there — he can’t opt out and go somewhere else. Nate Jones probably has an opt out clause at some point so if he shows that he is anything close to his old form, it would make sense to keep him, at least over Romano. He can always be DFA’d later if it doesn’t work out.

  4. Doug Gray

    While I haven’t seen anything specific with regards to an opt out, I *believe* that he – like Dietrich – would qualify to have one.

    • Kandy O

      I live about 15 minutes from where Nate grew up and watched him play in high school along with my son. He is a good baseball player and all around great guy!! From a hometown point of view, the Reds will sell a lot more tickets if he is on the roster!! Just saying Mr. Castellini!!

  5. MBS

    Doug I thought you lost your mind until I got to the last paragraph. When I read the title, I said audible to no one, he better. If healthy your right, he’s a no brainer.