That didn’t last very long, did it? After a delay to arriving in camp due to a positive test for COVID-19, Derek Dietrich arrived in Cincinnati on July 15th and was added to the 60-man player pool. On the 18th he was reassigned to the Prasco Park roster – something that wasn’t surprising given that he likely wasn’t going to be ready for opening day since he was just getting his baseball activities restarted. But like many veteran players around the league in camps on minor league deals, Dietrich had an opt-out clause that he was allowed to exercise if he wasn’t going to make the opening day roster. On Monday afternoon he took that option and has elected to become a free agent.
In his only season with the Cincinnati Reds, Derek Dietrich hit .187/.328/.462 in 113 games. The utility man who can play both the infield and outfield has a season that was basically split into two parts. From Opening Day through June 2nd he hit .269/.373/.700, including a stretch in late May where he hit four homers in two games against the Pirates that led to all kinds of issues between the two teams. But Dietrich didn’t play June 3rd, 4th, or 5th. And when he came back from that stretch, everything changed. From June 6th through the end of the season he would go 12-121 (.099 average) with two home runs. He was hit by 17 pitches in that stretch – which led to five more times he reached base after being plunked than he did by reaching via a hit.
Back in February and March in Goodyear, things hadn’t been doing much better for Dietrich. Small sample size, and spring training alerts should be going off here that the stats don’t mean much – but he was hitting .174/.259/.478 with one walk and 12 strikeouts through 27 plate appearances when the spring came to a halt in mid-March.
On a team with a lot of depth, it makes some sense for Derek Dietrich to think he’s got a better chance of getting some playing time in the big leagues elsewhere. His main position, second base, is covered by new Reds free agent signing Mike Moustakas. As an outfielder, he’s fighting against eleventy-billion other guys for an incredibly limited amount of playing time behind what seems to be a 4-man rotation between the three spots and a designated hitter role among the group. And even as a utility-man he’s battling against another lefty, Josh VanMeter, who has a bit more positional flexibility in his game, and had a better season in 2019.