The Cincinnati Reds have a deal with infielder Dee Strange-Gordon for a minor league deal for the 2021 season according to ESPN’s Kiley McDaniel.

This signing probably isn’t going to do much to help the shortstop position that the Reds are still looking to fill. And on a minor league deal, it’s more of a hope-and-see kind of signing than anything else. The soon-to-be 33-year-old could be a valuable bench piece if things go right for him. In his big league career he’s played second base, shortstop, center field, and left field. Defensively, he’s got the ability to fill in at multiple spots on the field. He last played a real amount of time as a shortstop back in 2013, but has seen some limited action there in each of the last four seasons.

Offensively there’s been a lot of up-and-down from Dee Strange-Gordon. He’s led the league in average, back in 2015 when he hit .333 and led the league with 205 hits. He’s led the league in triples when he had 12 of them for the Dodgers back in 2014. And in 2014, 2015, and 2017 he led the league in steals. But when you look at his OPS+, you can really see the inconsistency in his hitting. As a rookie in 2011 he posted a 92 OPS+. That was followed up by a dreadful 56 OPS+ and a 75 OPS+ in the next two partial seasons. Then in 2014 he was an All-Star with a 101 OPS+. Traded to Miami in 2015 he was again an All-Star and posted a career best 116 OPS+. That was followed up with a 77 OPS+, a 97 OPS+, a 79 OPS+, an 80 OPS+, and then last year in just 33 games, a 39 OPS+.

Dee Strange-Gordon needs a lot of things to go just right for him to provide value at the plate. He doesn’t walk with any sort of frequency, and he’s probably providing the least amount of power in the league – he’s never been remotely close to posting a .100 Isolated Power (SLG-AVG). He needs to make a ton of contact and have a high batting average on balls in play to lead to a solid average that will carry his low walk rate and no power. While he doesn’t have strikeout issues, for a player who shows no power at all, he’s not exactly a high contact guy, either.

On the bases is where he can shine. He’s not quite the base stealer that he has been in the past when he was a true 60-steal threat, but the wheels are still there when he gets on. In a utility/bench role, this kind of thing can be of value in key spots.

A minor league deal is a minor league deal. Dee Strange-Gordon is going to have to go out in the spring and show something to get a job with the big league club. Over the last three seasons he’s hit a combined .266/.293/.343 – that’s a .636 OPS and a 77 OPS+ for those keeping track at home. Even for a bench player, that’s not good. The defensive flexibility and the baserunning do help a little bit, but that only goes so far.

49 Responses

  1. Colorado Red

    Doug,
    After this signing, do you see the Reds as still in on Villar?

    • DaveCT

      Not Doug but i hope so. Billy Hamilton, Lite

      • Optimist

        To be fair, slightly better than BHam, but still, that’s just slightly better than BHam. Meh.

      • Dick Paterson

        No, Billy is Strange-Gordon Lite. This guy led the league in batting (I know, 6 years ago), and he’s only 32 (about to turn 33). After the last 3 years, not guaranteed, but there is a HUGE upside to this guy.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        Huge upside is a stretch. Your typical “All-Star” level of production is 4.0 WAR or higher. DSG has these seasons in his career
        0.6
        -1.3
        0.0
        3.6
        4.8
        0.9
        3.6
        0.0
        0.4
        -0.3

        Maybe we’ve got a different definition of huge upside. When I think of huge upside I think of someone who is an MVP contender. The low end MVP contender starts around 6.0 WAR but the winner tends to be around 8.0 WAR or higher.

      • MK

        Billy was never a Batting or Stolen Base Champion in the Big Leagues. Nobody on the current team can say either.

      • greenmtred

        Billy was a gold-glove caliber centerfielder. Even in today’s boring iteration of the game, that counts for something.

      • ClayMC

        C’mon Frankie. Everything’s relative. There isn’t a single person on this earth, except for possibly Dee’s mother herself, who would equate “huge upside” in this scenario with MVP contention.

        “Huge upside” for a minor league signing of a 33 year old vet who hasn’t sniffed league average production in quite some time could still be a 0.750 OPS, elite speed, and positional versatility. Do I expect that from Dee? Of course not, but it’s within the realm of possibility. Getting a Starling Marte-esqu profile with defensive versatility, all on a minor league deal? If it came true, I’d definitely consider that “relatively” huge.

    • Doug Gray

      The team still needs an actual shortstop, so if we assume they were in on Villar yesterday then I’d imagine they still are today.

  2. Rut

    But does he now occupy the ‘prove it’ minor league deal slot for ss — from a players perspective. Just saying this, to me, makes it less likely the Reds sign Villar. Good grief, how low have I sunk to lament potentially NOT signing Jonathan freaking Villar.

    Time for pizza, wings, beer, and some football. Reds baseball just makes me want liquor!

  3. Jon

    What would it take to get Story plus $5 million or so from the Rockies? Would India or Senzel alone get it done?

    The longer this shortstop debacle/deficit goes on, the more it irritates me that the Reds let Jose Iglesias walk away after 2019. He wasn’t a star, but he’s far better than what the Reds have now (or what’s left on the market).

    • Redleg Bob

      I’ve been irritated ever since they let him walk. Dude’s a ballplayer with a great glove.

    • JayTheRed

      I remember a lot of Reds fan complaining how bad he was… I bet a lot of those same fans would love to have him back. Iglesias I mean.

    • Hotto4Votto

      The sad thing is, the way the offseason is going, we may be sad we let Freddy Galvis walk away. Never thought I’d say that.

      • Redsvol

        I will never be sad that we let Freddy Galvis walk. The sad part was that he played for us and we didn’t do something last season to address the SS position, not this season. I trust Farmer, Holder and Garcia to give us 80 games at SS until the trade deadline.

      • Hotto4Votto

        I didn’t think I would either. Never really cared for him in general and really wanted an upgrade last season. But if we trot out Farmer, Strange-Gordon and/or Place Holder this year, I may think differently. Galvis was at least solid fielder and had some pop.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Agree, letting Iglesias go after what he showed that year in leadership as well as ability and keeping Galvis was supremly stupid

  4. LDS

    This off season reminds me of going to the gas station and dropping $20 on $2 scratch offs because you know one of them is going to payoff. Happen ten?

  5. Rednat

    kind of reminds me of when the reds signed Vince Coleman at the end of his career. he will be a future scoreboard stumper answer ( name the players that stole more than 50 sb in three seasons that also played for the Cincinnati Reds?) But nothing more

    • Aaron B.

      I would have been stumped! But no more thanks to your tidbit.

    • RedAlert

      You know what , I am already embarrassed for them . It’s been a pathetic offseason . Best move that could be made now would be to sell the team to somebody that actually cares more about winning baseball than bobbleheads and fireworks ! Been a Reds fan all my life and this is utterly ridiculous .

      • RojoBenjy

        Don’t forget the cool new craft beer sections!

  6. RedsGettingBetter

    Hamilton-Jankowski inheritance….

    • JB

      Flea market shopping this off season. They have sunk low before but this off season has gone to another level.

      • take a seat

        I totally agree JB makes me long for the free spending days of Dick Wagner. I think we can all see now why Dick Williams decided to spend more time with his family or whatever the excuse he used for resigning.

  7. doofus

    Signing of Gordon = front office desperation.

    The organization has had a dearth of shortstops for the past decade. Do they even know that the position exists?

  8. Optimist

    Dee, Farmer, Blandino, Garcia in Sept.; there’s 50-75 games at SS. Who will play the remainder? Or, those 50-70 get to the trade deadline 3 month rental.

    None of the above are everyday MLB SSs for 2021, but Dee may have the most utility value.

    • Votto4life

      They had 3 major league SS available to them as free agents less than two weeks ago. Why would you assume they have a plan to trade for one in July?

      • MBS

        There are a lot of unknowns now, like attendance. By the trade deadline if the money is coming in and a SS upgrade is the over the top piece, @optimist could be right

      • Optimist

        I wouldn’t call it a plan, more of a chance, given how many high value/high $$$ FAs-to-be will be available. The dumb thing to do will be to give away a prospect for a few months of a star, but they may do that.

    • RojoBenjy

      “Dee, Farmer, Blandino, Garcia in Sept.; there’s 50-75 games at SS”

      But you’re expecting David Bell to realized this, which is the problem. And for me i’d take Dee off the list

  9. Votto4life

    I just prefer the Reds would keep their spare change than sign players of this caliber. It’s one thing to not try to improve the team. It’s another thing to not try to improve the team while trying to convince you are making an effort.

  10. Hotto4Votto

    I honestly hope we never see him with the Reds. A lot of things would have gone wrong if we do. We have better options in house.

    When will the Reds sign their actual SS? That’s what I come on here every day to find out.

    • JB

      They will Hotto4Votto. They are just waiting out and get Christian Colons price down.

  11. TomsRiverRedsFan

    It is amazing what we get conditioned to thinking and/or arguing might be progress this off-season. Reds Fans started out the year hoping all the earlier trades players let go meant the Reds were keeping Bauer and Lindor or one of the free agents for SS. Instead we are here contemplating the upside of Dee Gordon at SS.
    Unless this off season was about getting ready to sell the team I don’t get it. It is going to be another lost season. The majority of the solid spots on the team are filled with over 30 year olds having 2 or 3 years left on their contracts.
    At this point just trade Geno, Moose, Grey, Castillo, Winker and Tucker for prospects and do the Fans a favor and sell the team…PLEASE!

    • Scott Patrick

      I agree if ownership will not spend money or even try to compete than due us all a favor and sell the team to someone who wants to compete and win. Plus, clean out the front office including 1st to go in Krall.

      • Michael Smith

        @scott

        If you are saying teh team will not spend money and or try to how do we judge Krall?

  12. doofus

    Read something interesting about 24 year old SS, Taylor Walls with Tampa Bay of course. A team that stock piles middle infielders. Article said he is probably the best defensive SS in their system, but he his stuck behind Adames and Franco; and, that he will eventually start at SS for some other team after a trade.

    He is a switch hitter with a good bat and speed.

    • RojoBenjy

      Sounds interesting. Where’d you read it?

      • doofus

        Man I am on so many baseball sites. I think it was an article on Baseball America. I know I clicked on the Rays prospects on BA and MLB.com to check out Walls. He seems a legit dark horse SS candidate for the Reds.

    • TR

      What’s up with this front office? What a dreary off-season with many acquisitions for AAA at best, and they’re still looking to fill the key position of shortstop with spring training around the corner. The NL Central is winnable but I doubt the Reds will be in the hunt come July without a shortstop who can hit at least in the vicinity of .250 or above.

      • Jimbo44CN

        Compared to last year, he would lead the team with 250. Team BA 2020 was 212. Yikes

  13. DataDumpster

    The Reds pick up another has been or someone who showed good “analyticals” way back when. OK, then who on the coaching staff is going to nurse that player back to his full potential: 1) Don Long, who lead the team to the 4th best OBP in 2018 (no, Bell fired him); 2) Turner Ward, who replaced Long after leading LA to record high HRs and Slugging Pct. (no, Bell fired him too); 3) Alan Zinter, the current hitting coach who lead the team to a record low .212 batting average…???

  14. Matt WI

    So, they have a faster Kyle Farmer to toy with? Yawn.

    • Doug Gray

      He’s still out there as a free agent.