The Cincinnati Reds have signed outfielder Tyler Maquin to a minor league contract with an invitation to big league spring training.

It was a tough 2020 season for Tyler Naquin, which is one of the reasons he’s coming in on a minor league deal. The 29-year-old hit just .218/.248/.383 in 141 plate appearances and had just five walks with 40 strikeouts. In 2019 he was much better in the 89 games that he played for Cleveland, hitting .288/.325/.467 with 14 walks and 66 strikeouts in 294 plate appearances.

Looking at the positives for Tyler Naquin on the offensive side of things – there’s a little bit of pop in his bat and he’s shown that in both 2019 and 2020, hitting 14 home runs and 27 doubles in just 434 plate appearances. The left-handed hitter has pretty big splits in his career, with a .783 OPS against right-handed pitching and just a .664 OPS against left-handed pitching. If you wanted to dive into some of the Statcast projected data, in 2020 he was among the league leaders in hard hit rate but didn’t get rewarded for it.

Looking at the negatives, though, he’s been a well below-average hitter in two of the last three seasons as he’s posted a .651 OPS and .632 OPS in the 2018 and 2020 seasons. He also seems allergic to walks, drawing just 25 of them in 618 plate appearances over the last three seasons.

Defensively, Cleveland had Tyler Naquin corner outfield in each of the last two seasons. In 2018 he played a little bit of center, getting 14 starts and 19 total games at the spot. With that said, he’s been a bad fielder according to Statcast’s Outs Above-Average stat over the last four years, ranking 95th among outfielders at -17 outs, placing him in a tie with Ryan Braun and Jose Bautista. And he compiled that while not playing every day. Fangraphs defensive values aren’t quite as bad. In 2018 and 2019 they rated him out as an above-average defender, but in 2020 he did grade out below average. This is when you talk to your scouts to get a better idea of what to expect from him on that side of the ball.

There’s some upside in terms of it being a minor league signing here. He’s been a quality player before, and if things go right he could be a solid bench player who hits right-handed pitching well and can cover you at three spots in the outfield. But he’s also on a minor league deal for a reason – he hasn’t been good at times in his career, struggling to hit, get on base, and by some metrics, play anything close to quality defense.

24 Responses

  1. Redsfan4life

    Left Hand bat off the bench. With a little pop. Doesn’t walk has high strikeouts, plays no defense. Should fit right in.

    • Brian

      I’m in cleveland and it’s hard to see Tyler go, hes been here quite a while, best highlight, inside the park home run vs blue Jay’s in 2016, find on YouTube, I only wish there were more highlights like this one,


      Maybe Barry Larkin will come off retirement till Jose is ready????

    • Kim Henry

      West Larry?: I agree. As with the pitching signees, I don’t see much help at the “show” level. Another post sees it as a possible link to trading an outfielder (s) for a shortstop. Possibly, but your comment seems more in line.

  2. David

    I have seen him play Centerfield in the minors (AAA).

    He is a pretty good outfielder. I don’t get the ranking of him as a “poor” outfielder. He can run and is pretty fast. Not a lot of power, but he was a good contact hitter when I last saw him.

  3. Kevin Patrick

    The Reds need to be ready in case there is an injury catastrophe… Theoretically, this is good bench depth in case the Reds decide to move some outfielders for other needs. You have to think they would just love to move outfielders for a shortstop. The only outfielder I would personally miss would be Akiyama… I don’t know why… probably because I love how he looks playing D and have optimism that the bat will turn around this year significantly. Winker may have the best bat, but I wonder whether he has the most value to somebody else. It would all depend upon the return in the end… For me personally, I love watching great outfield play. I like Aquino’s arm, and Akiyama’s field awareness… Senzel is fine…but I think I was spoiled watching Hamilton out there. Castellanos and Winker are the better bats of course, but I’d rather watch a different kind of play out there. Nothing breaks my heart more than misplays out there. Naquin at least is a guy not intimidated by major league pitching who’s been there a bit.

  4. Linkster

    I think the Reds are building the best MiLB team around!

    • RojoBenjy

      The All-29-year-old All-Star World Beaters!!!

      They’ll sweep Punxsutawney in 4 games to win the whole thing.

      • JayTheRed

        Oh no didn’t you hear we are playing all AAA teams this year and we should have no problem Sweeping the Minor League Playoffs.

  5. Indydoug

    Career 100 OPS+. Not too bad for a minor league deal

  6. RedBaron

    Can be a solid 4th OF. Way better option than Jankowski last year.

    • JayTheRed

      I like Jankowski… He has some speed and he did ok I thought. He obviously was not great but he wasn’t the worst out there.

  7. BK

    Good signing. I’m a bit surprised he had to take a minor league deal, but I can definitely see Naquin making the team as our 5th outfielder and a LH pinch hitter. He’s fought through a lot of injuries in his career, but has more upside than you typically see on a minor league deal.

  8. Scott C

    Another “we hope he can turn it around” signing.

  9. Jimbo44CN

    I looked at his stats from last year. He struck out 40 times in 40 games for a 30% strikeout rate and few walks, no stolen bases. This is just more of the same. We don’t need another outfielder who plays poor defense and can’t get on base. No thanks.

  10. Harold Bowman

    Can add value off the bench as a hitter.

  11. Eric

    Throw enough crap against the wall some will stick,.js

  12. ole Redleg

    good signing seemingly as with all the reds outfield options there is a weak spot in his game but his bat is above average and with past success with the Indians i believe he will stick at the end of the spring

    • Jimbo44CN

      His bat is NOT above average. Sorry, to me just another nothing signing.

  13. Brian

    You’re probably right, hes at best a 4th outfielder, but all teams need plenty of those