The Cincinnati Reds announced five signings late on Wednesday night – just after 11pm ET – and just beat the announcement of the lockout that began at midnight.

Of course, much like all of the other signings made by Cincinnati this offseason, none of them were of the Major League variety. Instead the Reds signed four players to minor league deals for 2022 that included invitations to big league spring training. One of those deals we already knew about – Brandon Bailey, who was non-tendered after missing 2021 after undergoing Tommy John surgery early in spring training. But the Reds also signed right-handed pitcher Trey Wingenter, outfielder Trey Amburgey, catcher Andrew Knapp, and utility-man Allen Córdoba to deals as well.

Brandon Bailey pitched with Houston back in 2020 for a handful of innings, throwing 7.1 innings over five games and allowing two runs. That is the extent of his time in the big leagues. It’s possible he could be back in time for spring training – if it begins on time – but that would be a 1-year turn around, and that would be on the quick timetable.

Trey Wingenter is a large man. He’s listed at 6′ 7″ and 237 lbs. He pitched for the San Diego Padres in both 2018 and 2019, throwing 70.0 innings, allowing just 47 hits, walking 39, and striking out 99. The last two years have been full of injuries. In July of 2020 he underwent Tommy John surgery, costing him the chance to pitch during the shortened season. After beginning a rehab assignment in August with the Padres complex level team in Arizona he managed to pitch in just three games before a back injury cut that short. He would undergo back surgery in September, but is expected to be ready to pitch when spring training begins.

Prior to the two injuries, Wingenter threw hard. He has averaged 96 MPH in his big league career and topped out at 101 MPH in September of 2018. Wingenter mixes in his fastball with a slider at about a 60/40 ratio.

Andrew Knapp has spent parts of the last five seasons in the majors with the Philadelphia Phillies. Almost all of his action has come behind the plate as a catcher, but he has played 22.0 innings at first base, and 1.1 innings at second base. The 30-year-old switch hitter has struggled to hit much of his big league career. In 309 games he’s hit .214/.314/.322 with 13 home runs. In 2020 he had his best season, though it came in just 89 plate appearances, when he posted an .849 OPS. But he also had far and away his worst season in 2021 when he hit .152/.215/.214 for the Phillies in 62 games (159 plate appearances).

Trey Amburgey played in two games with the New York Yankees in 2021, going 0-4 in his only big league action in his career. The 27-year-old outfielder has spent the last two seasons in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre. He’s hit .275/.332/.487 with 54 doubles, 5 triples, and 30 home runs in 195 games (798 plate appearances). In 2019 he played some center while in Triple-A, but during the 2021 season he was exclusively playing left and right fields.

Allen Córdoba hasn’t played in the big leagues since 2017 when he was a 21-year-old rookie with the San Diego Padres. They selected him in the Rule 5 draft from St. Louis and kept him up all season where he hit .208/.282/297. He was making an incredible leap back then, having never even played in A-ball. The infielder was sent back to the minors the next season and somehow hit worse in the California League (Advanced-A) than he had in the previous season at the big league level – though it appears there was an injury-related issue there as he played in just 45 games during the season. In 2021 he spent the entire season in Double-A San Antonia where he hit .299/.392/.446 with 29 walks and 42 strikeouts. During previous seasons he had shown plenty of stolen base ability, but went 6-for-12 during 2021. He has played some shortstop in the past, but was used as a third baseman and first baseman during this past year.

26 Responses

  1. Jimbo44CN

    Thanks Doug, but really much ado about nothing. I think this lockout is going to be longer than some suspect. The millionaires vs the Billionaires. Don’t get me wrong, I think the lower tier guys who earn it by playing well should be paid a little better, but the main thing is the league needs to be more competitive. Don’t know if that is ever going to happen, but one can hope.

    • Mark Moore

      I think we should set an “over/under” date pool here at RLN. Frankly, I’m not optimistic given the verbal parlay between Tony Clark and Rob Manfred (who I’ve never seen as a good commissioner).

      My pessimistic point is July 4, 2022. That would be pretty problematic IMO.

      • magi210

        I’m more optimistic, think they’ll get it sorted partway through Spring Training. March 12 for me.

      • Colorado Red

        True deadlines will get them talking.
        I think thinking the season will start about the middle to April.
        They will catch up a lot of the games.

      • LDS

        Folks, they need to be signing the CBA before the year is out so that the remaining off season is as normal as possible. Realistically, we should expect additional COVID disruptions. Add an extended lockout to an already restive fan base isn’t going to serve baseball well at all. Excluding 2019, year over year attendance has fallen from its peak in 2007 at about 79.4 million down to 68.5 million in 2019. That’s a significant drop. They need to be paying attention to the fans because thinking it’s all about themselves is incredibly shortsighted.

  2. Old Big Ed

    Wingenter and Cordoba look like they are worth a flyer. Sometimes the Tommy John guys come back with tightened mechanics, and Wingenter may now have a better handle on the control issues that he’s had. Wingenter is an Auburn guy, who reminds you of an overgrown Rick Reuschel. Good project for Derek Johnson.

    Cordoba was disserved by the Padres’ taking him in the Rule 5 draft out of the Appalachian League. He had a decent 2021 in AA, with a .392 OBP, plus some speed. He missed the first 5 weeks or so of the AA season, then got better as the year progressed, hitting .345 in August and September with about a 10% walk rate. He also has a knack for the HBP, with 12 last year in 296 PAs, so he would fit right in with India and Farmer. San Antonio had the Padres’ top prospect, CJ Abrams, at shortstop and another (Eguy Rosario) for much of the year, which would explain why Cordoba played on the corners.

    • MK

      Not sure anyone can be overgrown to Rick Reuschel. Went to check on the personal stats on the two. Baseball Reference says Rick weighted 215 (think that must have been birth weight) and Trey goes 237. Looks like an apt comparison. Hope Trey has some similar success.

  3. LDS

    Manfred certainly hasn’t been good for baseball. Now is no different. The owners like the way things are now. Scherzer’s comments on competitiveness are dead on. And guys like Castellini will never buy into that.

    • Mark Moore

      I’ve never been impressed with Manfred or his “management” of the league. Seems to me his first (and almost only) loyalty is to the ownership, not to the game itself. Sadly, I doubt that changes, even if he moves on.

  4. J

    All of these “flyers” and “maybe it will work outs” and “you never knows” and “hopefully his injury problems are behind hims” and “low-risk deals” just seem so pointless if the team isn’t going to replace the talent it’s lost (and will be losing) with legitimate major league players. I can vaguely imagine a scenario in which the Reds can compete in 2022 with the players they have, but it’s a real stretch. I guess it’s better to sign fringe major leaguers than not sign them, but it just feels depressing at this point.

    • Votto4life

      J I agree with you it’s hard to get exited about any of these signings if the Reds have no intention of competing.

      I imagine paying to sign a number 1 overall pick in 2023 probably scares Bob Castellini to death.

  5. Eddiek957

    I was reading the history of some of the free agent RP who were signed. Surprisingly how many were bounce back players. Be nice if one or two of them can help the team in some capacity

  6. redsfan4040

    I’m interested in Trey Amburgey. In 110 PAs vs lefties last year he OPS’d 1.032. That’d be huge bump to the Reds vs LHP woes.

  7. DataDumpster

    Baseball kinds of reflects the country. The rich (elite players) get richer, the middle class (good players) get rewarded at a slightly declining sum, and the up and comers get one big chance for a big payday if they can stay healthy and productive long enough….and the minor leaguers (here for the dream only). This has to change. Meanwhile, I hear nothing about anything that concerns the well being of the game itself and fandom.
    I suspect they will patch something together to have a full season but not anything that will meaningfully address the obvious issues.
    Still, I think there will be enough curls at the edges that the Reds will find that significant trades to improve the team will be harder to come by and the fandom will have to be content with David Bell still juggling around the kinds of players mentioned in this post.
    You still have this blog, the good quality radio announcers and just maybe Bally will come through with a reasonable TV package that you can enjoy (with Sadak muted of course).

  8. KG

    My guess is the strike ends Sept 29th. The Reds go 2-0 and win the division. Boom! You heard it here first.

  9. VegasRed

    MLB revenues now 57% owners vs 43% to players! Game will not thrive in that type of imbalance. The unbalanced markets are also a huge problem as we know.

    Will the two sides save the game or fumble it further away?

    • TR

      The season will not be lost. With billions of dollars involved, give the stalemate two months and negotiations will then get serious.

    • Luke J

      Um, in most industries, 15-30% of revenues is advised to go toward payroll. 43% to players is NOT an imbalance according to basic economics. Quite frankly, the game will not thrive if the percentage goes up too much. The higher a chunk of revenues that payroll takes up, the less a business tends to thrive (as long as it meets the minimum amount to make the business viable).

      And therein lies the problem. We have polluted the entire system by imposing artificial constraints on the market by both sides. The players want earlier free agency? Get rid of the whole system and go true free agency. Every player is free to sign their contract, regardless of service time. Let the market decide. See, the players claim they want free agency, but in reality, they don’t. They want free agency that is manipulated in their favor. Because they know that a truly free market wouldn’t sustain their absurd salaries. 43% of revenues would look massive to what a true market would justify, and the high end free agent signings would be for a tiny fraction of what they currently are. It’s the lesser service time players that would greatly benefit. And they claim that’s what they want. But they really don’t.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Players in the NBA get about 50% of revenue and their league is thriving. I think comparing MLB to “most industries” isn’t apples to apples. Compare it to another professional sports league. There’s an avenue to increase the amount of revenue spent on players and also thrive as a sport. MLB could learn a lot by looking at how the NBA is run.

      • Old Big Ed

        Marvin Miller was focused on this very issue. He didn’t want every player to be a free agent at the same time, because he believed it would depress salaries.

        A sports league is a unique enterprise, because it is premised on every team at least having a theoretical chance to win — not every year, but over the medium and long run.

        While New Yorkers will tell you that the 50s was the golden era of baseball, with the Yankees, Dodgers and Giants all competing almost every year, the truth of the matter is that it was disastrous for the game as a whole. Most teams never competed. In the AL, the A’s, Senators and Orioles/Browns were bad throughout the 50s, and the Red Sox and Tigers were perennial also rans. The Indians and White Sox won a pennant each, but couldn’t sustain their runs very long. In the NL, the Pirates and Cubs were always pretty bad, as were the Phils after the Whiz Kid era passed.

        Pro football made its great rise in the late 50s, and in my view it is partially explained by the dominance in baseball of the New York teams in the early to mid-1950s. Why be a fan, if there is no real hope to win?

        Baseball has fought this ever since. Now, anytime a good young player comes up in a place like Cleveland (Franciso Lindor, for example), the speculation from his rookie year forward is on what high-revenue team he will go to by trade or free agency. You can’t fault a player for maximizing his income, and you can’t fault the high-revenue teams for spending money, but in the long run the Dodgers shouldn’t win the NL West 8 years in a row.

        The CBA negotiations, done correctly, typically resolve whatever imbalances have developed over the course of the previous CBA. Now, due in part to an explosion of power pitching, baseball has become a young man’s game, and the 6-year (often 7-year) reserve clause has made it much harder for players to hit the jackpot, because most become free agents at about age 30 or higher.

        And some owners, Castillini being one of them, seem content not with actually contending, but instead with being contender-ish. They can collect revenue-sharing money, field a plausible but limited team, and garner decent cash flow, but the product is in truth two grades below championship grade, even if things go right. Over the long run, the paying customers revolt, and that is bad for the industry in general.

        The two main points that the CBA needs to address (1) getting much more money to young players, and (2) a way to share revenues with smaller-revenue teams without incentivizing mediocrity. In the end, ownership has to bend, because (for example) the Red Sox, Cubs and Dodgers are not going to let their privately-owned Fenway Park, Wrigley Field and Dodger Stadium sit empty, when they could each generate hundreds of millions of dollars. (Ditto Scott Boras.)

      • LWBlogger2

        I don’t think you can frame this in the context of a normal business though. Most businesses have products. The textbook product being the “widget” of course. Now, there are exceptions as more digital companies come about but lets set them aside for a bit. In the typical business, the “widget” is the product and the employees are what create the product, manufacture the product, market the product and sell the product. In some cases they may store the product and distribute the product as well. In baseball, the players, who are by far the wealthiest employees for the company in most cases actually ARE the product. There is no “widget”. The players basically are the “widget”. They actually are what create the revenue.

        I’d look at that model as being more similar to a consultancy, where the consultants are the product. In those cases, it isn’t unusual for consulting companies to compensate their employees at 33% – 50% of their bill rate. So, depending on how much other overhead the consulting company has, employee payroll may be somewhat below or well north of the company’s revenue.

        Thoughts?

  10. DaveCT

    Organizational Filler, as defined as in consideration of this wonder.

  11. Michael B. Green

    All professional ballplayers and will help fill out the AAA roster. Knapp could challenge Kolozsvary for #2 behind Stephenson too. Wondering if any of these players have remaining options or if they will slot at AAA and wait for their cup of coffee and try to turn it into more?

    Knapp was pretty bad defensively in 2021 and in 2020 if you look at his fangraphs metrics.

  12. Max BRAGG

    Manfred is for his MAGNIFICENT 7, The rest of league could struggle he doesn’t care ,but his 7. If the truth be known he wish it was Vegas Reds!

    • LWBlogger2

      Vegas Pirates first and they could match the Raiders then too… I hear what you’re saying though.

  13. Jon

    By “true free agency” are you saying to sign players to contracts as soon as they are drafted before entering a team’s farm system? Because that could be disastrous as well, seeing how many prospects, even top-ranked one, fail to pan out. (See Senzel, Nick for the Reds latest example.)