The Cincinnati Reds have signed reliever Alan Busenitz and catcher Austin Romine to minor league deals for the 2023 season. Both players also were invited to big league spring training.

Austin Romine is returning to the organization after spending the final two months of the 2022 season with the Reds. The 11-year big league veteran played in 37 games for Cincinnati, 11 more with St. Louis, and three with the Angels in 2022. Between his three stops he managed to hit just .155/.187/.248. He’s got a career .616 OPS, but hasn’t topped the .582 mark in a season since 2019. While there’s a lot to be desired with what he brings to the plate, he’s very well regarded for what he can do behind the plate. With Tyler Stephenson, Curt Casali, and Luke Maile all on the 40-man roster, Romine is likely looking to grab onto a spot in Triple-A and potentially be a call up option if and almost certainly when one of the catchers on the roster is injured during the year.

Alan Busenitz has pitched in two seasons in the big leagues and they were about as opposite of seasons as you could get. In 2017, as a rookie with Minnesota, he posted a 1.99 ERA in 28 games as he covered 31.2 innings. The next season his ERA was 7.82 in 23 games with the Twins, covering just 25.1 innings that saw him allow twice as many home runs as the previous season, nearly twice as many hits, and he walked nearly 50% more hitters.

The now 32-year-old headed to Japan following that season with the Twins and he pitched there for the last four seasons, posting a 2.83 ERA. Last year he posted a 2.27 ERA for Rakuten in 34 games. In his 31.2 innings he allowed just one home run, walked 10 batters, and he picked up 25 strikeouts. During his time in Japan he did an outstanding job of keeping the ball in the park, allowing just five home runs in 155.2 innings.

30 Responses

  1. Eddiek957

    Sounds like a hopeful bullpen signing. Should be use to pitching in small ball parks. Love to see the reds get a nice lefty reliever

    • Tar Heel Red

      Busenitz throws right-handed, but he could be an option.

  2. SultanofSwaff

    Reasonable bullpen signing. I’ve been hoping the Reds would add some veteran insurance…..would love for them to sign Andrew Chafin too. Let’s hope Busenitz never has to pitch in high leverage situations because that would mean the season is a wash.

  3. Jim Walker

    The only downside I feel about bringing Romine aboard as organizational depth is that the way the Reds are stockpiling catchers with MBL experience may suggest there are concerns about the health of Stephenson and/ or Votto heading into spring camp.

    • Jim Walker

      To amplify a bit, Curt Casali, Luke Maile, Wil Myers, and Nick Solak are all on MLB deals. If Stephenson and Votto are both healthy, adding them to the 4 above would cover 6 of the 13 presumed position active player roster spots. And don’t forget old friend Matt Reynolds is still around on an MLB deal too. Of these 7, only Solak (and technically Stephenson) could be optioned.

      And while it is a bit of digression, unless I have missed something, one thing very noticeably missing from the Reds 40 man roster is a LH hitting bench bat who could fill in at 1B at times. Maybe they will get Fraley reps at 1B and use him as a swing man?

      • LarkinPhillips

        LH bench bat that plays 1b= Joey Votto in 2023.

        I think TySteve will transition to nearly all 1b by end of year. Maile and Casali will split time at catcher in order to provide a nice veteran presence for our young starters and with a full healthy season TySteve hits 290 with 28 HRs and 100 rbis.

      • Old-school

        @Jim

        I agree wholeheartedly on the the lefty bat need. Fraley and Votto will be in the 2/4 hole on OD if healthy but they need another lefty bat against righties in the every day 8 – freidl could be a 4 th bat lower down.

        I wouldnt mind old friend Tyler Naquin on a 1 year deal as a DH and bench bat

    • MBS

      I agree with you Jim, the signing of Casali, sent up a lot of alarm bells in my head. Myers is a 1B, RF guy, and now the minor league deal to Romine. It’s starting to look like they are worried about both Votto, and Stephenson. The only move that would be contradicting to this sentiment was the DFA’ing of Moustakas.

      • Jim Walker

        If Moose signs elsewhere, $700K (and change) is $700K (and change) and is $700K (and change) less out of their pocket than if they didn’t DFA Moose and paid him to be on the DL. 😉

    • BK

      Shoulder surgeries lead to tricky recoveries (Votto). Broken collarbones generally heal pretty well (Stephenson). Another reason for the stockpiling of catchers is that leaders tend to address their more recent problems. We should all be skeptical about Votto’s recovery due to his age and the nature of his injury–Stephenson not so much. We may be seeing a little recency bias from our front office. After all, last year’s catching situation was a dumpster fire.

    • SteveAreno

      Glad to see Romine as catcher coming back. He’s solid on defense. I’m sure he is working to get his swing back to hit better like he has in the past except for 2022. Spending time in Louisville AAA could be just what is very much needed.

  4. Kevin Fox

    I would like to see the reds get some more players with major league experience but that probably won’t happen. I still want the reds to get Andrew McCutchen. He would be a better option for centerfield or leftfield. Come on Nick and get him please. I will stop writing if you get him. Or at least surprise me on someone. Don’t ever stop getting a player with major league experience. Lets go get Andrew McCutchen!

  5. Gonzo Reds

    ESPN has the Reds as #30 for 2023 with 60 projected wins. That may be high.

    • Doug Gray

      But that was before today’s signings….. (lots of sarcasm here just in case your sarcasm detector needs new batteries)

    • CI3J

      Ehhh…. I don’t know. I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Reds do better than last year.

      Getting Moose and Farmer off the team is addition by subtraction in my book. If they let some of the young guys play, it’s not unreasonable to expect them to outperform what Moose and Farmer brought to the team, especially defensively.

      The 3 young core pitchers are all another year older and more experienced, so I expect them to be even better.

      Also, hopefully they don’t sign another Minor-type pitcher who does nothing but go out and get shelled.

      I’d personally put the O/U at about 70.5 wins.

    • Rednat

      i actually think that is a generous win total. I really believe with the nba type schedules where everybody plays everybody you are going to see some really anemic win totals.120 loss seans will be fairly common place I am afraid

    • AMDG

      Based on last year’s WAR, i’d guess about 67 wins.

      They won 62 games last year, and lost Farmer & Solano, which is a loss of about 1.5 ~ 2.0 WAR. And they lost Moose & those awful backup catchers which is a gain of about 1.5 ~ 2.0 WAR. So, that’s a push. Add in Wil Myers, and they probably pick up 1.0 WAR from the position players as a whole.

      On the mound, outside of Lodolo & Greene, the rest of the starting rotation is an underwhelming question mark. The combination of Minor, Guiterez, Anderson, Dunn, Sanmartin and Zeuch were good for about -3.0 WAR. Replacing them with Cessa, Williamson, Abbott, Ashcraft, Stoudt, and a cheap free agent, the WAR likely improves from -3.0 to 1.0, for a gain of 4 wins?

  6. Jimbo44CN

    First thing I thought when i saw this was “WHO””?
    Romine ok, but with who on first base what on second and I don’t know on Third, Busenewitz or whatever should fit right in.

  7. JB

    And we are back to signing crud. You can never and I mean never have enough catchers. There is still time to grab 6 or 7 more.

  8. Rod Andrews

    I had rotator cuff surgery on my right(dominant) arm years ago. In twelve weeks I could do most any labor, and could throw as well as I could since I was a young ball player. I think a under 40 athlete will likely be in good shape after 4 months of recovery. This was not Vottos throwing arm, so I think he’ll be fine. Stephenson, no problem.

  9. Mark Moore

    The Return of The Lettuce Guy …

    It doesn’t concern me at all. You need catchers in Spring Training, and lots of them. This gives Romine a chance to show what he’s worked on in the offseason with zero risk for the Reds and nothing but upside for The Lettuce Guy.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Lettuce wait and see how it plays out … 😉

  10. Michael B. Green

    Would not surprise me if Stephenson spends 60% of the time at 1B and 40% of the time split between C and DH in the first half of the season. That allows Votto to start the season on the DL60. That gives Romine an opportunity to crack the O/D squad or bide his time at AAA. Interesting move.

  11. Earmbrister

    I went to my fridge to get some lettuce for my salad. There was none romaine-ing.

    • Mark Moore

      Don’t make me come over there and pun-ch you, sir. 😀

      Debbie wishes you all the best for a Happy 2023!

    • Tim

      In reviewing the remaining unsigned free agents available on 12\30\2022. A GM could assemble a better team than the Reds and possibly 3 or 4 other teams that refuse to field competitive teams for their fans. Mismanaged and lack of respect for their fan base. Expectation of paying MLB prices to watch AAA quality talent.