The Cincinnati Reds have signed shortstop Richie Martin and left-handed reliever Alex Young to minor league deals and given them an invitation to big league spring training. Coupled with the Reds prospects that also got invites to spring training today, that puts Cincinnati at 59 players that will be in big league camp.

Richie Martin is a 28-year-old infielder who has limited big league experience. In 2019 he made his big league debut and played in 120 games for the Baltimore Orioles. That season he hit .208/.260/.322 with six home runs and 10 steals. Martin didn’t get back to the Major Leagues until 2021 when he played in 37 games with the Orioles where he posted an OPS of .555. Last year he played in 13 games with Baltimore and posted a .542 OPS. Across his 170 big league games over the last four years he has hit .212/.261/.311.

Last year in Triple-A Richie Martin played in 80 games for Norfolk. He hit .250/.341/.380 with two home runs, 32 walks, 66 strikeouts, and 29 stolen bases. That line is pretty much how his minor league career has gone. In parts of six seasons he’s hit .253/.340/.367 with 19 home runs and 97 stolen bases. There’s not much power in his game at all, but he does have a little bit of speed. Baseball Savant has his sprint speed in the 86th percentile among big leaguers for 2022, but it was in the 97th percentile in both 2021 and 2019 when he played more often and had more data to rely on.

Martin would seem to be depth rather than someone being brought in to land an every day job in the big leagues. That, of course, is why he’s getting a minor league deal. But it’s tough to imagine a scenario where the organization looks at his profile as anything but the final guy on the bench who can be a glove and a pinch runner. He doesn’t walk, he strikes out a bunch (at least in his big league career), and has absolutely no power. Sometimes it’s nice to have these kinds of guys in Triple-A in case you have multiple injuries that open up a need for a glove-first guy who can run.

You can see Richie Martin’s career stats here.

Alex Young is a bit more interesting of a signing. Last season he pitched for the Cleveland Guardians in one game and then in 24 games with the San Francisco Giants. Between those two clubs he posted a 2.36 ERA in 26.2 innings and didn’t allow a home run. If you’re wondering why a guy with a 2.36 ERA in 25 big league games last season is signing a minor league contract you can join the club because it’s tough to make sense of.

The 29-year-old from Westlake, Ohio has spent parts of the last four years in the big leagues. He made 15 starts and two relief appearances with Arizona back in 2019 and posted a 3.56 ERA that season, but the next two years saw him struggle as he pitched in 55 games (and made nine starts) with a 6.04 ERA before he rebounded in 2022.

In 2022 he saw his ground ball rate make a big jump up from where it’s been in the past, going from a league average rate to a nearly elite rate (54.2%). That helped turn his home run rate in his career from very bad to him not allowing a single home run in his 26.2 innings pitched.

His pitch usage and repertoire changed in 2022. He threw his sinker a little more than he has in the past, but not by much. What he did, though, was drop the usage of his 4-seamer significantly, lower the usage of his curveball, add a slider that he threw more than his fastball, and increase the rate of his change up by 50% from the past. All together the changes led to a very strong performance from the lefty.

What is interesting is that despite being a lefty, left-handed hitters kind of crushed him in 2022. The sample size is small – just 54 plate appearances – but they hit .340/.426/.447 against him. No home runs, so maybe “crushed him” isn’t the right verbage here, but they hit the ball quite well against him. Right-handed hitters, though, only managed to hit .232/.290/.321 against him.

You can see the career stats for Alex Young here.

55 Responses

  1. Melvin

    All of these types of signings are okay I guess but it kind of makes you have a sick feeling knowing that they aren’t trying to win but instead just making sure they have enough players to field a team so that they can continue to make more money and not spend it. The Reds ownership is just pathetic (miserably inadequate).

    • Ryan

      Well put Melvin, there is really no reason to watch this year unless it’s love for baseball

  2. Kevin Patrick

    Looks like a good pickup. Somebody with experience in the “show”. He knows what he needs to do to help a big league club. Who knows…maybe he’ll get a new prescription for his eyes and hit 50 pts better.

  3. Jimbo44CN

    Well at lease he can teach them all the Makarena.
    Richie, Ricky, OMG what blockbuster signings. Sad indeed.

    • PTBNL

      I think you mean “Living La VIda Loca”. The Macarena were two old guys.

      • Jimbo44CN

        The Makarena was done by Ricky Martin. Hence

  4. LDS

    These kind of pickups would be NBD if the Reds actually signed a real MLB player once in a while. Myers is it for this season, I guess.

    • Bdh

      Myers
      Maile
      Casali
      Weaver

      Young probably makes the MLB team

      Also wouldn’t be shocked if they’re able to snag another player or two closer to the start of spring as asking prices fall.

      Garlick who minnesota just let go or bringing Naquin back would both be fine additions. Another good/cheap utility option would be bringing Solano back for another season but I think the OF options would be more likely.

      On the pitching side I still think it makes sense to have chase Anderson come back.

      • LDS

        Myers is the only one that will start. The others are filler. Sign someone that can actually play regularly.

      • Bdh

        Didn’t sign two catchers to fill half the bench. Stephenson will play off the plate more than he will behind it this year

  5. Old-school

    If Jose Barrero isnt the SS on Opening Day and Newman is and Steer is getting a long look at 3b and the organizational depth chart on OD at SS is:

    Newman -Reds
    Barrero-AAA, McLain SS 2
    EDLC- AA
    Marte-A

    Who is the backup SS on the big league club behind Newman while the young guys develop? Martin may be emergency filler behind newman waiting for Barrero/McLain to declare themselves or EDLC to blow up.

    • MK

      I would be very surprised if Barrero doesn’t start the year in Cincinnati or he stands to become Alf-Rod II. Elly has already proven himself in AA so I see him in AAA and Marte most likely at AA as a third baseman. McLain might repeat AA but most should be joined by Jose Torres and split between short and second. Arroyo and Steiger should be in A+ Ball with Acosta and Balcazar or Cabrera.

      • Old-school

        C trent did a what if article using eno sarris sabermetrician skills in a what if scenario on reds 2023 if every player hit their ZiPS 80% player outcome. 85 wins.

        Good read. Spencer Steer would be a good long shot

        C Trent

        “Expect De La Cruz to begin the season in AA again, find his way quickly to AAA and end the season in Cincinnati”

    • Bdh

      MLB
      2B – India
      SS – Barrero
      B – Newman

      AAA
      2B – Lopez
      SS – McClain
      B – Ivan Johnson
      B – Hernandez

      AA
      2B – Torres
      SS – De La Cruz

      A+
      2B – Callihan
      SS – Arroyo
      B – Faltine

      A
      2B – Jorge
      SS – Balcazar
      B – Acosta
      B – Ascanio

      Rok

      SS – Cabrera

      Who of note am I missing

      • MBS

        @BDH, missing Marte

        MLB
        2B India SS Newman

        AAA
        2B McLAIN SS EDLC/BARRERO

        AA
        2B Torres SS Marte

        A+
        2B ? SS Arroyo

        A
        2B Jorge SS Acosta/Balcazar

    • MBS

      @Old, my money was on Reynolds, but now that he’s gone, Lopez makes the most sense. Not that you’d want to start Lopez at SS, but if an injury came up during a game he could finish it. Then a promotion of a SS would be warranted if the injury was more than a day or two.

      DH Lopez / Stephenson
      C Stephenson / Casali / Maile
      1B Votto / Myers
      2B India / Solak
      3B Steer / Solak
      SS Newman / Lopez
      RF Myers / Friedl
      CF Senzel / Friedl
      LF Fraley / Solak

      That’s my guess based on the current 40 man if all are healthy

      • MK

        Really think Cruz will make it and Gibaut is odd man out. print up the Fernando -mania shirts.

        I’m not as sold on Steer as everyone seems to be. I’d put Senzel at third to try to keep him healthy. I also believe Barrero will be on the team as they need to make a decision and get on with it. Even if he has to platoon with Friedl in center.

      • JB

        I’m more sold on Steer than Senzel. What has he actually done? He played third a couple of years ago for what a game and hurt his knee. The guy is toast.

      • MK

        Senzel played third exclusively in college, Greeneville, Billings, Daytona and Chattanooga. Played second third and some outfield in Louisville. Probably has more experience at third than anyone on the team followed by or equal to India.

      • MBS

        @MK, that’s reasonable, I’m just thinking Barrero could benefit from time at AAA before being called back up. It could be weeks, or a month or two. Just bring him up when he’s swinging a hot bat.

      • Tom Diesman

        Games played at 3B in College/Minors/Majors

        India 318
        Steer 251
        Senzel 246

      • JB

        I don’t care how many games Senzel has played in the minors. He played how many in the majors? When he did he got hurt. Play Steer. Senzel is done.

  6. MK

    Would rather have signed Reynolds to a minor league deal than Martin.

    Young probably makes the team as a second lefty in the pen..

  7. Optimist

    With the rules change I realize the LOOGY is not really a thing any longer, but the Young signing is very interesting.

    1 – I’m wondering just as Doug notes – why just an MiLB deal and why with the Reds – seems like there’s a lot more value that that.

    2 – Hard to believe a guy could get “stuck” in the D’backs system, but they had him starting until age 25 – is he an overlooked value who converted to the pen too late?

    3 – Is SanMartin the only lhp in the bullpen? There are few in the minors, but none that stick out, unless they want to use Williamson in the pen upon callup. Therefore, is Young the competition or complement with SanMartin?

    This seems like an excellent no-risk, good benefit deal.

    • MK

      Minor League deal because they don’t have anyone on current 40-man roster they want to DFA and Young agreed to it.

      • Optimist

        True, but that’s the Reds problem, not Young’s. Surprised that no other MLB team offered a 40-man spot, or perhaps a better MiLB deal.

  8. Bdh

    I can’t remember who from Louisville last year has chosen free agency (I’m guessing Gilliam, Dawson, and Santana are all gone) but this year could be the best team they’ve had in a long time

    Top of my head guess without looking into recent signings

    C – Romine / Robinson / Free
    1B – McGary
    2B – Lopez / Ivan Johnson
    SS – McClain / Hernandez
    3B – Quintana
    LF – Hopkins
    CF – Siani
    RF – Fairchild
    DH – Encarnacion-Strand

    And this is if De La Cruz starts in AA.

    SP – Dunn
    SP – Williamson
    SP – Stoudt
    SP – Overton
    SP – Lively

    • Optimist

      Siani, Fairchild, Dunn and one of the other pitchers are most likely on the Reds. Also wonder if someone wants Romine in MLB as well.

      • Bdh

        Dunn imo has the best shot of those you listed. Health not being a factor I’d have the reds with the roster as it currently sits as the following

        C – Casali
        1B – Votto
        2B – India
        SS – Barrero
        3B – Steer
        LF – Fraley
        CF – Senzel
        RF – Myers
        DH – Stephenson

        B – Maile – C
        B – Newman – IF
        B – Senzel – IF/OF
        B – Solak – IF/OF

        SP – Lodolo
        SP – Greene
        SP – Ashcraft
        SP – Cessa
        SP – Weaver

        CP – Diaz
        RP – Antone
        RP – Sims
        RP – Santillan
        RP – Farmer
        RP – Sanmartin
        RP – Gibaut
        RP – Young or Cruz

      • PTBNL

        You have Senzel listed twice, once as a starter and also as a sub.

      • Bdh

        Whoops! Good catch. Starting in CF for me would be Friedl

      • Optimist

        Oh, my bad – Siani definitely in AAA. Still wonder if Fairchild is on the MLB roster, though I suppose it’s between him, Friedl and Solak for the last bench OF spot. Dunn is pretty clearly either MLB or injured list.

        I hope they’re not hoping for one of the other P’s to make the opening day roster. With all the returning injured list pitchers, they really need another Weaver type on the roster. Someone with several years MLB experience – and a less than $4m contract is fine – just not another unreleasable contract a-la Minor. Keep the rest in AAA until late May/mid-June.

      • Redsvol

        Fairchild is definitely opening roster if healthy. He can play all 3 outfield positions. He needs major league at bats.

        I thought Reynolds’s would be in bench given his position flex. I’m not sure solak makes it because his infield defense is not that good. I’d like to see another left handed bat brought in – I can’t find a better one than Tyler naquin!

      • Bdh

        I’d like Naquin as well. Has a 105 OPS+ during his time as a red. He would provide another left handed bat in the lineup which the Reds need

        Vs righties

        1 – Friedl – LF
        2 – India – 2B
        3 – Stephenson – C
        4 – Votto – 1B
        5 – Myers – RF
        6 – Fraley – DH
        7 – Naquin – CF
        8 – Steer – 3B
        9 – Barrero/Newman – SS

        vs Lefties

        1 – Friedl – LF/CF
        2 – India – 2B
        3 – Stephenson – DH
        4 – Votto – 1B
        5 – Myers – RF
        6 – Steer – 3B
        7 – Senzel CF or Solak/Fairchild LF
        8 – Casali/Maile – C
        9 – Barrero/Newman – SS

      • Redsvol

        I like it BDH – well, as much as I can like a low payroll starting lineup. If we don’t add another left handed bat we have all of a sudden become very right handed. As opposed to 2 years ago when we were too left handed and couldn’t hit lefties.

  9. MK

    Just looked him up and with Lodolo and Williamson, Young would be the third TCU left-handed pitcher on the roster.

    • Harry Stoner

      I would have enjoyed seeing Duvall back in GASP, but it likely would have meant giving up on one of Friedl, Fraley, Fairchild, Myers.

      With Kojak and Siani on the outfield radar as well.

      I don’t see the Reds able to make that kind of a decision.

      Less so with Bell wanting shuffle and juggle all of the above around as is his “managing” method.

      I think they made a better move with their $$ at C than bringing back TB.

      However, not signing Cueto and then frittering away your savings on not renewing Minor (Newman, Weaver) seems like poor financial managing.

      But maybe Cueto wasn’t really interested in returning.

      • Harry Stoner

        Sorry…this reply went in the wrong location…I meant it in response to the Duvall-Cueto-Barnhart tease interest noted below.

  10. AMDG

    Heading into 2022 Young had a career ERA over 4.90 and a WHIP around 1.45
    I assume teams view 2022 as sort of a fluke (he still gave up a lot of hits)?

    Martin has never been much of a hitter at any level (college, minors, majors), but I guess his 0.212 career average is slightly better than Barrero?

  11. Scott C

    It would be nice to actually have a real MLB signing of note. It is so sad to see other clubs make signings that will make them better while the Reds sign a guy they might need as a glove guy with speed. Makes me want to puke.

  12. LDS

    Adam Duvall signs with RSox for $7m. Another Reds “rumor” is history. Cueto, Barnhart, Duvall, all scams to stimulate fan interest. But, at least, they still dumpster dive. There are plenty of Martin’s left to sign.

    • MBS

      To be fair those were all C level FA’s. We were never linked to the A or B level guys. That’s how low our expectations as Reds fans are, that we get excited for these type of rumors.

      • Melvin

        We just can’t handle those “high priced” free agents. Minor League contracts are about all we can afford now. Just ask Phil. If you don’t believe him ask his dad. 🙂

      • LDS

        Even sadder is that these C-level FAs are better, on average, than most of the players on the Reds 26-man roster. When one looks at the number of FAs that signed for less than the Reds are paying Moustakas, they could have greatly improved the team without even setting a new payroll record. Of course, the unsaid truth is that I’m guessing many of these FAs wouldn’t sign with the Reds unless they were paid excessively. The Reds are not a popular FA destination.

  13. Gonzo Reds

    Mets sign former Reds OF and serious fantasy football player Pham for 1 year @ 6M. He certainly isn’t worth that considering it’s for a bench role but when you have a billionaire owner I guess you can overpay.

    • redfanorbust

      Hi Gonzo. I just saw that today and was initially surprised at the amount and then remembered who the owner is.

      • TR

        It looks like the Mets are on their way to take over the title from the Yankees as the ‘best team money can buy.’

    • SultanofSwaff

      The way I see it is that our C level Pham equivalents (Friedl/Fairchild/Fraley/Senzel) all have at least some value in the event a better prospect emerges and they become expendable. That said, these non-starter glue guys who’ve had the good fortune to get ample big league experience and are hitting their prime are essential to contending teams. You’d hate to see them blossom somewhere else because we pulled the plug too soon.

      • Jim Walker

        Agree.

        The 3 F Trooper outfielders all came in with 2022 OPS+ numbers of MLB average (100) or better. Two them, Fraley at 118 and Fairchild at 116 were considerably better than average, albeit neither had a full season’s worth of PAs. All three of them are competent or better defensively.

        Given where the team is at, don’t sweat fixing the OF until a prospect is repurposed into an OF and has developed sufficiently to displace them, or a trade for a better OF falls into the Reds lap.

      • Tom Diesman

        Absolutely, plus all of Fraley, Friedl, and Fairchild finished the year strong despite not getting the PAs they should’ve because the Reds were still wasting time with the likes of Senzel, Aquino, and Almora.

        2022 2nd Half

        Name PA BA OBP SLG OPS
        Fraley 199 .295 .377 .526 .903
        Friedl 158 .267 .354 .533 .888
        Fairchild 89 .282 .371 .513 .884

      • JB

        I actually am looking forward to watching the F troop. I hope they all brake out this year and have good years. Hope Fairchild gets his shot and Bell doesn’t plop him on the bench and use him once a week like he does Lopez.