The Cincinnati Reds welcome Kennys Vargas back to the organization. The power hitting first baseman/designated hitter agreed to a deal with the Reds, first reported by Beisbol Puro, and the minor league deal also includes an invitation to big league spring training. That brings the total number of players in big league camp to 64.

If you don’t remember the days of Kennys Vargas being a Cincinnati Reds player you probably aren’t alone. On March 22nd of 2018 the Reds claimed him off of waivers from the Minnesota Twins. Two days later he was put back on waivers by Cincinnati and the Twins claimed him back. No, I don’t understand that one either.

It was the season prior to that, 2017, when Vargas last played in the big leagues. From 2014-2017 he saw action with the Twins. He played in 236 games and hit 38 doubles, a triple, and 35 home runs while posting a .252/.311/437 line (102 OPS+).

After spending the 2018 season in Triple-A with the Twins, Kennys Vargas headed to Japan for the 2019 season. He didn’t play in 2020, but headed to the Mexican League for both 2021 and 2022.

Last year he hit .324/.462/.566 in 353 plate appearances with  the Tecolotes de los Dos Laredos. The then 31-year-old hit 17 home runs, had 17 doubles, walked 68 times, and he struck out 98 times. After the season he played in both the Venezuelan and Mexican Winter Leagues. While in Venezuela he hit .274/.397/.519 with 17 walks and 26 strikeouts over a span of 30 games. With Monterrey in the Mexican Winter League he hit .290/.430/.478 with 16 walks and 19 strikeouts in 20 games.

You can see the career stats for Kennys Vargas here.

Here are the non-roster players that will be in big league camp:


  • Andrew Abbott
  • Silvino Bracho
  • Alan Busenitz
  • Daniel Duarte
  • Tayron Guerrero
  • Kevin Herget
  • Derek Law
  • Ben Lively
  • Connor Phillips
  • Jared Solomon
  • Alex Young


  • Jhonny Pereda
  • Chuckie Robinson
  • Austin Romine


  • Christian Encarnacion-Strand
  • Richie Martin
  • Alex McGarry
  • Matt McLain
  • Chad Pinder
  • Matt Reynolds
  • Jason Vosler


  • Allan Cerda
  • Henry Ramos

92 Responses

  1. Jimbo44CN

    God, this orginazation reminds me of the movie Major League more and more every day. The opening scene where the catcher Tom Berenger is trying to recover from a hangover in some Mexican flop house and gets a call from the Indians. Wow.

    • Steve

      I mean, if somehow the Reds combine a bunch of these cast-offs and minor league invites into winning the National League like the Indians did in the movie then I am all for it.

      • Reaganspad

        What league did you play in?

        California penal

    • MK

      Just as a reminder that Major League Team won their Division.

    • Andy

      Reds fans remind me of the reason sports is no fun anymore, non stop complaining before the season has even started. At least they have a team of good prospects that should interesting to watch. I’d rather watch that then a bunch of 30 year olds hitting .220.

      • thssks

        It’s like you said Phil “where you gonna go.”

      • Challenger

        Couldn’t agree more on both observations,Andy!

      • SteveAreno

        I would rather watch the experienced 30-year-old find his groove than good prospects who can’t bat in the majors yet. Like Brandon Drury last year hitting almost 30 Hrs and 90 rbi’s to your good prospect Barrero hitting .152 with 2 hr’s. But, all I want is a winning team now not a dream four years from now.

      • Mike in Ottawa

        Andy, if the Reds were willing to ride or die with the young guys, I’d be all in. But these 30 something castoffs, will end up getting PT in front of the young guys. Thus the frustration!

    • Joey Red

      That team made it to the playoffs so it’s not a fair comparison. But there’s always a chance the Reds will continue to find more unknown “sluggers” to give us hope of a playoff run.

    • Fish

      Hat for bat, keep bat warm. Muchos gracias.

      • JayTheRed

        Y? bartender Jobu needs a refill.

  2. redsfan4040

    With the injuries this team saw last year, it’s not unreasonable to think that many of these guys could see some big league action in 2023. I think Vosler and Young break camp with the team.

    I would love to see Cerda hit even just 240 – 250. Cause with his defense, power, and on base skills, that’d be more than enough.

    I’m doubting it translates, but if the Reds get the Vargas that played in the Mexican league, that’d be incredible. I would pay real money to go sit in the GABP outfield and hope he hits an absolute tank in my direction.

  3. Bdh

    This one puzzles me a bit with all the 1B options they have at the MLB + AAA levels


    My guess is they’re thinking about injuries. Last year Stephenson, India, Solano, Moustakas, Almora, Barrero, and possibly Naquin all missed time in April from injuries. Both Cincinnati + Louisville paid the price for it.

    Wasn’t any different with the pitchers with Dunn, Castillo, and Minor all starting the year in the IL so I hope they add another starting pitcher to a minor league deal. This is where I’m hoping they’re able to get Chase Anderson back

    • David

      I think they really want Myers to play Right Field.

      And Stephenson is a catcher first, and maybe a DH on days off.
      McGarry is interesting, but the Top Men with the Reds may feel he is “not ready”; ditto Encarnacion- Strand.
      And this guy Vargas seems to have a lot more “pop” than Pinder.


      In the Big Red Machine days, they did have a big guy, a slugger, named Roger Freed in Spring Training. I guess he was supposed to be a big right handed pinch hitter. He just up and left one day. Sparky Anderson had a big chuckle about that.

      • Bdh

        With 3 catchers on the major league roster my guess would be if Votto misses any time then you’ll see Stephenson stay off the plate almost entirely until he returns. Someone with more positional versatility like Pinder/Vosler/Reynolds would be the backup at that point

      • Oldtimer

        Roger Freed played a handful of games in 1974 for the Reds. Before that, he was a halfway decent bench player for the Phillies. After the Reds, he was a bench player for the Cardinals.

        1974 Reds lineup. C Bench 1B Perez 2B Morgan SS Concepcion 3B Driessen LF Rose CF Geronimo RF Griffey

        No much room for Freed.

  4. LDS

    Well, they have made weaker signings this off season. And he’s only a 1B/DH so Bell won’t like him much. But, I wonder if this is related to lowered expectations of Votto’s return?

    • Tim

      This has to be an indication that Votto may not be able to begin the season. It’s very likely that he will not be able to return to his form at all. If anyone can it’s Joey but with the nature of his injury and how it impacts his swing, it seems unlikely. Picking up a guy with some power and decent numbers to play at gabp on a minor league deal seems pretty good to me.

      • David

        It’s a Blues clue!!
        Yeah, I think Joey, hard worker that he is, will not be ready to play in Spring of 2023, and frankly, his career may be over.

        And this makes me sad, and not in some mocking way toward Reds’ management.

    • MBS

      Signing 2 back up C’s and Will Myers was the indication Votto is probably a no go.

      • LDS

        No, I figure age & injury is taking a far larger toll on Votto than we have yet been told, although there have been hints. Sad, but not unexpected.

      • greenmtred

        I fear you may be right, LDS, but I was asking that question in response to your thought that Bell won’t like a player who only plays one position and DH.,,I see little evidence of that and also expect that lots of managers value positional flexibility for obvious reasons.

      • LDS

        Votto is different. He’s expensive and well established. This guy isn’t. And position flexibility is a fool’s bet. Excellence will beat versatility every day of the week.

      • greenmtred

        Versatility and excellence are not mutually exclusive. Yes, there are a number of players in baseball who could be called journeymen who add to their value by being versatile, but great players have played multiple positions, too. I suspect that most mlb players are good enough athletes to do this with a little practice, and large numbers of them don’t now play the positions they did as high school/college players.

    • Luke J

      You people are reading WAAAAY too much into minor league signings. These are basically lotto tickets. So they sign a ton of them and see if any of them turn into winners, a la Drury. You can’t possibly draw conclusions about the health or plan of actual major leaguers based on minor league signings. That’s a fool’s errand.

      • greenmtred

        I don’t know if people are into these signings so much or whether there isn’t much else to talk about for Reds fans.

      • Melvin

        greenmtred – It’s the biggest news we got. lol

  5. Jim Walker

    Doug has a lot of player pictures in hand or accessible to him. It always sends me a message of some sort when the best most recent photo he has to choose from for a player beyond rising prospect age features the guy wearing a minor league or foreign league uniform.

  6. DataDumpster

    It’s all about the Louisville Bats record and whether David Bell’s reign can bring on the development that Krall has emphasized as the “strategy” going forward. The Bats had 6 consecutive winning seasons and 3 division titles from 2006-2011. Then, David Bell was brought in to manage and the team went 51-93 and just completed their 10th consecutive losing season. They are 170-239 since 2019 so whatever “reforms, analytics, new hires, etc.” Bell has instituted at the organizational level don’t seem to be working.
    For a team overwhelmingly dependent on young player development, a manager and organizational strategy proven to be adept at that skill needs to be put in place. Having 65 players in camp and using the same amount at the MLB level during the season does not bode well for finding a strong starting 8 and stable pitching staff. Happy talk is no substitute for discipline and fundamentals.

    • Chris Holbert

      Bell has to be told to play young players. Perfect example, is last year when he was, I believe, told to put Barrero at SS and leave him. He is not a manager that young guys can get in a groove and get comfortable, and develop. They are in for a day and out for 3 to 4 , and then back in again, and are deemed, “not ready”, or are automatically platoon guys when they come to the Reds. Others may disagree, but the Reds need someone who has the same vision as Krall and wants to develop the trade hauls and see what the minors can produce, Bell has never proven to be that guy, yet.

      • MK

        Then they need to tell him winning is not the criteria of his success or failure. On my mind he puts out the lineup with the best chance of winning instead of developing. Maybe this requires a contract extension.

      • Melvin

        I agree. I new manager would be a good idea for a lot of reasons.

      • Harry Stoner

        You’ve hit the nail right on the head.

        This is about as clear eyed critique of Bell that I’ve read and lays out why he is a looming disaster for the crop of young talent the Reds have been accumulating.

        We already saw some of it playing out with Steer last season.

        But barring another 3-37 start, how do you get rid of him?

      • 2020ball

        Not sure what nonsense yall are going on about, do yall really not want a manager that doesnt try to win?

        Playing guys who are actually performing instead of rookies rushed into a role they clearly werent ready for is not what makes bell a bad manager. Steer played plenty down the stretch. Barrero probably played too much and was clearly rushed w bad stats in AAA all year. Whatever it is yall think youre criticizing here just sounds like a bunch of nonsense from fans who arent paying any attention and just want to complain as much as possible.

    • MuddyCleats

      Spot on; for an Organization relying on developing their own players, the Reds need to be much better at. Hint for Reds Org: study what organizations are good at it and then go hire some of their people and give them the authority to put a plane in place.

    • LDS

      Nepotism trumps logic and winning. Bell is an insider. They don’t care about the outcome, only the profits.

      • MK

        It has always been about profit, since 1869. For us it is a game, for them a business to make profit.

    • 2020ball

      The bats record? Say what? So since the players on those teams were able to beat AAAA players they obviously should be able to beat the best players in the world?

      I really dont care if Bell gets fired, but the problem with this team isnt the manager; its the quality of the players and penny-pinching ownership that has held them back. All this after people are actually advocating we play bad young players more which would just hurt the record y’all are complaining about in the first place.

    • Doc

      Where was David Bell working in 2006-2011? How is he responsible for losing season streak that started 8-9 years before he became manager of the Reds?Asking for a friend.

      • DataDumpster

        He managed 3 years in the Red’s organization for the Carolina Mudcats AA team. All 3 of those seasons had losing records as well. After the Louisville debacle, he left the Reds org and did not become a manager anywhere else until the Reds hired him for the present stint.

      • Charles

        He is not. He is just tending the ship. Need new ownership that wants to win.

      • Melvin

        DataDumpster – Just the kind of manager needed to teach a young team how to win?

    • greenmtred

      Your analysis of the Bats’ record under Bell lacks critical information: How the rosters compared to those of earlier teams, and how many of the better players were called up mid-season.

  7. MK

    This to me is a DH signing. Meaning very good or bad news about Votto. It either means he will be able to play first base at seasons beginning and they need a left handed hitting first DH or he won’t be able to swing the bat by the beginning of the season and they need either a left handed hitting first baseman or DH. The Brewers always seem to do well with these kind of signings.

  8. AllTheHype

    Love the sarcasm in the title, LOL.

  9. MK

    Doug you left. Vargas off your list of invitees.

  10. Tom N

    Could be a player they see as a middle of the lineup bat for Louisville, and that would be a valuable organizational addition. The Louisville team has typically finished 20 or more games under .500 over several consecutive seasons and that is not a good environment for your top minor league club (or any minor league club). While the Reds do have a stronger list of top-10 prospects than they have had for quite a while, their minor league clubs really have lacked depth and good “organizational” players who help the prospects develop in a winning culture. Vargas could be one of those kind of players.

  11. Votto4life

    When Nick Krall said he was through adding talent he was telling the truth.

    • Joey Red

      Yeah but this guy is a slugger. You can’t have too many sluggers in your organization.

  12. DataDumpster

    All this speculation about Votto and the numerous 1B/DH options available don’t register to me as to why they acquired this guy. Since the Red’s curious “turnaround” on him 5 years ago next month, Vargas has not appeared in even one MLB game. He is however listed at 6’5, 285 lbs. Is the (long shot) Aquino factor at work here?

    • Melvin

      Hasn’t played in the majors since 2017? This is nothing more than a “shot in the dark” signing which is what a lot of them are. There’s PROBABLY a reason other teams aren’t picking up these guys. lol You never know. He could be another “Roy Hobbs”. 🙂

      • Tar Heel Red

        Every team signs players such as these to minor league contracts every year. This is nothing new and certainly nothing to get upset about. The vast majority of these type signings are AAA fodder or are released.

    • Harry Stoner

      I’ve seen Los Tecos play numerous times. Great stadium, fun times.

      Awesome food.

      Kenny Vargas?

      It’s like when Kinky Friedman was running for Texas governor.

      His bumper stickers read: “Why the hexx not?”

      My hunch is that JV isn’t going to be ready for opening day.

      More opportunity for Bell to juggle around in his Ouija Board lineups.

      • 2020ball

        Yall are reading waay too much into this. Its just a depth signing and a chance to get a look at a guy in ST.

  13. redfanorbust

    Not sure why some are surprised or complaining about these signings. Reds doing exactly what Krall said they were going to do after signing Wil Myers that any more signings they would have to get creative. These types of signings are exactly that. They are hoping to catch a player on the rebound who has a good half year at GABP and trade them to a contending team for a halfway decent prospect and at the same time covering possible injuries or under performing by the current players.

  14. Tom Mitsoff

    His stats from the past year show an attractive strikeout-to-walk ratio for a “slugger.” 🙂

  15. Kevin H

    What would a new manager do with this roster? Seriously, no bullpen improvements and 3 starting pitchers.

    Face it this isn’t a Bell problem. This is a organization problem/front office problem

    • LDS

      That ownership and the FO are problems doesn’t mean that Bell isn’t . He’s part of the FO club, as he bragged early on when talking about moving his office to be closer to the FO.

      • Kevin H

        He as a manager can only do so much.

        That still doesn’t answer the question of what would a new manager do. As I repeat they have 3 starters and really no bullpen. So Jack Mckeon could walk through the door, Sandy Kofaux as pitching coach and it wouldn’t matter. Front office and the owners care nothing about this team. If they did they would of build upon the 2020 season and 2021 season instead they lied and tore the team down and used that ole excuse of “we are a small market team” blah blah,… Sorry I will never believe that. They are just greedy

      • LDS

        That’s true, but we know unequivocally that Bell doesn’t know how or chooses not to facilitate the development of the younger guys. He loves playing 30- year old mediocre, utility players and washed up pitchers.

      • 2020ball

        Bell’s at fault for playing the trash the FO gives him? And for not playing the youth that is unable to perform better than said trash?

      • LDS

        For his preference for playing the “trash”. That the team is lousy is unambiguous. That he plays the dregs ahead of the young guys and plays the young guys out f position is also unambiguous. He’s not who you want managing when guys like EDLC is promoted. Will be wasting the best prospect in the minors.

      • 2020ball

        Im just glad they arent bringing in a new manager so when he predictably loses the fans start turning on him, something that will just happen anyway but may as well put it off for a few years. No man alive is going to do any better w this roster.

      • greenmtred

        LDS, you seem to confuse your opinion with fact or unequivocal knowledge. I know–we all know–that Bell is the bee in your bonnet. That said, it’s always a pleasure to read your opinions and–usually–argue with them.

  16. Scott C

    Throwing mud at the wall hoping something sticks.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      It’s really the only feasible strategy with a budget that is pennies on the dollar compared to teams that are trying to contend.

  17. Rednat

    again, 2023 spring training will be wasted on “sorting through” these no name players to see who makes the team. wouldn’t surprise me if we start 3-22 again as april will basically be our real spring training

  18. Jackson

    Honestly, I like these depth and veteran signings. I mean you guys act like the reds don’t know how to find talent. They did this last year and what happened they won some games. Big minor league contract players from last year include: Brandon Drury, Tyler Naquin, Albert Almora, Buck Farmer, and Derek Law. All of which made a solid impact on the team or were traded for good value. I believe before you complain about players you give them a chance. Pinder, Vargas, Young, Busenitz, and Romine will be those players this season.

    • Jimbo44CN

      And after all that amazing finding of talent, they still managed to lose 100 games. Cmon, let’s be realistic

      • Harold

        We may lose 120 with this group. This roster doesn’t compare with last year roster. Where are you going to go?

      • 2020ball

        So we should be realistic and not pursue upgrades for a bad team that might turn into prospect capital for the future? Sooo… instead root for more reasons to just complain forever?

      • Jimbo44CN

        Being realistic does not mean I am not a fan. Have been one since 1960, saw JB as a rookie at Crosley while dressed in my Knothole uniform, listened to every game on a transistor radio with my friends, made up our own scorecards to keep score during games, and on from there. . I love this team but just hate to see what the current ownership is doing to the franchise and everyone has a right to complain about the current situation.

  19. Jackson

    You keep those guys they would’ve won 10 more games. I mean to be honest, we expect them to win when they are a small market team. The Reds are the exact same way as the A’s from Moneyball but without the playoffs. We are a small market team who can’t afford big contracts even without Votto’s contract we would only be able to afford one superstar. Which he would leave immediately because we wouldn’t be able to afford them.

  20. William

    The Reds continue to try to pull a rabbit out of the hat. Is there a magician who will work for no pay?

    • TR

      Is Little Papi an answer to the Reds offensive need? KV last played in MLB in 2017 and the last two years in the Mexican League.

  21. DataDumpster

    Somehow I feel like the guy who stirred up a lot of trouble and then disappeared to let others deal with the damage. But, if this helped to draw some traffic, I guess that’s the name of the game. Anyway, I wish the best for Mr. Vargas. I would very much look forward to seeing him take a few swings for the Reds. At 6’5, 280 he must be a very impressive batter in the box (Yasiel Puig was “only” 6’2, 240).

    • DaveCT

      I saw Vargas quite a bit at AA. He’s a physical specimen. Sano got more ink, but Vargas could play.

      • Doug Gray

        Fun fact: His nickname is Little Papi.

      • DaveCT

        Papi was amazing at AA. It was apparent he should not play anywhere but DH. Bit dude always hit. Great era. Buxton, Sano, Papi, Hunter, Vasquez, etc.

  22. Joey Red

    This guy has to be the least known “slugger” in baseball history. But it’s the Reds so maybe he will hit 2 or 3 dingers in August when the Reds are in the cellar and 30 games back. He might get a bobble head for those heroics!!

  23. Michael E

    Krall is hamstrung on budget I am sure.

    This is the kind of signing, low cost, low risk, potential some kind of reward.

    Hey, why not, maybe he rakes in ST, starts, hits surprisingly competently in first half and is traded to a team in dire need of power infusion or that just sustained an injury to a key 1B/DH/OF type.

    I would be more disappointed if they were not signing guys like this. If you’re rebuilding (or maybe just tearing down, we can’t say until next December or so) taking one year fliers on reclamations or shots-in-the-dark are wise moves. You only need like 1 in 3 to pan out to return a tidy profit (on talent or $$$ or both). One trade for a top 5 or top 10 prospect is worth the tiny salary.

    As for holding back other prospects with these one year vet deals, well, I think we know that most aren’t ready and that Reds F.O. would want to manipulate service time anyway.

    • Doc

      Except that those who accuse Reds of manipulating service time never give solid examples, and even Doug has refuted that notion in the past.

  24. Mark A Verticchio

    This will not be a good year but, I don’t see 100 losses. If India and Stephenson are healthy that is a big improvement and with Antone, Sims and others the bull pen should be better.

  25. MK

    Vargas is their third minor league signing of a former Japanese League player this offseason.