The Cincinnati Reds have acquired outfielder Bubba Thompson from the Kansas City Royals after picking him up on waivers. The Reds are the third team that Thompson has been with since the start of 2023.

Bubba Thompson was a 1st round draft pick of the Texas Rangers in 2017 and he had been with the club ever since. But in the middle of August this past season the team placed him on waivers and he was claimed by Kansas City. They then placed him on waivers this week and Cincinnati put in a claim and was able to acquire him. His addition puts the club at 38 players on the 40-man roster, not including impending free agents or three players that are currently on the 60-day injured list and don’t count until after the World Series is completed.

Thompson has spent parts of the last two seasons in the big leagues. In 2022 he played in 55 games with the Texas Rangers and hit .265/.302/.312 while stealing 18 bases. This year he played in 37 games with the Rangers and hit .170/.237/.283 with four stolen bases. Only one game came after May – he was used as a pinch runner on July 30th against San Diego.

In the 2023 minor league season he played in 65 games at the Triple-A level and those games were split nearly evenly between Round Rock with Texas and Omaha with Kansas City. Omaha is very hitter friendly, while Round Rock was pitcher friendly compared to other parks in the Pacific Coast League. Thompson hit .260/.338/.395 in his 302 minor league plate appearances. He picked up 14 doubles, 2 triples, and 6 home runs to go along with 27 stolen bases in 32 attempts.

Thompson is known for his speed. Among all of the players in Major League Baseball last season he had the third highest average sprint speed in baseball – trailing just Bobby Witt Jr. and Elly De La Cruz. He had far fewer opportunities than those two did, but when he was out there and running, he showed speed that matched up with anyone in the game.

What he’s not known for is his bat. He’s shown very little power in the big leagues. He’s hit one home run in 241 big league plate appearances. There has been more power in the minor league for Thompson – he’s hit 51 home runs in 1861 plate appearances while on the farm. You can see his career stats here.

While average exit velocity isn’t as important as you may immediately think it is (the average exit velocity for a players top 10-15% of batted balls is far more important), Thompson’s 84.1 MPH average exit velocity is well below-average (88.4 MPH is the big league average). It was actually worse in Triple-A this season, coming in at 83.8 MPH.

During his big league time he’s also struck out quite a bit. His 30% strikeout rate would be more acceptable from a player with plenty of power, but when it’s coming from someone who has shown absolutely no power it’s an area of concern and one that must improve if he’s going to carve out a career that’s more than “pinch runner”.

When it comes to service time and options, that’s working in the Reds favor. Thompson is under team control through 2028. He also has two more option years available to use if needed.

82 Responses

  1. Optimist

    The journey to the World Series begins with small steps. Sometimes very small steps.

    • David

      I think this is just dumpster diving. The guy has proven that he actually can’t hit in the Majors.
      I respect the Rangers for dumping a 1st round draft choice when they realized he was a flop. It happens.
      Just more mediocrity (sub- mediocrity) clogging up the Reds’ 40 man roster.

      Why? Well, he’s right handed so that is another guy that Bell can play the “handsy” platoon game with.
      This is a clue that the Reds Top Men will NOT try to acquire an “above average” Starting Pitcher this off season, and may dumpster dive to get arms for the bullpen.

      • 2020ball

        Jeezus, put down the torch and pitchfork, this isnt a “clue” to anything. More expected RLN tears over a player that likely is just filler until the spring, perhaps sooner.

      • Melvin

        I doubt he lasts long. No big deal. Not enough room already on the 40 man roster.

      • Steve

        It was a waiver claim in October before the World Series has even began…this is not a big deal, it does not indicate how David Bell will utilize his roster, nor does it indicate a plan for the Reds offseason. This is the exact definition of making a mountain out of a molehill. It is a long offseason, try to relax a bit.

  2. MK

    Wouldn’t be surprised to see him DFAed again before 40-man has to be set. I imagine they would like to keep him on a minor league deal for organizational depth at AAA as he doesn’t provide the mlb team anything they do not already have (Friedl, Hurtubise) etc. 2020.

  3. Beaufort Red

    Unless he explodes in spring training won’t be on the roster. A AAA player available for call up in case if emergency. Kind of like Siani and Hopkins. Can also backfill if Dunn ,Hurtubise or the like get called up. Louisville still needs to he relevant.

  4. Grand Salami

    Didn’t know the Reds were in the market for a pinch runner.

    • TR

      They led MLB in stolen bases this past season.

  5. PTBNL

    Sounds like a RH hitting Billy Hamilton to me. No thanks.

  6. Votto4life

    Not sure why the Reds waste time and money on players like this. Hopefully, we will never see him in a Red’s uniform.

    • 2020ball

      What time did they waste? Yours because you felt compelled to comment on it at all?

      • Votto4life

        And yours for replying to my comment.

      • 2020ball

        My pleasure, i assure you. GL hoping the Reds somehow make a big splash in the middle of the world series.

    • Mario

      Votto, agreed. Saw this on social media and just kind of rolled my eyes. Waste of a 40 man roster spot. This is the kind of player that is signed to a minor league deal with an invite to spring training.

      • 2020ball

        An empty spot is the only “waste of a spot”, why even have a reaction to this at all, who cares? Yall are relentless in your whining.

      • Votto4life

        @2020Ball you have commented five times in this thread. For someone who is complaining about people reacting to this thread, you sure seem to be reacting quite a lot.

      • wkuchad

        The criticisms of such a minor move, while the 2023 season is still underway, just seem so silly. So it only makes sense that the criticisms of the criticisms seem equally silly, right?? I think. Maybe.

      • Mario

        Guys, they have to protect several of their prospects on the 40 man roster or risk losing them to the rule 5 draft. Those spots won’t stay empty for long and Bubba hasn’t earned one. His stat sheet says he’s not even a good minor league player.

      • Mario

        Nick Krall has done a fine job but his decisions are not immune to being discussed. That’s all we are doing here. Like panning for gold, maybe it works out.

      • 2020ball

        Exactly, maybe it works out and theres zero risk. No one needs to be protected from the rule 5 until they do, once that deadline comes maybe then come in with some burning analysis on Kralls choices. Analyzing this now just sounds so reactionary when the offseason hasnt even started. Its just filling an empty spot and looks like he’ll be a prime candidate for a DFA. Theyre gonna try and sneak him through waivers when the roster crunch hits all the teams.

        As for counting comments, not sure your point there, oh woow you got me, ouch. Im well on record of my disdain to the general whine of this blog. Im not hiding it. Thanks goes to Krall for paying attention to the depth of the organization and not trying to simply appease the complaint-ridden fanbase.

      • Mario

        Maybe stop complaining about other folks comments? This is a place for discussion not criticism of someone having an opinion.

  7. Tampa Red

    One of the many off-season minor transactions that this fan base will completely blow out of proportion – insert popcorn emoji here

  8. TJ

    Maybe the Reds saw something in this high draft pick that they can make something out of. Anyone remember Edwin Encarnacion and Adolis Garcia? Both were released at one time and could have been picked up by any team.

  9. Mike

    I guess this means they are trading Andrew Abbott

  10. LDS

    Yawn, sizzling start to the off season

    • JayTheRed

      Resigning Mallie was the start to the offseason. Which was a good move.

  11. Fanman

    Another athletic player with elite speed. I love speed, defense and putting pressure on the opponent’s defense. If he can bunt, hit the ball on the ground… solid pickup. Low risk/high reward.

  12. Jason Franklin

    Please don’t let this forum turn into another MLBTR type place full of trolls and people who have to flex their whatever to feel important. Let us continue thoughtful and knowledgeable converstations.

    • mac624

      It’s already there sadly. Every post turns into a Bell hate fest and how much the Reds FO stinks. Most of the keyboard warriors never played past Little League yet know more than people that actually been involved in the game for 30 years. I love the content of the articles, but usually skip the comments section. Just not worth it anymore.

  13. Harry Stoner

    All things considered, it doesn’t hurt to have someone named “Bubba” in the organization.

  14. DW

    The likely thinking behind this move is that he will be DFA’d again, but maybe he will pass through waivers and take a minor league assignment. This is a depth move, not intended to improve the 40 man roster. MK pretty much stated this in a comment above. If another team claims him off waivers, nothing hurt.

  15. Old-school

    He has very strange splits if I am reading milb stat correct

    Hes decent against righties as a righty and awful against lefties as a righty

    3rd fastest in mlb plus good outfield defense and ok against righties.

    • TR

      Perhaps they want Bubba as an alternative to Senzel in the outfield.

    • Jim Walker

      Could the cause of much of the reverse split be a reflection of his speed coming into play because he pulls righties to the side of the infield requiring a longer throw to 1B? Just a thought.

  16. Redsvol

    Going to need some outfield depth in AAA Louisville. After Blake Dunn and Reece Hinds the cupboard for upper level outfielders is bare.

    Siani got claimed by Cardinals. Henry Ramos left for free agency. Hurtibise might not get protected on 40 man and thus claimed. TJ Hopkins might be kept. But they’ll need 5-6 outfielders in AAA. Thompson is just depth- and still only 25 y.o..s

    • Jason Franklin

      I agree with most of your thoughts but I don’t see the Reds letting Hurtibise not being protected. Don’t they have a few open spots now?

      I also think to bring up Dunn will require a trade somewhere from the platoon up here unless they settle to a 2 catcher system.

      • Jim Walker

        I agree the Reds are not likely to leave Hurtubise off their 40 man roster as it doesn’t ring true they would spend one of their fall league spots on a guy and then expose him to the Rule 5 draft. However, we can’t rule out they could be showcasing him for trade bait.

  17. Michael B. Green

    Wondering if BOS is the best match up for a deal involving India? They could have some pitchers that fit in the right deal and could probably include a UT IF or RH-OF.

    • Redsvol

      Boston is an interesting team. They are likely going to be aggressive at improving that team. They have a new baseball ops vp and have $ to spend.

      As with all big market teams, their prospects get overhyped (thanks Keith law) and often underperform. So take their rankings with a grain of salt. But we need pitching and relievers and outfielders. So whatever it takes to get them – trade, free agency, development- let’s get them. The rest of the NL central will not be standing pat this offseason.

    • JaxDan

      I am looking at the Reds getting back in talks with KC for Brady Singer/India trade. Also look at Det and CWS needing a second baseman.

  18. west larry

    Off topic, the reds have acquired Frank German fro the white Sox.

    • west larry

      claimed off waivers. Was a starter, now trying to be a reliever.

      • Melvin

        I doubt any team is better at “dumpster diving” than the Reds. 🙂

      • 2020ball

        You clearly dont follow other teams, this is pretty commonplace. Assuming that didnt ever even cross your mind.

      • Melvin

        Like I said I doubt any team is “better”. You like being argumentative. 😉

    • Tar Heel Red

      Reds no longer have German. He was waived in July and signed as a free agent with the Red Sox

      • west larry

        Oops, my friend texted me stale information. Thanks, I’ll let him know that this is old news.

  19. RedsGettingBetter

    I was remember when the Reds needed to contract a big bat OF in 2019 offseason and the first name I read on the news was landing Travis Jankowski…

  20. RedBB

    Interesting pickup. Hopefully he finds his swing with Cincy. It’s worth nothing that he did cut down hi SO/BB by almost 2X last year in the minors. That being said unless his bat comes around don’t see him supplanting a guy like Fairchild who does what he does and has some power. I could see him making the 40 man though.

  21. rednat

    so we may have 2 of the 3 fastest players in the league next year. you have to be at least little excited about that.
    i do wonder though if the reds as an organization put too much emphasis on speed. seems like these real speedy guys don’t quite have the hit tool to be effective in the big leagues. God only gives players so many gifts I guess.

    • greenmtred

      Eric Davis and Rickey Henderson spring to mind, as do Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle, among others. For that matter, it’s much too early to give up on Elly. Bubba hasn’t hit much so he may simply be seen, as others have suggested, as organizational filler. Or maybe, as Harry says, he’s worth installing in the outfield for his essential Bubbaness

      • rednat

        all these are 20th century players. seems like now it is so hard to hit pitching today. makes you wonder if the best athletes are not playing baseball anymore.

      • Harry Stoner

        “His Essential Bubbaness”.

        I’m rolling on the floor.

  22. MBS

    It’s almost impossible to get playing time for 13 guys, so if he finds a role as a defensive replacement / pinch runner, that some value. I’d rather carry a guy like this in that role than have a very good prospect getting sitting on the bench and not further developing.

    That being said, I doubt he even makes it till spring training.

    • Tar Heel Red

      Good point MBS. My guess is that at some point the Reds acquire someone else and DFA Thompson in hopes he will clear waivers and then can be re-signed to a minor league contract. If he does, great. If he gets claimed by another team, nothing ventured, nothing gained.

    • BK

      I agree. I don’t know that he’s the right guy for the 13th position player, but I can see a player with elite defense and speed adding value. Good prospects need to play and are never more than 24 hours away from availability to the big league club. I see the ideal position player roster as:

      – 9 starters
      – 1 backup catcher
      – 1 backup infielder
      – 1 backup outfielder

      The backups should play at least 3 or so times each week and should be capable of starting to cover for inevitable injuries. That leaves one roster spot for the team to bring in a complementary capability. Last year, it was a third catcher at the start of the season. The Reds currently have:

      – 10 Starters (Steer, Benson, Friedl, Fraley, Marte, EDLC, McLain, CES, Stephenson and India)
      – 1 backup catcher (Maile)

      Steer’s versatility gives the Reds a lot of flex in filling out the last two roster spots. While Steer should start daily, he can effectively back up both infield and outfield positions to include starting against all LHP starters.

      With the two remaining roster spots, one player needs to platoon in the outfield. The Reds have a lot of flexibility with the last spot.

      • Mark Moore

        I think your 10+1 list is the way to look at things. 2 spots only at this point. I’m in the camp that says India will get moved, so that changes the equation a tiny bit, but not by all that much.

  23. Green MT Reds Fan

    Why haven’t I seen or heard of any discussion regarding moving Elly to the OF, specifically CF? Fastest man on earth with possibly the best throwing arm on earth with what now appears to be a questionable SS glove. Meanwhile, we talk about what to do with McClain and India at 2nd…when McClain clearly seems to be the better fielder at SS. Move EDC to CF and we no longer have a log jam in the infield.

    • Melvin

      The “Powers that be” obviously aren’t listening to you and I and some others. 😉

    • Tom Diesman

      Sheldon at reported on 10/19 that, “While Steer could likely return to the outfield in 2024, Krall said there were no plans to move India or De La Cruz to outfield spots.”

      • Green MT Reds Fan

        India certainly a no go to the OF, not enough speed or arm to be an upgrade over any current OF…but EDLC?

      • greenmtred

        This Green Mt Reds fan is not me.

      • Formerly Green MT Reds Fan

        I did not realize there was another Green MT Reds Fan or the like. I will defer to the original since I just started commenting and I am formerly from VT, currently in Central MO…thought I was an original, guess not. Where you from in VT, if you don’t mind me asking? I’ll change to something else…

  24. Mark Moore

    In other non-Reds news …

    I’m watching tonight’s game and I feel a headache growing. The volume balance between the booth announcers and the stadium/crowd noise is WAY off (at least for me).

    On the other hand, these are two teams that our Reds beat this year. Swept those Rangers and held the WC tie-breaker over the Snakes. So that means we’re the WS champs by proxy, right? (asking for a friend) 😮

    • Melvin

      We could have possibly been World Series Champs had we made the playoffs even as a Wild Card. We’ll never know. What we do know is that it was a wasted opportunity in which there is no guarantee we’ll get it again.

      • Votto4life

        Exactly Melvin. Everyone wants a team that wins 100 games, but Baltimore, Atlanta and the Dodgers has proven that doesn’t always matter.

        The Reds “window” opened in 2023. They should have absolutely made the postseason. Strangely, when presented with the opportunity, the front office seemed uninterested. If their inaction wasn’t bad enough, the teams misses the play-offs by a couple of games and the GM comes out and states he has “no regrets, when it should be something that haunts him for the rest of his life. It makes you wonder if winning is even a priority.

      • Melvin

        “GM comes out and states he has “no regrets”

        Kind of makes any real Reds fan sick at their stomach doesn’t it?

      • Melvin

        I’m sure there are some real Reds fans that don’t feel that way so I shouldn’t say that.

  25. AMDG

    Ground ball hitter with low exit velocities who had an awful babip last year.
    Maybe that’s fixable?

    If nothing else, he seems like a slightly better hitting version of Siani as a 4th or 5th OF.

  26. Joekr

    Players are not paid during the off season, so he isn’t costing the teem anything, and if they need his spot over the winter, not a big deal to DFA him.

    Hurtubise is clearly a better hitter with elite speed. Only thing Thompson has on him is being right handed. That said, I havn’t seen the splits, but the way Hurtubise got on base in AAA, looks like he can hit both left and right handers.

    • Joekr

      Just found his splits…

      Vs LHP in 98 PA he was 18 for 76, (.237, with an OBP of .402, 19 BB, 20 K, 1 HR, and 8 RBI)

      The average isn’t great, but the OBP and the BB/K ratio is really good

  27. Don Ellis

    Thompson, if played to build his confidence, might be the fastest player in baseball. Texas has invested their 2016 pick in Taveras while not protecting Thompson last season. At the end of the 2022 season Thompson was the Rangers starting left fielder. He is a better CF than Taveras. Thompson was thought to play into ROY consideration this season but the Rangers fired their head coach, brought Botche in and decided to buy a World Series this year with veteran players. He is nothing like a Billy Hamilton and even this season in AAA averaged 20hr/50sb for the Royals organization. A former first round pick.

  28. Don Ellis

    Bubba Thompson is rated as the second fastest player in MLB. Right now it’s likely a confidence issue. If the Reds can work with him they can have an All-Star potential player. Think Jose Siri of the Tampa Bay Rays. Thompson played with Jo Adell before the 2017 MLB draft. He is a better defender than Tavares of the Rangers, faster, and has 15-20 HR power and a 50 SB potential. Tavares was a 2016 OF pick, and Thompson a year later. The Rangers are spending fools today, and the Reds could have a steal, as in ROY caliber if you simply look at his 2022 numbers at the end of the season when he was brought up.