The Cincinnati Reds have added to their infield depth by picking up Mark Mathias on a free agent deal. He signed a minor league deal after spending the past two seasons working his way around five different organizations. Mathias spent parts of 2022 in the big leagues with the Milwaukee Brewers and Texas Rangers, and parts of 2023 in the big leagues with the Pittsburgh Pirates and San Francisco Giants. In 2023 he was also with the Seattle Mariners in Triple-A for a month before he was traded to the Giants.

Mark Mathias has hit .246/.317/.391 in 73 big league games. His .708 OPS works out to a 95 OPS+ (slightly below league average). The right-handed hitter could potentially be a super utility player. While much of his time in the big leagues has come on the infield – mostly at second base – he’s also played left, center, and right field in his big league career, too.

During the 2023 season in Triple-A, Mathias hit .292/.402/.411 with 30 walks and 50 strikeouts in 204 plate appearances between time spent in Indianapolis, Tacoma, and Sacramento. The only positions he didn’t play in the minor leagues last year were center and catcher.

Power has never really been a part of his game. His 12 home runs hit back in 2019 in Triple-A, when they were famously using a juiced baseball, is a career best and the only season in which he reached double-digits in homers. He doesn’t steal many bases, but when he has run he’s been successful at a high rate (83% success rate in 80 attempts). You can see his career stats here.

With the number of infielders in the big leagues with Cincinnati, Mathias’ ability to play in the outfield could eventually work in his favor to get back to the big leagues. If he were an infielder only, it may be a tough sell to get him onto the bench as the infield is already overcrowded and that’s before we even consider that Spencer Steer is actually an infielder who’s likely to play a lot of outfield.

44 Responses

  1. Kevin Patrick

    A guy who can play in the majors in a pinch, might contribute a bit, and could be designated for assignment without it necessarily being the end of the world… useful.

    • Daytonnati

      Has Kevin Newman changed his name?

  2. gusnwally

    It’s not Mookie Betts. But, could prove useful as we go along. Especially as part of a trade. Not a lot of upside, but not all together a waste.

  3. doctorrockett

    Still would rather have Nick Senzel

    • AllTheHype

      Nick is gonna get a MLB guaranteed contract somewhere. Could still be the Reds depending on how the offseason shakes out. He still fits on the team well, with his ability to mash RHP,

      • west larry

        Who gets signed to a major league contract first – nick Senzel or Joey Votto?

      • AllTheHype

        IF JV (read IF) gets a guarantee somewhere, it’ll be for a bench role and probably $1M. I don’t think he does it. He’s psuedo-retired, to be officially retired this summer in Cincy.

    • Tom Reeves

      A healthy Nick Senzel would be great. A Nick Senzel playing to his potential would be great. Sadly, neither happened as often as it needed to. So this is a nice pick up for a lot less money.

      • Shchi

        Nick Senzel fills the biggest position need on the major league roster, an OF that mashes LHP. As a role player, a platoon player at best, Senzel would not be expensive and would fill that role superbly. For all we know, Krall may have already made that call and his offer was either outright rejected or deferred by Senzel while he looked for a bigger role. Mathias provides nothing more than organizational depth.

      • Mario

        Shchi – good point. I believe Krall had that conversation with Senzel and wanted to keep him as a platoon option but Senzel wanted to move on and Krall granted his request. Hope Senzel finds greener pastures elsewhere.

  4. Rut

    I love these signings, bc make me recall the espn fantasy football commercial:

    “Houshmanzili…. Championship!” ?

  5. Rut

    Supposed to be a winkie there, not a question mark

  6. MK

    How many Blandino’s do they need at Louisville. Kind of like Bullfrog being signed by the Sox in the Christmas Story movie. “Got a whole da** team of Bullfrogs.”

  7. LDS

    Wow, such big news out of the Winter Meetings.

  8. LDS

    Browsing Bleacher Report and a few other sites tonight, I see guys like Heyman are posting video reports. Write an article, a tweet, a blog post, or provide a transcript. Some of us have neither the time nor inclination to sit through an hour of prattle to indulge the author’s vanity. What happened to old fashioned news reporting?

  9. Old-school

    Story up from mark sheldon that india met with krall and Krall wants Indias bat in the lineup but DH and first base too.

    Krall said not looking to trade him but of course listen

    India very complementary of reds FO and trusts krall

    Reds may have solved infield with India agreeing to play some first base and DH more.

    • DaveCT

      And, given India’s injury history, McLain’s durability issue, and Elly’s consistency issue, it’s clear (to me anyway) there are plenty of at bats available in the middle infield. Not that 1B and or 3B aren’t very good added options for India as well.

      • Mario

        McLain’s durability issue? Wasn’t this his first time getting hurt? Injuries happen to every team, that’s why India is needed so he can play 2B if Marte, Elly, or McLain are hurt or ineffective. I heard Steer say 2B is his best position so he’s another option but hopefully stays in LF semi-permanently.

      • Tom Diesman

        McClain missed about a month in 2022 at Chattanooga with a wrist injury and then about another month in 2023 at Cincinnati with an oblique injury. He played 126 G in 2022 (AA + AZFL) and 129 in 2023 (AAA + MLB).

  10. BK

    Heyman reporting Reds interest in Seth Lugo.

    • Redsvol

      We need 1 more starting pitcher. And then another high leverage reliever. And then Randal grichuk. And then we own the NL Central.

      • Mario

        rather have Duvall back on a 1 year deal. Placeholder for Blake Dunn in case he is not ready.

      • greenmtred

        I really liked Duvall when he was with the Reds, but he barely managed an OBP of .300 and is long in the tooth now. The Reds need–every team needs–guys who get on base a lot.

      • Melvin

        I’m reading he’s 34 and will probably get a 3-4 year contract. Maybe that’s still good. I don’t know.

      • Mario

        I don’t think I want Lugo. He’s not a top of the rotation guy and I think they have enough depth. Rodriguez is still the guy to target if they are ok with spending $25 million per year on a 3-4 year deal. Enquirer reports Reds are worried about money so this kind of big money signing is looking extremely unlikely. I saw yesterday that Yamamoto might end up getting $300 million. He is crazy good but that is crazy money for a pitcher.

    • Colorado Red

      Heyman, is not the most reliable source of info.
      Reds seem to keep stuff close to the vest.

      • Doug Gray

        The Reds do tend to. But others don’t. The Reds are never in conversations with themselves. There’s always another party on the other end of the phone.

        That said – when was the last time Heyman was right about anything?

  11. SultanofSwaff

    Encouraging words from Krall about India. Keeping him makes too much sense. He’s a league average bat for well below what you’d pay on the open market, and the depth he provides will be injury insurance the Reds have rarely had.

    Reading the Guardians will keep their payroll the same means they still need to shed some salary. The Reds should keep pressing to see if a deal for Clase can be made. I feel lile something good is going to happen this week. Fingers crossed.

  12. MBS

    The Reds have a 0.9% chance at the 1st pick today at 5:30 in the draft lottery. Fingers crossed!

    • Greenfield Red

      They drew the short straw last year, maybe they will do better this year

  13. Michael B. Green

    This is a depth piece signing and foreshadowing of an India trade.

  14. Nick the Greek

    India is a gamer. You don’t trade away guys like that. I see a parallel with Pete Rose – top rookie at 2b then moved to RF – gold glove, then LF, then moved to 3B to help team get Foster’s bat = BIG RED MACHINE. rock n roll baby !!

  15. LDS

    Not seeing much on the rumor mill about the Reds and bats. They badly need some OF bats.

    • wkuchad

      I wouldn’t say badly. They have four above average potential outfielders, counting Steer. Offensively, Steer and Benson and Friedl were excellent. Fraley dropped off a little in late 2023, but still had a decent offensive year. Against lefty starters, Steer will always be in there for Fraley.

      The only thing we still need ‘badly’ is a starting pitcher. An upgrade in the OF would be a nice bonus, but not a necessity with those four outfielders, plus Barrero and Fairchild as solid options for #5 and #6 outfielders.

      • Greenfield Red

        Add in Dunn and Hinds who may push up from below too.

  16. LDS

    The Reds sign Erik González, another 30+ mediocre, utility player – career OPS+ of 65. Bell must be in ecstacy.