Josh Harrison has signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds. The club made it official on Tuesday afternoon. The deal includes an invitation to big league spring training with the Reds. Mark Sheldon of Reds.com reported that the deal could be worth $1,500,000 if he makes the team. Sheldon also reported that Harrison has an opt-out on March 21st.

Josh Harrison is from Cincinnati, grew up in town and went to Princeton High School as well as the University of Cincinnati before he was drafted in the 6th round by the Chicago Cubs back in 2008. He joins his older brother Vince Harrison in the organization, who is now the manager of the Reds High-A affiliate the Dayton Dragons.

Over the last 13 seasons, Harrison has seen action in the big leagues. From 2011 through 2018 he was with the Pittsburgh Pirates where he made two All-Star teams (2014 and 2017). After leaving Pittsburgh he’s made his way around the league, spending time with the Detroit Tigers (2019), the Washington Nationals (2020-2021), the Oakland Athletics (2021), Chicago White Sox (2022) and the Philadelphia Phillies (2023).

From 2019-2022 he put up a solid, but unspectacular .258/.319/.374 line in 326 games. That wasn’t quite as good as when he was with the Pirates, but solid enough. Things did not go his way in the 2023 season, though. He only played in 40 games with the Phillies and he hit just .204 with three walks (.263 on-base percentage), and he slugged just .291. His.554 OPS and his 53 OPS+ were only better than his 2019 season when he played in 36 games with the Tigers and were well below his career numbers of a .712 OPS and a 95 OPS+.

Defensively there’s a lot of ways that Josh Harrison can help out. In the last two seasons he has played every spot on the field except catcher, center field, and first base. He’s even pitched in five games during that time.

If Harrison is going to make the team he’s going to have to hit better than he did last year. But if he can do that, then he could fill out the Reds bench and pretty much be available to play anywhere asked of him and bring experience in filling out that kind of role.

With an opt-out on March 21st, spring training won’t be over and the club would still have four games remaining in Arizona before coming back to Cincinnati to open up against the Nationals.

You can see his career stats here.

46 Responses

  1. Melvin

    My guess is he’ll be exercising his opt out on the 21st.

    • jeffversion1

      I think he’ll be the more-often-than-not starting first baseman. I’m a pessimist ¯\_(?)_/¯

      • Jim Walker

        And if Harrison is more often than not starting anywhere those pessimistic projections being debated on the other thread will have turned out to actually have been wildly optimistic. 😉

      • AMDG

        I don’t remember if they still have Martini & Vosler in AAA. I think they have Martini? But, McGarry or Free could get bumped to AAA.

        It’s possible, but not a guarantee that Harrison beats them out to get the majority of playing time in L’ville.

      • greenmtred

        That would depend upon how well he played, wouldn’t it?

      • Oldtimer

        Martini is on the Reds 40 man roster,

      • JoshG

        there’s a reason he doesn’t ever play 1B………the dude is 5’7″ or 5’8″

    • Daytonnati

      This would have been great ten years ago.

      • Jim Walker

        +10K, 1K per year 😉

        I fear the glow from the Reds prospects blinds us to the fact that Krall seemingly is dialed into coming up a day late and a dollar short on doing what needs to be done to crown his achievement in acquiring and deploying the young talent.

        I will be happy to be proven wrong; but, as of now, this is how I feel.

  2. wkuchad

    Can’t tell if you’re joking or not. At best, he would be sixth on the depth chart at first base, and that’s not counting minor league players.

  3. jeffversion1

    In a normal world, yeah, he’s way down the depth chart. I don’t *really* think he’ll be starting at first base Opening Day. And while Bell did play lots of young guys last year, but part of me just can’t shake the memories our manager getting attached to his veterans… and like I said, I’m a pessimist.

  4. Doc4uk

    Likely wanted to come home and finish out his career. Even if it is at Louisville with a chance to fill in for injuries during the season. Solid signing as a backup if either Marte or Candelaria or CES goes down.

  5. MBS

    Barrero and Fairchild just got another competitor for the 13th spot.

    We resigned Maile, signed Suter, and signed a minor league deal with Harrison. I’m seeing a trend here Mr Krall. I like bringing the local guys home, and they all seem to be good character FA’s. That’s gotta be a benefit to a young roster.

    • wkuchad

      I doubt Harrison makes if it causes us to drop Barrero or Fairchild. He’s on opening day roster only if we have multiple players start the year on the IL.

      I agree with Doc above – he’s just organizational depth in case of injuries piling up.

      • MBS

        2 AAAA players or an aging vet? Fairchild, and even Barrero can spell Friedl in CF. That’s their edge, but then you have the common wisdom that vets do better in a reserve role than young players.

        I don’t know which is the right call, but I don’t see Harrison sticking around as a minor leaguer. He would opt out before spring ends.

      • wkuchad

        MBS, I only see him opting out if another club offers him a guaranteed major league roster spot. Otherwise, he very well could choose to play in Louisville.

        It’s very doubtful he’s expecting to make opening day roster if everyone is healthy.

    • Kevin Fox

      Josh Harrison will make the team. He would be a great veteran leadership. Come on Reds and let him play for his hometown team. He deserves it.

  6. Beaufort Red

    It may be the end for Barrero if they can move him. Harrison plays more positions ( not short but we’ve got 3 of those), is a veteran presence ( no Votto) and actually hits better at his advanced age.

    • LDS

      Right, that would be a brilliant move, give up on 25 year old with an upside still for a 37 year old guy that actually didn’t hit as well in the majors as Barrero did last year. Though you’re right, it’s a classic Reds move and it would thrill Bell.

      • Rick

        If Jose could tweak his ability to not swing at sliders off the plate & hit only a few on the edge his confidence and hit tool would start to increase. And layoff of the high heat above the letters.
        I’d still stick with him in 2024, atleast to see if he can still merge his talent with his skills.
        With gifted athletes it’s usually as simple as a couple of tweaks that can make a difference, or not

      • wkuchad

        Minus your last sentence LDS, I’m in complete agreement with you. If Barrero shows he can be at least a league-average hitter, he would make a great bench piece, backup SS and CF, and be dirt cheap for several years. You don’t throw that away for a player like Harrison.

        If we’re wrong, you simply dump him mid-season and bring up someone from Louisville. The Reds are out nothing for giving him one more chance in 2024.

      • Optimist

        TBH – Harrison is not competing for Barrero’s spot. There are maybe 5-10 guys ahead of him for that.

      • LDS

        Unfortunately, almost all of the Reds rookies/prospects, including EDLC have problems with strike/pitch recognition and chase too many pitches. And they have the SO% that goes with it. As I’ve said for years, that’s an issue with team management. And Bell and company have shown they don’t have a clue how to address such topics as well as base running errors, etc. That’s a perfect example of why I’ve said they need new field management. But the Bell boys here will stick with him, regardless of the evidence to the contrary.

    • Indy Red Man

      Barrero probably still can’t hack it, but he does have ability. I’d run with him again and see if something clicks

      • Jim Walker

        At the very least they need to try and get Barrero or Fairchild on a run and flip them for something rather than sit them on bench to molder. Recall last season our guy Stu was playing nearly every day and just have a tad behind Benson as Benson had his breakout then Stu got sat down (and sent down) arbitrarily as guys came off the IL.

        >>The Reds won 15 of 17 from June 6 thru June 23 (includes the 12 winning streak). During that period, Fairchild played in 10 games (9 starts; 34PAs) in which the Reds went 9-1 and in which he compiled an .881 OPS. Yet he got sent down on June 19 (during the streak) to make room for Votto.

        Similarly, he had run after he was called up in late August of 2022 where he compiled a .946 OPS in 82 PAs thru the end of the season.

        If a guy doesn’t fit the future plans, move him off of one of these runs instead of hoarding talent like with the infield prospects in the low to middle minors.

  7. Beaufort Red

    LDS I’m aware of your undying affinity for Barrero. Upside are you kidding. Just because he’s young doesn’t mean he has an “upside”. I’m not worried about the future of a player who 1. Can’t hit major league pitching and barely hits minor league pitching and 2. Has no position or future with this club. He would be a bench player at best. How’s that gonna help his improvement. I’m in the win now mindset. Sorry his shipped has sailed. Hope you won’t be to upset if he’s not on the 40 man.

    • wkuchad

      I think Barrero’s career AA and AAA stats show he can hit minor league pitching just fine.

      • Beaufort Red

        2023
        258 AVG
        291 AB
        105 K= 36% Stikeout Rate
        Guess he hits just fine when he makes contact.

      • Chad James

        291 at bats that you mentioned was for 2023 in AAA. He had an OPS of .873 with 19 homeruns.

        It doesn’t matter how you evaluate a hitter, that’s better than “barely hits minor league pitching”.

      • 2020ball

        Batting average, ew….

        The old school obsession with a stat that counts a single the same as a homerun is mind-blowing sometimes

    • LDS

      Ever broken your wrist? I have. And far less seriously than Barrero’s, i.e., it didn’t take surgery. But it takes a while to heal, months to years in some cases. You don’t give up on your minor league player of the year because of a fall off following wrist surgery and certainly not in favor of a 37-year-old guy that didn’t hit as well last year.

      • Beaufort Red

        Like I said it may be a moot point about your broken wrist versus Barrero’s. Hope you won’t be too upset.

  8. MBS

    We are triple covered at SS on the major league level. Plus our top rated minor league position prospect is another SS that’s a plus defender.

    I think I’d try to find a trade package with the Marlins for Luzardo. They need a SS, and we have an abundance of SS’s. It would also be easier to give more playing time to the other young hitters.

    MIA: Luzardo
    CIN: Marte, Phillips, Gibaut

    DH Fraley 7/9 India 2/9
    C Stephenson 5/9 Maile 4/9
    1B CES 8/9 Stephenson 1/9
    =========================
    2B McLain 8/9 India 1/9
    3B Candelario 8/9 Barrero 1/9
    SS EDLC 8/9 Barrero 1/9
    =========================
    RF Benson 7/9 Harrison 2/9
    CF Friedl 8/9 Barrero 1/9
    LF Steer 8/9 Harrison 1/9

    The reserves would still play 1/3rd of the time keeping them fresh, and ready to take on a larger role when injuries occur.

    1) Luzardo 2) Greene 3) Abbott
    4) Montas 5) Ashcraft

    High Leverage: Diaz, Moll, Pagan
    Swingmen: 6) Lodolo 8) Martinez 10) Suter
    Low Leverage: Farmer, Sims

    AAA rotation
    7) Williamson 9) Richardson 11) Spiers
    12) Stoudt 13) Roa

    AAA Pen
    Antone, Young, Cruz

    • LDS

      I’d give up India before Marte if that would swing the deal. I’m also not sold on Pagan in high leverage situations, He gives up far too many HRs.

      • MBS

        The reason I went with Pagan as a HL guy is because he has shown the ability to close games. Not everyone can do that. He has 32 career saves, with 20 in one season. Besides Diaz he’s the only one with more than 11 saves on our roster. We’ll have to wait and see how he does in GABP, but you’re right the long ball could be a big issue.

        If India would work, I’d be in, but I think it would take more to get Luzardo.

    • Optimist

      Extremely doubtful India has enough value to add to any trade. I like him, and see his value on the Reds, but aside from a team with a really acute need for a 2b, his bets value is with the Reds. Now, at mid-season, if he’s shown any improvements on defense and at the plate, his value would go up immensely – still not much, but a lot more for teams making playoff pushes.

      Phillips and Marte have comparatively tremendous value.

  9. RedsGettingBetter

    If there’s no a lot of injuries in ST , I think it’s very likely Harrison doesn’t make the club and he will opt out on March 21st.

  10. Jj

    He always played well @ GABP, he’s a gamer. Good DH or sub in, he’s not going to blow your shirt off but will be a positive older player in the locker room and have teaching ability on the field, especially for a team headed for playoff contention

  11. DaveCT

    Both Bubba Thompson and Daniel Duarte DFA’d by the Twins today.

    • Jim Walker

      I’d like to see the Reds make a claim on Duarte. Bubba is strictly an org depth guy IMO at spots they already have enough depth.

  12. Old Big Ed

    I liked Harrison a lot when he was younger. He may have one good season left in him, at maybe 200 ABs.

    I think Harrison’s only chance to make the roster (outside of ST injuries to guys like McLain) is if the Reds trade Jonathan India. I don’t see the Reds trading Jonathan India, except maybe as a small piece in a trade for Dylan Cease. But generally speaking, India is a much better piece for the Reds, because he can already play 2B and 3B, and will add at least LF and 1B this spring, and probably RF. And, of course, India has Grit.

    Harrison won’t displace Barrero/Fairchild, both of whom can play CF. Without either Barrero or Fairchild, McLain would likely be the next CF option, and the Reds don’t want to do that.

  13. Justin T

    Maybe its from watching our manager manage for the last few years, but to see Reds fans just assume every player can play every position is so bizarre to me. “Hey! There may be a catcher injury just throw India back there for a few games.” I exaggerate just a little. One poster will say how bad India is at second base (arguably the easiest defensive position in the field w the exception of first) then in the next breath suggest moving him to the outfield where he had never really played.

    Im confident in saying this team would be so much better if players had a position and lineup spot semi regularly at the minimum. Trying to learn how to be a big leaguer while also wondering where youll play tomorrow would be terribly frustrating.

    • 2020ball

      Why, on gods green earth, would that be frustrating for a professional player?

      Many guys are happy to play multiple spots, i know i tried to be as versatile as my skills would allow me when i played. Its actually fun. This assumption that all these big leaguers are somehow incapable of simply lining up on defense without affecting their offense or whatever are backed up by no facts and are just more excuses by yall to complain IMO. Show me literally any evidence to back that claim, i highly doubt you can.