Stop me if you’ve heard this before: The Cincinnati Reds have claimed outfielder Bubba Thompson on waivers. If that sounds familiar it’s because it’s the second time since last season ended that the club has claimed him. This time around he was picked up from the Minnesota Twins. Making room for him on the 40-man roster, the Reds have designated pitcher Levi Stoudt for assignment.

Cincinnati originally picked up Thompson on waivers from Kansas City on October 26th. Two months later the Reds designated him for assignment when they needed to clear a spot on the 40-man roster for Buck Farmer when he re-signed with the team. The New York Yankees then claimed Thompson.

It has been a heck of a few months for Bubba Thompson. He was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the 1st round of the 2017 draft and he remained with the organization until August 13th when he was claimed on waivers by the Kansas City Royals. The Reds picked him up two months after that on waivers. Then the Yankees picked him up on waivers two months after that. Minnesota then picked him up on waivers three weeks later. And now three more weeks later he’s back with the Reds.

Cincinnati’s 40-man roster now has 8.5 outfielders on it. Spencer Steer is listed with the infielders on the Reds roster, but he’s going to be in the outfield most of the time unless multiple injuries force him back into the infield. Along with Thompson, the Reds also have Will Benson, Stuart Fairchild, Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, Rece Hinds, Jacob Hurtubise, and Nick Martini on the 40-man as outfield options. Jose Barrero is also there for some outfield depth after getting plenty of time in center over the last few years between the minors and majors.

We wrote all about Thompson the first time the club acquired him this offseason, but here’s the gist of what we wrote back in late October:

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”.

All of that still holds true. It’s tough to see where he fits in on the 26-man roster unless he shows up and looks like a different hitter than he has been in the past. The depth is nice to have for now just in case some injuries do pop up. But if most of the guys who can play outfield are healthy, it’s tough to find a reasonable scenario where Thompson fits a need on the bench.

As for Levi Stoudt – he just turned 26 in December and he’s picked 10.1 innings in the big leagues. Those innings did not go well as he walked eight batters, allowed 16 hits, and gave up 11 runs (9.58 ERA). Two of his four games were starts. The right-hander did pitch better in Triple-A, but not by much. He made 19 starts and six relief appearances and posted a 6.23 ERA. In his 82.1 innings he gave up 20 homers, walked 50 batters, hit seven others, and only had 58 strikeouts. He joined the Reds organization in July of 2023 when he was acquired along with Noelvi Marte, Edwin Arroyo, and Andrew Moore in the trade that sent Luis Castillo to the Seattle Mariners. You can see his career stats here.

52 Responses

  1. CI3J

    I think I speak for most when I say:

    “Meh.”

    • LDS

      Same here. I didn’t have great expectations for Stoudt but he seems more likely to be successful at this point that Thompson. I read somewhere in the last few months that Thompson is one of the few guys faster than EDLC. Don’t know if that’s true but maybe it’ll help keep EDLC humble.

  2. BK

    Reading between the lines, I wonder how much confidence the Reds FO has in Dunn, Hurtubise, and Hinds–all prospects expected to start the year at Louisville. In addition to picking up Thompson, they brought in Capel and Alford on minor-league contracts. Also, Martini, though no longer a prospect, is another option who will likely start at AAA.

    • JON

      I think the opposite.They are bringing in AAA players because the 3 prospects will be on the Reds sooner than later.

      • BK

        That’s a nice way to think about it. Hope you’re right!

    • Optimist

      I’lltake the in-between on this – sure it’s a business but this is a common move, and being in ST may actually help a small bit. He may stay with the Reds on a MiLB deal, which would be fine all around, OR, he’ll get claimed, and I know Seattle like him, and though they have plenty of starters, Stoudt is is a good AAAA type and already known in the organization, OR some other team will pay the relatively minor “cash considerations” and take a flyer.

      All in all, would have preferred a like-for-like move – namely upgrade the pitching with a claim and DFA.

  3. RedsGettingBetter

    Poor Stoudt, he was DFA’d the ST report day … sad…

    • Jason Franklin

      That does seem kind of a rude move by the FO.

      • Jay

        Gives him all spring to spend with the team that claims him if that’s the case ?

    • BK

      Unfortunately, there’s never a good day to get bad news.

    • The Duke

      If no one claims him we can bring him back as a minor league free agent, it may not be the end, just had to get him off the 40 man.

      • BK

        He hasn’t been outrighted before. If no team claims him, the Reds should be able to outright him to the minor leagues.

  4. RED THUNDER

    Must want him for some reason, late inning replacement with speed. Maybe they should’ve just done this the first time they had him. Little strange but guess things have changed somewhere along the way. Levi never got it going in the right direction last year. Had expected him to have better results, maybe just the hype

  5. Nick in NKY

    Wow. Reds must like Thompson a lot more than I would have thought, to DFA a pitcher who has seen the bigs in order to get him back. I realize that Stoudt hasn’t exactly wowed everyone, but I would have bet my lunch money that he has more future value than Thompson. I’ll be surprised if Stoudt passes waivers, but here’s hoping.

  6. BK

    There’s undoubtedly some buzz around the league for Thompson. I wonder if the goal is to have him around in September as the position player callup when rosters expand. Hiding his bat over an entire season would be tough for a team trying to contend; however, it is much more doable when rosters expand. His elite speed could net a game or two down the stretch, and teams have more flexibility to carry the extra position player in the playoffs as the increased number of days off allows for a smaller pitching staff (rules limit the number of pitchers to 13, but teams can carry fewer pitchers).

  7. old-season

    Maybe Stoudt wasnt ready to contribute anytime soon- for health reasons or others -and the Reds determined that as pitchers and catchers are reporting and the coaches are assessing where the pitchers are after an off-season.

  8. old-school

    Maybe Stoudt wasnt ready to contribute anytime soon- for health reasons or others -and the Reds determined that as pitchers and catchers are reporting and the coaches are assessing where the pitchers are after an off-season.

  9. wkuchad

    When can the Reds add players to the 60-day IL to open up spots on the 40?

    Do the Reds have any current candidates for the 60-day IL?

  10. JayTheRed

    Stoudt has not impressed me at all. I’d rather have a speedy outfield to plug in the late innings. Stolen bases are a big part of a team’s overall offense once again. if he can hit better than Fairchild and is faster as it sounds like he is, then I’m fine with him being the 26h man. Even though I have a lot of doubts about Barrero being a major league player I am secretly hoping he turns into a nice backup player. The fact he could be our backup CF that also helps.

  11. James K

    Thompson must be thinking, “Wow, so many teams want me… but nobody wants me very much.”

    • Gaffer

      When you play in the best offensive ballpark you want speed and defense but no hit players, says the Reds organization over and over again. Why?

      • Rednat

        Excellent point Gaffer. GABP is not the right ballpark for a small market team relying on speed to win games. It needs to be renovated

  12. Justin T

    Joe Boyle had control problems in the Reds minor leagues then was traded to Oakland who seemed to fix him rather quickly and he dominated in 3 big league starts. Maybe Stroudt can catch on somewhere else and see if he gets it together. First one to go from the Castillo trade.

  13. Mauired

    Kinda seems like Reds should have DFA Stoudt back when they resigned Farmer, instead of acquiring Thompson in back to back years. Hopefully Stoudt doesn’t get claimed but at this point he’s middle relief pitching depth. And jury is out of he’s even MLB caliber. Not a big loss. Thompson could contribute with elite speed and defense as long as Bell doesn’t try to platoon him.

    • wkuchad

      Platoon him??? He has no business starting right now for the Reds. He’d be beyond lucky to be platooned by Bell in ‘24.

      • Mauired

        Slow down chud. Never said Bubba should start for the Reds. I do think he could be of some use as a defensive replacement and pinch runner. But our brilliant manger would probably start him a couple times a week and pinch hit him for Benson and Fraley and diminish any positive he could offer by overuse for the sake of platooning.

  14. Jason Linden

    Well, for all the arguing in here, David Bell made comments today which basically said:
    EDLC is the SS
    McLain is the 2B
    Marte, Candelario, and CES will share 1B/3B/DH
    India will be a heavily used utility player – 1B, 2B, DH, LF (if he’s healthy, sounds like the foot is still bothering him)

    • wkuchad

      Adding to Jason’s comment, this is from Reds.com:

      “Going into it, Elly is going to play a lot of short,” Reds manager David Bell said. “Matt’s going to play a lot of second, and then everything else we got to kind of let it play out a little. We’ve already talked to Jonathan about playing multiple positions. Matt would be more mainly second, a little bit of short.”

    • Redsvol

      I don’t get why a professional athlete with an mlb training staff still has plantar fasciitis after 10 months from initial diagnosis.

    • Mauired

      Well if India isn’t healthy enough to start the season, clears up the infield/dh logjam quite a bit.

    • BK

      “Besides second base, India is expected to see time at first, third and the outfield. He missed 39 games with plantar fasciitis in his left foot last season and was using the offseason to strengthen it, so he didn’t get as much outfield or first-base work in.”

      Sheldon’s article doesn’t imply that India is still suffering ill effects from his foot. Rather, he’s explaining why India didn’t do a lot of OF work.

      Was more said via radio to imply he’s still hurting?

    • Melvin

      It’s been said a lot that if a player is going to transition to a new a positioin(s) it should be done in the off season. Question: Does anyone know of India working out at new positions this winter? If health is the reason why not than why did they just sign him to two years? For example I have a lot more confidence in EDLC playing CF than I do India playing LF without both having ML experience.

    • Justin T

      So while trying to get himself healthy from a lingering foot issue, lets have you learn a few new positions you’ve never played in the big leagues too?

      • Melvin

        Yeah. The India situation doesn’t seem as rosy to me as the Reds make it out to be. Making it work could be very hard.

  15. Lars

    “Jose Barrero is also there for some outfield depth after getting plenty of time in center over the last few years between the minors and majors.”

    “Plenty of time” = 26 mlb and 25 milb games in his career

  16. Old-school

    Per charlie goldsmith, india looked really good in the cage hitting and hes obviously looking good in video turning 2 with elly

    It does raise the question though does it make sense to have him in the OF now learning a position if hes just turned the corner on an offseason setback from PF?

    Maybe just stick to 2b once a week and first base twice a week and DH twice a week.

    Goldsmith did mention they would give CES a few reps in the OF so perhaps they are pivoting from india OF against lefties to CES Steer and Friedl against lefties

    Sounds like ST will count more this year than prior years in terms of defining roles

    • mauired

      1st I’m hearing about CES possibly going to the Outfield, but I thought about it a few times. obviously he’s not as fast as the majority of the other young players in the organization but he’s not slow either. And even though we didn’t get to see it much in the majors, apparently he has one of the best arms in the organization and that seems like a wasted tool at first base.

    • Melvin

      Giving CES some time in the outfield would be wise in my view.

  17. Old Big Ed

    Thompson is a useful piece to store in AAA. For one thing, if one of the Reds’ outfielders gets a minor injury, Thompson can fill in for a couple of weeks, play good defense, and be available to pinch run. Second, he will get 400 PAs in Louisville, and there is at least a chance that the light will come on at the plate and that he will become a viable replacement outfielder. Or he might show enough in AAA that a team like the Yankees would consider trading for him for a playoff role of pinch runner and defensive replacement. Guys that fast do not grow on trees.

    Thompson also has a couple of options, so they can keep him at low cost for a couple of years.

    I really don’t see much chance that Levi Stoudt would have contributed in the next couple of years. It is likely a “meh” trade, but I’d rather have Thompson’s rights than those of Stoudt.

    • Optimist

      Pretty much a tossup OBE, but the mid-season trade bait is possible. I’d still rather see Dunn/Hinds/Hurtubise get the bulk of the ABs and Hurtubise as the callup, unless they’re really not convinced yet.

      • Old Big Ed

        Yeah, I probably overestimated how much he would play in that outfield, because all 3 of Dunn, Hinds and Hurtubise have to be in the lineup.

  18. Lars

    I posted this a few days ago but apparently the moderator was not impressed:

    Doug says “Jose Barrero is also there for some outfield depth after getting plenty of time in center over the last few years between the minors and majors.”

    And I reply with:
    Barrero played 25 games in centerfield for Louisville in 2023. He has played 26 games in centerfield for the Reds (7 games in 2021 and 19 games in 2023).

    51 games total in centerfield.

  19. WVRedsFan

    Really thought letting Martini walk instead of Stoudt would have been the better move. Feel like they should have gave Stoudt at least another year to develop. Reds might regret this move.

    • Melvin

      “Reds might regret this move.”

      Yeah