When Josh Harrison signed with the Cincinnati Reds a little over a week ago, he inked a minor league deal with an invite to big league spring training. The 2-time All-Star is from Cincinnati and played college baseball at the University of Cincinnati. While he got a chance to “come home” as a professional, it was only for a few days at a time when whatever team he was on would come through Cincinnati for a series. The Reds have more infielders than they know what to do with. But speaking to the media today in Goodyear, Harrison said he’s not scared of the competition.

“Competition has never scared me,” Harrison told reporters. “This is not the first non-roster deal I’ve signed. My whole career, even being on the roster, being under contract – there were uncertainties. Am I going to be the every day second baseman, am I going to be this – I’ve had to do what I have had to do my whole career. Competition is never anything I’ve shied away from. If anything it gives me more motivation to be at home. But as I said, I watched this team last year. I had a good opportunity to watch last year – I didn’t really play. I know what they bring to the table, they’re full of energy. I’ve still got a lot of energy, I can play this game. I know I can help. It was an opportunity I was willing to jump for.”

The 36-year-old has an uphill battle. Heading into the spring he’s not likely competing for a job as a starter. With all of the young players the club has, he’s just not going to get that opportunity if everyone is healthy. But he could push for a job on the bench as a potential utility player. Despite playing in just 40 games last season with the Philadelphia Phillies, Harrison played two spots on the infield, two spots in the outfield, and he even pitched in two games.

Harrison will have to hit better than he did in 2023 if he’s going to make the big league club. He managed to hit just .204 with three walks and just five extra-base hits in 114 trips to the plate with Philadelphia. His .554 OPS was 162 points lower than his career OPS entering the year. If he can get back to something closer to the production he’s had for the rest of his career, he would be a productive utility player that could serve in multiple roles.

14 Responses

  1. Jason Franklin

    This is off the subject of Harrison, but with Merrifield signing today with the Phillies for 8 mil this year and an option next, would he have made sense for the Reds? Or Duvall? The outfield still seems sort of lean.

    • Kevin Patrick

      I think Merrifield deserves 8 million. I think he will be a perfect utility piece for Philly. I wouldn’t have lost my mind if the Reds had done it, but for 8 million…I guess I don’t mind taking a less expensive risk on Harrison or Bubba Thomson… I just have a gut feeling….no real evidence…that Barrero is going to put it together this year. My gut feeling is so strong, I think he will make Reds fans and management make tough decisions.

  2. Rednat

    If we see Josh Harrison a lot this year as a red, that means there have been alot of injuries and our young stud infielders may not be as great as advertised. The pessimist in me says we may be seeing Josh Harrison a lot this year

    • Jason Franklin

      I bet you he makes the team and that we see him a lot in the outfield this spring training. Bell values veteran leadership and that is one area the team is lacking.

      • Optimist

        Maybe to both of these – yes, if he makes the 26-man that means lots of juries or serious performance issues. Also, maybe he’s sr. leadership, and by all accounts he’s a great presence, but that’s primarily field management’s job – that’s what a manager really has to do.

    • TR

      I’m glad Josh Harris is with the Reds this year whatever role he plays. He and another Cincinnatian, Dave Parker, years before Harris, had many key hits against the Reds when each played for the Pirates. I think Josh Harris could be a good veteran addition to the Red’s team chemistry.

    • Captain RedLeg

      I see him accepting a demotion to AAA and playing there a month or two and then after hitting well getting called up to the major league team after a couple of minor injuries around the ALL-STAR break….

  3. jj

    He’s a bench player at best but knows the central division well, and can be an experienced player for the young team, he once was a Red killer in GABP

  4. Melvin

    Well we’re going to find out how it all plays out starting next week. 😉

  5. MK

    Harrison has played 148 games in the outfield, equivalent to a full season and unless he has a complete ST flop, I could see him making the team as a quality utility player while providing a right-handed hitting outfield option, pinch-hitter, and 4-position infielder. Would be the vocal veteran leader the young team needs.

  6. LDS

    If Harrison is on the 26, it doesn’t bode well for the season. A career 95 OPS+ and 53 last year. He’s 37. The Reds let Votto go and only once in his career was his OPS+ lower than Harrison’s career average and never as low as last year’s 53. Even though frequently disparaged on RLN, Aquino never delivered an OPS+ as low as Harrison last year and he was better defensively and had more power. Not to mention much younger. On the other hand, his L/R splits are .271/.270 so that’s something though in the Bell system, he likely won’t hit against RH’ers.

    • David

      Yeah, Josh is a good guy, and you want him to do well. But at his age and with his hitting, he might end up just being cut by the Reds. I DO NOT seem him on the 26 man roster.
      Please, enough with the “veteran presence”. That is just so much hogwash.

      • greenmtred

        Since experience–another word for veteran presence–is valuable in every other endeavor, why do you think it’s hogwash in MLB? The Reds are a very young team.

  7. AMDG

    I’m not sure how much competition he has for his spot on the Bats roster, but i’d assume he will win his spot with the Reds AAA club without too much trouble.