- The Reds have purchased the contract of catcher Rafael Lopez from the Bridgeport Bluefish, the indy league club announced. He’ll head to Triple-A Louisville, providing another depth option for an organization that is filling in for injured MLB starter Devin Mesoraco. Lopez, 28, has only appeared briefly at the major league level. He spent last season at Triple-A in the Cubs and Angels systems, slashing .266/.339/.335 over 246 plate appearances.
10:22pm: Mesoraco says he’s “going to definitely have to get surgery at some point,” as Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer tweets. But he’s still considering whether to try playing through the injury.
5:40pm: The Reds announced today that catcher Devin Mesoraco has suffered a torn labrum in his left shoulder. He’ll go on the 15-day DL for now. It certainly seems likely that he’ll require an extended absence, though it remains to be seen whether surgery will be required.
This injury constitutes the latest setback for the 27-year-old, who missed most of last season after undergoing hip surgery. Mesoraco signed a four-year, $28MM extension before the 2015 season, with the club buying out all of his arbitration eligibility and buying up one free agent-eligible campaign.
That deal came together after Mesoraco’s breakout 2014, in which he slashed .273/.359/.534 with 25 home runs in 440 plate appearances. It’s been mostly downhill from there, as the former top prospect has struggled at the plate while battling his various ailments. In just 106 plate appearances since the start of 2015, he’s carrying a .158/.245/.200 batting line without a single long ball.
- The Reds have signed former Rockies first-rounder Kyle Parker to a minor league deal, reports Baseball America’s Matt Eddy. Parker, 26, logged 112 plate appearances with the Rox last season but batted just .179/.223/.311 with three homers. The first baseman/outfielder does have solid .285/.332/.442 line in parts of two minor league seasons, and he’ll give the Reds some additional depth at what is currently a somewhat uncertain position.
Superstar Reds first baseman Joey Votto has hit a surprisingly poor .233/.333/.314 in 102 plate appearances this year while walking less than usual and striking out at a rate higher than normal. Votto, who’s making $20MM this season and is owed up to $192MM from 2017-2024, is embarrassed by his early season performance and told C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’d rather retire and forfeit the money than stick around and fail to produce. “I’m here to play and be part of setting a standard. It’s something I’ve always taken pride in,” he said. “I love to play at a really high level. So far this year, it’s not been that. I will not be a very satisfied, happy person if I don’t perform at the level that I expect.” The 32-year-old Votto, a career .309/.421/.529 hitter, is coming off a 7.4-fWAR season, so he seems like a prime candidate to return to form as 2016 progresses. “I signed up for a high-level of performance. I didn’t sign up for this just to make money,” he added.
The Reds have placed right-hander Raisel Iglesias on the 15-day disabled list retroactive to Tuesday with an impingement in his throwing shoulder, per a club announcement. They’ve also transferred catcher Kyle Skipworth to the 60-day DL with an ankle injury.
Iglesias was scheduled to start for the Reds in Pittsburgh today, but he felt a “pinch” in his shoulder Friday and underwent an examination Saturday that led to his placement on the DL. This isn’t the first time Iglesias’ shoulder has acted up, which is obviously alarming, as the 26-year-old dealt with fatigue last season and began his throwing program later in the spring as a result. Iglesias followed that spring program with a stellar first month of the season, throwing 28 1/3 innings of 3.49 ERA ball (9.21 K/9 and 2.22 BB/9) in five starts. He was easily the brightest spot in a Reds rotation that concluded April with the majors’ seventh-worst ERA (4.84) and second-worst FIP (5.61).
With Iglesias out of the picture for a to-be-determined amount of time, Tim Adleman will take the mound for the Reds in his big league debut today. The 28-year-old owns a 3.79 ERA, 7.4 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 in 410 1/3 career minor league innings.
- Two prospective long-term cogs in the Reds’ rotation, right-handers Raisel Iglesias and Anthony DeSclafani, are dealing with injuries, as C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes. Iglesias, who’s scheduled to pitch Sunday, felt a “pinch” in his throwing shoulder Friday and underwent an examination today. The Reds will know more about his status later in the day, manager Bryan Price said. This isn’t the first time Iglesias’ shoulder has acted up: The 26-year-old dealt with fatigue last season and began his throwing program later in the spring as a result, Rosecrans notes. Iglesias has been stellar early this year, having tossed 28 1/3 innings of 3.49 ERA ball (9.21 K/9 and 2.22 BB/9) in five starts. DeSclafani, meanwhile, has been out all season with a left oblique strain and felt a “sensation” in his side during a 77-pitch rehab start Friday. “We’re really doing everything we can to avoid a setback. He was good until the last inning or so, and then it was an issue,” Price stated.
- Reds first baseman Joey Votto is in the midst of the worst offensive month of his career, as FanGraphs’ Owen Watson notes. Votto is batting just .238/.330/.325, with an unusually high strikeout rate (23.4%) and low walk rate (11.7%). He’s also been very pull-happy at the plate, an approach Watson suggests might not work for him. He’s been pulling the ball so much in part because opposing pitchers are throwing inside against him, trying to get him to hit into defensive shifts. Votto likely needs to adjust to that strategy, and Watson seems confident that he will.
- The Reds are on the verge of getting some much-needed rotation help, writes MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon. Right-handers Homer Bailey and Anthony DeSclafani are each nearing the end of their minor league rehab assignments, as is left-hander John Lamb, who tossed eight innings in a rehab outing on Wednesday. Raisel Iglesias and Brandon Finnegan figure to remain in the rotation regardless, but Alfredo Simon and Jon Moscot could find themselves on the outside looking in, Sheldon notes. With righty Robert Stephenson and left-hander Cody Reed also on the precipice of MLB readiness, the Cincinnati starting unit could see a significant amount of turnover, which could have some positive trickle-down effects into what has been a dismal bullpen so far in 2016.
Prior to being dealt to the White Sox, third baseman Todd Frazier sought to reach agreement with the Reds on a deal to stay in Cincinnati for the long haul, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reports (Twitter links). Frazier was ultimate swapped in a three-team trade that brought Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, and Brandon Dixon in from the Dodgers.
According to Heyman’s report, Frazier and his representatives at CAA “made many proposals” to the Reds, one of which looked something like the seven-year, $100MM pact between the Mariners and Kyle Seager. Indeed, Frazier met with ownership just before he was dealt in an effort to find a way to add years to his contract and stick with the Reds.
Certainly, it isn’t surprising that the organization decided it was time to move on. While some have criticized the quality of the return, the decision to part with Frazier — a 30-year-old who is set to reach free agency after the 2017 campaign — made sense for a team in transition. It certainly would have been difficult to take on another significant contract for an older player with so much already committed to pieces like Joey Votto and Homer Bailey.
It’s obviously not entirely clear what kind of arrangement Frazier might have settled for, but the Seager comp doesn’t exactly scream value. To be sure, the veteran has largely matched the production of his competitor in Seattle over the last couple of seasons. But Frazier is also about three years older than Seager was at the time of his deal, and the latter’s extra year of control doesn’t really close the gap all the way.
The report is mostly of historical interest now, of course, as Frazier is under control of the White Sox until qualifying for free agency before the 2018 campaign. But the information about Frazier’s price point and interest in a long-term deal could certainly become relevant again if the Sox are more inclined than were the Reds in a significant extension.
The Reds have released right-hander Ryan Mattheus, the team announced (hat tip to Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer). Mattheus was non-tendered by the Reds following last season and re-signed on a minor league contract.
As per the arbitration projections from MLBTR’s Matt Swartz, Mattheus was slated to earn $1.3MM in his first time through the arb process. Despite that fairly modest sum and some offseason needs in the bullpen, the Reds chose to cut Mattheus loose, ultimately saving themselves some money since they were able to re-sign him anyway.
Mattheus, 32, came to Cincinnati after being claimed off waivers from the Angels last May. The righty posted a 4.09 ERA, 5.7 K/9, 2.06 K/BB rate and 52.7% grounder rate over 55 innings with the Reds, a solid bounce-back campaign for Mattheus after a pair of ineffective, injury-plagued seasons in 2013-14 with the Nationals. Mattheus held right-handed batters to a .256/.345/.301 slash line last season.