TUESDAY: Nelson's deal allows him to opt out on March 28 if he has not been awarded a roster spot by that time, according to Chris Cotillo of MLB Daily Dish (on Twitter).
MONDAY: The Reds have agreed to a minor league deal with infielder Chris Nelson, reports MLB.com's Mark Sheldon. ESPN's Jerry Crasnick reported earlier today that Cincinnati was closing in on a deal with the Williams & Connolly client. Nelson told Sheldon's colleague, Thomas Harding, that he is excited about the opportunity:
"I think it’s a great opportunity, especially being in the National League. I have a chance to be a utility man, and with the double-switches there could be a chance for playing time. It could be a good fit for me."
As Sheldon writes, there will be a familiar face in camp for Nelson, as second baseman Brandon Phillips is at times one of his offseason workout partners. The 28-year-old Nelson slashed .301/.352/.458 in 377 plate appearances with the Rockies in 2012, but that line was propped up by a .374 batting average on balls in play that was predictably not sustainable. Regression in his BABIP and a 29 percent strikeout rate in 2013 saw the 2004 No. 9 overall draft pick's production fall to .227/.273/.327. Though he can handle both second and third base, he's not considered a plus defender at either position.
Nelson will look to catch on as a reserve for both Phillips and third baseman Todd Frazier, though the Reds have reserve options at each position in the form of Skip Schumaker and Jack Hannahan, each of whom is on a guaranteed contract for the 2014season.