The Reds have claimed catcher Juan Graterol off waivers from the Angels and claimed outfielder Gabriel Guerrero off waivers from the Diamondbacks, the team announced today. In order to clear room on the 40-man roster, the Reds have designated right-hander Keyvius Sampson and catcher Ramon Cabrera for assignment.
The 22-year-old Guerrero is the nephew of former Major League superstar Vladimir Guerrero and long rated as one of the top prospects in the Mariners’ system before being traded to Arizona in last year’s Mark Trumbo/Welington Castillo trade. Guerrero posted strong numbers as recently as 2014 in Class-A Advanced — .307/.347/.467 with 18 homers and 18 steals in 530 plate appearances — but his production has plummeted upon reaching the upper levels of the minors. He hit just .223/.258/.346 between his two organizations’ Double-A affiliates in 2015 and struggled similarly this year, hitting .234/.281/.383 between Double-A and Triple-A.
Graterol, 27, made his Major League debut and tallied 15 PAs with the Halos this past season. The former Royals farmhand spent the 2015 season in the Yankees organization before inking a minors pact with the Halos last offseason. He’s a career .274/.306/.338 hitter in parts of three seasons (95 games) at the Triple-A level and has halted stolen base attempts at a very strong 38 percent clip in the minors. Baseball Prospectus gives him average pitch-framing grades in the minors as well.
Sampson, 25, pitched 39 1/3 innings with the Reds this year across 18 games — two starts, 16 relief appearances — and logged a 4.35 ERA with 9.6 K/9 against 6.2 BB/9. Control has long been an issue for Sampson, who has walked 53 men, hit two batters and also rattled off seven wild pitches in his 91 2/3 big league innings. The former Padres farmhand pitched well in the minors up through Double-A but began to struggle at Triple-A (5.18 ERA in 231 innings) and clearly hasn’t fared much better in the Majors, where he owns a collective 5.60 ERA.
Cabrera, meanwhile, made his big league debut with the Reds in 2015 and played in a career-high 61 games for Cincinnati this season. The 27-year-old received 185 plate appearances due largely to the season-ending injury sustained by Devin Mesoraco and batted .246/.279/.357 with three homers and 10 doubles. He’s a lifetime .274/.327/.343 hitter at the Triple-A level and could end up elsewhere on waivers, though he’s never excelled at throwing out runners (23 percent in the minors) and draws routinely negative framing marks. From that standpoint, it’s not difficult to see why the Reds felt that Graterol was a superior option to function as the third catcher on their 40-man roster, behind Mesoraco and Tucker Barnhart.