The Reds worked out free-agent righty Justin Masterson today, reports MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon (on Twitter). The 31-year-old Masterson (32 later this month) is eyeing a return to the Majors after spending the 2016 campaign with the Pirates’ Triple-A affiliate following 2015 shoulder surgery. While it’s now been several years since Masterson pitched up to his ceiling — he logged a 3.45 ERA with 9.1 K/9 and a 58 percent ground-ball rate in 2013 — there certainly wouldn’t be any risk in adding him to the team’s mix of arms in camp. Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani just dodged a bullet after a minor elbow scare, and right-hander Homer Bailey is out for the first couple months of the season following elbow surgery. Unsurprisingly, Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer writes that the Reds would only have interest in a minor league deal for Masterson.
Here’s more from the NL Central…
- The Reds are giving serious consideration to carrying utility infielder Hernan Iribarren on their Opening Day roster, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Iribarren, 32, appeared in 24 games last year for Cincinnati, doubling his prior tally in the majors. He posted good results at Triple-A, too, after struggling in prior years at the highest level of the minors. But while he offers some versatility, he doesn’t play shortstop, and the overall profile doesn’t suggest he ought to have a real shot at serving as more than an injury replacement. Still, manager Bryan Price explains that the organization values Iribarren’s makeup and also thinks it may be possible “to get the best of him a little bit late in his career than most.”
- Brewers first base prospect Nick Ramirez is attempting a conversion back to the mound, as Tom Haudricourt of the Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reports. For the time being, at least, he’ll work as a two-way player — as he did in college — though it sounds as if the early returns speak in favor of full dedication to pitching. The southpaw has already regained the feel for his change, the key pitch in his arsenal. “Somehow, my pitches got better with the five-year hiatus,” he says. Ramirez struggled to a .206/.316/.404 batting line in 329 Double-A plate appearances last year, his third-straight year at that level, but it seems he may have found another path to the majors.