11:45am: It is indeed a minor league deal with an invite to Spring Training for Iglesias, who will earn $2.5MM if he makes the team out of camp, with the opportunity for $1MM more based on games played, tweets Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.
9:00am: MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that the Reds have a deal in place for Iglesias. No details have been given, though it figures to be a minor league deal.
Feb 23, 8:44am: The Reds still have not officially announced a deal for Iglesias, but he has a locker and a jersey, per the Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans (via Twitter).
Feb 22: The Reds and shortstop Jose Iglesias have been discussing a minor league contract, Ken Rosenthal and C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic report (via Twitter). If the deal comes to fruition, he’d join Derek Dietrich in MLB camp as a quality veteran with a strong chance at securing a bench role come Opening Day. MLB Network’s Jon Heyman tweets that the Reds are indeed interested, but the veteran Iglesias could wait a bit longer to see if an injury elsewhere in the game opens a clearer path to regular at-bats.
Iglesias, 29, is one of the game’s premier defenders at shortstop and actually had an improved year at the plate in 2018, hitting .269/.310/.389 in 464 plate appearances — good for both a 90 OPS+ and wRC+ (essentially indicating that his bat was about 10 percent worse than that of a league-average hitter after adjusting for his home park and league). For a player with his defensive prowess, that level of offense is more than acceptable, which is why both Fangraphs (2.5) and Baseball-Reference (2.2) both felt that Iglesias was worth more than two wins above replacement last season.
That said, Iglesias’ bat was considerably less productive in 2016-17, when he posted a timid .255/.297/.353 batting line over the life of 1002 plate appearances. It’s now been three full seasons since Iglesias enjoyed a quality season at the plate, when he hit .300/.347/.370 (99 OPS+) back in 2015.
The Reds already have some infield depth beyond starting shortstop Jose Peraza. Third baseman Eugenio Suarez has the ability to slide over to shortstop in a pinch, and Cincinnati also has one of baseball’s premier prospects, Nick Senzel, looming in Triple-A (although Senzel is currently working in the outfield as he vies for a job in center field). Iglesias, though, would give them a clear backup at shortstop while also providing the ability to handle second base and third base when needed.
Iglesias’ situation appears somewhat similar to that of veteran catcher Martin Maldonado, who is reportedly drawing interest from the Mariners but having difficulty securing a Major League deal. Both are light hitters who are among the game’s best defenders at their respective positions but have seemingly been unable to find a team willing to sign them to the big league roster.