The Reds have signed corner infielder Matt Davidson to a minor league contract, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports (via Twitter). Davidson will be invited to Cincinnati’s big league Spring Training camp.
Davidson didn’t see any MLB action last season, spending all of 2019 with the Rangers’ Triple-A affiliate and hitting .264/.339/.527 with 33 homers over 528 plate appearances. These big numbers (posted amidst the most hitter-friendly season in Triple-A history, to be fair) could have inspired the Rangers to keep Davidson in his customary first base/third base role rather than further experiment with him on the mound, as Davidson pitched just one inning of relief work. Davidson did indicate last February that his pitching exploits were likely to be more of the emergency mop-up variety than of any real attempt to make him a two-way player, following three innings of pitching with the White Sox in 2018.
Selected 35th overall by the Diamondbacks in the 2009 draft, Davidson was sent to the White Sox in a notable December 2013 deal that brought Addison Reed to the desert. Davidson showed some promise in 31-game cameo with Arizona in 2013 and then hit .224/.291/.435 with 46 homers over 939 PA with Chicago in 2017-18, as his power potential didn’t make up for a lack of average and on-base skills. There was a lot of swing-and-miss in Davidson’s time as a big leaguer, with 355 strikeouts over 1028 career PA. Following the 2018 season, the White Sox opted to non-tender Davidson rather than pay him a projected $2.4MM through the arbitration process.
Turning 29 in March, Davidson projects to be a corner infield depth piece for Cincinnati on either their big league bench or at Triple-A. The addition of a 26th roster spot gives Davidson a greater hope of winning a job in Spring Training, though with Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto firmly locked into third base and first base duties for the Reds, Davidson doesn’t have much of a path to regular playing time.