Indians manager Terry Francona announced this morning that Cleveland has traded veteran infielder Mike Freeman to the Reds (Twitter link via Mandy Bell of MLB.com). Cincinnati sent cash to Cleveland to complete the minor swap, C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic tweets. Freeman was in camp with Cleveland as a non-roster invitee, so he won’t go onto Cincinnati’s 40-man roster at this time.
The 33-year-old Freeman spent the past two seasons with Cleveland, working as a utilityman and posting a combined .270/.352/.377 batting line through 256 trips to the plate. He’s spent time at all four infield spots and in both outfield corners during that time, although the bulk of his work has come as a second baseman and third baseman. Freeman doesn’t offer much power and has a fairly limited MLB track record, but he’s a career .304/.369/.418 hitter with quality strikeout and walk rates in parts of six Triple-A seasons.
Freeman had been vying for a bench spot in Cleveland, and he’ll give the Reds another option as they try to sort out who will get playing time at shortstop this year. He has 1901 career innings at the position between the minors and the big leagues, although he hasn’t played there on a semi-regular basis since his 2018 run with the Cubs’ Triple-A affiliate.
Still, Freeman at the very least gives the Reds a possible bench option who can handle the position. At the moment, the favorites for playing time at shortstop appear to be Kyle Farmer, Kyle Holder and non-roster veteran Dee Strange-Gordon. In the long run, the hope is that top prospect Jose Garcia can handle the spot, but the 22-year-old looked overmatched in his first taste of MLB action last year, hitting just .194/.206/.194 in 68 plate appearances.
Over in Cleveland, Freeman’s departure lends a bit of clarity to the infield mix. Andres Gimenez and Amed Rosario are vying for starting reps at shortstop, and if Gimenez wins out that would seemingly push Rosario into an infield/outfield role off the bench. Yu Chang could join him as a utility piece off the bench. If the club decides to send Gimenez to the minors to begin the year, Rosario would likely take the reins at short, with Chang serving as the primary backup around the infield.