The Reds signed Ender Inciarte to a minor league deal, according to a club announcement. The outfielder was recently designated for assignment and then released by the Braves. He will now report to the Triple-A Louisville Bats and attempt to earn his way back up the show.
That seems to be a somewhat unlikely scenario at this point, given that the Reds already have superior outfield options such as Nick Castellanos, Jesse Winker, Tyler Naquin and Aristides Aquino. The return of Nick Senzel, who is currently on a rehab assignment, would only further crowd the picture and make it harder for Inciarte to barge his way in.
Inciarte’s offence was near league average for the first six years of his career. From 2014 to 2019, his wRC+ was never higher than 100 and never lower than 86 in a given season. Combined with his excellent defence, that made him a valuable player, contributing 14.2 fWAR in that time. But since then, his production has fallen off a cliff, with a wRC+ of 48 since the start of the 2020 season.
This is a no-risk move for Cincy because Inciarte’s salary is being paid by Atlanta as part of the five-year extension they signed with him after the 2016 season. Even if Cincinnati eventually calls him up to the big leagues, they will only have to pay him the prorated league minimum, with that amount being subtracted from what Atlanta pays.