The Reds have selected the contract of outfielder Delino DeShields Jr., per a club announcement. They’ve also recalled infielder Alejo Lopez to fill the second of their two new roster spots under September expansion. Right-hander R.J. Alaniz is up from Triple-A Louisville as well, and he’ll serve as the 29th man for today’s doubleheader.
Cincinnati just acquired DeShields Jr. from the Red Sox yesterday in exchange for cash. He’s now in line to make his first big league appearance of the 2021 season — and to do so on a team where his father is the current first base coach.
The younger DeShields turned 29 last month and has split the 2021 campaign between the Triple-A affiliates for the Rangers and the Red Sox, where he’s batted a combined .252/.385/.366 in 381 plate appearances. DeShields has just 21 extra-base hits in that time — six homers, 13 doubles, two triples — but his speed has once again been on display; he’s swiped 21 bags in 24 attempts.
DeShields’ wheels have long been his calling card. The former No. 8 overall draft pick was the Rangers’ primary center fielder from 2015-19 and never hit more than six home runs in a big league season during that time, but he did swipe a combined 106 bases and leg out 17 triples in 539 games. DeShields’ average sprint speed, as measured by Statcast, ranked in the 97th percentile or better among MLB players each season from 2015-19. He “dropped” to the 90th percentile during his stint in Cleveland last year.
That blistering speed has also served DeShields well on the defensive side of the game. He’s tallied 13 Defensive Runs Saved over the past three seasons and, dating back to 2016, ranks 39th in all of baseball at 27 Outs Above Average, per Statcast (despite not logging a single inning of defense in the Majors this year). DeShields will give Cincinnati a late-game option to pinch-run or upgrade the defense in close games as they look to hang onto the second Wild Card spot in the National League. The Padres and Reds are currently in a tie for the second spot, with matching 71-62 records. The Cardinals and Phillies are both two and a half games back, while the Mets are five and a half games out.