Mancini, 31, just signed a minor league deal with the Reds a week ago. In five games for Triple-A Louisville, he hit two home runs in 19 plate appearances and slashed .316/.316/.737. Despite that strong showing, he’s been cut loose.
Speculatively speaking, it’s possible that Mancini had some kind of opt-out in his deal, allowing him to return to the open market. By doing so now, he could sign with another club prior to September 1 and thus be postseason eligible with whatever club signs him. Or perhaps the Reds knew they weren’t going to squeeze him onto their roster in the coming days and merely released him as a courtesy, so that he could seek out other opportunities.
Cincy has Christian Encarnacion-Strand getting the bulk of the first base playing time at the moment with Nick Martini mashing in the designated hitter slot in a small sample of eight games. The corner outfield mix consists of Will Benson, Nick Senzel, Stuart Fairchild and TJ Hopkins. Previously, Spencer Steer was in that mix but he seems ticketed for second base work with Matt McLain landing on the injured list recently.
Whatever the reasons for Mancini’s release, it doesn’t appear to be performance-based, as his batting line in that small Triple-A sample was excellent. But prior to joining the Reds, he had been struggling in the big leagues with the Cubs. After signing a two-year, $14MM deal coming into this year, he hit .234/.299/.336 and was released in early August. That means he’s free to sign with any club for the prorated league minimum, with the Cubs remaining on the hook for the majority of the salary.
He will now presumably try to find another team to sign with in the next 30 hours or so. Despite his rough showing this year, he brings plenty of experience to the table, along with a solid track record. In 831 career games, he’s hit .263/.328/.448 for a wRC+ of 108. Defensively, he’s best suited to first base but has also spent some time in the outfield corners.