Wynns, 33, was just signed by the Reds to a split deal a couple of weeks ago. He was added to the roster on a deal that will pay him a $950K salary for time spent in the majors and $300K in the minors. Given the nature of that deal and this quick transaction, it seems the club is hoping that Wynns will pass through waivers unclaimed and stick in the minors.
As a player with more than three years of MLB service time, Wynns has the right to reject an outright assignment and elect free agency. But since he has less than five years of service, exercising that right would mean leaving the remaining money on the table. Since he is set to get paid decent amount even in Triple-A, he may decide to stay. For reference, the recent collective bargaining agreement signed for minors leaguers included a minimum salary of $35,800 for Triple-A players, well south of what Wynns is set to make.
If all this comes to fruition, the Reds will have an experienced backstop providing them with depth in a non-roster capacity. Wynns has played 232 major league games, having hit .226/.273/.324 in 653 plate appearances. That translates to a wRC+ of just 61, but he’s generally regarded as a solid framer and defender, though stronger with his throwing than his blocking.
The Reds now have just two catchers on their 40-man roster in Tyler Stephenson and Luke Maile. If an injury should occur, perhaps Wynns will be first in line to step up and fill in, though the club also signed P.J. Higgins to a minor league deal.
It’s not a guarantee that Wynns will go unclaimed, however. Last year, the Orioles agreed to a split deal with outfielder Jake Cave and similarly tried to pass him through waivers, though the Phillies interrupted those plans by claiming him. If some other club likes the idea of Wynns at a salary barely above the league minimum, perhaps they will grab him. Wynns is out of options and can’t be sent to the minors without occupying a roster spot.