The Reds announced this afternoon they’ve brought in catcher Austin Romine and reliever Alan Busenitz on minor league contracts. Both players will be in major league camp as non-roster invitees.
Romine, 34, returns to Cincinnati, where he spent the stretch run in 2022. Acquired in a deadline day trade with the Cardinals, the veteran played out the year in a depth role. He suited up 37 times for the Reds, hitting .147/.173/.263 across 99 trips to the plate. Cincinnati was one of three teams for Romine in 2022, as he also spent brief time with the Angels and St. Louis.
Between the trio of teams, the righty-hitting backstop posted a .155/.187/.248 line through 136 plate appearances. That was his most robust MLB workload since 2019, though he’s now appeared in the majors in 11 of the past 12 seasons overall. A longtime backup with the Yankees, Romine has played for five clubs since reaching free agency in advance of the 2020 season. He’s a .230/.268/.348 hitter in over 1400 career plate appearances.
Romine brings plenty of experience and some familiarity with the pitching staff to Reds camp. Cincinnati has already signed Curt Casali and Luke Maile to MLB deals this winter, bringing in a pair of depth options behind highly-regarded young backstop Tyler Stephenson. Barring injury, it’s hard to envision Romine cracking the Opening Day roster. He’s likely to start the season at Triple-A Louisville and remain on hand if the organization needs to call upon a veteran depth option.
Busenitz, 32, came out of the Twins bullpen 51 times between 2017-18. He worked to a 4.58 ERA through 57 innings. After the second campaign, Minnesota granted him his release to sign with the Rakuten Golden Eagles of Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball.
The right-hander has spent the past four seasons in Japan, where he carved out a career as a solid late-game option. Busenitz pitched to a 2.83 ERA through 155 2/3 NPB innings. His 18.8% strikeout percentage was fairly modest, though his 8.6% walk rate is manageable. The Kennesaw State product returns stateside on the heels of a 2022 campaign that saw him toss 31 2/3 frames of 2.27 ERA ball with a 20% strikeout rate at Japan’s top level.