The Reds are signing utilityman Chad Pinder to a minor league deal, reports Robert Murray of FanSided. The Ballengee Group client will be in big league camp as a non-roster invitee once the deal is finalized, tweets Mark Sheldon of MLB.com.
Pinder, 31 in March, joins the Reds after parts of seven seasons with the Athletics. A Competitive Balance Round B draftee in 2013, the Virginia Tech product got to the big leagues for the first time three years later. Pinder’s first couple seasons were productive, as he hit .248/.313/.447 with 28 home runs in 193 games as a part-time player between 2017-18.
The 2019 season saw him connect on 13 more homers in 370 trips to the plate, but his on-base percentage fell to .290. It has hovered in that range for the past few years, with the right-handed hitter only reaching the .300 OBP mark once in the past four seasons (exactly .300 in 2021). In a little more than 1000 plate appearances since 2019 began, he’s compiled a .239/.283/.402 line — offense that checks in 10 percentage points below league average by wRC+ after accounting for Oakland’s cavernous park.
Pinder narrowly set a career high in plate appearances last season, getting to the plate 379 times. He struggled to a .235/.269/.385 clip, striking out a career-worst 31.1% of the time while walking in only 3.7% of his trips. While he managed another 12 homers, he had the seventh-worst OBP among the 246 hitters with 350+ plate appearances.
It certainly wasn’t the kind of platform year Pinder was envisioning. Nevertheless, he’ll add some defensive flexibility and a potential platoon bat to David Bell’s bench in Cincinnati if he can crack the MLB roster. Pinder spent most of his 2022 innings in the corner outfield, but he has a fair bit of experience at each of second base, third base and shortstop. Public defensive metrics haven’t rated his infield work highly, though he’s gotten strong reviews for his corner outfield play.
He also has a solid offensive track record when holding the platoon advantage. Pinder has hit 31 homers in 756 career plate appearances against left-handed pitching, compiling a .264/.322/.456 line against southpaws overall. Even as his production has dipped over the past few years, he’s remained a solid power threat against left-handed arms. That would likely be magnified in Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park, one of the sport’s most favorable venues for hitters.
With a career .225/.272/.388 mark in a bit less than 1000 plate appearances against righty pitching, Pinder is best deployed in a matchup capacity. He’d make for a potential platoon partner for lefty swingers like TJ Friedl, Jake Fraley and Joey Votto in the corner outfield/first base mix if he can reach the MLB roster. Cincinnati brought in Wil Myers via free agency and Nick Solak through trade to potentially play into that group as well. Catcher Tyler Stephenson seems likely to shoulder plenty of the designated hitter reps, with Pinder perhaps also offering some cover on the left side of the infield for presumptive starters Kevin Newman and Spencer Steer.