The Reds announced Monday that they’ve signed catcher/infielder P.J. Higgins to a minor league contract. The Bledsoe Agency client will receive an invitation to big league camp in spring training.
Higgins, 30, logged Major League time with the Cubs in 2021-22, batting a combined .210/.291/.348 with six home runs, 11 doubles and a triple in 254 trips to the plate. Modest as that production may be, Higgins has spent parts of four seasons at the Triple-A level and clobbered opposing pitchers at that level, posting a .318/.401/.499 slash in 672 overall plate appearances.
Beyond the production at the plate in the upper minors, Higgins has some quiet versatility that could help him eventually win a spot on Cincinnati’s bench. He’s primarily been a catcher in his professional career, but the Cubs have also given him 867 career innings at first base, 584 innings at third base, 93 innings at second base and even 37 frames at shortstop. If he can ultimately deliver anything within a stone’s throw of league-average production at the plate, he could make for an interesting bench player — particularly for a Reds club that carried three catchers for much of the 2023 season (Tyler Stephenson, Luke Maile, Curt Casali).
As things stand, Stephenson and the recently re-signed Maile figure to handle considerable work behind the plate. That said, Stephenson was more productive at the plate when he was playing first base or serving as a designated hitter than when he was catching — and his glovework behind the dish also graded out quite poorly. It wouldn’t be all that surprising if the Reds again opt for three catchers, with Stephenson spending ample time at first and DH. Higgins could potentially factor into that equation if he impresses next spring. He hasn’t drawn particularly strong defensive grades in limited action in the majors, though Baseball America touted him as at least an average defender at catcher before his MLB debut.