The Cincinnati Reds have claimed first baseman/outfielder Christian Walker. To make room on the 40-man roster the team designated reliever Jumbo Diaz for assignment.
Christian Walker was picked up on waivers by the Atlanta Braves less than two weeks ago. That means that the Reds had a chance to claim him first and passed. Jumbo Diaz hasn’t exactly performed well in his spring training games thus far, but it’s also March 6th. What has changed in less than two weeks that now make the Reds decide Walker was worth Diaz?
Getting back to Christian Walker, he’s spent parts of two seasons in the big leagues. In 2014 and 2015 he played in 13 total games with the Orioles, hitting .148/.258/.296 in 31 plate appearances. Last season he was in Triple-A Norfolk all season. In 552 plate appearances he hit .264/.321/.437 with 29 doubles, two triples and 18 home runs. He struggled with plate discipline, walking just 40 times and striking out 138 times.
Christian Walker will be 26-years-old this season. He’s got good power in his bat, and there’s more in there than he’s shown if he can figure out a way to make more contact. He’s a poor outfielder and a solid first baseman when it comes to the defensive side of things. I actually wrote about him when he was designated for assignment two weeks ago and the Reds passed. The best argument at the time was that he had big home/road splits, and his home park is known to sap power. On the road he hit .274/.321/.520 with 15 home runs. At home he hit just .254/.320/.355 with three home runs.
With all of that said, Christian Walker’s best bet to help the team is as a pinch hitter. He’s not going to bring any defensive value or base running value. He’s not going to be starting over Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler or Joey Votto. If one of the corner outfielders isn’t producing the team will turn to Jesse Winker.
As for Jumbo Diaz, it will be interesting to see what happens with him. I’d be surprised if he cleared waivers. He’s got a proven track record of success in the Major Leagues. His 2016 wasn’t as good as his past seasons were when it comes to his peripherals, but he posted a 3.14 ERA and he makes league minimum. He’s 33, so he’s not young. But for a team looking to add a solid piece to their bullpen, he’s a fit. He’s certainly not the first player I would have designated to make a roster spot available. However, finding a spot isn’t as easy as it was just a few months ago. The Reds must feel pretty good about their internal bullpen options right now.