The Cincinnati Reds made an intriguing signing today as the inked Derek Dietrich to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic was the first (that I saw at least) to report the deal.
#Reds in agreement with free-agent infielder Derek Dietrich on a minor-league contract, pending a physical. Deal includes invitation to major-league spring training and will be worth $2M+ on the major-league side.
— Ken Rosenthal (@Ken_Rosenthal) February 18, 2019
For his career, Dietrich is an above-average Major League hitter. The 29-year-old has a career OPS+ of 109, and it’s been 122, 120, 106, and 112 over the last four seasons. Hitting in Miami has hidden, at least a little bit, how good of a hitter he’s been. He’s spent his entire career to this point with the Marlins. On the road, Derek Dietrich has hit .272/.351/.465. At home he’s hit just .234/.319/.377. We’ve seen what Marlins ballpark has done to hitters who have left, and by-and-large, they improve when they leave. This seems like a very good pick up by the Reds to bolster the bench.
If there is one concern, at least offensively, with Derek Dietrich, it’s that his plate discipline hasn’t exactly been good in the last two seasons. Last year, in particular, he walked just 29 times and had 140 strikeouts. That’s not an ideal strikeout-to-walk ratio and will be something to keep an eye on in the future.
Defensively, there are some things to note with Derek Dietrich, too. He’s played left field, second base, third base, and first base in his career. He even played 1.2 innings in right field last year. Those 1.2 innings are the extent of his time there in the Majors. Flexibility is something he does offer, though he’s not exactly rated out as a good defender anywhere on the field except first base.
With his experience in the Major Leagues, it wouldn’t surprise me if he had a built in clause in his contract near the end of the spring that the team had to inform him if he made the 25-man roster or not, or he could elect free agency. That has not been reported yet, but he fits the profile of a guy who would get that kind of deal.
Update: February 19th
The deal is now official. Derek Dietrich will make $2M base salary if he makes the Reds out of spring training. He also has a chance to earn $500,000 through additional performance bonuses. Those escalators have not been specified.