The Cincinnati Reds officially signed outfielder Nick Castellanos, who is back to being called Nick instead of Nicholas, earlier today. The Reds signed Castellanos to an interestingly structured 4-year deal, that includes two different opt-outs in it. To make room for Castellanos on the 40-man roster the Reds designated outfielder Jose Siri for assignment. And that’s where things get interesting.
Jose Siri is an outfielder who was on the 40-man roster with what feels like eleventy-billion other outfielders. Cincinnati has 10 players on the roster listed as outfielders, though that does include Josh VanMeter who can play more spots on the infield than he does in the outfield. No matter who you slice it, though, it’s a crowded roster of outfielders.
Given the fact that the outfield was so crowded, it made sense that it was going to be an outfielder who was going to be designated for assignment. Where things get a bit more confusing, though, is that it was Jose Siri. From the standpoint of who is most ready to contribute in Cincinnati on March 26th, he’s probably the 10th guy. But he’s also one of only three guys that the Reds can realistically send to the minor leagues after spring training ends. While technically Shogo Akiyama can be sent to the minors, he won’t be. The same can be said for Nick Senzel. That leaves Aristides Aquino, Josh VanMeter, and at the time Jose Siri as the outfielders with usable options back to Triple-A.
The Reds aren’t going to Opening Day with eight outfielders on the 26-man roster. Among the players out of options, or with unusable options are Phillip Ervin, Travis Jankowski, Mark Payton, and Scott Schebler. The chances that Cincinnati isn’t designating at least one of those guys during the spring are very small. It would take a multiple-step scenario for all of those players to make the Reds roster this spring. They’re almost guaranteed to lose someone in that group, and likely multiple someones.
All of them may be better options on March 26th than Jose Siri. But he could have remained in the organization and in the minor leagues. The above players are going to see someone designated from it in almost any reasonable scenario when March rolls around. They’ll have to clear waivers then – and maybe they will and can remain in the organization. But it’s interesting to see the thought process here that they kept those guys around over the toolsy, but flawed Siri who had options available. He may also clear waivers and can stick around – we’ll find out soon enough.
For Jose Siri and being claimed on waivers, there’s some appeal to another team. As noted, there are some flaws in his game. He strikes out a lot due to some struggles he has with pitch recognition. But he’s also explosive. When it comes to raw tools, he’s got plus power, plus speed, and plus defense in center field. If the pitch recognition doesn’t improve enough in 2020 for him to become a starting caliber player, when he has to stick on the roster in 2021 because he’s out of options, the defensive ability mixed with the base running ability gives him value off of the bench.
We’ll see if someone is willing to bet on the upside of Siri and put in a claim. I’d venture to guess that someone will, but wouldn’t be completely surprised if they don’t.