Back in early December the Cincinnati Reds selected outfielder Mark Payton in the Rule 5 draft from the Oakland Athletics. The left-handed hitter was coming off of a huge season in Triple-A with Las Vegas where he had hit .334/.400/.653 as a 27-year-old with 30 doubles, 3 triples, and 30 home runs in 118 games, absolutely crushing right-handed pitcher along the way. A crowded outfield may have led to Payton’s fate today, when he was returned to the Athletics after not making the Reds roster. That was first reported by Mark Sheldon of Reds.com.
For the Reds, Mark Payton was the second outfielder that they had acquired in the offseason – picking up Travis Jankowski via a trade on October 31st was the first. It wouldn’t be their last addition of an outfielder, either. January saw the organization officially sign Shogo Akiyama and near the end of the month the team also picked up Nick Castellanos. With Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, Aristides Aquino, and Phillip Ervin already on the team – the outfield got very crowded in the offseason.
Back in February and March, Mark Payton was in Goodyear with the Reds and played in 14 games. He went 9-33 (.273) with three walks, but the power he had shown in Triple-A didn’t show up in the limited action he had – Payton had just one extra-base hit, a double, in his time before spring training in Arizona was shut down. Spring training stats don’t usually provide much insight into how one will perform in the future when real games begin – something we all tend to know and understand, but still also seem to forget for a second when we see that someone is performing well or poorly every single spring.
When things got back underway in July, Mark Payton was assigned to the Great American Ballpark roster. He’s been playing in the intrasquad scrimmages frequently, but as a Rule 5 pick he was still fighting an uphill battle with so many outfield options ahead of him and his need to remain on the active roster all season. It seems that Payton lost out among the outfielders and has been returned to Oakland. Manager David Bell announced several others who were informed that they made the Opening Day roster. Among those who will be on the roster to start the year are outfielder Travis Jankowski, infielder/outfielder Josh VanMeter, infielder/catcher Kyle Farmer, and reliever Cody Reed – as first reported by C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic.