While Major League Baseball free agency gets all of the buzz, and rightfully so, players at the Minor League Baseball level also get free agency after six seasons in the minors. This year the Cincinnati Reds will be losing 19 players to free agency – among the largest group of players total.
Baseball America reported the full list of players that became free agents on Monday. Here’s the list and a few words about each guy.
One of my favorite stories in the farm system over the last 14 months. The Reds picked up Adames in the winter of 2016 from the Marlins in the minor league Rule 5 draft. He then spent the entire 2017 and entire 2018 seasons on the injured list (he did throw in instructional league in 2017). He returned to the mound the final week of the 2019 season to pitch for the AZL Reds and Billings Mustangs, hitting 99 MPH in the process after nearly three entire years without pitching in a game that counted. He was a free agent after 2019, but re-signed with the Reds. Adames got into a game this spring in February with the big league club and hit 100 MPH while picking up the save.
A guy with plenty of tools to work with, Beltre topped out as the #24 prospect in the organization following the 2018 season. He never quite tapped into his raw power – hitting just 17 home runs in 487 games. A good defender with speed, he could handle all three spots in the outfield.
It was back in 2013 when Alberti Chavez jumped onto my radar as the Reds brought the then 17-year-old stateside. Later that year he spent nearly two weeks in Advanced-A with Bakersfield. Chavez played just about every position on the field throughout his time with the Reds. He never played first base and he never caught, but he played all three outfield positions, he played third base, he played the two middle infield spots, and he even pitched in five games.
The Reds picked Narciso Crook in the 23rd round out of Gloucester County College as a 17-year-old in 2013. He didn’t debut until the following season. He worked his way up the farm system, topping out in Triple-A in 2019 after beginning the year in Double-A. His last season was his best season as he hit .277/.332/.474 between the two stops while playing all three spots around the outfield and stealing 10 bases along the way.
He never actually got a chance to play in any games with the organization. He was picked up in the minor league Rule 5 draft in December of 2019.
The slugger broke a long standing Florida State League home run record in 2018 by hitting 35 of them in just 104 games. Known for some of the best pure power in all of professional baseball, Isabel has one of those rare 80-grade tools that you just don’t come across too frequently.
He was picked up by the Reds in late August and joined the Reds alternate site roster for the final month of the season. The former big leaguer didn’t get called up to Cincinnati, though, and never appeared in a game with the organization.
Picked up for the 2020 season, Travis Jankowski spent most of the year on the active roster with the Reds – but he didn’t play much in a crowded outfield. Known for his speed, he was mostly used to pinch run for Cincinnati.
After playing in 38 and 50 games for the DSL Reds in 2014 and 2015, Ernesto Liberatore came stateside in 2016. But over the next four years he never played in more than 21 games in a season – including just two games in 2018.
Much like Liberatore, Valentin Martinez spent the last several years serving as a 3rd catcher for teams in the farm system. Over the 2018 and 2019 seasons he saw action behind the plate for Billings, Greeneville, Daytona, and Louisville – but only played in a total of 43 games in that time.
Acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays on September 16th this past season, Miller’s time in the Reds organization will be unforgettable. Wait, I meant forgettable.
Cincinnati picked up the former big leaguer prior to the start of spring training via free agency on a minor league deal in 2020.
Picked up prior to the start of spring training in 2020, Francisco Pena spent the year on the 60-man player pool roster and was on the traveling taxi squad a time or two during the season, but never got into the big leagues this year.
In 2014 and 2015 Carlos Rivero spent his seasons playing for the DSL Reds. But in 2016 he came stateside and played for the AZL Reds. Over the next few seasons he would play for the Billings Mustangs, Dayton Dragons, and Daytona Tortugas around the infield – logging most of his action at the shortstop position.
The 3rd round pick by the Reds in 2014, Wyatt Strahan worked his way up to Double-A in both 2018 and 2019, but the jump to the upper minors was tough for the right-hander. He never posted an ERA higher than 3.84 in rookie ball or A-ball, but in two seasons in Double-A it was 6.80.
One of the fastest players in the organization during his time with the Reds, Andy Sugilio had some tools to work with. Like was mentioned with Michael Beltre earlier, Sugilio couldn’t quite tap into his power – hitting just 12 homers in 419 games. From 2017-2019 he hit .345, .278, and .294 for the Billings Mustangs, Dayton Dragons, and Daytona Tortugas while stealing 55 bases over the three seasons.
In mid-August the Cincinnati Reds claimed Nick Williams off of waivers from the Philadelphia Phillies and added him to the 60-man player pool. A month later the Reds designated the former big leaguer for assignment and he cleared waivers and was outrighted to Triple-A.
This past year, Rob Wooten announced that his playing days were over after another injury. Becoming a free agent is just a paperwork formality. Wooten has signed back up with the Reds, though, but not as a player. He will be joining the organization as a pitching coach.
An incredibly hard thrower, Aneurys Zabala has reached 101 MPH with his fastball in the past (he previously held the record for fastest pitch thrown by a Dayton Dragon along with Aroldis Chapman who reached 101 while on a rehab assignment, but Hunter Greene surpassed them in July of 2018 at 102).
Paperwork question….. Does any time spent in MLB also count toward minor league free agency. For example, a guy 5+ years of minor league time but also an accumulated total of over a year of MLB service but at the end of a season is not on a 40 man roster. Is he a minor league FA?
Thought Strahan retired
It’s still a paperwork thing that has to be done if the team doesn’t wish to hold onto their rights moving forward.
I’m assuming that some of these guys could be back with the Reds. In other words, this isn’t a case of Reds cutting these guys, but rather, they’ve just reached the 6 year threshhold and are free to sign with anyone…including the Reds.
Yes. Any of these guys could re-sign. They just happened to have reached free agency – they weren’t cuts/releases.
When do you think they will start resigning minor league free agents? With all players released they would have a tough time filling out the teams they have left.