The Cincinnati Reds have just two days remaining before they must decide on what to do with some veterans in big league camp. Players with enough service time, but are in Major League spring training on minor league deals must be told whether or not they have made the 25-man roster by March 24th at 12:00pm ET. The Reds have three such players in camp: Oliver Perez, Cliff Pennington, and Ben Revere.

We will start by looking at Cliff Pennington. This spring has gone rather poorly for the infielder. He”s had 33 at-bats and hit just .182 without an extra-base hit and with 12 strikeouts. Over the last three seasons in the Major Leagues he has hit just .224/.291/.306 with the Angels, Diamondbacks, and Blue Jays. The Reds didn’t really bring in Pennington for his bat. The team needed someone they could count on to be a backup shortstop, and ideally, someone who could back up a few other positions on the infield if needed. But, at some point you’ve got to hit, too. And for Pennington, he’s been terrible at the plate this spring, and his track record doesn’t exactly suggest he is the type that can flip the switch under the lights.

With outfielder Ben Revere, it’s pretty much the same story. He’s only played in 12 games and racked up 24 at-bats, but he’s hit .125, with a triple, in that span. His late start probably comes into play there, but like Pennington, his track record of offensive production isn’t exactly lighting the world on fire. Last year he hit .275/.308/.344 for the Angels. While that batting average is nice, he was still basically Billy Hamilton-esque at the plate. No power. No ability to get on base. Except that unlike Hamilton he’s not one of the best defenders alive (Revere is merely average-ish), nor is he incredible on the basepaths – though he is good there.

Oliver Perez is in a similar boat as the other two, at least as far as his performance goes. The 36-year-old left handed reliever has been rocked this spring to the tune of a 13.50 ERA over his seven appearances. He’s allowed 10 runs in 6.2 innings with four walks and nine strikeouts. Last season he posted a 4.64 ERA in 50 games with the Nationals, throwing 33.0 innings. he was very successful against lefties, but struggled mightily against righties. With Perez, at least, there’s some kind of track record you could argue that you could rely on. He has gotten out lefties, recently, at the big league level.

What do the Reds do with the position players?

From 10,000 feet, it would seem to be an easy decision to not keep Ben Revere and Cliff Pennington when there are other options that don’t require 40-man moves. Phillip Ervin can be the 5th outfielder and backup center fielder. Alex Blandino could be the backup shortstop and infielder. Both are having better springs, already have roster spots, are younger – but not too young, and in Ervin’s case, in a small sample size, produced better than Revere in the Major Leagues last season.

The issue here is that if you believe it’s better that Phillip Ervin or Alex Blandino to be playing with regularity, then maybe you don’t want them on the bench. It would probably be easier to find playing time for Blandino due to Scooter Gennett’s struggles against left handed pitching – you could platoon Blanrino with him as the right handed hitting second baseman, then get him time at short or third whenever Jose Peraza or Eugenio Suarez needed a day off. With Ervin, it’s much tougher as there is already a 4-man rotation in the outfield. While he can play all three spots, getting playing time over the other four would be difficult. Is keeping him playing every day in Triple-A worth a 40-man spot for a guy like Revere, who also would rarely play, but provides next to no upside at all? That’s what the Reds need to figure out.

What do the Reds do with Oliver Perez?

When it comes down to Oliver Perez, I think there need to be a few questions the team needs to be asking themselves. First, do you need a LOOGY that bad? Second, if you do feel that way, will it be communicated to Bryan Price that he needs to do everything possible to keep Perez from facing right handed hitters? Third, is keeping him versus a quality right handed pitcher worth a 40-man spot?

We also need to remember that each of these guys will make 2-3 times what the other options will make. Ben Revere and Cliff Pennington will each get $1.5M if they make the roster. Oliver Perez will get $1.25M guaranteed, and could earn another $500,000 if he reaches certain performance levels. The players in question who would replace them would make the league minimum.

Major League Baseball gets their way, doesn’t have to pay Minor Leaguers

Congress passed their omnibus spending bill earlier today. Within that bill, on page 1900-something, was the hilariously, and incredibly disingenuously named “Save America’s Pastime Act” portion of the bill that exempts Major League Baseball from having to comply to the federal wage standards when it comes to paying Minor League Baseball players. Here’s the important part of the bill, regarding baseball pay:

Any employee employed to play baseball who is compensated pursuant to a contract that provides for a weekly salary for services performed during the league’s championship season (but not on spring training or the off season) at a rate that is not less than a weekly salary equal to the minimum wage under section 6(a) for a workweek of 40 hours, irrespective of the number of hours the employee devotes to baseball related activities.

Craig Calcaterra of NBC Sports has a good write up on it. Maury Brown also had this note on twitter, showing the spending by Major League Baseball on lobbying Congress since they began trying to get this bill passed (it never even got off of the floor when it was introduced because it was so stupid – so instead they threw it in with something else 1900 pages in on something they knew would pass).

Over the last two years, Major League Baseball lobbied Congress with over $2.5M. You know, the same Major League Baseball who had $10,000,000,000 in revenue last season. That’s $10B, with a B.


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23 Responses

  1. RedsinWashSt

    I say no to Pennington, no to Perez and not sure with Revere. Since the Reds have a 4 man outfield rotation could they keep just the 4 outfielders. The spare outfielders are so much worse then the spare infielders. Not including Ervin because I think he needs at bats in 3a. Then Ervin is a phone call away.

  2. WillieG

    Price would love to have Revere as ph/pr off the bench; I think he will lobby hard for him. Revere was actually pretty solid for a few years before an awful 2016. If the Reds could get a couple of good months out of him, they may even be able to flip him for a low-level prospect in the summer.

  3. Pat

    Every now and then you take a flyer on other teams’ castoffs and it pans out. But most of the time they’re castoffs. Time to cast off some of these guys brought in with questionable track records and be true to developing your own talent inside the organization. It’s a balance small market/budget teams have to deal with.

  4. jonathan

    Ridiculous!! How could the players not fall under the Fair Labor Act

  5. Stock

    Don’t waste valuable roster space on these three. Dump all three. Hope someone else dumps someone better. Pretty sure no one else wants them. Resign them to minor league contracts.

  6. Bubba Woo

    I’d say no on all three. Not concerned about Blandino/Ervin not getting ABs, neither is a top prospect.

    As for the minor league pay issue, unfortunately, the only way it is ever going to be fixed is by the media continuing to point out Tue hypocracy of Tue owners.

  7. Cguy

    MLB has an article about all 30 teams & their closer(s). Each teams closer is discussed & then there is the “next man up” category. Dodgers- it goes on about K. Jansen. When it comes to “next man up”they say Josh Field or TONY CINGRANI. Of course the Reds were probably gonna non-tender Toni, plus we got that Clementina guy also. Man, are the Reds swift or what?

  8. Optimist

    A few million here, a few million there, and pretty soon it all adds up. Release the veterans and go with the major-league minimums, until the waiver wire coughs up something better, which is almost certain. It’s still a rebuild, so swap up to a better LOOGY or another Scooter, who are more flippable. We don’t need a 5th outfielder or backup MI in any meaningful sense – use the AAA guys.

  9. KyWilson1

    NFL practice squad players make $6300 p/wk.
    Minor League soccer players- $35,000 p/yr.
    D-League players earn one of two salaries -$19,500 / $26,000 for a 6 month season
    Minor league Baseball is between $1,100 and $2,150 a month.

    If minor league soccer in the US can afford to pay a 35,000+ p y/r salary, baseball should 100% be able to do the same. If you take each team and give them 250 minor leaguers at 35,000 p/yr that =$8,750,000. Hard to see how that’s not doable. Its only 10,000,000 if you pay them 40k.

  10. kevin z

    I would keep Revere let go the other 2. Revere having bad luck atm whether hits a liner at 1st or OF making a nice catch. He would be a nice PR and defensive replacement for the team let Ervin play everyday at AAA.

    • The Duke

      This is where I’m at. The Reds 5th OF should basically never be starting unless multiple injuries happen in a game and a callup can’t make it in time for the next game. If Ervin is up, I’d rather see him starting in CF to see if he can handle it there. If he’s just going to ride the pine (which is what I have complete confidence Price would do with him if BHam is healthy), then put him in AAA until BHam inevitably gets hurt and then insert him into the 4 man rotation.

      • IndyRedsFan

        I’m with Duke here. Ervin needs to be playing regularly until he has a chance to play at least semi-regularly in the bigs. If they are going to try to get the top 4 outfielders 500 plate appearances each, that leaves very few for a fifth outfielder.

        With Revere gone, perhaps Dixon makes the team and fills the “5th outfielder” role as well as backup infielder/pinch hitter.

    • AndyBado

      Nah, I think you give the spot to Ervin. He’s probably just as good defensively if needed, has some speed for pinch running, and is definitely a better pinch hit option.

  11. A.B.

    Can someone explain to me why we just claimed Kennys Vargas?!? Out of options and cannot play anything other than first base. Confusion…

    • AndyBado

      He played a game at 3B in 2012. So… positional versatility?

      I have no idea really. He’s an interesting player if nothing else. Maybe they keep a guy like Vargas as a power bench bat? Without Herrera there is an extra bench spot now, right? On the bench you could have Duvall (or whatever outfielder is out that day), Mes, Blandino, Ervin, Vargas.

  12. Hunt4redsoct

    My guess is either a power pinch-hitter off the bench or the Reds will try to waive him see if he goes unclaimed and then send them to the minors. Maybe wait a day or two until other teams start cutting guys and they can slip in through waivers.

  13. Norwood Nate

    I’d say no to Perez. The Reds have better relief options on the roster, though not necessarily LH ones outside of potential starters (including Reed for now). After Iglesias, Hughes, Hernandez, and Peralta the Reds can fill out the rest of the bullpen nicely between Brice, Shackelford, Stephens, Weiss, and Reed.

    I like the idea of Blandino making the roster and playing 2B consistently against LH starters and backing up SS and 3B. I think he can relieve Peraza regularly enough to make carrying a true back up SS unnecessary. The fact he’s on the roster is an added bonus. This probably makes Pennington a no as well.

    As far as Revere goes, I also have a suspicion the Reds will probably add him. And to be honest, I’m ok with that seeing that I believe it’s best for Ervin to continue to play regularly and he wouldn’t as the 5th OF’er. Defensively he can cover all the spots which is ideal and he offers a little as PR as well.

    I’d like to see the Reds bench consist of Mes, Schebler/Duvall, Blandino, Revere and Brandon Dixon, who I think would add a power RH bat and some positional flexibility as a back up. That would mean using those last two spots on the 40 man for position players. But as I said above, I think we have relief options on the roster already.

    (I do think the Vargas claim is an attempt to DFA and stash, don’t see a reason to try and keep him on the 25 man roster).

  14. AirborneJayJay

    Pink slips for all 3. Looking for a LH pitcher or 2 on the waiver wire over the next week. I keep watching the Indians with Merritt.

  15. Steve

    No, no and no. For financial, roster as well as opportunity reasons, they should not be signed. I think Quakenbush and Dixon should be given the remaining roster spots and the Reds should promote from within. I agree that development may be stunted a little if Blandino and Ervin are reserves, but they along with Dixon would be playing the year at a not that young age of 25-26. I can see the advantages of keeping them in Louisville too, but if we’re thinking about 2018 and beyond, Mes, Winker, Blandino, Ervin and Dixon as reserves are the best choices.