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.

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.

28 Responses

  1. Colorado Red

    Seems like a nice Left handed bat off the bench.
    Also the ability to give a lot of guys a day off.
    Nice pickup

    • Oldtimer

      Six years of MLB experience and mostly in utility role. Should be Reds utility IN this season. Reds have acquired LOTS of MLB experienced talent in exchange for mostly MiLB prospects this offseason.

  2. Brent

    If he sticks with the reds do they retain his rights in 2020 or is he a FA again?

  3. Clammy

    A nice LH bat & bench piece. He’s got some decent power too.

    Although he’s a RH hitter; this can’t help Conner Joe’s chances.

    We still need depth at SS. What’s up with Blandino? Will he be ready for Opening Day?

  4. jbonireland

    Doesn’t fit the backup shortstop profile but guess for a short period of time guess you could always move Suarez if needed. Have no idea how the bench spots would play out but guess he would fit in over Trahan or maybe Ervin.
    Doubt this guy sees any time in the minors, I agree that he would probably get an out at the end of spring training if he doesn’t make the 25 man. It almost looks like the Reds are going to have to move some bodies before the end of spring training to straighten out the 25 man. Unlike previous years we may actually have a decent bench. Kemp, Casali, Dietrich? and Schebler.

  5. Tom

    This is why losing Shed Long and Jeter Downs, both likely 2b, was probably not an issue. Nearly every year there are quality players like this available.

  6. Stock

    Love this pickup.

    1. .290/.363/.496/.859
    2. .292/.376/.508/.884
    3. .319/.371/.494/.865
    4. .311/.432/.434/.866

    I don’t see a big difference in the line of these four players. Player 4 walks a lot more but has far less power. Player 1 made was on base 3 fewer times than player 2 or 3 but had a greater ISO than player 3 to even it out.

    We all know what happened when Yelich went from Miami to Milwaukee. Expect good things from Dietrich with regular playing time.

    Many have figured it out already but the above lines are the road stats from:

    1. Dietrich
    2. Suarez
    3. Gennett
    4. Votto

    Maybe the Reds are still quietly looking at a trade. I see Dietrich as a potential Gennett type acquisition. Trade Gennett for an upgrade in pitching and move Dietrich to 2B for the next two years.

    Better yet as soon as you trade Gennett, extend Dietrich through 2022 or 2023 because he will only get more expensive if he plays every day in GABP.

    • MuddyCleats

      Agree w/ concept; Reds should continue 2 try & improve team past 2019 150 yr celebration…..SP, RP and position players. Concerned that Hernandez and Hughes may regress this yr? Dietrich provides Reds position & trade flexibility. Would have liked Maybin or Alcides Escobar too. Both were cheap and provide quality Def and SB potential….both things Reds R severely lacking. Escobar has WS experience – Championship – something else Reds R lacking

  7. Nep O'Tism

    Presumably competing with Connor Joe for a bench spot this Spring.

    I hope Joe is the one that makes it, though. Dietrich has the major league experience, but I like the upside potential of Joe if 2018 was indeed a breakthrough year for him. The walk rate is encouraging, and 3 years younger.

    3 years of league minimum control is nice, too.

  8. Choo Choo Coleman

    Great sign! This guy has serious pop in bar, and can play all over… frees the Reds up to make one more serious trade before season…

    • Choo choo Coleman

      Schebler or Gennett & a reliever to CLE for Greg Allen, Yu Chang & prospect

      • MuddyCleats

        Like Allen as well – young CF w/ SB potential – showed well last year – lot of upside!

      • Clammy

        I like both Allen & Yu Chang. Cleveland would make a good landing spot for Kemp as he’d get 400 + AB’s with the DH. Kemp, Schebler and Peralta would make sense for both teams. I doubt Cleveland would take on both Kemp and Scotter’s salary.

  9. Optimist

    They have to be dealing throughout the spring, and into the season. If “always be dealing relievers” is the mantra, then Iggy is the lead in the package which includes any of the 1-year deals and some of these bench/role players.

    Iggy and Kemp for Greinke and a prospect or two, pending salary equalization.

  10. Jon Ryker

    Being bad at playing several positions is not demonstrating flexibility.

    • Doug Gray

      But it is. Because it means you are good enough, still, that the manager is willing to play you there sometimes.

  11. MBZ

    Not sure if he is a good fit for what the Reds need. A nice LHB off the bench is a plus, but I think Senzel will be the utility guy. My guess is he’ll start 130 + games in that role. If that’s true, I’d rather our 4th bench player be a defensive specialist, like Trahan.

    • sixpack2

      If Senzel makes the team two weeks in, it will be full time in CF or 2nd. At least that’s where my money is.

  12. LvilleBatter

    Great commentary by Jon Ryker that being bad at multiple positions doesn’t connote anything positive. Dietrich is abysmal defensively and NO chance he’s viable at MIF. Gennett is Ryne Sandberg
    defensively when compared to DD. Remember when his guy called press box and tried to get the official scorer to change DD’s error to a hit. His pitcher loved that, right? Then there was the issue with Tino Martinez and his refusal to pick up balls during BP. Yep, he’s just what the Reds need.

    • Bill

      Cub’s Ian Happ and Zobrist, two of the better utility players in the NL, both were negative defensive WAR players last year. Playing multiple positions is tough. However, if Dietrech makes the team, we’ll see his bat emphasized, not his glove.

  13. LvilleBatter

    Keep in mind Dietrich’s been with the smelly Fish of Miami, ergo, no, hanging around as a defensively awful player doesn’t mean he was good enough that Mattingly kept him. It means the Marlins are atrocious from the bigs down through the minors.

  14. Michael B. Green

    Great signing. These are the kind of acquisitions that teams make when they are making their move to compete for real. Dietrich is a great bench player that can spell someone if they go on the DL. He could arguably start on bottom tier teams but is a nice reserve on competitive teams. CIN continues to make excellent moves this off-season. Oh wait…..it’s baseball season! Or at least Spring Training time!

  15. CP

    Do you all think Dietrich is a favorite to make the team over Connor Joe, Farmer, Blandino, ect?

  16. Steve BP

    This is an outstanding signing. Not saying he’s the next Scooter, but if he turns into a 120 wRC+ hitter this year with over 400 AB’s I wouldn’t be surprised at all. Great job by DW and NK