It's been another sneakily aggressive and financially creative off-season for Walt Jocketty and the Reds's front office. The Choo trade was the obvious headliner, alongside free agent deals to Jonathan Broxton, Ryan Ludwick and Jack Hannahan. All four of those guys - and almost certainly Choo trade companion Jason Donald - will be getting spots on the Opening Day roster.
The team also handed out minor league contracts to a bunch of other guys - most of which appear to be baseball players. The cynical fan scoffs at these names as has-beens or never-wases. But baseball is about perpetual hope.
One of them could be the next Melvin Nieves or even Steve Parris!
If I learned one thing from this it's that the Reds are an organization of extremes. I'm starting to think this is how Walt gets his jollies. In addition to the fastest fastball, fastest player and (close to) the heaviest player in the big leagues, the Reds now can boast the tallest professional baseball player and (probably) the heaviest player in the minors [ see below].
BK already wrote up the non-roster invites to spring training here. I've let his description speak for most of the guys on this list who are coming to big league camp.
Emmanuel Burriss, SS, Age 28 ('13) - invite to ST
When he was signed, there was some concern that Burriss was the plan for backing up Zack Cozart. Since then, the Reds have traded a short stop and acquired two more MLB-ready ones. I'm not sure exactly where that leaves Burriss, but he's no more than a call away to join the Reds' bench. He can't hit for any power and doesn't have much plate discipline, but he can play any position on the diamond. Wilson Valdez showed last season that there was at least some novelty value to that. Since he's a SS and, like Drew Stubbs, a first round pick in '06, it means we basically got Choo for free.
. Hessman played in Japan during 2011, before returning to the States to play in the Astros organization.
Wilkin de la Rosa, LHRP, 28 - invite to ST
Jose Diaz, RHRP, 29
Diaz has spent 10 seasons in the minors without so much as a cup of coffee, despite a career 2.97 ERA. This may have something to do with the fact that he's about 50 pounds heavier than Jonathan Broxton. "Jumbo" Diaz might be most notable for stealing third base last season in AAA game - one that featured a Joey Votto rehab start. More Reds-(Indianapolis) Indians synchronicity.
Loek van Mil, 28, RHRP
More of a mythical figure than a baseball player. His full name is Ludovicus Jacobus Maria Van Mil, he's from the Netherlands, stands 7'1" and has a fastball that hits upper 90s. Those are enough reasons to find a way to add him to the roster in September.
Jakub Izold, 19, RHP
This was an under-the-radar international signing out Slovakia - which we can now call Eastern Europe's Cradle of baseball players. Izold is 6'3, around 200 pounds. It's hard not to call the Reds the titans of European scouting at this point.
Jacob Constante, 19, LHSP
Part of the International Scouting Department's "Only Sign Jacobs" strategy, the Dominican lefty reportedly received a $700K bonus from the Reds. More on both he and Armando Galarraga here.