The Cincinnati Reds announced the official signing of OF TJ Friedl on Thursday, and as C. Trent Rosecrans of The Enquirer noted, his $735,000 signing bonus is the largest ever given to an non-drafted free agent. There's some legalese in that designation, however, as it wasn't as if teams actively were aware of Freidl's ability to be drafted and ultimately balked; rather, it was a bit of a confusion over his time spent at the University of Nevada-Reno that caused all 30 MLB teams to go 40 some rounds without knowing he was available.
Baseball America chronicled Friedl's rise to eye-level among MLB scouts and front offices, acknowledging that his signing bonus and requisite talent is the equivalent of a third round selection. The speedy 5'10" outfielder has been consistently praised for his effort and drive, something that the Reds front office has placed a rather large priority on in recent years. The redshirt year that Friedl took while at UNR while he was still a largely overlooked notaprospect is what threw all of baseball off his scent, but his play while with Team USA this summer finally brought enough scrutiny to realize he was capable of being signed. Fortunately, the Reds had managed their MLB-high draft and international signing bonus pool well enough to have enough cash left over to sign Friedl, and sign him they did.
It's a savvy move by a front office at whom many, many Facebook comment scribes like fling poo. MLB Pipeline immediately slotted Friedl in as the team's #12 overall prospect, ahead of the likes of Alex Blandino, Nick Travieso, and Phil Ervin - all recent first round selections.
In other news, the Reds announced that they had banished former closer JJ Hoover to Hoboken, NJ, liberating his name from the 40-man roster. It's the latest move in the long fall Hoover has experienced since opening the 2016 season as both the team's closer and the only reliever on the 25-man roster making over $1 million. His 13.50 ERA while with the Reds this year saw him optioned to Louisville early in the season, and apparently the team hasn't seen enough from him there to choose to keep him in their immediate bullpen plans. Hoover's set to be arbitration eligible for a second time after this season, but it's hard to imagine a scenario where the Reds do anything but non-tender him at this point. Hoover has had ups and downs in his career to date - largely without major injury - which at least lends hope to the idea that he'll be able to recover his form and be a solid bullpenner again, but with the glut of promising arms in the Cincinnati system at the moment, it seems the team's patience for that isn't lengthy.
The Enquirer's Zach Buchanan wrote in this morning's B.A.R. that a few members of the Reds' front office actively disputed the notion that they were unable to multitask at this week's trade deadline, an accusation that was leveled against them in the failed Zack Cozart trade with the Seattle Mariners. Frankly, the assertion that they were that inept and or flippant at such an important deadline is stupid silly to me, as we're talking about plenty educated, plenty smart individuals who are more than capable of picking up a phone. My great aunt can send texts, and she's 97 years old in the same house in Latonia that she's lived in her entire life. This is not rocket surgery, folks, and this is the latest example of hypercriticism that simply makes me shake my head.
Finally, Jay Bruce honked his first dinger as a member of the New York Mets last night, conveniently at almost the same exact time as our friends at Amazin' Avenue dropped their latest podcast episode. I got to speak with them about the recent trade that netted Dilson Herrera and Max Wotell for the Reds, so give it a listen if you're so inclined.