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Reds claim 1B Christian Walker, designate Jumbo Diaz for assignment

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A roster shuffle on a Monday off-day.

David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Jumbo Diaz threw an inning against the Chicago Cubs on Friday, in which he allowed a pair of dingers and 4 runs (1 earned) on 3 hits with nary a strikeout recorded. It appears those may well be the final pitches he’ll throw as a member of the Cincinnati Reds, since he was designated for assignment by the team Monday afternoon, according to The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan.

Diaz, who turned 33 years old just last week, has been a Reds lifer to this point - at least at the big league level. Debuting as a rare 30 year old rookie in 2014, he logged 142 appearances for Cincinnati since that time, posting a relatively solid 110 ERA+, 1.26 WHIP, and 9.4 K/9 in 138 innings. You could make an argument - at least on a Game 1 through Game 162 basis - that his 2016 season was easily his best, as he posted a 137 ERA+ and 3.14 ERA in 45 games for the Reds. Underlying those stats, however, were several things that should’ve worried the Cincinnati front office.

His K/9 fell to a career worst (7.7), his BB/9 rose to a career worst (4.0), and the 1.7 HR/9 he allowed was also the highest mark of his career. Much of that fueled his career-worst 5.24 FIP, and all of it surrounded a streakiness that saw him shipped down to AAA Louisville to work things out for the third consecutive season.

That, of course, meant he was out of options for the 2017 season and would have to break camp with the big league club, which is something the Reds apparently became convinced wasn't going to happen.

Whether the team eyed Christian Walker and liked him well enough to want him enough to DFA Jumbo, or simply saw him as the best available-on-waivers guy after finally deciding to part ways with Jumbo, I do not know. What I do know, however, is that the 26 year old 1B was plucked from the Atlanta Braves - who themselves had just claimed him on waivers from Baltimore last month. A former 4th round pick from the University of South Carolina, Walker is a righty swinging MiLB veteran who once belted 26 dingers between AA-AAA in 2014, but he's struggled to replicate that since spending almost all of his time in AAA Norfolk's cavernous stadium.

If claiming a mostly 1B, AAAA slugger who's had unsuccessful cups of coffee at the big league level after being highly drafted out of a college in South Carolina sounds familiar, it should: Richie Shaffer, who the Reds claimed in his waiver merry-go-round this offseason (before eventually losing him), profiles very similarly as a former Clemson product.

Diaz seemingly got squeezed out due to his option situation and the preponderance of better relievers in Cincinnati's revamped bullpen. Walker, on the other hand, will have to fend off the likes of Ryan Raburn and Stuart Turner to break camp with the Reds, or he'll otherwise likely end up waived or back in AAA - this time with the Louisville Bats.

While there's still the chance Diaz goes unclaimed and ends up back with the Reds after his stint in the World Baseball Classic in the Dominican Republic's bullpen, odds are his days in Cincinnati are over.