The offseason always features a bevy of transactions and roster moves, and the Cincinnati Reds jumped into that process head-first on Friday with a series of notable moves. They announced that both Brandon Dixon (Detroit Tigers) and Austin Brice (Los Angeles Angels) had been claimed on waivers, that they had claimed RHP Matthew Bowman (St. Louis Cardinals), and that each of Dilson Herrera and Mason Williams had cleared waivers and been outrighted off the 40-man roster to AAA Louisville.
Also, in a set of procedural moves, they activated each of Alex Blandino, Keury Mella, and Jesse Winker from the 60-day DL, bringing the 40-man roster total to 38. You probably could’ve just read that in the tweet up there, but here we are.
Losing Brice and Dixon is a bit surprising, though both were certainly on the fringes of the roster given the presence of other, similar peers. Brice, 26, came to the Reds in the Dan Straily trade alongside Luis Castillo, but despite a heavy fastball and a decent bit of promise in his arm he never quite got it going with the Reds. He posted a 5.68 ERA in 84 IP across three years for Cincinnati, and follows the likes of Blake Wood, John Lamb, and JC Ramirez as former fringey Reds pitchers scooped up by the Angels. Dixon, 26, bopped 5 dingers and chipped in with 1.1 scoreless IP after making his big league debut in 2018. The former Los Angeles Dodgers farmhand came to Cincinnati with Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler in the deal that sent Todd Frazier to the Chicago White Sox, but apparently didn’t do enough to cement a bench role for 2019 despite his great versatility.
As for Bowman, the Reds get a righty reliever who is arbitration-eligible for the first time this year, largely based on the solid seasons he had in both 2016-2017. Over those two years, he fired 126.1 IP, posting a strong 112 ERA+ in that time. Of course, his 2018 was largely a disaster, as his 63 ERA+ in 23 IP rendered him expendable in the eyes of the Cardinals. At 27, the Princeton product isn’t a fireballer - his career fastball velocity sits at just 91.4 mph - and is fresh off a procedure on his finger to help with a circulation issue, but perhaps that was as much behind his off 2018 as anything.
It’s also worth mentioning the Dilson Herrera and Mason Williams moves. Both were set to be out of options in 2018, meaning the Reds couldn’t just send them to AAA to marinate without exposing them to waivers and risking losing them to another organization. That both cleared now means they can open the year in AAA, meaning they’ve managed to keep serious depth around. (Also, that’s not to say that either won’t actually make the Opening Day roster, as both figure to have the inside track to bench spots.)
At 38, the Reds 40-man roster now has the flexibility to add players in the run-up to the Rule 5 Draft, or to simply add free agents or players via trade.