Kennys Vargas, former first baseman and designated hitter for the Twins, was claimed off waivers today by the Reds, according to the team’s official twitter account.
Vargas was recently DFA’d by the Twins when they acquired former Red Jake Cave (freaky!) from the Yankees. Vargas is 27 and has spent the last four seasons trying to establish himself in Minnesota. But he is out of options this season and was made expendable when they signed Logan Morrison, so he kinda ran out of time and room.
Vargas is certainly a talented hitter. He is a switch hitter and his best year so far was in 2016 when he hit ten home runs in just 47 games. But he has always had a strikeout problem (his career rate is uncomfortably close to 30%) and too few walks to help mitigate that (career walk rate is just 7.6%). He is much more accomplished at the minor-league level, with a career OPS of .847 down there.
It’s tough to see at first glance the logic behind this move for the Reds. His glove is shaky even at first base, and that’s really the only position on the field he can play. He has never played any other position as a professional. So if he sticks on the roster, he will be almost exclusively a pinch-hitter. That’s a real luxury for an up-and-coming team.
It’s more likely that the Reds will turn around and put him back on waivers themselves in the hopes that he can slip through this time. He would certainly be a nice asset to have down in Louisville in the event of an injury, but it’s probably pretty unlikely that he won’t be claimed if they try it. They did this with reliever Jairo Labourt a few weeks ago. But I guess there’s no downside to that kinda strategy, so this looks cool to me.