After already pilfering Travis Jankowski from the San Diego Padres earlier this offseason, the Cincinnati Reds went back to the Padres well again on Monday. This time, they claimed another OF, one Nick Martini - who’ll join the Reds along with RHP Justin Shafer, who was acquired from the Toronto Blue Jays for cash in a second, simultaneous transaction.
The Reds announced the moves on Twitter this afternoon, noting that RHP Jimmy Herget and UT Brian O’Grady were designated for assignment to free up the roster space.
The #Reds today claimed OF Nick Martini off waivers from the Padres and acquired RHP Justin Shafer from the Blue Jays in exchange for cash. RHP Jimmy Herget and OF Brian O'Grady were designated for assignment. pic.twitter.com/hqu8bSAerE— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) November 25, 2019
It’s a somewhat odd series of transactions, really.
In Martini, the Reds get a 29 year old former 7th round pick, one who came up in the St. Louis Cardinals organization after his days at Kansas State University. And while he’s 29, he’s only logged 288 career PA, all of which came with the non-Cardinals over the last two years. Oakland managed to nab him prior to 2018 after he became a minor league free agent, and Martini rewarded them with a solid .811 OPS in 179 PA, but that wasn’t enough to keep him off waivers a year later, and San Diego scooped him up with much less success (a .653 OPS in 109 PA).
Martini does boast an impressive .401 OBP in 1446 PA at the AAA level in his career, though all of those have come in the offensive environment of the Pacific Coast League. He does have 299 career professional games played as a CF, though has spent most of his time in corner OF spots.
In Shafer, the Reds get a 27 year old righty who features a 94 mph fastball that he works with both a slider and cutter. The former University of Florida hurler fired 39.2 IP of 3.82 ERA ball for Toronto in 2019 - almost all of his career 48.0 big league innings to date - though his ugly walk rates kept his peripheral numbers in pretty awful territory. Walks haven’t haunted him nearly as often in his extensive minor league days, so the hope will obviously be that the combo of Derek Johnson, Kyle Boddy, and Caleb Cotham can help him find the plate at the big league level.
Both Martini and Shafer had been designated for assignment by their respective clubs last week.
To make room for those two, both Jimmy Herget and Brian O’Grady were DFA’d, which is a bit of an odd thing to see given how they’d had pretty consistent success in the upper minors for the Reds in recent seasons. Herget consistently rated among the more notable Reds prospects, and sits at #25 in the system per MLB Pipeline at the moment (which will surely be updated shortly). He allowed 3 ER in 6.1 IP for the Reds in his initial big league action in 2019, and his herky-jerky motion helped him pitch to a tidy 2.91 ERA in the dinger-fueled AAA environment in 2019.
That same environment saw O’Grady flourish in 2019, too. The 27 year old blasted 28 homers in just 489 AAA PA, earning a promotion to the big leagues where he saw action in 28 games. He can play CF and 1B, making him an intriguingly powerful, versatile bench-bat option, one who seemingly had more upside at the moment than Martini, on paper.
The 40 man roster is still full at 40, though with these kinds of moves happening all around the game as teams shuffle things in advance of the Rule 5 Draft, that might not be the case for long.