It was a quick six week cameo as a member of the Cincinnati Reds for OF Nick Martini. The 29 year old was claimed off waivers from Oakland at the end of November, but was the unlucky member of the 40-man roster to be designated for assignment last week when the Reds announced the official signing of Shogo Akiyama. And while there was some hope he might slip through waivers and remain in the Reds organization for depth, that hope ended today when he was claimed by the Philadelphia Phillies.
OF Nick Martini has been claimed off waivers by the Phillies. Martini was designated for assignment on January 8 following the signing of OF Shogo Akiyama. #Reds— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) January 14, 2020
Philadelphia finally canned Odubel Herrera to open up a spot on their roster for Martini, a move that should’ve happened long ago.
On the Reds end of things, this wraps a series of transactions that we might look back on as a tad questionable, honestly. When Martini was claimed back in November, it happened on the same day that P Justin Shafer was acquired for cash from Toronto. To create two spots on the full 40-man roster, both P Jimmy Herget and IF/OF Brian O’Grady were DFA’d, O’Grady having just bonked 28 AAA homers and earned his big league call-up. O’Grady was then traded to Tampa for cash, while Herget was eventually claimed by Texas.
In other words, the Reds waived goodbye to each of Herget, O’Grady, and Martini for the roster spot currently occupied by Shogo. That’s fine in a vacuum, obviously, but what’s interesting is that O’Grady, Herget, and Martini all still had options left, meaning if they’d been kept on the 40-man but didn’t make the Opening Day roster, they could have been stashed in AAA as depth. While that’s not necessarily a problem on its own, it does get a bit more precarious when you pair that view next to rest of the fringes of the current Reds roster.
Each of Sal Romano, Cody Reed, Lucas Sims, Phil Ervin, Travis Jankowski, and Scott Schebler are out of options and can’t just be stashed in AAA without clearing waivers, while Mark Payton is on-roster as a Rule 5 draftee and can’t simply be stashed, either. So while the Reds have been busy jettisoning fringe roster players that they could have stashed at AAA as depth, they’ve now painted themselves into a corner where any additional roster moves will likely cause the loss of another player from the franchise altogether (if claimed, obviously).
That’s not the end of the world, of course, as we are talking about the periphery of the roster after all. That said, it does make who will open the season in the AAA OF particularly interesting to watch, since only Jose Siri really looks like an obvious Bat at this juncture. The AA outfield in 2019 featured promising prospects in TJ Friedl and Stuart Fairchild, and perhaps the Reds will buck their recent trends and start both of them in AAA to begin the year despite both only logging a half-season worth of work in Chattanooga (Friedl due to injury, Fairchild due to starting the year at A+ Daytona). That hasn’t exactly been their style before, though, so it’ll certainly be interesting to watch both rosters unfold, as currently there are way too many OF on the 40-man for the active roster to stomach, and large hurdles for the remaining OF on the 40-man to clear before they can be simply stashed back in Louisville.
Hopefully for all non-Martini parties involved, this series of moves will end up a big, fat nothingburger, just like it did a few years back when the Reds claimed and almost immediately lost, say, Richie Shaffer and Tyrell Jenkins, neither of whom went on to any acclaim. Sometimes, however, these seemingly peripheral transactions do involve some diamonds in the rough that get away and shine elsewhere, like when the Reds once claimed Christian Walker only to see him plucked away a few short weeks later.