The 2019 Louisville Bats got over 130 extra-base hits from the likes of Christian Colon, Rob Refsnyder, and Nick Longhi. That’s a slab of XBH, all coming from players who are no longer in the Cincinnati Reds organization. Add-in that former 1st round pick Mitch Nay also became a minor league free agent after the season, and the depth around the infield in the upper-minors of the Reds system suffered a thorough, albeit routine drain of both depth and production.
Fortunately, for the same reason as those folks moved on to other teams, that’s pretty much what happens every November in every organization, and there are ample options on the open market to help remedy such scenarios. On Thursday, the Reds addressed that situation by signing veteran 3B/1B Matt Davidson to a minor league contract with an invite to spring training, as MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reported.
Matt Davidson has signed a Minor League deal with the Reds, per source. Deal includes an invite to big-league camp.— Mark Feinsand (@Feinsand) January 2, 2020
Davidson, now 28, clubbed over 20 dingers in back to back seasons for the Chicago White Sox in 2017-2018, but his lack of OBP skills and rather rough glovework left him rated as merely worth a combined 0.2 bWAR in that time. A non-tender then ensued, and Davidson latched on with the Texas Rangers organization for 2019,
He didn’t crack the big league roster last year, but did manage yet another powerful season in the minors, belting 33 homers in 528 PA for AAA Nashville during last year’s dinger-revolution at the AAA level.
He did...pitch, as well.
While defensive metrics never really loved his glovework in the field, it’s apparent that wasn’t due to any arm faults. He fired a trio of scoreless innings with the White Sox back in 2018, threw an inning for AAA Nashville last year, and has repeatedly expressed a willingness to perhaps continue to pursue that avenue. As Beyond the Box Score noted last February, he’s got a curveball that looks like it could actually end up a decent offering, as well as a fastball that can hit 92 mph (though perhaps could continue to ramp up if he, y’know, actually tries pitching more often).
So, who knows exactly what the Reds will do with Davidson come February. Perhaps he’s no more than a depth/insurance signing to play some corner infield in Louisville. Perhaps Kyle Boddy and the Driveline gurus will pair with Derek Johnson to turn him into a flamethrowing dynamo. Perhaps he becomes the next Michael Lorenzen, a two-way player who can bonk dingers and flex all over opposing hitters from the mound, too. Or, perhaps he comes to spring training, doesn’t like what he sees, and elects to become a free agent again to pursue chances elsewhere like so many of these MiLB signings are this time of year.
As a no-risk signing, it’s certainly worth being anxious to watch it play out.