A huge snowstorm blanketed much of the northern Rockies this week, and the expected low temperature out here is supposed to near 20 degrees tomorrow. It is, once again, Hot Stove season.
The Cincinnati Reds wasted little time in making their first deal of the winter, as it was announced by the team on Thursday afternoon that they’d acquired IF/OF Nick Solak from the Texas Rangers in exchange for cash considerations.
Solak, 27, is a former 2nd round pick out of the University of Louisville, and is a product of the Chicago-area youth baseball scene. I can only assume that means he knows Bill Murray.
He’s defensively versatile, having spent a good portion of time in both LF and at 2B, and he hits from the right side of the plate - posting numbers at the big league level so far that will make you think hmm, that’s very Matt Reynolds-y of him.
Given that it’s the time of year when teams across the baseball landscape are attempting to maneuver their way through 40-man roster limitations - both due to the need to activate players off the 60-day IL and to protect others from the Rule 5 Draft - these kinds of peripheral deals are likely to be plentiful in the coming days. Solak, who is still not yet arb-eligible until 2024, was on the 60-day IL thanks to a busted foot and was activated prior to the trade, with the Reds effectively deeming him worth a bit of cash now in lieu of trying to perhaps claim him on waivers when the Rangers started shuffling their 40-man roster, I’d wager.
With an even .700 OPS and 92 OPS+ in just a hair shy of 1000 career big league PA, there’s some stuff to like with him, especially against LHP. He’d be a bit more valuable if his defense had been graded better across the diamond - especially at 2B with the lack of shifting going forward - but that would’ve certainly meant the cost to acquire him would’ve been more than just a briefcase full of sawbucks.
We’ll have to wait and see how Solak’s transaction tree looks in another week or two, since the Reds have a handful of players they’ll need to protect from Rule 5 exposure themselves, all while dealing with a bit of a roster crunch, too. For now, though, he’s a good depth option for the Reds (with one remaining option, to boot).