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Cincinnati Reds cut Mike Moustakas, sign Curt Casali

The team-record free agent signee has been designated for assignment.

Exploring Jackson Hole Wyoming Photo by George Rose/Getty Images

The Cincinnati Reds have designated veteran Mike Moustakas for assignment, ending a three-year partnership that panned out about as poorly as one could have hoped when he became the team’s record free-agent signee prior to 2020.

The Reds announced the move on Thursday, doing so as a buried-lede in a tweet that also announced a reunion with catcher Curt Casali.

Moose’s Reds career wraps with a meager 80 OPS+ (.683 OPS) in just 184 games played, with the pandemic-shortened 2020 season obviously playing a part in his limited action. That said, repeated foot and leg injuries kept him sidelined throughout his tenure, and he was never able to flash the kind of power potential that made the Reds sign him in the first place.

That’s me postulating, admittedly, as I still am not certain exactly what made the Reds sign Moose. A career 3B, the Reds chose to splash cash on him despite having a resident 3B in Eugenio Suarez, still-prospecty 3B Nick Senzel, and Jonathan India around, with the idea that the lumbering slugger could move up the defensive spectrum to 2B. Quite simply, that never worked out, as did just about everything surrounding the Reds during Moose’s tenure.

This DFA brings to a close the spending-spree done by the Reds prior to that 2020 season, as Shogo Akiyama was cut with a big chunk of money still due his way this time a year ago, Nick Castellanos already walked, and the Reds chose to give away Wade Miley to the Chicago Cubs after a 6 bWAR season. Since there’s zero chance of anyone claiming Moose, the Reds will be on the hook for his $18 million salary for 2023 as well as the $4 million buyout of his 2024 team option.

The Reds chose to lead their news dump with the Casali signing, which is cool. Keep it on the positive, right? Casali spent last season split between San Francisco and Seattle, but he’ll reunite with the Reds and Derek Johnson, who he has worked with dating back to his days as a Vanderbilt Commodore. Though the Reds have Tyler Stephenson and Luke Maile already on-roster as catchers, this may well be a signal that the Reds intend to use Stephenson as 1B/DH with Joey Votto pretty often this year, too, something that will likely be beneficial to all parties involved. Newly signed Wil Myers also has ample time at 1B, too, so there’s going to be quite the number of options there with Moose out of the fold.

Casali’s also a well-respected worker with pitchers, something that will be key for this Reds club as they try to get a very young crop to evolve into a dominant big-league staff. That said, it sure would be cool if Casali can turn back the clock to the 123 OPS+ he posted in his final season with the Reds in 2020 instead of the 86 OPS+ he put up last year. It’s worth pointing out that even that 86 OPS+ would blow right past the meager production the Reds got from their backup catchers last year, however.’s Mark Sheldon relayed that Casali will earn $3.25 million, at least, as his deal is structured as a 1-year deal with a mutual option for 2024, much like the earlier reported Myers deal.

Adios, Moose.

Welcome back, Curt.

The Cincinnati Reds are actively doing things, even if it’s not enough to end the doldrums entirely.