Back in early October, I sought Twitter’s opinion on which move this winter would be the most ‘Reds’ move - meaning, I think, a move that a) only the Reds would make or that b) would be a move that, for most teams, would be a fine 6th or 7th most important move of an offseason but, since it’s the Reds, would be their biggest.
Friend of the blog Mo Egger replied with this:
Chad Pinder— Mo Egger (@MoEgger) October 6, 2022
By late November, after the Reds had petered around out of the gate in offseason transactions and had done already taken the obnoxiously frugal route of swapping out veteranny infielder Kyle Farmer for veteranny infielder Kevin Newman (since Newman was cheaper), I was convinced, too.
The more I look at it, the more Chad Pinder feels like The Cincinnati Reds One Actual Big-League Contract Position Player Signing of the Winter™— wick (@wickterrell) November 28, 2022
As it turns out, we’d sold the Reds slightly short. This was before the Wil Myers news, and back then, I had resigned myself to expecting Pinder to enter the fray as the right-handed OF/utility guy who’d complement the lefty outfielders and veteranize himself around the diamond on the cheap. The Reds would eventually bring Myers in for a role akin to the one played by Tommy Pham last season - legit big leaguer on a legit big league contract who, in all honesty, is likely just set to be trade bait by July. As of last night, however, the Reds finally got around to inking Pinder in a glorious twist of fate, albeit on a minor league deal that puts him squarely - ideally, rather - in the one played marvelously by Brandon Drury just last season.
Robert Murray had the news of the initial agreement, with MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon eventually confirming, noting that Pinder will enter camp in Goodyear on a minor league deal with an invite to spring training, much the same way Drury entered camp a year ago.
The most ‘Reds’ aspect of the joke was that they’d sign a guy who underperformed on a team last season that somehow was just as bad, or worse, than the Reds themselves. Pinder, who had spent his entire career with Oakland prior to yesterday’s deal, fit that bill, especially as he entered free agency off a season that featured a career-worst walk rate, career-worst K-rate, and an OPS+ (86) that was his worst since his small-sample rookie year in 2016.
Both ends of the equation deserve some leeway from me here, I’ll emphatically add. For one, the Reds made a better signing for the role in which I jested (Myers), and there’s zero harm in adding a guy like Pinder to the mix on a non-guaranteed deal. We’ve watched those kinds of deals pay off in spades numerous times in recent seasons, from Scooter Gennett to Derek Dietrich to Drury and so-on. Pinder, to his credit, can somewhat capably man positions all over the diamond and while he has been mostly just average with the bat overall - career 96 OPS+, 99 OPS+ from 2017 through 2021 - he does at least mash left-handed pitching with some proclivity (.778 OPS in his career).
Moving from Oakland’s home park to GABP would also seem to help Pinder, assuming he breaks camp with the big league club. That’ll be what he’ll be tasked with showing once in camp in Goodyear, however, as he’ll be vying for an Opening Day roster spot in competition with the likes of Stuart Fairchild, Matt Reynolds, Alejo Lopez, Newman (I hope), and Nick Solak - all players who can hit right-handed and play positions where Pinder has spent time at the big league level before. How the injuries to Nick Senzel and Joey Votto move players around the diamond will help dictate where Pinder fits, if at all, too.
In other news, The Athletic doled out offseason grades for all 30 MLB clubs, and somehow the Cincinnati Reds landed a C+. I’d ask if this thing was on a curve, but the Chicago White Sox got an F and Colorado Rockies got a D. There’s nothing about this Reds offseason that warrants anything close to a passing grade.
Here’s Bobby Nightengale of The Enquirer detailing how recently elected Hall of Famer Scott Rolen helped mentor Joey Votto. I’m not sure I have ever typed a sentence with more capitalized words than that one.
Diamond Sports Group, the conglomerate in charge of the Bally Sports Networks rebrand we saw take over many regional sports networks in recent years - Cincinnati Reds included - is bankrupt as all hell. Ben Clemens has a thorough breakdown of how it happened, what it may mean, and how MLB may react to the news over at FanGraphs, and it’s a read I suggest you take to heart for when the way you consume Reds games changes, at least graphically, in the coming months.
Finally, ESPN’s David Schoenfield lobs out an early look at the July 2023 trade deadline, noting a player from each MLB team who could well be a trade candidate. The choice for the Reds is one that I’m sure will spark interesting conversation among the venn diagram of RR readers who a) still comment here and b) have an ESPN+ subscription to read it.