The headline above lists the Kansas City Royals as the team from whom the Cincinnati Reds claimed outfielder Bubba Thompson off waivers. The picture above, though, is of Thompson in a Texas Rangers uniform, and the back of his baseball card will feature only Rangers stats at the big league level, too.
Thompson, the 1st round pick of the Rangers back in 2017, had played a bit part role for Texas over the last two seasons prior to being claimed off waivers by the Royals in August. He never made a big league appearance for KC, however, instead finishing the season with AAA Omaha.
As the news of the day unfolds, it looks increasingly likely he’ll never make a big league appearance with the Royals. That’s mostly because he’s not on the Royals roster anymore, as the Cincinnati Reds announced they’d claimed Thompson on Thursday afternoon.
The #Reds today claimed OF Bubba Thompson off waivers from the Kansas City Royals.— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) October 26, 2023
Thompson, now 25, bats righty and can play defense all across the outfield. He’s a prolific base stealer, too - he swiped 49 in just 80 games for AAA Round Rock back in 2022 prior to his call-up to the Rangers, where he promptly swiped 18 more in 55 big league games. He’s just a .268/.329/.436 hitter across 1861 minor league PA, however, and that’s fallen to just .242/.286/.305 in 241 big league PA, to date.
While it’s an admittedly small sample size, he’s not fared better against southpaws than righties at the big league level, either. That said, during the 2021 minor league season - the last year in which he spent an entire season at one level (AA) of one franchise (TEX) - he did smash lefties to the tune of a .938 OPS against just a .723 OPS against righties. I only bring this up considering the Reds best OF alignment offensively features lefties Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, and Will Benson, and we all know how much manager David Bell salivates at platooning out there to maximize production.
Thompson is likely nothing more than a depth piece, one the Reds might actually try to pass through waivers again in the coming weeks of the offseason to keep around without eating up a 40-man roster spot. That said, he’s got the ability to be optioned to the minors again in 2024, and you could do a lot worse talent-wise than taking a flier on a former highly-touted prospect as a depth piece with upside.