Cincinnati Reds ended up with only one player in the 2017 World Baseball Classic

Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports
Mandatory Credit: Joe Camporeale-USA TODAY Sports /
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The Cincinnati Reds offered three players to play for three countries in the WBC.

The Cincinnati Reds had four players originally on the  2017 WBC rosters: Jumbo Diaz, Scott Feldman, Dilson Herrera, and Shawn Zarraga.  Joey Votto was offered a spot on Team Canada, but withdrew his name to focus on spring training.  None of the Americans on the Reds were given serious consideration.

Jumbo Diaz was fighting for a low leverage spot in the Reds’ rebuilt bullpen.  For the Dominican Republic he was the primary set-up reliever, but WBC rosters tend to be a bit more fluid than MLB rosters.  The Reds designated him for assignment because of a poor showing prior to the WBC.

Diaz was the seventh inning man to start last season and was part of that awful first half bullpen for the Reds. By the end of the season Diaz had 4 holds with a 3.14 ERA.  He went 1-1 over 45 games for the Reds.

Recent signee Scott Feldman was initially a starter for Team Israel.  Originally signed as a middle reliever in the rebuilt bullpen, he might start for the Reds with Homer Bailey down for the first  two months of the season and Anthony DeSclafani down the first three.  Feldman only started five MLB games last year.

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Feldman and the other recent addition to the Reds’ bullpen, Drew Storen, have something in common.  They both had good years while pitching for American League West teams, but looked bad in Toronto.  In Houston Feldman had a 2.90 ERA, but it was 8.40 while Feldman was in Toronto.

Unlike the pitchers of the Cincinnati Reds going to the WBC, the position players are light on MLB experience.

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When Dilson Herrera came over from the New York Mets in the Jay Bruce deal, everyone expected that Herrera would start for the Reds at second base in 2017.  Unfortunately, Brandon Phillips didn’t approve a trade until the end of the off-season meaning the Reds had to recreate their plans for  Herrera.  Herrera didn’t develop much in spring training due a shoulder injury.

Herrera split time in Triple-A last year between Louisville and Las Vegas.  He had nearly the exact same OPS at .790.  In his age 22 season in 2016 he hit a combined 15 home runs in only 110 games.  He was among the first players to head to the minor league camp this spring.

Shawn Zarraga, meanwhile, has yet to make his MLB debut.  He is a 28 year-old catcher who hasn’t ever been able to take it to the next level.  The call to the big leagues has never come despite decent offensive numbers.

Zarraga is part of what amounts to an open competition behind home plate this spring.  The Reds only know that if healthy, Devin Mesoraco will start as often as his body allows him.  Mesoraco’s health will be the deciding factor as to the number of catchers.

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The WBC is a great opportunity for young players to gain valuable competitive experience.  The Reds are not sending any core players, but the experience for Herrera could have been invaluable.  In the end Zarraga alone played in the WBC as a Red.  Meanwhile, the rest of the Reds were getting ready for the 2017 season.