Cincinnati Reds sign Cliff Pennington to minor league deal

(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)

In need of a shortstop, the Cincinnati Reds sign Cliff Pennington to a minor league deal.

The Cincinnati Reds signed Cliff Pennington as the potential back-up shortstop.  There are no true shortstops on the forty man roster aside from starting shortstop Jose Peraza.  Pennington will either make the team or start the season at Louisville.

At the start of last season Jose Peraza was the starting second baseman.  By mid-season Scooter Gennett had taken over the job.  This season Peraza is replacing the departed Zack Cozart at shortstop.

Last season, Coazrt had the best offensive season of his career.  He hit 24 home runs after a previous season high of 16.  He also had an OBP of .385 despite a career OBP of .305.

The Reds would liked to have Cozart come back.  However, they didn’t want him back on a one-year $18-million deal.  Nor did they want him back for three years and a total of $38-million.

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That led the Reds into the shortstop market.  Initially, they signed Phil Gosselin to a minor league deal.  He is a replacement level player and was an emergency option only.

This all led to the signing of Pennington.  Pennington played second, third, and short in 2017.  He started 35 games at second base.

The Cincinnati Reds have low expectations for Cliff Pennington in 2018.

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Pennington is a plus defender.  If he makes the Reds, he will likely only play shortstop.  Dilson Herrera is the back-up infielder at second and third.

Pennington is a switch hitter with a lifetime batting average of .243.  He also has 36 home runs in his ten year career.  He was the starting shortstop for the Oakland Athletics in 2010 and 2011.

If Pennington makes the Reds’ MLB roster, he will only play shortstop.  He is no longer a .300 OBP guy.  He gets on base at a clip closer to .290, like Billy Hamilton.

Pennington figures to play about 34 games for the Reds before top prospect Nick Senzel makes his MLB debut towards the end of the season.  He’ll hit a pair of home runs and be just replacement level offensively.  Defensively, however, he will be above average at three positions and show value for his mentoring of  Peraza.

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Whether Pennington spends the season in Cincinnati mentoring Peraza or in Louisville mentoring prospect Blake Trahan, this signing was a strong play by the Reds.  They needed someone who could definitively play shortstop and also had experience at the MLB level.  However, now they have Pennington if Peraza gets injured or ends up incapable of being the starting shortstop.