Cincinnati Reds: Curt Casali avoids arbitration; re-signs with the team

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 19: Gorkys Hernandez #7 of the San Francisco Giants scores a run ahead of the throw to Curt Casali #38 of the Cincinnati Reds in the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park on August 19, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 11-4. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 19: Gorkys Hernandez #7 of the San Francisco Giants scores a run ahead of the throw to Curt Casali #38 of the Cincinnati Reds in the seventh inning at Great American Ball Park on August 19, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Reds won 11-4. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
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The Cincinnati Reds re-signed one of their arbitration eligible players on Thursday. Curt Casali signed a one-year deal to return next season.

The Cincinnati Reds made a few trades last season, but none yielded better results than the one that brought them catcher Curt Casali. On Thursday, the Reds backstop signed a one-year $950K contract and avoided arbitration.

Curt Casali was one of the real bright spots in an otherwise disappointing season last year. At the end of May last year, the Reds sent cash considerations to the Tampa Bay Rays in exchange for Casali. Just weeks earlier, the Reds traded Devin Mesoraco to the New York Mets and were void of a talented catcher to back up starter Tucker Barnhart.

At the time, the move was necessary. Cincinnati had sent Mesoraco to New York and Tony Cruz, the man who replaced Mesoraco on the roster, was not proving to be very capable. The Reds had no other options at Triple-A Louisville, and their best catching prospect, Tyler Stephenson, was still years away from a job in the Major Leagues.

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Casali made his presence felt right away. While most expected him to be an adequate fill-in behind the dish, Casali showed some pop in his bat as well. In his first start on June 2nd against the San Diego Padres, Casail went 2-for-3 with a walk and a solo home run.

For the season, Casali would play in 52 games, hit .293 with an .803 OPS, 10 doubles, and 4 homers. Interim skipper Jim Riggleman would consistently start Casali against left-handed pitching, and for good reason. Casali slashed .375/.426/.563 against lefties. He hit a respectable .250 against right-handers with a .317 OBP. During the months of June and August, Casali was hitting the cover off the ball, while his bat seemed to struggle a bit during July and September.

Casali will likely slide right back into his backup position behind Tucker Barnhart to start the 2019 season, and barring injury, that’s where’s he’s likely to remain throughout the year. Casali gives the Reds a quality bat off the bench in pinch-hit situations and is a very serviceable catcher behind the plate. Casali threw out 20% of the runners who attempted steals while he was behind the dish.

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Look for a few more deals today, as the deadline for arbitration numbers to be exchanged is at noon today. The Cincinnati Reds have 7 players up for arbitration, including Yasiel Puig, José Peraza, Alex Wood, and Michael Lorenzen. We’ll see if any other deals are signed before this afternoon’s deadline.