Last year, the Cincinnati Reds signed Derek Dietrich to a minor-league deal and made the team out of spring training. Matt Davidson could do the same in 2020.
The Cincinnati Reds made a very quiet acquisition last week when the team signed Matt Davidson to minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. The 28-year-old did not get a call-up to the big leagues last season, but displayed a great deal of power at the minor league level. Davidson could fill the void left by last year’s surprise slugger, Derek Dietrich.
Dietrich was let go by the Reds earlier this offseason after signing a minor-league deal with the club last offseason. The left-handed hitting Dietrich enjoyed a brief stay in Cincinnati that was highlighted by a 12 home run outburst during the month of May.
However, following a three home run effort against the Pittsburgh Pirates, Dietrich hit just .128, striking out 46 times, and knocking in just 8 more runs. Dietrich was relegated to little more than a bench role down the stretch and eventually ended the season on the injured list. Still, despite his struggles, Dietz finished the season with a .790 OPS.
Could Matt Davidson fill a role similar to Dietrich this next season? Now, I don’t mean a player who bursts onto the scene and then quickly fades away. Rather, a power-bat off the bench, capable of filling in for a starter on occasion or pinch hit.
Unlike Dietrich, Davidson’s defensive flexibility is a bit more limited. Historically, Davidson has played first and third base, with more than 60 career games played at both positions. Davidson has also been a designated hitter, something that won’t help him in the National League…yet.
According to MLB Pipeline, Davidson was once a Top 3 player in the Arizona Diamondbacks organization after being drafted No. 35 overall in the 2009 MLB Draft. Davidson reached Top 100 status among all prospects back in 2012 and was No. 6 among all third baseman, just behind Anthony Rendon and Nolan Arenado.
Obviously Davidson never reached those lofty expectations, but he still possesses those same valuable tools that scouts noticed several years ago. Davidson has big time power from the right side. While his on-base percentage is below .300, Davidson still manages to have a career-OPS of .730. He has 49 big league home runs and crushed 33 at Triple-A Nashville last season.
Finding a spot for Davidson on the roster may be a bit problematic. Eugenio Suárez and Joey Votto are the starting corner infielders and they rarely take days off. That said, Votto’s numbers the past two seasons and advanced age may be cause for the six-time All-Star to be given more days off.
Still, there are a lot of other talented players capable of filling a role similar to what Davidson may be able to carve out. Depending on what the Reds do at shortstop may determine Freddy Galvis‘ role in 2020 as either a starter or bench player. Josh VanMeter and Kyle Farmer both fill a niche similar to Davidson, and both offer more positional versatility.
Matt Davidson may not make the Opening Day roster, but could find his way to Triple-A Louisville and await an opportunity to show his worth at the big league level. Davidson was not a flashy signing, but it can provide depth at both the major and minor league level.