The Cincinnati Reds signed former Cleveland Indians outfielder Tyler Naquin to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. The 29-year-old brings a quality glove to the team, and should he make the squad out of spring camp, Naquin could be used all over the outfield.
Naquin, a former first-round pick of the Indians back in 2012, was non-tendered by Cleveland earlier this winter. The left-handed hitting Naquin suffered a broken toe and he never got things going. Naquin posted a batting average of just .218, smacked four round trippers and racked up 20 RBIs.
Tyler Naquin brings an above-average glove to the Reds outfield.
In a Reds outfield that’s build around the bat, it’ll be nice to add a defensive-minded player like Naquin to the mix. Though he was originally drafted out of Texas A&M due to his prolific bat that put up back-to-back batting titles, Naquin’s career OPS+ of 100 suggests he’s an average hitter.
However, over the years, Tyler Naquin has seen time all over the outfield and excelled in Cleveland’s right field. Over the last three seasons, covering over 1,000 innings in right field, Naquin has recorded 11 defensive runs saved (DRS). Center field has not been as kind to Naquin. Though he can move over that way, he’s more of a corner outfielder.
In 2016, Naquin garnered a lot of attention and was in contention for the AL Rookie of the Year. He eventually placed third in that race, coming in behind runner-up Gary Sanchez and the winner of the award, Michael Fulmer.
Tyler Naquin will be in a roster battle for the Reds final outfield spot.
Barring injury, Nick Castellanos, Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, and Shogo Akiyama are locks to be on Cincinnati’s Opening Day roster. Tyler Naquin will likely be in a battle with Aristides Aquino, Mark Payton, and Scott Heinemann for the final spot in the team’s outfield.
Naquin’s .766 career-OPS is nothing to sneeze at, but the soon-to-be 30-year-old has a high strikeout-rate (26.3% according to FanGraphs), and hasn’t been able to draw a great deal of walks since his rookie year in 2016. If Naquin hopes to make the Cincinnati Reds roster, he’s going to have to beat out the competition during spring training.