The Cincinnati Reds have made some terrific upgrades to the roster this offseason. Frankie Montas and Nick Martinez bring a veteran presence to the Reds' starting rotation, while Emilio Pagan and Brent Suter certainly bolster the Cincinnati bullpen.
But amidst all these additions, there've been several subtractions as well. Bubba Thompson, TJ Hopkins, and most recently Daniel Duarte were all designated for assignment and have since landed with new organizations.
Strangely, the Reds have held on to Nick Martini. Sure, Martini had two clutch moments during his brief tenure with Cincinnati during the 2023 season, but until his 29-game performance last year, Martini hadn't sniffed a major league roster since 2021. Why are the Reds hanging on to the 33-year-old Martini and allowing their young talent to sign elsewhere?
Reds dedicated to keeping Nick Martini on 40-man roster
Yes, Nick Martini brings a measure of veteran leadership to the Reds. And it must be said that without Joey Votto, Curt Casali, and Wil Myers, the Reds lack that veteran presence in the clubhouse among their position players.
But didn't last year prove that these young players on Cincinnati's roster are becoming leaders? Didn't fans watch players like TJ Friedl, Jake Fraley, Jonathan India, and Luke Maile step into those leadership roles in 2023?
Furthermore, let's eliminate that intangible from the conversation and turn the focus toward on-field production. Martini is the quintessential Quadruple-A player. He's good enough to dominate at the Triple-A level, but not good enough to produce consistently in the major leagues. Currently, he wouldn't even be projected to be part of the Opening Day roster.
He's also a left-handed hitting outfielder. How many of those do the Reds need? Spencer Steer will be getting everyday reps in left field during the upcoming season, and TJ Friedl proved why he'll be Cincinnati's centerfielder in 2024. That leaves two left-handed hitters (Jake Fraley and Will Benson) platooning in right field along Stuart Fairchild. Martini just doesn't fit.
Perhaps the Reds think Martini can spell Christian Encarnacion-Strand at first base on occasion. Cincinnati has Steer, Jeimer Candelario, and apparently Jonathan India if Encarnacion-Strand needs a day off or lands on the injured list.
What the Reds need is a right-handed hitting outfielder who can platoon with Fraley or Benson, and additional depth in the bullpen that can be shuttled back-and-forth along I-71 as injuries inevitably emerge. They had that in TJ Hopkins and Daniel Duarte, but decided to DFA them both.
Almost every single one of the moves that Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall has made this offseason has been well thought out and filled an obvious need. But letting go of Hopkins, and to a greater extent, Duarte, in order to keep Martini are befuddling choices to say the least.