White Sox minor-league signing makes Reds look foolish in light of roster vacancy

This was a missed opportunity.

Texas Rangers outfielder Robbie Grossman
Texas Rangers outfielder Robbie Grossman / Sam Hodde/GettyImages

After releasing Mike Ford on Friday, the Cincinnati Reds now have 12 position players in major-league camp. That means there's still one vacancy. Looking at how the Reds roster is constructed, it would make sense to add a right-handed hitting outfielder to the mix.

One player who'd been on the free agent market throughout the entire offseason is no longer available. Robbie Grossman signed a minor-league deal with the Chicago White Sox with an invite to major-league camp.

Grossman would have been the perfect fit for the Reds roster. According to FanGraphs, last season the veteran outfielder hit .309/.416/.536 with a wRC+ of 158 against left-handed pitchers. Reds fans will remember that Nick Senzel had similar success against southpaws in 2023. According to FanGraphs, Senzel hit .347/.389/.619 with a wRC of 165 against lefties.

White Sox minor-league signing makes Reds look foolish in light of roster vacancy

Grossman is exactly the type of player the Reds should be focused on signing with less than week remaining until Opening Day. With Matt McLain and TJ Friedl beginning the year on the IL along with Noelvi Marte's 80-game suspension, the Reds will be missing some key pieces to open the 2024 season.

The absence of these three players likely moves Will Benson into center field with a rotation of Nick Martini and Jake Fraley in right field. Spencer Steer will get the lion's share of starts in left, though Stuart Fairchild will see some time in the lineup as well. While Jonathan India has been taking reps in left field, with McLain sidelined, expect to see most of his starts come at second base or DH.

Cincinnati chose to go into the regular season with Martini rather than Ford. It's a debatable choice, but given Martini's history with the Reds, positional versatility, and clutch performances in 2023, there's a case to made for dumping Ford who's little more than a designated hitter.

But signing a platoon outfielder like Grossman who has a proven track record against left-handed pitching would have been an upgrade over a player like Bubba Thompson. If the Reds fail to add a player from outside the organization, Thompson is the likeliest option to rejoin the club in Cincinnati. Not signing Grossman was an missed opportunity by the Reds front office, especially after seeing the type of contract he agreed to sign.

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