The Reds continue to show a new and refreshing willingness to make tough moves. Last year, it was non-tendering Billy Hamilton. They’ve now made a similar move this year, choosing to non-tender utility-man Jose Peraza before the 8 p.m. deadline on Monday.
Peraza is coming off a tremendously disappointing season in which he hit just .239/.285/.346 with a 62 wRC+, making him one of the worst hitters in baseball. He was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to earn $3.6 million in arbitration, a figure that isn’t astronomical for a Reds team with money to spend. This decision simply came down to performance.
Following a solid 2018 in which he managed a 98 wRC+, there was hope that Peraza would blossom into the player the Reds hoped he could be when he was the centerpiece of the return in the Todd Frazier deal in December 2015. However, issues with poor discipline and an inability to hit the ball hard continued to plague him in 2019. Just as he did to Scooter Gennett in 2017, Peraza lost his starting job to Jose Iglesias and, eventually, a combination of Derek Dietrich, Josh VanMeter, and Freddy Galvis in 2019, ultimately being relegated to a utility role. He also saw declines in his baserunning and fielding metrics, two important qualities for a weak-hitting utility player to have. I outlined his poor season last month as I made the case for the Reds non-tendering him this offseason. Steve Mancuso made a similar prediction.
The decision to let him become a free agent also leaves just one player, Scott Schebler, left on the roster from the ill-fated Frazier deal. (And Schebler is no sure bet to be tendered a contract, either.) Although it was surely painful for the Reds to admit defeat in the trade, this was a necessary move — and one that probably wouldn’t have been made in previous years.
Travis Jankowski signs
The team chose to tender a contract to outfielder Travis Jankowski, signing him to a $1.05 million deal for next season, which is less money than he made in 2018. It’s fairly rare for a player to earn less money in arbitration than they did they year before, but as Steve pointed out on Twitter, the Reds had all the leverage in this negotiation. Coming off a year spent mostly in Triple-A, Jankowski wasn’t likely to draw much interest on the free-agent market and may not have even earned a big-league offer. If all goes well this offseason in the #GetTheHitting plan, Jankowski should be in Louisville on Opening Day as organizational depth. Jankowski is a solid fielder, but he hits at a Peraza-like level (career 78 wRC+).
Stay tuned to RC+ as we’ll break down the rest of the Reds’ contract decisions as they come in today.