by Matt Wilkes

Reds claim outfielder Nick Williams from Phillies

The Reds have claimed outfielder Nick Williams off of waivers from the Phillies, according to NBC Sports Jim Salisbury and confirmed by C. Trent Rosecrans.

Williams, 26, is a former second-round draft pick and top-100 prospect, reaching as high as 27th in Baseball America’s rankings before the 2016 season. He was a centerpiece of the trade that sent Cole Hamels from the Phillies to the Rangers in 2015.

Although he walked into an opportunity with a rebuilding team, he’s never quite put it all together at the big-league level despite showing flashes. He’s a .254/.313/.420 hitter in 903 career plate appearances, producing at above-average levels in both 2017 (111 wRC+) and 2018 (102). But he was buried on the bench in 2019 after the Phillies signed Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper. In limited action, Williams struggled (12 wRC+) and ultimately fell out of favor in Philadelphia. He was productive in 210 Triple-A plate appearances, hitting .316/.381/.574 with a 141 wRC+. Williams has spent the 2020 season at the Phillies’ alternate training site and was designated for assignment on August 11.

Offensively, Williams’ strength lies in his power. He has 31 career home runs in his MLB career and a 38.4% hard-hit rate. His expected stats are also promising; his career .266 xBA, .440 xSLG, and .334 xwOBA are all above average. He also has decent speed (68th percentile in 2019) but is no longer an elite runner as he was in 2017. From a plate discipline standpoint, Williams has a good bit of swing and miss to his game (27.8% strikeout rate, 30.2% whiff rate) and doesn’t walk much (6.2%).

Defensively, he can play all three outfield positions, although he’s primarily been a right-fielder. He is not considered a strong fielder, with -21 defensive runs saved, -15.1 UZR/150, and -10 outs above average in right field for his career.

The Reds will have to make room on the 40-man roster for Williams. He still has one minor-league option, meaning the Reds can send him to the alternate training site if they choose. Given the uncertainty about the positive COVID-19 test from Friday and concern about a potential outbreak, however, Williams may get a shot on the major-league team.

Photo Credit: Ian D’Andrea

Matt Wilkes got hooked on Reds baseball after attending his first game in Cinergy Field at 6 years old, and he hasn’t looked back. As a kid, he was often found imitating his favorite players — Ken Griffey Jr., Adam Dunn, Sean Casey, and Austin Kearns — in the backyard. When he finally went inside, he was leading the Reds to 162-0 seasons in MVP Baseball 2005 or keeping stats for whatever game was on TV. He started writing about baseball in 2014 and has become fascinated by analytics and all the new data in the game. Matt is also a graduate of The Ohio State University and currently lives in Columbus. Follow him on Twitter at @_MattWilkes.

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2 months ago

I saw Williams play at Citizens Bank Park in 2017, his rookie year. He looked like he had it all – power, speed, graceful OFer. I don’t know what’s gone wrong – doesn’t seem to be injury related – but he would be an immediate upgrade over Jankowski.