Igesias adds to talented Reds bench
By Christopher Schlueter
The Reds will bring back a formidable bench from Goodyear at the end of March – including a premier defensive backup shortstop. On Saturday, the Reds signed Jose Iglesias to a minor league contract with an invitation to spring training. If Iglesias makes the team, he will earn $2.5 million with an additional $1 million in incentives. Iglesias likely has an opt out clause if he does not make the 25 man roster out of Spring.
On January 17, 2018, the Tigers agreed to a one-year contract with Iglesias, paying him $6.275 million. Iglesias hit .269, with five home runs, 48 RBI and 15 stolen bases in 432 at-bats in 2018 after appearing in 125 games. His season was cut short due to an abdominal strain in September. In 2014, the Tigers thought so highly of Iglesias that they were comfortable trading competing shortstop, Eugenio Suarez, to the Reds.
Last year, the Reds added Cliff Pennington as a backup shortstop but released him in May. The Pennington signing was a bust and forced to Reds to lean on an inexperienced Alex Blandino. Blandino is slowly returning from a serious knee injury and only managed to hit .234 in a backup role last year. The Reds invited Blake Trahan to camp, a former AAA Rawlings Gold Glove award winner. Trahan was a late September call up last year but only hit .245, with 2 home runs and 6 steals at AAA. Needless to say, the Reds got better with the Iglesias signing. The Reds have not had much luck with free agent shortstops since Orlando Cabrera in 2010. Cabrera performed well, brought veteran leadership and contributed to the 2010 playoff appearance.
In 2015, Iglesias was an American League all-star selection. Last year, Iglesias flashed a .983 fielding percentage and posted a 2.5 total WAR for the Tigers (second highest on the team). Iglesias also appears ready to bring a solid clubhouse presence by offering to mentor other Latin players. Manager David Bell commented that the signing adds depth to the infield since Iglesias previously played second base, short stop and third base. Bell also highlighted that Iglesias brings experience as member of winning teams.
With the emergence of Jose Peraza as the Reds’ shortstop of the future, having Iglesias in a backup role will preserve late inning leads and allow Peraza time off over the course of a long season. The Iglesias signing adds another notch on the Reds’ most productive off season in years.