Reds claim OFs Bader, Renfroe off waivers

August 31st, 2023

CINCINNATI -- As the Reds fight to make the playoffs, they wanted more offensive and pitching help for the final month of the regular season. They were only successful with adding hitters via a pair of waiver claims on Thursday.

The Reds bolstered their outfield with two established veterans when they claimed off waivers from the Yankees and from the Angels.

“We feel we have two solid players to add to our offense and can help contribute and make our defense better in the outfield as well," Reds general manager Nick Krall said. "There’s a chance we’ve got two guys who can help us score some more runs and get us where we need to go.”

The Reds were also in need of rotation and bullpen help. Sources told that the club made other claim attempts that were not successful. It was not clear who else they attempted to acquire and citing league rules Krall could not comment with specifics on who the team tried to add.

“We put other claims in on guys and weren’t able to get them," Krall said.

The Guardians, who were ahead of the Reds in the waiver claims order based on the teams' records, added starting pitcher Lucas Giolito and relievers Matt Moore and Reynaldo López -- all from the Angels -- on Thursday.

Cincinnati knows the 29-year-old Bader well from his six seasons with the rival Cardinals, with whom he won a Gold Glove in 2021. Bader, who was traded to the Yankees at the 2022 Trade Deadline, is a career .244/.312/.399 hitter with 59 home runs and 214 RBIs.

Bader has a .643 OPS in 84 games with New York this year and is owed roughly $783,000 for the remainder of his $4.7 million contract for this season.

"I'm very excited to be joining a club that's in their position," Bader said. "I have a lot of familiarity with not only the Reds but their division as well, a lot of the opponents that they have. I've already checked the schedule, so I'm just excited to go out there and play meaningful baseball down the stretch here.

"We've experienced it with this [Yankees] organization, I've experienced in my career with the St. Louis Cardinals, playing meaningful baseball in September is really important, and it means a lot because it's a long season."

Renfroe, 31, is a career .240/.304/.434 hitter with 176 home runs and 450 RBIs over eight seasons. He posted a .737 OPS with 19 homers for Los Angeles this season. Renfroe hit at least 26 home runs in every full season from 2017-22, including 29 for the Brewers last season. He is owed about $1.98 million from his $11.9 million salary for 2023. The contracts of both Renfroe and Bader expire at the end of the season.

Bader was in Detroit with the Yankees and was expected to be available to join the Reds for their doubleheader on Friday vs. the Cubs at Great American Ball Park. Since the Angels were in the Bay Area to play the A's, Renfroe may not arrive in time from the West Coast for Friday's games.

How the new outfielders will fit in the Reds' outfield alignment is currently being discussed. The Reds also plan to activate outfielder Jake Fraley from the 10-day injured list on Friday. Fraley, who had a fractured toe on his left foot, will be initially used as only a designated hitter.

"There’s still pain when he runs," Krall said. "When that subsides, I think that’s when you can start introducing the outfield.”

In corresponding 40-man roster moves by the Reds to make room for Bader and Renfroe, utility player Alejo Lopez and outfielder Michael Siani were designated for assignment. Although active rosters expand to 28 players for September, one more player's removal is pending.

Teams have until 11:59 p.m. ET Thursday to add players to their 40-man roster or 60-day injured list to ensure the players are eligible for the postseason.

The Reds, who only added reliever Sam Moll from the A's at the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline, struggled to go 10-17 for the month. In 17 of their 27 August games, they scored four or fewer runs. Injuries to the lineup certainly played a part as they've been without Fraley, Jonathan India, Joey Votto and most recently, Matt McLain.

On Aug. 1, Cincinnati had a half-game lead in the National League Central division race over the Brewers. Now they are in third place and six games behind Milwaukee. In the NL Wild Card race, the Reds entered Thursday one game behind the Giants for the third and final spot with Arizona ahead of them by a half-game.

"We haven't consistently scored runs," Krall said. "I think we've run the bases really well. We've been inconsistent offensively and I think that getting two offensive players was good.

"Look, would I love to have more pitching? Of course we would. I think you'd always love to have more pitching. I think that those guys there have done an admirable job at this point, though."