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Reds opt to non-tender Peraza, Gausman

@m_sheldon
December 2, 2019

CINCINNATI -- The Reds were willing to let young infielder José Peraza move into the open market. Peraza, who was in Cincinnati's Opening Day lineup each of the last three seasons, was not tendered a contract ahead of Monday’s deadline to offer one-year contracts for 2020 to unsigned players under

CINCINNATI -- The Reds were willing to let young infielder José Peraza move into the open market.

Peraza, who was in Cincinnati's Opening Day lineup each of the last three seasons, was not tendered a contract ahead of Monday’s deadline to offer one-year contracts for 2020 to unsigned players under club control. Right-hander Kevin Gausman was also non-tendered, putting the Reds' 40-man roster at 38 players.

The moves made Peraza and Gausman free agents. The remaining arbitration-eligible players tendered contracts by Cincinnati were right-handed pitchers Trevor Bauer, Matt Bowman, Anthony DeSclafani and Michael Lorenzen and catcher Curt Casali.

Peraza doesn’t turn 26 until April 30 and had three years of club control remaining.

“It is a tough one. José has been a good player for us,” Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. “He’s done a lot of things and brought us team speed. We just, right now, with the way the middle infield is shaking out with the guys we have in the fold and the free agents out there that we are talking to and some of the young players we have coming up, it just wasn’t in the cards for us to make that kind of commitment.”

Sources told MLB.com earlier on Monday that free agent lefty slugger Mike Moustakas agreed to terms on a four-year, $64 million contract for him to be Cincinnati’s new second baseman. Peraza can also play shortstop, but Freddy Galvis is the leading contender for that spot if the Reds don’t make another move for a middle infielder.

Acquired with outfielders Scott Schebler and Brandon Dixon from the Dodgers in the December 2015 trade that moved third baseman Todd Frazier to the White Sox, Peraza was viewed as a promising contact hitter who didn’t strike out much. But he also was not known for extending at-bats with long counts or drawing walks.

Peraza’s best season was 2018, when he batted .288/.326./.416 with 14 home runs, 58 RBIs, 23 steals and a 97 OPS+ over 157 games. His 182 hits were the most by a Reds shortstop since Felipe Lopez had 169 hits in 2005, and were three shy of Hall of Famer Barry Larkin’s club record for a shortstop that was set in 1990.

Peraza struggled in 2019, as he batted .239/.285/.346 with six homers and 33 RBIs in 141 games. First, he was moved from shortstop to second base to make room for José Iglesias after All-Star second baseman Scooter Gennett sustained a serious groin injury and missed the first three months of the season.

But Peraza struggled to produce from his new role and was eventually overtaken by Derek Dietrich as the everyday second baseman. Gennett eventually returned, but after he was traded to the Giants on July 31, Josh VanMeter and Freddy Galvis were among those who got more opportunities at second base.

According to MLB Trade Rumors, Peraza was projected to earn $3.6 million in 2020 in his first year of arbitration eligibility.

“I wouldn’t rule out a possible reunion at some point,” Williams said. “This gives him the opportunity to at least see if there are other opportunities out there that are better. If not, people would definitely consider having him here.”

Claimed off waivers from the Braves on Aug. 5, Gausman went 0-2 with a 4.03 ERA in 15 games (one start) for the Reds. He went 3-7 with a 6.19 ERA in 16 starts for Atlanta earlier in the season.

Gausman was projected by MLB Trade Rumors to get $10.6 million in the arbitration process. Cincinnati appeared to view him as a middle reliever rather than a member of its rotation. With his power arm and high velocity, the Reds liked him in their bullpen during the second half of the 2019 season.

“He’s another one who we think made strides with us. He’s a talented player,” Williams said. “We’ve seen him succeed in the past. We’d like to continue considering him as one of the options out there for us. I don’t think anyone has ruled out getting back together with him if he hasn’t found something else that he prefers.”

Jankowski signed

The Reds avoided arbitration with outfielder Travis Jankowski by signing him to a one-year, $1.05 million contract on Monday. Acquired from the Padres in an Oct. 31 trade for international cap space, Jankowski is viewed as a speedy bench player who could pick up starts in center field to open the season, should Nick Senzel not be fully recovered from right shoulder surgery.

Herget claimed

The Rangers claimed right-handed reliever Jimmy Herget off waivers from the Reds on Monday. Herget, who was designated for assignment last week, was Cincinnati’s No. 25 prospect per MLB Pipeline.

In 48 appearances at Triple-A Louisville last season, Herget went 3-4 with a 2.91 ERA, a 1.31 WHIP and two saves. He had a 4.26 ERA over five appearances spanning 6 1/3 innings during his first big league exposure for the Reds this past season.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.