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Reds sign Jose Iglesias to Minors deal

@m_sheldon
February 23, 2019

GOODYEAR, Ariz. –- The Reds' efforts to add players still hasn’t ended. On Saturday, shortstop Jose Iglesias was signed to a Minor League contract and was invited to big league camp. Iglesias joined the team on the field for its workout shortly after he passed his physical. If he makes

GOODYEAR, Ariz. –- The Reds' efforts to add players still hasn’t ended. On Saturday, shortstop Jose Iglesias was signed to a Minor League contract and was invited to big league camp. Iglesias joined the team on the field for its workout shortly after he passed his physical.

If he makes the Major League roster, Iglesias would earn $2.5 million this season with the chance to make an additional $1 million in bonus money based on games played. He can opt out of the deal on March 23 if it doesn’t appear he will be a fit for Cincinnati.

“He’s been a successful Major League player on really good teams,” Reds manager David Bell said. “He’s another guy that brings experience and winning. If he makes the team, he’s just going to make us deeper and make us a better team.”

A seven-year veteran of the Red Sox and Tigers, Iglesias spent the past five seasons with Detroit and was a 2015 All-Star. The 29-year-old native of Cuba slashed .269/.310/.389 with five home runs in 125 games last season while contributing 2 WAR, per Baseball-Reference, thanks in large part to his defensive work at shortstop.

“I’m just looking forward for the opportunity to help this team to be special,” Iglesias said.

Should he earn a spot on the 25-man roster, Iglesias would be a backup to regular shortstop Jose Peraza.

“One thing that’s really important and needs to be clear is that Jose Peraza is our starting shortstop,” Bell said. “He’s made great strides. We believe in what he’s doing. Nothing changes there. We need to be as strong as we can with all 12 guys that end up making our team as position players.”

That means Iglesias would have to show versatility to play other infield positions. He’s spent 37 career games at third base and three at second base.

“We’ll figure it out,” Iglesias said. “At the end of the day, it’s helping the team win regardless of what it takes. I spoke with David and said, ‘Whatever you need from me, I’ll be there for you.’ That’s the mindset that I have right now.”

Iglesias’ addition makes him the sixth Cuban player in the Reds' clubhouse. He is not related to reliever Raisel Iglesias.

“I’m too good looking,” Jose Iglesias joked.

Bell and the Reds still plan to carry 13 pitchers for much of the season, which would leave room for a four-man bench and a tight competition for spots.

Utility player Derek Dietrich, who signed a Minor League deal on Wednesday, catcher Curt Casali and Iglesias would appear to be the leading candidates for the first three spots. Depending on how the starting outfield shakes out, and if top prospect Nick Senzel makes the club, that would leave outfielders Scott Schebler and Matt Kemp as possibilities for the other spot.

Whoever winds up making it, the Reds appear lined up to have their strongest bench in several seasons.

“As we know, that’s really important over the course of a season,” Bell said. “We’ve talked about our outfield depth. As we increase our infield depth, any good team, it takes 25 guys and more than that. We’re excited about what he could potentially provide for us. Experience, depth, solid defense.”

A career .270/.315/.363 hitter who has played at least 120 games the past four seasons, Iglesias languished a long time on the free-agent market before signing more than a week after camps opened.

“I’d rather not talk about free agency,” Iglesias said. “At this point, I want to turn the page and come here and go out there to help this team win games. That’s the priority.”

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.