Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Reds Acquire Valdez, Avoid Arbitration With Masset

If the signing of utility man Willie Harris on Monday wasn't enough to secure depth in the Cincinnati infield, Wednesday's deal sure did.

Late Wednesday afternoon, the Redlegs pulled the trigger on a trade that landed utility infielder Wilson Vadlez from the Phillies in exchange for left-handed reliever Jeremy Horst.

Valdez appeared in 99 games for the NL East Champs in 2011, posting a .249 average and a modest .294 OBP. The 33-year old boasts a career .243 average in six big league seasons.

With Zack Cozart expected to see most of the action at shortstop, Valdez is likely to push Paul Janish and the newcomer Harris for playing time and/or a roster spot. However, that doesn't mean the Dominican native won't see action elsewhere on the field. Valdez has the ability to play just about anywhere on the diamond (although 2B & SS are his natural positions), even pitcher, as he displayed to his new team back in May of last year.

On May 25th, during a 5-4 Reds defeat to the Phillies in 19 innings, it was Valdez who moved from second base to the mound to pitch a one-walk, scoreless top of the 19th for the victory. He had never previously pitched in a professional game.

The victory for Valdez was the first for a position player in the Major Leagues since Rockies catcher Brent Mayne beat the Braves on Aug. 22, 2000. But the last player to start a game in the field and earn a win was Babe Ruth for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1921.

"He's a winning-type of guy," said Reds GM Walt Jocketty. "When I talked to him today, he said he wanted to be part of a winning club and would do whatever it takes to be on a winning club. I like that attitude."

The acquisition of Valdez looks to be the last major transaction of the offseason for Cincy. They've addressed a need for a #2 starter behind Johnny Cueto in Mat Latos, found solutions to their setup and closer roles in their 'pen with Sean Marshall and Ryan Madson, respectively, and added another option in left field with the signing of Ryan Ludwick.

"The only other things I might look for is for starting pitching and outfield depth on the Major League club," Jocketty said. "In case of an injury, we'd have somebody. Other than that, we're pretty much done."

Notable: The club also announced on Wednesday that they have reached a two-year agreement with reliever Nick Masset, thus avoiding arbitration with the right-hander.

Fellow relief pitcher Jose Arredondo now remains the lone, pending arbitration case on the team's roster.

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