Juan Miranda, not Russell Branyan, to “get most of the starts” at first base in Arizona

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One of Kevin Towers’ first moves as Diamondbacks general manager was to trade for Juan Miranda, who’d been stuck behind Mark Teixeira in the Yankees’ farm system despite consistently solid production at Triple-A.

I liked the pickup at the time, seeing Miranda as a potentially useful platoon first baseman capable of putting up some nice numbers against right-handed pitching while earning the MLB minimum.

However, once the Diamondbacks brought in Russell Branyan as a free agent it became less clear that Miranda should get an extended shot at first base, because Branyan has a lengthy track record of being a very nice platoon option against righties himself.

Kirk Gibson initially avoided talking about how the playing time would work out, but admitted today that Miranda “will probably get most of the starts, the majority of them right now” because “I want to give him a chance to see how he can play.”

It makes lots of sense to platoon one of Miranda or Branyan with the right-handed-hitting Xavier Nady, so it’ll be interesting to see if the 28-year-old Miranda can hold off the 35-year-old Branyan all season. So far one has seven plate appearances and the other has six.

Reds sign outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera to minor league deals

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The Reds picked up outfielders Mason Williams and Rosell Herrera on minor league deals, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. Both Williams and Herrera will receive invites to spring training and could compete for backup outfield roles behind Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Scott Schebler.

Williams, 26, completed a three-year track with the Yankees in 2017. He has yet to see a full season of playing time, however, and went 4-for-17 with two stolen bases during a five-game span with the club in 2017. While not a power hitter, his speed and steady contact rate produced a .263/.309/.318 batting line over 437 plate appearances in Triple-A Scranton/Wilkes-Barre, including two home runs, three triples and 19 stolen bases.

Herrera, 25, has yet to make his big league debut. After seven years in the Rockies’ system, he finally reached Triple-A Albuquerque in 2017 and slashed .278/.351/.394 with three home runs and 20 stolen bases in 363 PA. He looks most comfortable in the left field corner, but has some experience at shortstop and third base and should give the Reds a nice utility option come spring.