Veteran role player Willie Harris has signed a minor-league deal with the Reds, according to John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer.
Harris played last season with the Mets, hitting .246 with two homers and a .668 OPS in 283 plate appearances, and reportedly drew interest from the Nationals earlier this offseason.
Harris is a career .240 hitter with little power, but he draws lots of walks and has posted an on-base percentage above .340 in four of the past five seasons. Toss in the 33-year-old’s ability to play anywhere but catcher and shortstop defensively and he’s a useful player to have on the bench.
Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times unloaded a lot of interesting news items about the Rays last night, including a report that the Rays might have “mutual interest” in a deal with free agent first baseman/DH Mike Napoli. The Rangers declined Napoli’s $11 million option earlier this month and owe the veteran infielder a $2.5 million buyout.
Napoli, 36, had a strange year in Texas. He turned in 29 home runs, good for 11th-most among AL hitters, but finished the year batting just .193/.285/.428 over 485 plate appearances. According to FanGraphs, his -0.5 fWAR was the worst mark of his career to date, but on the bright side, he should come cheap for a team looking to swap out their veterans come spring.
Of course, the specifics of the Rays’ offseason plan have yet to be divulged — or, by all accounts from Topkin, even decided on. The club could go the refurbishment route, changing out some of their higher-paid veterans for a mix of prospects and cheaper aging players; or they could opt for a full rebuild, which Topkin cautions against as it could have a negative effect on the financing of a new ballpark. Either way, the Rays figure to offload some of their bigger contracts this winter, and will need to decide if they want to retain Alex Colome, Chris Archer, Wilson Ramos, Evan Longoria and others before pursuing any other major free agents.