Reds release Shogo Akiyama; Should select Drury, Garcia, Farmer

The Reds announced this afternoon that they have released the outfielder Shogo Akiyama. It seemed likely that Akiyama would be released when the club informed him over the weekend that he would not break camp on the active roster as his contract gave him the right to refuse any minor league assignment.

The decision closes the book on a disappointing tenure in Cincinnati. Akiyama signed a three-year, $21 million contract during the 2019-20 offseason. Moving from Japan’s Nippon Professional Baseball to MLB during the 2020 season has undoubtedly been difficult, as the typical challenges of the new environment have been exacerbated by the shortened schedule and pandemic protocols. Still, the Reds certainly expected better than the .224/.320/.274 line Akiyama has posted in 366 board appearances over the past two years.

Due $8 million in 2022 under the terms of that contract, Akiyama is a lock to clear release waivers. Cincinnati will remain on the hook for that money, minus league minimum wage if the 33-year-old catches up with another MLB team as a free agent. From the Reds’ perspective, the exit was meant to reallocate Akiyama’s place on the active and 40-man rosters.

The Reds don’t have to officially make an opening roster call-up until Thursday, but Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans tweet the club plans to select three guests not registered with the big league club. Infielder / Outfielder Brandon Dryrecipient Aramis Garcia and reliever Buck Farmer are all supposed to break camp.

This would be the eighth straight season with MLB time for Drury. The right-handed utility hitter had a few decent seasons early in his career with the Diamondbacks, but has only eclipsed 90 plate appearances once in the past four years. His last extended run in the majors — 120 games with the 2019 Blue Jays — only resulted in a .218/.262/.380 slash, but Drury was fine as a bench with the Mets last year.

García is expected to join the big league club as a substitute for Tyler Stephenson. The 29-year-old backstop has adapted to the Giants and A’s in recent years. In three big league seasons, he is a .218/.256/.373 hitter. García has a more impressive .268/.333/.448 line at Triple-A. He apparently beat up another unlisted guest Andrew Knapp for the backup capture job. Rosecrans tweet that Knapp secured his release after being told he would not break camp.

Farmer, meanwhile, has pitched in parts of eight major league seasons. He had spent his entire career with the Tigers, but is now in line for his second MLB team. The right-hander posted a sub-4.00 ERA in 2019-20 but is coming off a tough 2021 campaign. In 35 1/3 innings, Farmer posted a 6.37 ERA with a high walk rate of 12.3%. It will, however, add a depth of multi-run relief for skipper David Bell, hoping to regain his 2019-20 form.

Akiyama’s release frees up a spot on the 40-man roster, and the other two appear to come from placements on the injured list. right handed Justin Dunn went out “months” with a shoulder problem and numbers to end up on the 60-day injured list. Bell told reporters (including Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer) this infielder Max Schrock will also be placed on the 60 day IL. The 27-year-old suffers from a sprained left calf.

This will set the stage for the opening day roster, but the Reds believe they need another spot in the 40-man roster by the middle of next week. As MLB.com’s Jesse Borek writes, Cincinnati should promote the best pitching prospect Nick Lodolo to make his major league debut when the team needs a fifth starter for the first time on April 13. The team has yet to make an official announcement, but Lodolo is not expected to be assigned to a minor league affiliate. Assuming that plan comes to fruition, the Reds should officially select the left-hander on the major league roster.

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