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Tony Kemp Joins Reds on Minor League Deal

Tony Kemp has signed a minor league deal with the Cincinnati Reds, per Jon Heyman of the New York Post. After joining the Oakland Athletics in 2020, Kemp finally got his first crack at free agency. The Reds have shown interest in Kemp throughout the offseason. Despite the struggles, Kemp played a key role in the A’s clubhouse and was the go-to veteran for plenty of the younger players on the roster. Kemp hit .209 with a .303 on-base percentage, both of which are the worst of his tenure in Oakland. The Reds will get a versatile defender and a clubhouse leader on a much more competitive team than the A’s.

Tony Kemp Signs Minor League Deal

Kemp completed his eighth major league season and fourth with the Athletics. He began his career as a fifth-round draft pick of the House Astros in 2015, playing four seasons with them before being traded to the Chicago Cubs in 2019. He eventually was shipped to the Athletics in the offseason, sending prospect Alfonso Rivas the other way. Kemp is coming off a season where he played 57 games at second base and 65 games in left field with Oakland.

That on-field value is one of two things Kemp comes with, including his ability to avoid a strikeout and put the ball in play. Unfortunately, it was a tough season for him in the batter’s box. He hit .320 in 50 plate appearances against left-handed pitchers but .191 against right-handed pitchers in 309 at-bats. He was eventually replaced at second base by Zack Gelof following the All-Star break.

Kemp was always on the other side of the free agent spectrum from Shohei Ohtani. However, he has good speed and has good pinch-hitting numbers. His lifetime slash line is .238/.325/.352 with 35 home runs, 184 RBI, 53 stolen bases 460 hits, and 297 strikeouts.

The Reds Crowded Depth

The Reds are loaded with position-player talent all over the diamond. Jeimer Candelario, Matt McLain, Elly De La Cruz, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, TJ Friedl, Noelvi Marté, Jonathan India, Will Benson, Tyler Stephenson and Jake Fraley are all vying for playing time. Yet many of the guys in that group are young and inexperienced. If any of them have a setback, Cincinnati might have them get regular reps in the minors instead of sitting on the bench.

Josh Harrison, Erik González, Hernán Pérez and Mark Mathias are also on minor league deals. Kemp will jump into that mix and try to earn his spot in a veteran bench role.

Photo Credit: © Thomas Shea-USA TODAY Sports


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