MIAMI – The Cincinnati Reds have carried a $130 million player payroll through the first five months of the 2021 season, which is slightly lower than their Opening Day payroll from 2019.
The Reds were expected to have a club-record payroll ahead of the 2020 season, but the season was shortened to 60 games because of the COVID-19 pandemic (with prorated pay). During the winter, the Reds jettisoned relievers Raisel Iglesias and Archie Bradley to lower payroll ahead of this season.
They have the 16th-highest payroll in Major League Baseball, according to figures obtained by USA TODAY, which is slightly below the league average.
The Reds have about $90 million committed to their seven highest-paid players: Joey Votto, Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Sonny Gray, Eugenio Suárez, Wade Miley and Shogo Akiyama.
Among potential National League playoff teams, the Reds are behind the Los Angeles Dodgers (first, $261 million), Philadelphia Phillies (fourth, $191 million), San Diego Padres (eighth, $183 million), San Francisco Giants (11th, $163 million) and Atlanta Braves (14th, $149 million). The Milwaukee Brewers rank 19th in the league with a $105 million payroll.
Votto is the 20th highest-paid player in the league after signing his 10-year, $225 million contract extension in 2012. The Dodgers and Los Angeles Angels have three players apiece making more in annual salary this season.
HELLO, NEWCOMER: Asdrúbal Cabrera joined the Reds in Miami before Saturday’s game, activated to the 26-man roster.
Cabrera, a 15-year veteran, strengthens the Reds’ bench as a switch-hitter. He’s hit lefties well this season, a weakness for the Reds, so he could carve out a regular role against left-handed pitching.
“I’m going to be ready to play anywhere,” Cabrera said. “That means I can play sometimes, first or second, it depends. If guys need an off day, I’m going to be ready from the bench too. I can pinch-hit, so I told (manager David Bell), I’m going to be ready for everything. Any position he needs me, I’m going to be there.”
Shortstop Jose Barrero was optioned to Triple-A Louisville. Rosters expand from 26 players to 28 on Sept. 1, but Barrero will have to spend 10 days in the minor leagues unless he’s replacing an injured player (or another exception like the paternity list).
Barrero, who will remain with the club in Miami on the taxi squad, had started only three games since he was promoted on Aug. 16.
Cabrera admitted he was “surprised a little bit” when he was claimed off waivers, but he’s excited to join a playoff race. He hit .244 with a .324 on-base percentage in 90 games with the last-place Arizona Diamondbacks.
“I’m enjoying this game a lot,” said Cabrera, who was chatting with fellow countryman Eugenio Suárez before batting practice. “I’m always smiling and try to help the young guys to enjoy the game. This is a pretty nice game, but at the same time, it’s tough. You have to stay strong in your mind and try to do the best all the time.”
Cabrera lives in Miami, so that was a nice perk, too.
“I looked where the team was playing and I saw Miami,” Cabrera said, “and I said, ‘OK. I’ll find a flight right now.’”
INJURY UPDATES: Right-handed reliever Art Warren, sidelined with an oblique injury, is expected to throw a live batting practice session Monday in Cincinnati before reporting to Triple-A Louisville to begin a rehab assignment.
Warren showed his upside before he went on the 60-day injured list. He allowed three runs and nine hits in his final 16 relief appearances (2.19 ERA), striking out 19 and walking four across 12 1/3 innings, earning a more high-leverage role.
Brad Brach, a right-handed reliever, threw a side session Saturday in Miami, rehabbing from a right shoulder impingement. Brach had a 5.59 ERA in 33 appearances, though that was inflated by his struggles before his trip to the injured list.