Reds acquire Valdez in swap with Phillies

Reds acquire Valdez in swap with Phillies

CINCINNATI -- The final item on the Reds' offseason wish list -- a backup infielder who can play shortstop -- appeared to be checked off on Wednesday.

Bypassing what was a picked over free-agent market, Cincinnati executed a trade that brought utility infielder Wilson Valdez from the Phillies for left-handed reliever Jeremy Horst.

The Reds also announced that right-handed setup reliever Nick Masset avoided arbitration by signing a two-year contract for $5.5 million. The deal, according to The Associated Press, is worth $2.4 million for 2012 and $3.1 million for '13, and it includes performance bonuses for the '13 salary if he reaches certain goals.

Valdez spent the last two seasons in Philadelphia and batted .249 with a .294 on-base percentage, one home run and 30 RBIs over 99 games in 2011. A lifetime .243 hitter, the 33-year-old Valdez has also spent time with the White Sox, Mariners, Padres, Dodgers and Mets.

"He is versatile as far as defense," Reds general manager Walt Jocketty said. "I think his numbers indicate that he doesn't hit for a high average. But he has come up with some big hits for the Phillies when they needed them."

Out of Valdez's 342 career big league games, 190 have been played at shortstop, where he owns a .980 fielding percentage.

"He's a winning-type of guy," said Jocketty. "When I talked to him today, he said he wanted to be part of a winning club and would do whatever it takes to be on a winning club. I like that attitude."

Valdez's addition sets up a battle for one of the last roster spots in Reds camp. Behind rookie Zack Cozart, the expected starting shortstop, Cincinnati also has shortstop Paul Janish vying to make the team. On Wednesday, the Reds formally announced the signing of utility player Willie Harris to a Minor League deal, although Harris is not expected to play any shortstop.

Valdez is also the answer to a potential trivia question the Reds certainly didn't like being involved in.

On May 25, 2011, during a 5-4 Reds defeat to the Phillies in 19 innings, it was Valdez who moved from second base to the mound to pitch a one-walk, scoreless top of the 19th for the victory. He had never previously pitched in a professional game.

The victory for Valdez was the first for a position player in the Major Leagues since Rockies catcher Brent Mayne beat the Braves on Aug. 22, 2000. But the last player to start a game in the field and earn a win was Babe Ruth for the Yankees on Oct. 1, 1921.

"I told him that would be an advantage," Jocketty joked about Valdez's moment of pitching prowess. "We might need him to pitch in a game. He's got a great arm, but I hope not."

Horst, who is headed to the Phillies, was sent outright off the Reds' roster on Dec. 5. He had a 2.93 ERA over 12 big league games and multiple stints with the club last season.

With Masset's signing, the Reds only have an arbitration case pending with reliever Jose Arredondo. The club exchanged salary figures with both pitchers on Jan. 17. Masset, who made $1.825 million last season, was seeking $2.9 million, while the Reds offered $2.1 million.

"We had a deal in place before we had to exchange the numbers," Jocketty said. "We needed to do the physical first with a multiyear deal. We didn't think it would be a problem, but it was better to be safe than sorry."

Masset was 3-6 with a 3.71 ERA in 75 games in 2011, his third straight season of at least 74 appearances. However, it was a roller-coaster year in which Masset allowed 76 hits, 31 walks and five home runs over 70 1/3 innings. Eleven of his 28 inherited runs scored. He was much more consistent during the 2009-10 seasons.

"We have a little deeper bullpen," Jocketty said. "We figured if we use him in the right situations, that he will be more productive. With the depth we have in the 'pen, he should be able to do that. He's got great stuff and is very reliable. He is willing to take the ball every day, which can be the problem. He might have to tell us when he needs to back off, and we might need to back him off sometimes."

Valdez is the latest addition on a Reds team that's been busy since late December with some dynamic moves. In December, Jocketty sent prospects in first baseman Yonder Alonso, catcher Yasmani Grandal, reliever Brad Boxberger and former rotation ace Edinson Volquez to the Padres for No. 2 starter Mat Latos.

A few days later on Dec. 23, lefty setup reliever Sean Marshall was acquired from the Cubs for lefty starter Travis Wood, outfielder Dave Sappelt and Minor League outfielder Ronald Torreyes.

On Friday, the club announced its signing of new closer Ryan Madson to a one-year, $8.5 million contract. And a one-year, $2.5 million contract with outfielder Ryan Ludwick is pending the completion of a physical. Ludwick was in Cincinnati on Wednesday to take the physical and attended a club luncheon for radio affiliates. The contract should be formalized on Thursday.

That should likely complete the Reds' transactions for the offseason, but the door was left open for some more Minor League deals.

"The only other things I might look for is for starting pitching and outfield depth on the Major League club," Jocketty said. "In case of an injury, we'd have somebody. Other than that, we're pretty much done."

There has been speculation in recent days that the Reds could find a place to sign free-agent starter Roy Oswalt. That seems unlikely to happen at this point.

"They called us. I still don't know how we can do it, quite frankly," Jocketty said. "We haven't had any dialogue. I told them it would be hard financially to put a deal together and left it at that."

Mark Sheldon is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Mark My Word, and follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.