According to Jim Salisbury of NBC Sports Philadelphia, the Cincinnati Reds have claimed outfielder Nick Williams off waivers.
To make room for right-handed pitchers Connor Brogdon and Blake Parker, Williams, 26, was designated for assignment this past Tuesday. To return to the satellite camp in Lehigh Valley, Williams had to clear waivers, but that does not seem to be the case.
Williams, who was acquired in the Cole Hamels trade in July 2015, showed promise in his first season in Philadelphia. He slashed .288/.388/.473 with 12 home runs and 55 RBIs in 2017. He played over 100 games for the Phillies in 2018, but struggled to produce consistently while battling for playing time in right field with Aaron Altherr.
In 2019, his playing time at the major-league level decreased considerably after the signings of both Andrew McCutchen and Bryce Harper. Williams struggled in a pinch-hit role last season and was optioned multiple times to Triple A.
General manager Matt Klentak spoke honestly about the former top prospect’s future in the organization shortly after the 30-man roster was announced ahead of Opening Day back in July.
“I really like Nick Williams, and there are a lot of people in this organization that do,” Klentak said. ” And I know that the last year-and-a-half for him has been challenging, really starting with when we signed McCutchen and then Harper. That put Nick in a much different position than he’d been the prior year. We still believe in his talent…we still believe in the person…but unfortunately, the landscape of the outfield situation with the Phillies has changed in the last couple years and it’s been a difficult situation for him.”
When asked if Williams requested a change in scenery, Klentak said that he didn’t mention that, but a lot of possibilities were discussed when it came to Williams’ future.
Joe Girardi, who Klentak praised for his ability to have difficult conversations with players involving situations similar to what Williams is going through, had this to say earlier this week after Williams was designated for assignment.
“I think Nick has a lot of talent,” Girardi said. “I’ve loved my time around Nick, and I hope we don’t lose him because I think he has talent. But sometimes an opportunity like this can be the best thing for a young man. It creates opportunity. And we’ll just have to see what happens. I’m hopeful that we’re able to keep him.”
Williams will get a spot on the 40-man roster in Cincinnati, but it could be difficult to find playing time in a loaded outfield. Keep in mind, however, that a Reds player tested positive for COVID-19 after Friday night’s game against the Pittsburgh Pirates. If an outbreak does occur or if there are one or two positive tests within the Reds outfield, the path to return to the majors could turn out to be smoother than expected for Williams. That’s just the unfortunate reality of 2020.
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