12/21/2004 3:53 PM ET
Reds sign Randa to one-year deal
Ends experimental move of Kearns to third base
By Carrie Muskat / MLB.com
Joe Randa gives the Reds a proven bat and glove at third base for 2005. (Ed Zurga/AP)
Joe Randa is in, and Austin Kearns is back in the outfield.
On Tuesday, the Cincinnati Reds signed Randa, a free agent third baseman, to a one-year contract, effectively ending the Kearns' experiment to move to third.
The Reds also announced the signing of second baseman D'Angelo Jimenez to a one-year deal on his 27th birthday, thus avoiding arbitration.
Kearns had been working out in Lexington, Ky., and following a plan established by the Reds in an attempt to make the conversion from right field to third. But the addition of Randa puts an end to that, though it wasn't for lack of effort on Kearns' part.
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"It was evident [Kearns] had made progress," Reds general manager Dan O'Brien said Tuesday. "But from our perspective, the pace of the progress he was making left some question in our minds as to whether or not he'd be ready to handle this challenge on Opening Day of the 2005 season.
"Collectively, we felt that it wasn't fair, not only for Austin, but his teammates to have that uncertainty going into the season," O'Brien said. "We walked through that with Austin. He's still a very integral and important part of our ballclub. He understood it and was supportive of us bringing on board Joe Randa."
Randa wasn't aware of the opening on the Reds. He simply wanted to stay in the Midwest.
"When the season was over, with the debacle I went through in Kansas City, I knew I wasn't going to be coming back," Randa said. "You look on the map and look at the opportunities. Things may present themselves."
The "debacle" in Kansas City wasn't just losing Carlos Beltran.
"Injuries, and one thing led to another," Randa said. "It was a situation where we went from being picked to win the division, with the additions that we made in Spring Training, to having the injuries. One led to another, and we just fell apart. It was so frustrating for me.
"In the latter part of your career, you want to win," he said. "Things were going in a different direction [in Kansas City]."
Randa is familiar with the Reds organization, having played against them often in Spring Training.
"This seemed to be the best fit for me and my personality," he said.
Having Kearns back in the right, does create a logjam in the outfield.
"Having four quality outfielders is not a problem," O'Brien said.
Randa, 35, batted .287 with eight home runs and 56 RBIs in 128 games for the Kansas City Royals. He missed one month after undergoing arthroscopic surgery on his right knee but came back to earn honors as the Royals Player of the Month in September. He hit .316 in the final month with two homers and 14 RBIs.
"First, he's a professional hitter, he's a professional in terms of his defensive play," O'Brien said. "He knows how to play the game. For us, I think he'll be a very valuable addition to our lineup. We needed a professional hitter who is a contact hitter and knows how to handle the bat. We hope that makes our offense more efficient and hopefully more productive."
On Sept. 9 at Detroit, Randa became the first player in American League history to record six hits and six runs in one game.
A 10-year veteran, he has spent the last six seasons in Kansas City, averaging 13 homers and 80 RBIs. In 2000, he had his best season, batting .304 with 15 homers and 106 RBIs in 158 games.
"I have a chance to play with two of the nicest first basemen in the league in Mike Sweeney and Sean Casey," Randa said.
The Reds' infield for 2005 will have Casey at first, Jimenez at second, either Felipe Lopez or Anderson Machado at short, and Randa at third. Ray Olmedo, a candidate for the shortstop job, had Tommy John surgery on his right elbow on Nov. 9.
Jimenez hit .270 with 12 homers and 67 RBIs in 152 games last season. The infielder established career highs in runs (76), hits (152), doubles (28), RBIs and stolen bases (13).
Jimenez was one of four Reds who were arbitration eligible. Kearns, outfielder Adam Dunn and newly acquired pitcher Ramon Ortiz also are arbitration eligible.
Carrie Muskat is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was n