Retread Reds – Juan Samuel 1993
During Jim Bowden’s tenure as general manager with the Cincinnati Reds, he liked to acquire players that where reclamation projects or past their prime.
Nearly every season at least one of these players were a part of the Reds’ roster. To the fans they were affectionately known as Retread Reds. One of Bowden’s first retreads was infielder Juan Samuel in 1993.
More than a decade after Samuel burst into the major leagues with Philadelphia Phillies and earned The Sporting News National League Rookie of the Year honors, he signed a minor league contract with Cincinnati Reds.
The signing, which included an invitation to spring training as a non-roster player, was part a series of useful but inexpensive free-agent signings, which also included Gary Varsho, Cecil Espy, Greg Cadaret and Bill Landrum. All but the 32-year-old Samuel played well, according to a May 5 1993 USA Today article.
In 103 games and 261 plate appearances, Samuel had a .230 batting average with 60 hits, four home runs and 26 runs batted in. He also committed 10 errors while spliting time at second base, first base, third base, left field and right field.
It was a far cry from his rookie campaign when he tied for the National League lead with 19 triples and placed second with 72 stolen bases setting a major league rookie record. Future Retread Red Vince Coleman would break the record the following season. In 1987, Samuel became the first player in major league history to reach double figures in doubles, triples, home runs and stolen bases in each of his first four major league seasons. A year later, he fell short by one triple to repeat his feat for fifth consecutive year.
Following his one season in Cincinnati, Samuel was on his way to the Detroit Tigers after signing another minor league deal. Following his one-and-a half seasons in Detroit, Samuel spent the remainder of the 1995 season with the Kansas City Royals. The last two seasons of his major league career put Samuel in a Toronto Blue Jays uniform.
After retiring, Samuel joined the coaching ranks. He was a base coach for the Tigers from 1999 to 2005. He managed the Double-A Binghamton Mets for the 2006 season. Since the 2007 season, Samuel has served as a third base coach with the Baltimore Orioles.