The Cincinnati Reds are the oldest franchise in MLB history.
However, when free agency was introduced, it took the Reds a little while before they actually signed any players.
However, yesterday, January 12, marked an important day in Reds history.
In 1981, the Reds officially signed their first ever free agent.
Free agency had been around since the mid-1970s, but the Reds had yet to acquire a player in such a fashion.
Their first ever signing was outfielder and first baseman Larry Biittner.
It would take until 1983 for the Reds to sign a major free agent, however.
That year, they inked MLB legend Dave Parker.
Still, this was a pretty big deal for the Reds, as they were the last team to ever sign a free agent.
This day in sports history (Jan 12): In 1981, @Reds became last team to sign a free agent when they inked Larry Biittner. Although #MLB had free agency since mid-70's, it took roughly 5 yrs for the #Reds to sign a player. Their 1st major player signing was Dave Parker in 1983. ⚾️ pic.twitter.com/F05B9CB84P
— Jeff Klein (@SportsCrockpot) January 13, 2023
The Reds are one of those teams that typically is not very active in the free agent market.
So naturally, their first signing stole quite a few headlines.
Biittner himself had a long career.
The outfielder broke into the big leagues in 1970 with the Washington Senators and was still with the team when they became the Texas Rangers.
He also briefly played for the Montreal Expos, now the Washington Nationals.
Following his stint in Montreal, Biittner joined the Chicago Cubs, playing on the North Side from 1976-1980.
The outfielder spent two seasons in Cincinnati after being signed by the Reds and retired in 1983, returning to the Rangers to finish off his career.
Biittner had a lifetime batting average of .273 and hit a career total of 29 home runs over 14 seasons in Major League Baseball.