The Cincinnati Reds are the only team in Major League Baseball that hasn’t signed a free agent to a big league deal this winter. As we covered here last week, it’s a shame that from December through all of the  2015/2016 offseason, and now all of the 2016/2017 offseason, the Reds have signed one free agent: Blake Wood. For a team that’s had the second worst record in baseball both seasons prior, to sign a minor leaguer to a big league deal as your only move before spring training started is pitiful.

Jeff Todd of MLB Trade Rumors looks at the Reds and some possible options of relievers that they could take a chance on. Let’s take a look at the pitchers that he thinks could be good additions and talk about each guy and why they would or wouldn’t be a good fit.

Neftali Feliz | He’s really the only guy that on the list that the team has been linked to. There’s some good in his 2016 stats: He had 61 strikeouts and 21 walks with a 3.53 ERA in 53.2 innings for the Pirates. The Reds could certainly use a pitcher that can post those kinds of numbers. At the same time, he also gave up a ton of home runs. His home run per fly ball rate was significantly higher than any point in his career, so he should rebound some from there. But, there’s some concern in there with how that could play in Great American Ballpark.

Joe Blanton | In 2008 there was one very vocal, local writer who wanted to trade Joey Votto and one Homer Bailey or Johnny Cueto for Joe Blanton. Thankfully the front office didn’t make that move. Fast forward to today and Blanton can be had much cheaper and fits exactly what the Reds are seemingly looking for. He dominated for the Dodgers bullpen in 2016, throwing 80.0 innings with a 2.48 ERA, 26 walks and 80 strikeouts. As a former starter, he’s capable of throwing multiple innings every so often still.

Santiago Casilla | Another strong reliever coming off of a good season. With the Giants he posted a 3.57 ERA (115 ERA+) in 58.0 innings, 19 walks and 65 strikeouts. Those numbers would be good for the bullpen, but there’s some concern in there. Sort of. He struggled in the second half, posting a 4.63 ERA while watching his strikeout-to-walk ratio decline. While it remained a strong ratio, 3-to-1, it was nearly 4-to-1 in the first half. The home run rate went up. The second half decline was a concern, but home run rate aside, the peripherals were still good.

David Hernandez | In totality, Hernandez posted a 3.84 ERA in 72.2 innings with 32 walks (5 intentional) and 80 strikeouts with the Phillies. He allowed 77 hits and 11 home runs, both of which are a bit concerning. The walk rate was slightly higher than you’d like, but when you take away the intentional walks it’s solid. He misses plenty of bats. His ERA was much better in the second half of the season, but his peripherals were much worse. He had 16 walks and 28 strikeouts in the second half after having 16 walks and 52 strikeouts in the first half (42.0 innings vs 30.2 in the second half). The second half rise in walks and drop in strikeouts is a concern here.

Greg Holland | He missed all of the 2016 season, and had some struggles in 2015 with the Royals, watching his walk and strikeout rates go in the wrong direction. That was probably related to his injury, and he probably pitched with it before realizing given just how dominant he was in 2013 and 2014 where he posted a 1.32 ERA in 129.1 innings with 38 walks and 193 strikeouts. Of course, that was quite a while ago and he’s coming back from surgery. If he’s healthy and can return to that, it would be huge, but there’s plenty of reason to be wary of that, too.

Yusmeiro Petit | In the last four seasons he’s only had one season with an above-average ERA – 2015. In 2016, with the Nationals, he had a 4.50 ERA in 62.0 innings with 12 home runs allowed, 15 walks and 49 strikeouts. He’s  a very low-walk pitcher, but he’s not missing many bats these days for a reliever. His home run rate has also been quite high the last two seasons, which may not play so well in Great American Ballpark. He’d probably come cheaper because of how things have played out, but he’s also not up to par with some of these other options.

Sergio Romo | The Giants closer to start the season hit the disabled list a week into the season. He then missed nearly three months before returning on July 4th. He allowed runs in five of the 36 games he threw the rest of the season. He’s not a big arm, but the results have been big time. His 2.64 ERA in 30.2 innings with seven walks and 33 strikeouts would be welcome in the bullpen for the Reds.

Joe Smith | He’s a local guy who played at Amelia High School, then went to Wright State. In 2016 he split time between the Angels and Cubs, posting a 3.46 ERA in 52.0 innings with 18 walks and 40 strikeouts. He performed much better with the Cubs, in limited action he had a 2.51 ERA in 14.1 innings with five walks and 15 strikeouts. The overall peripherals weren’t great, and all four home runs he allowed with Chicago were solo home runs and accounted for all four earned runs he allowed. There’s a chance for a hometown discount of sorts, but his home run rate skyrocketed in 2016, allowing as many home runs in 2016 as he did in 2014 and 2015 combined despite significantly less innings than in either of the previous two seasons. Combine that with a lower strikeout rate and there’s some concern here.

Drew Storen | There’s some good news and bad news with Drew Storen. He got his brains beat in with Toronto, posting a 6.21 ERA in 33.1 innings before being traded to Seattle. With the Mariners he posted a 3.44 ERA in 18.1 innings. An enormous home run rate in Toronto killed him, but the move to Seattle led to a home run rate that was 33% of what it was in Toronto. He doesn’t walk hitters and he misses some bats, though it’s not an elite reliever rate. The home run rate is a bit of a concern, and it’s not easy to write off as a fluke given that he lost nearly 2 MPH on his fastball from 2015.

Do any of these options interest you? Some guys are better than others, which also means that they will cost you more. The Reds aren’t likely to be a contender, which means quality pitchers may not want to join the club at market value. Cincinnati could possibly sell them on the idea that they can be the closer, which could improve their market value on a short term deal that they may not get if they sign with a contender. It would also give the Reds the option of moving a guy near the deadline if they perform.

About The Author

Doug Gray is the owner and operator of this website and has been running it since 2006 in one variation or another. You can follow him on twitter @dougdirt24, or follow the site on Facebook. and Youtube.

Related Posts