Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com is reporting that the Cincinnati Reds are interested in relief pitcher Joakim Soria. In 2018 the right hander split his season between the Chicago White Sox and Milwaukee Brewers.
Source: The Dbacks, Angels, Yankees, Braves and Reds are among the teams that have shown interest in veteran reliever Joakim Soria. More talks are expected at next week’s Winter Meetings. Soria has been working out near his home in Scottsdale. Check @MLB for updates.
— Jesse Sanchez (@JesseSanchezMLB) December 3, 2018
For his 11-year career in the Major Leagues, Joakim Soria has posted a 2.88 ERA and racked up 220 saves – though a large chunk of them came before the 2012 season. He missed all of that year and since returning hasn’t been quite as good – but has posted a 3.36 ERA in the six seasons since then. Last year the 34-year-old had a 3.12 ERA in 60.2 innings with just four home runs allowed, 16 walks, and he struck out 75 batters.
He’s a free agent right now because the Brewers declined to pick up his option. Last season he made $9M, not including the $1M buyout. He wound up being paid by three teams during the season – as Kansas City paid the buyout on his declined option.
The projection systems seem to think he’ll perform next season. MARCELS has him with a 3.84 ERA in 61. 0 innings with 21 walks and 65 strikeouts. The Steamer Projections have him performing a little bit better on ERA, posting a 3.58 mark in 40.0 innings.
It’s been interesting to look at what’s happened over the last three seasons with Joakim Soria. In 2016 he posted a 50% groundball rate – an above-average rate for the league. But his home run per fly ball was 17.5%, which is very, very high. In 2017 his groundball rate jumped up to 54.8% and his home run per fly ball rate was almost non-existent. It fell to an absurd 2.9% on the year. Last season his groundballs disappeared. It fell all of the way to 35.7%, but his home run per fly ball rate remained very low at 6.2%.
His pitch usage did change from 2016 to 2017, but in 2018 it was in line with 2016 once again. His fastball velocity remained where it has been for the last three years – 93 MPH. But his slider did drop off to 79 MPH after being at 81 and 82 MPH the previous two years. But in 2014 and 2015 the pitch was 78 and 79 MPH.
The disappearance of ground balls very well could come from the big difference in how his slider moved. The fastball, curveball, and change up all remained similar in movement to past years. The slider, though was a very, very different pitch. In 2015-2017 the movement it had on the horizontal plane was about 5 inches. In 2018 it kept the same amount of vertical movement, but had just over 10 inches of movement on the horizontal plane.
The fastball and slider both got more swings-and-misses than in previous years, but the slider again was a big outlier. In 2016 and 2017 he had a 9% swing-and-miss rate on the slider. In 2018 that jumped up to 22.3%. It’s unsurprising that 2018 wound up being the best season he’d had since returning from surgery when it comes to strikeout rate (29.4%).
As with any free agent contract, it comes down to what it will cost and for how long. Jon Heyman and his expert that he consulted believe it will be a 2-year deal at $14-16M total. Kiley McDaniels of Fangraphs has it similar at 2-year and $16M total. MLB Trade Rumors has their prediction a tad higher at 2-years and $18M total. What do you think – do any of those deals make sense for the Cincinnati Reds?