Jesse Sanchez of 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.

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?

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25 Responses

  1. redlegs4ever

    Makes sense to have interest in him, he’s a good pitcher. But it doesn’t make sense at those prices to me at the moment.

    The bullpen isn’t really a problem but you can never have enough pitching, I prefer the Reds wait out the relief market for the good deals like with Hernandez and Hughes last year.

  2. Datdudejs

    Not at those prices, but I think those projections aren’t particularly close to what he will actually get. I feel like she’s going to be one of those guys that are on the market wanting more money but end up settling for less towards the end of the offseason

  3. Champ Summers

    Derek Johnson was his pitching coach for the Brewers. If he had anything to do with the extra action on the slider then following him here might be good for Soria. Whether 14 to 18 million is a good investment for the Starter starved Reds is another question. If it means we add a lot less value to the rotation then I would be against it. We have lots of talented guys that could be very good in the pen especially if Johnson is as good as advertised.

  4. Kap

    A relief pitcher I think that makes sense for the reds is Adam warren. Has been solid, has a low ERA, and probably won’t cost as much. Would be worth it

  5. Oldtimer

    The Reds owner is probably a billionaire. He can afford to pay lots of money.

    He paid Joey Vote a HUGE amount (and it was a good deal). He paid Homer Bailey a BIG amount (and it didn’t turn out so well due to injuries).

    Regardless Mr. C has the money to pay these big contracts.

    • Doug Gray

      Combined, I’m sure the 19 owners are worth well over a billion. The franchise itself is. I don’t think any single owner is worth nearly a billion, though.

  6. Gaffer

    I fully expect the reds to deploy a reliever heavy staff like the Rays. I bet Lorenzen and Iglesias throw 2-3 innings 3 days a week. Sofia could be the True closer, saving half of the 80 victories.

    • scottya

      I hope your right that the Reds use some of the strategies that the Rays particularly used last season. I know that Dick Williams said about Raisel Iglesias “Maybe we use him as an opener…” If we had Soria, this strategy would appear to be more viable. As Derek Johnson said, pitching in the 9th inning with a one run lead is different than pitching in the 7th or 8th inning.

  7. CP

    Love the idea of adding another quality arm to the bullpen, but I agree those prices may be a little steep. Hughes and Hernandez have proven to be absolutes steals so far, and that’s always the goal. Challenge is picking the right undervalued guys and not signing someone who is making less for a good reason.

  8. CP

    By the way congrats Doug on your opportunity to take over redleg nation as well. Excited for you and well deserved!!

  9. AirborneJayJay

    Maybe the Reds are doing some due diligence. I don’t see those projected amounts lining up for the Reds. I can see something along the line of a 2 year and $6M to $8M range. They aren’t going to pay Iglesias type of money unless they envision closing opportunities in the mix.
    On the flip-side it would signal they do look to use Iglesias more differently and will need a closer type on hand also.

  10. scottya

    Any bullpen adds, if at all should be big upgrades. Because we have great depth and club control there and some will have to be traded or dfa’d if they don’t make the team (R. Stephenson and S. Romano for example). We should add Soria if we add a #1 and #2 starter for sure.

    I would like to see the Reds pickup Wilmer Flores. If he clears waivers and becomes a free agent; Wilmer fits well as a backup for Gennett and Votto and a projected Fangraphs WRC+ of 113. Flores hits really well against LHP (Gennett’s weakness). Career WRC+ of 110 against LHP

    • redlegs4ever

      Flores was non-tendered so there is no waiver process, he is already a free agent. Also he wasn’t good at all against lefties last year and doesn’t get good reviews on the glove work.

      Minor league deal with no guarantees absolutely, otherwise pass.

      • scottya

        Your right about the non tender. All of those players are immediately free agents.

        But, Flores didn’t forget how to hit LHP last season. WRC+ 161 in 15′, 193 in 16′ & 121 in 17′ season vs LHP. BABIP .248 vs LHP in 18′ and small sample size error.

      • redlegs4ever

        Blame it on whatever you want he still didn’t hit lefties last year…

  11. MK

    With the possible addition of Herget and the success of Hughes, Hernandez, and Iglesias and the possibility of Romano, it doesn’t seem like large resources should go for right-handed relief.

    • AirborneJayJay

      What about bringing Brad Boxberger back on a deal similar to Hughes or Hernandez? A very up and down year in Arizona, but could be poised for a nice rebound if not counted on to be main closer. He could close when Iglesias is not available and be an added set up man too. There is still a lot to like about Boxberger. And he made $1.8M last season. 2 years and $4M to $5M might be very reasonable to both parties after Boxberger was non-tendered by AZ.

      • MK

        I would still rather give Herget less than a million for a couple years and spend the rest elsewhere.

    • scottya

      You are spot on that we have an abundance of RH Relief pitchers and Relief Pitchers overall, but most have been average at best. Surely a trade or two involving some of these guys is on the horizon. Herget’s GB% in the minors concerns me.

      1. Iglesias
      2. Hughes
      3. Bowman
      4. Hernandez
      5. Romano
      6. Lorenzen
      7. Herget
      8. Wisler
      9. Stephenson

      10. Garrett
      11. Reed

  12. Nep O'Tism

    Until they add at least 2 (and probably 3) legit MLB starters, I don’t know if I really see the need for a 35-year-old $7-9m/yr pitcher. Put that money towards good starters.

    It doesn’t matter who is in the bullpen if they have another year of Bailey/Finnegan/Reed/Stephenson/Romano starting a significant amount of games, because it will be 8-2 and a lost cause by the time he gets in.

    Hughes/Iglesias/Hernandez was already probably one of the better bullpen trios in 2018 and it still resulted in 90+ losses again.


  13. Jim Delaney

    This is a type of pitcher the Reds will likely sign along with Harvey and a Derek Holland type.. the President of Baseball operstions has already stated many rumors of Reds looking at certain pitchers isnt true. Castellini and the front office stated they would get the pitching initially, they will say anything to there fan base to keep any season ticket holder they have left… i am open to giving David Bell and the new coaching staff a lot of robe but not beleiving what the front office or ownership group is selling… i expect no impact signings, and a last place finish BUT they will be closer to .500 in a very strong division..

  14. Daytonian

    Not at those prices. The Reds already have a number of good bullpen arms, with Herget on the way, and with guys like Stephenson likely (and finally) targeted for the ‘pen. His age and home run rates also lead to questions. Put this money elsewhere, and it will help the Reds get much more needed improvement. Boxberger, however, would be a nice addition.

    And, good luck, Doug!

    • Cguy

      I’d include Matt Bowman in that group of good bullpen arms. If he is damaged goods, I think the Reds would have already DFAed him. Somebody thinks he’s going to be able to return to 2016-2017 form. Reds also have Wisler & Stephenson w/o an option for 2019. If the Reds spend money & a roster spot on a rp , let’s hope it’s a lefty.

  15. redleggingfordayz

    Just a stat I wanted to throw into this thread, but the Reds were ranked 24th overall bullpen wise via SIERA. I think there are still some improvements to be made on the reliever front for the Reds. Perhaps one more lockdown 8th inning guy that can step in and close if Iglesias is unavailable. Soria isn’t a bad idea, and there are a few others out there I would be interested in.

  16. Bernie

    He makes no sense for the Reds at those prices unless the plan is a trade of Iggy and making him the closer and I’m not sure how much faith I would have in him as a closer.