The Cincinnati Reds announced on Tuesday afternoon that they had signed right-handed pitcher Cam Bedrosian to a minor league contract with an invite to big league spring training.
The Los Angeles Angels outrighted Cam Bedrosian following the 2020 season and he elected free agency. It was an interesting move given that he had posted a 2.45 ERA in the 2020 season, and a 3.23 ERA in the 2019 season. Perhaps the move was made simply to avoid paying him a raise in arbitration, but it certainly wasn’t one made because of a lack of performance.
For the Cincinnati Reds, this deal is a great one. Cam Bedrosian has thrown 140.0 innings over the last three seasons with the Angels and posted a 3.41 ERA (130 ERA+) with a 1.25 WHIP and he’s allowed just 14 home runs to go along with 54 walks and 132 strikeouts. He’s been an above-average pitcher for his career, and even more so since he began to see full-time work with the Angels in 2016.
There are some red flags that pop up when looking a little bit deeper. In the 2020 season his walk rate dropped off to the lowest rate of his career – he struck out just 19% of the batters he faced. In 2019 he struck out 25%, and for his career he’s struck out 24.4% of the hitters he’s seen. His walk rate was also the highest it’s been since 2015, coming in at 10.3% – though that’s not too far off from the 8.5-9.6% if had been since the start of 2016. It’s also worth noting that he only threw 14.2 innings in 2020, and that not only is the sample size small, the season simply was weird for a lot of players who were working in far different routines than ever before.
In 2020, and again we need to note the small sample size, his ground ball rate took a big hit. In 2017 and 2018 his ground ball rate was 47.5% – better than the league average. But in 2020 that dropped to a career low 34.1% – and it was far and away the lowest rate of his career. Perhaps the biggest red flag, though, could be that his velocity dropped for the 4th straight season. In 2016 his velocity peaked out at an average of 95.9 MPH. Last season he averaged just 92.2 MPH. Interestingly enough, though, his whiff rate on the pitch was better than his career average despite the continued loss in velocity.
The slider in 2020 may have been the culprit of the lower strikeout rate. It lost 2.0 MPH from 2019 to 2020. The pitch also had a spin rate that was down 100 RPM from the past four seasons. The result was the lowest whiff rate of his career on the pitch, just 26.1% – it had ranged from 31.6% to 44.6% in other seasons of his career. If he can get back to the slider he was throwing prior to 2020, and keep his fastball as successful as it was in the past, things could get rather interesting here.
There are some reasons to be concerned that Cam Bedrosian can’t repeat his success from the past. Still, this deal is great for the Reds because it brings in a pitcher with a good track record of success in the Major Leagues, but there’s no real risk involved if he doesn’t look like he can continue with that success for one of the reasons mentioned above. But if he does look like there’s a reason to believe he can continue to be a successful big league pitcher, he was brought in on a minor league deal and all it takes is a little money and a spot on the roster.