The Cincinnati Reds have signed right-handed pitcher Zack Godley to a minor league deal and invited him to spring training. While teams can’t make deal with players for big league contracts as the owners continue to lock out the players on the 40-man roster, they can still sign players to minor league deals. Godley, along with getting the invite to big league spring training is also going to be in early minor league camp – which is now up to 60 players (you can see the full list here).
Zack Godley has pitched in the big leagues in parts of the last seven seasons. Most of that came with the Arizona Diamondbacks, but he’s pitched for the Blue Jays, Red Sox, and Brewers in parts of the last three seasons, too. The soon-to-be 32-year-old has spent time in his career as both a starter and a reliever. In the big leagues he’s started 89 games and pitched out of the bullpen in another 49. When he was in the minors he started 52 games and pitched in relief in another 64 games. During the 2021 season he only pitched in two games with the Brewers, starting one and relieving in another. At the minor league level he split time in the Brewers, Guardians, and Mets systems in Triple-A and made 18 starts with 3 relief appearances.
From 2015-2018 he was a league average pitcher, posting a 4.41 ERA in 444.2 innings to go along with 48 home runs allowed, 176 walks, and he struck out 444 batters. But in 2019 things took a big step backwards and he’s struggled ever since. In 124.0 innings across 17 starts and 26 relief appearances he’s posted a 6.75 ERA with 25 home runs allowed, 61 walks, and just 103 strikeouts.
Perhaps one reason he’s been less effective is that his groundball rate fell off of the map starting in 2019. He went from a guy who had well above-average groundball rates to one who had below-average groundball rates. His velocity has been dropping since he was a rookie, though the last two seasons we have limited data compared to the previous years due to the shortened 2020 season when he made just 8 appearances and then 2021 when he spent most of the year in the minors and threw to just 21 big leaguers.
As it goes with almost all minor league deals – there’s not much risk involved for the club. In the past, Zack Godley has been of value in the big leagues as he’s provided teams with both starts and relief appearances while posting a league average ERA. If the Reds can get him back to that guy then it’s going to be viewed as a shrewd pick up on a minor league deal. And if spring training comes and goes and he doesn’t seem to “have it” anymore, then there’s not much lost for Cincinnati.