Are the Reds back to the whole “get the pitching”, plan? Well, maybe not after putting Wade Miley on waivers and trading away Sonny Gray, but on Tuesday morning they did go out and pick up a pitcher that should help keep runs off of the board when they came to an agreement with reliever Hunter Strickland. Robert Murray of Fansided first reported the two were nearing a deal, Jon Heyman of MLB Network reported a few hours later that the two had a deal.
Mark Sheldon of Reds.com was the first to report on the details of the contract. Strickland will get $1,825,000 on a 1-year deal and can get up to $750,000 in additional performance bonuses. The Reds will also owe him $250,000 if they trade him.
The 33-year-old right-handed reliever has been quite good for most of his career. Over his eight seasons in the big leagues he’s posted a career ERA of 3.11 spread out over 342 relief appearances and 312.1 innings pitched. In 2019 and 2020 he did have a bit of a hiccup, posting an ERA of 5.86 in 27.2 combined innings pitched. Strickland rebounded last season. He spent time with the Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels, and Milwaukee Brewers, pitching in 57 games where he posted a 2.61 ERA in 58.2 innings. He allowed just 46 hits, walked 22 batters, and struck out 58.
There may be a few reasons to take a tiny pause with Strickland’s signing, though. He’s a fly ball pitcher and pitching in Great American Ball Park with that tendency can lead to poor results. With that said, it isn’t a guarantee that it turns out poorly – there have been more than a few fly ball pitchers that have found plenty of success in Cincinnati since the ballpark opened up in 2003. His fastball velocity has dropped nearly every single year of his career and last year was no different. When he debuted in 2014 he averaged 98.6 MPH (granted it was just 7.0 innings over nine games). Last season he averaged 95.0 MPH.
Interestingly enough, according to Fangraphs pitch values, his fastball was an above-average pitch in terms of the results against it for the first time since 2017. His slider was also an above-average pitch last season, and was actually the most valuable it has ever been.
Reds avoid arbitration with Senzel, Naquin
The Cincinnati Reds have avoided arbitration with outfielders Nick Senzel and Tyler Naquin. Both agreements were first reported by Robert Murray. Senzel agreed to a deal for $1,250,000 for the 2022 season in his first year of arbitration. Naquin will make $4,025,000 in his final year of arbitration.