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.

30 Responses

  1. LDS

    A more credible pickup than most this spring. Still no word on the other gaps?

    • Alan Horn

      They have made some effort with the BP and bench. 3 decent outfielders are the main problem. Senzel could go down at any time, Naquin has to repeat last season and that is only 2 to start with. 2 big ifs with a 3rd even bigger if. If they plan on going with Moose at 3B that is even another huge if. Can he stay injury free and bounce back? Then you are depending on one to two rookies in the rotation who don’t appear to be ready. Your main candidate for closer is injured and he isn’t a strong candidate to begin with(Sims). With the way things line up right now, another injury or two would further decimate the roster. I would hope there are some more additions coming.

  2. Klugo

    Is it crazy to think that GABP has ruined this organization?

      • Corey D

        Good call. I was going to say that but you beat me to it.

  3. RedBB

    Solid signing. The Reds bullpen is looking a lot better than last year moreso because they won’t have guys like Amir, Lorenzen, Hembree, DooLittle, Hendrix, Brach, Fulmer, Feliz and Cionel all imploding on a daily basis.

    We now have 7 guys that had under 3 ERA’s for he Reds or another team year. Strickland, Warren, Santillan, Wilson, Cessa, Moreta and SanMartin. Granted some in very few innings but still I think the BP will be much better nay subtraction.

    • KG

      Totally agree. The bullpen looks much better on paper and should look much better on the field than last year. I think the starting rotation will be fine, as long as we can hang on to Castillo and Mahle. Still a few holes in the batting order, but with the expanded playoffs I’m definitely optimistic.

      • TR

        Same here, looking forward to opening day with a tough 4 game series in Atlanta.

      • Alan Horn

        Agree on the BP. The outfield and bench still are lacking.

    • MBS

      If the Reds just stick Gut and San in the pen, and give Greene and Lodolo spots out of spring, I think it would be a mistake on 2 levels. 1) Not rewarding the good years that VG and SM had and maximizing their potential this year. 2) Possibly rushing arms that aren’t ready. They are so close and so talented, that I’d hate to make a misstep on their development.

      • RedsGettingBetter

        It’s a good bet Greene and Lodolo reaching a rotation spot specially after the news about Castillo’s and Minor’s shoulder soreness and Dunn out for a few months…A rotation consisting of Mahle, Gutierrez, Greene, Lodolo and SanMartin/Ashcraft can be glimpsed for opening day roster

      • MBS

        If Castillo and Minor miss, then I’d guess you’re right, I don’t think it’s there yet. Fingers crossed

  4. Gonzo Reds

    Strickland’s our opening day starter now that Castillo is injured. Well, at least we can’t dump Castillo for peanuts now that he won’t pass a physical so we’re stuck with him. 😉 Bumbling Bob is now freaking out because he had already pocketed the $ he thought he didn’t have to pay him going forward.

  5. James K

    “342 relief appearances and 312.1 innings pitched” So, he has averaged less than one inning per appearance?

  6. Dan

    This is a fine signing, but seriously… we need outfielders, right? (I do not want Aquino in my opening day starting lineup!)

    I, for one, will be starting the Tommy Pham fan club! (Pham Club?)

    I’m amazed no one has signed him yet. He had 2 not so good years in San Diego, but to me he has bounce back written all over him.

    Pham for LF, batting 2nd, every day!

    I really think he’s gonna be a smart signing for someone.

    • JB

      You really had me until you got to the end. “Smart signing” . Two words that take the Reds totally out of the equation.

    • JoshG

      starting outfield is Fraley, Senzel, Naquin
      Freidl, Shogo and Aquino and others battling to be back ups

    • Jimbo44CN

      Really, so just giving up on Aquino, who was doing great and then they brought in Castellanos and he was out of a job, IN the covid short season he went back and forth between the taxi squad( or whatever they called it) a bunch of times. They screwed up this kids confidence, for sure. Then last year he was not that great, but still in limited performance had 10 homers. I think he deserves a chance to start and be in there every day. And besides, what makes this Pham so great. A 34 year old outfielder who hit 229 last year with 15 dingers! Cmon.

      • JayTheRed

        I was just thinking that when watching Aquino blast that homerun out of the park. I’m not quite ready to give up on him yet. It looks like he has slightly modified his stance again this year. Maybe it’s just the right balance of change. Will see

        Oh on signing Strickland I am pretty happy about that pickup.

      • Dan

        If you look at Pham’s splits, you see that BOTH years he was in San Diego, he was good on the road, and just awful in Petco.

        Pham 2021 (home) – .196/.329/.333
        Pham 2021 (road) – .264/.353/.434

        Pham 2020 (home) – .140/.259/.140 (only 14 games)
        Pham 2020 (road) – .271/.358/.458 (only 17 games)

        Pham (career – Petco) – .207/.328/.344
        Pham (career – GABP) – .366/.449/.505

        Plus, even in his bad years, since he walks so much, his OBP is still in the respectable range (last year .340). Also, in his bad years, he had hard-hit rates near 50% (league average is 38.7%).

        Basically, the off years are what will likely drive his price down, but I think he’s got great bounce-back potential. And if he does, he could be a nice speed-power guy, which is fun. The team needs speed… and a little right-handedness.

        One year, $8 million, with a team option for 2023 at $10 million (with a $1 million buyout). Let’s get this done, Reds! 😉

      • redseuphoria

        Why not put Pham out in Center Field a little bit?

        Who knows how long Senzel will stay healthy, and I don’t think Akiyama is an every day center fielder. If Senzel gets hurt, Pham would be an excellent every day replacement. We could always use his speed on the base paths as well.

    • Votto4life

      I read somewhere that Tommy Pham is probably going to earn $7 to $8 million dollars. I don’t see the Reds spending that kind of money when it is probably not going to make them appreciably any better. If Shogo is worth that much I suppose Pham is as well.

      Tommy Pham would have been a nice piece to pick up when the Reds had a chance at winning. I saw a rumor that suggested he might sign with Cleveland.

      I am also certain Tommy Pham had some hard words about Reds fans last year. Not sure that would matter though.

  7. SultanofSwaff

    Decent signing, but for the money I would rather have Givens back.

    • JayTheRed

      I too wish we would have tried to sign Givens too.

      • Alan Horn

        I concur, but Givens was getting hit pretty good toward the end of the season.

  8. Redsvol

    Strickland is a good signing. I’m actually surprised he signed with us. He is a professional relief pitcher with a long and proven track record. Hopefully he is ready early because our starting rotation is going to need a lot of help by the looks of things.

  9. Ken

    It’s pretty preposterous that Reds should sign a fly-ball pitcher to put out fires. What an absolutely tragic offseason for Reds fans. You’d think we deserved better, but how can you trust someone that tried to have Hal McCoy fired?