Is there anyone following along here that hasn’t read or heard that the Cincinnati Reds used between 35-40 pitchers to get through the 2022 season? If so, you just read it!

Even allowing for Reds pitchers who will be free agents via service time or have already been sent elsewhere to get on with their lives, Redleg Nation compiled a list of 14 pitchers who could be on the non-tender bubble. To keep this evaluation process sane, we divided these 14 pitchers into two groups alphabetically based on their last names. I drew the short straw for the group with last names starting with “H” through the end of the alphabet.

The Guys

Without further ado, here are the guys we looking at today.

Player 2023 Season Age Arbitration Status

Projected

2023 Salary

Joel Kuhnel 28 No $725K
Derek Law 32 Yes $900K
Dauri Moreta 27 No $725K
Connor Overton 29 No $725K
Jared Solomon 26 No $725K
Art Warren 30 No $725K
Justin Wilson 35 Team Option $1.2M

Notes:

The $725K projected salary for a number of these players is based on the 2023 MLB minimum of $720K with a small increment added for prior MLB service. This estimate could be low; but, with the MLB minimum jumping from $700K in 2022 to $720K for 2023, it seems reasonable.

Derek Law’s projected salary is courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors

Justin Wilson’s projected salary is courtesy of Cot’s Contracts

Joel Kuhnel

Kuhnel first appeared at the MLB level with the Reds in August of 2019, ending the season with 11 appearances. He followed that up with 3 MLB appearances in the shortened 2020 season. However he missed most of 2021 (shoulder issue) and made no MLB appearances during the season.

Kuhnel made up for lost time logging 53 MLB game appearances in 2022 but did not pitch with particular effectiveness. Despite a BB rate of only 5.5% and K rate of 22%, his ERA was 30% or more worse than league average. If he could improve his command, perhaps he could be more effective.

Derek Law

Law landed with the Reds after bouncing around MLB since 2016.

From 2016-2019 Law appeared to build a solid career with the Giants then Toronto. He has struggled to maintain traction in his career since then however.

At times he pitched well for the Reds in 2022. He finished with a better than league average ERA while walking less than 9% of the batters he faced and striking out more than 2 batters for every batter walked, a welcome feat among Reds relievers in 2022.

Dauri Moreta

Moreta came to the attention of the Reds and Reds fans with a remarkable bullpen run at classes AA and AAA in 2021. He made it to the Reds very late in the season and impressed with his performance.

Unfortunately Moreta struggled to make the next step forward in 2022 despite posting a WHIP of 1.17. To the good, while he walked 8.1% of the batters he faced, he struck out exact 3 times that percentage. Moreta’s issue appeared to be with command versus quality of stuff and approach.

Connor Overton

Overton struggled to get to MLB for 7 years before getting a very brief look with Toronto and Pittsburgh in 2021. The Reds signed him as a minor league organizational depth pitcher over following the 2021 season.

Injuries soon opened the door for Overton at the MLB level with the Reds. Sadly, his sensational debut as a Reds starting pitcher was derailed by a back injury after just 4 starts (24.2 IP) in which he compiled a 1.82 ERA.

He returned in late September and gave hope that in 2023 he could pick up where he left off in April of 2023 when the injury struck him down.

Jared Solomon

Jared Solomon was on the Reds Prasco alternate site roster during the 2020 pandemic season. Unfortunately, he subsequently had to undergo Tommy John surgery and missed the entire 2021 season.

Solomon started 2022 at AA but quickly advanced to AAA and was called up to the Reds in early May. He shuffled back and forth a couple of times before landing back at AAA for the balance of the season after the All Star break.

Solomon’s performance at both AAA and MLB was not impressive; but, it must be kept in mind that 2022 was his first competitive game experience since 2019 and also marked his return from Tommy John surgery.

Art Warren

Art Warren was a late in life arriving bullpen wunderkind in 2021. However, he failed to repeat his performance in 2022. This year saw his walk rate balloon to over 13% helping to inflate His WHIP to 1.64

Late in the season, Warren was sent to IL with elbow issues and eventually underwent a medical procedure which was declared to not be Tommy John surgery, but was a UCL repair (Tommy John surgery would be a UCL replacement). Warren was on the 60 day IL at the end of the season.

Justin Wilson

Veteran leftie Wilson went down to a season long injury just five appearances into the 2022 season and subsequently underwent Tommy John Surgery. He spent the rest of the season on the 60 day IL. The old axiom in baseball that there is always a spot for an additional left handed reliever that is breathing and can get the ball up to the plate. Does a guy entering his age 35 season while going through Tommy John surgery recovery count as “breathing”, not to mention that rolling his club option would cost at least $1.2m?

And The Envelope Please….

Before we open the envelope, recall that we have looked at just 7 of a total of 13 pitchers Redleg Nation felt were on the non-tender bubble. Our envelope is going to include the name of two definite keepers, one definite NO and a special case maybe NO.

Keepers

Connor Overton is a no doubt KEEPER. He is cheap and offers the flexibility to work from the rotation or bullpen. Given his performance in 2022, he almost certainly would be of interest to other teams if non-tendered or exposed to waivers.

Duari Moreta also earns a definite KEEPER call here. His K to BB ratio of 3.0, relatively low BB rate, and 1.17 WHIP earn him another shot at getting his command figured out.

Non-Keepers

Justin Wilson gets a pink slip. A team in the Reds situation should not put $1.2m at risk on a 35 year old recovering from Tommy John surgery. If Wilson wants to come into camp on a low cost minor league deal, that would be a different matter.

No, Maybe

Art Warren is our No, Maybe. He comes cheap; but, we don’t know that much about his elbow procedure or recovery prognosis. And it will be his age 30 season in a tight 40 man roster spot situation. A minor league deal might be a better alternative here too.

Everyone Else

Stack and rack everyone else in this group with the bubbles of the bubble from the other group and then figure out who stays and who goes. And keep in mind, virtually everyone in both groups could turn out to be nothing more than a placeholder pending who becomes available from other organizations via free agency (including non-tenders), waivers and trades.

To see the other positional non-tender write ups you can click right here.

36 Responses

  1. west larry

    I agree with your two keepers in this group. Law is a maybe to me. I would cut the rest.

    • Jim Walker

      I see Chase Anderson and Law as birds of a feather. It was looking like Anderson might be carving out a spot in September similar to Overton but then he crashed and burned in the last week.

      Still where Anderson and Law are concerned I would think it is a pick’em between the two for the Reds but only if someone better doesn’t become available at a price the Reds are willing to pay.

      • old-school

        I think you will see Anderson in camp as a non-roster invitee to compete for a #5 spot. He was on record saying DJ has been his best pitching coach in his pro career and so it would make sense he would align with the Reds in ST. There are always injuries or pitchers who are behind in building things up with lots of early and mid March innings to fill in ST. I see Cessa, Dunn, Overton, Anderson and a few more external guys who will be in camp throwing innings as a starter in March trying to win that #4/5 SP. Overton and Cessa would be favorites assuming health, but that never quite works out.

    • jmb

      I agree with you on the 3 players you referred to as “keepers”, but think Solomon should be signed to a minor league deal.

  2. MBS

    Hoffman, and Sims? It wouldn’t be a surprise if one, or both are not Reds in 23.

    • Jim Walker

      Me neither; but, they weren’t in this group which is why I said put everybody except the keepers across the entire spectrum together and make the decisions based on projected performance and cost.

      • MBS

        Fair enough, then I’d say I agree with your picks from this list. Good article, thanks

  3. Hotto4Votto

    Agree on keeping Overton and Moreta. Probably keep Law. Cut the rest, Wouldn’t mind seeing some of these guys (Kuhnel, maybe Hendrix who was already DFA’d) back on minor league deals.

  4. LDS

    Overton & Moreta make sense. I think more of the pitchers on the roster need to go. Expectations for guys like Sims & Antone seem inflated to me.

  5. Chris Holbert

    Counting on guys like Sims and Antone, I now you did not mention them, Jim, but others have on other posts, is the best thing. Neither has really been healthy and helped the team much in a couple of seasons. I am not sure why we would bring these guys on the no list, back on minor league deals. Some have had multiple opportunities. If they come to ST and make the team, maybe not too difficult, they have to be added back to the 40 man and the carousel starts again. IMO see what becomes available late in the winter, similar to this year, go get some of them, on the less expensive side, it cannot be worse.

  6. Harry Stoner

    Giving up on Antone is as premature (and as reckless) as counting on him.

    He was one of the Reds best pitchers when he was healthy.

    He’s a question mark but no more so than the bulk of prospects pitchers the team has in the pipeline.

    Coming back from a 2nd TJ surgery or working your way up from AA ball in the Reds farm system?

    I don’t see the odds being all that different from the perspective of October.

    I’d take a risk on Antone returning over diving back into the dumpster for another Kuhnel, Stickland, Gibaut, Zeuch, Solomon, Warren, Doolittle, Humvee, Hendrix, Dowdy, Jones, Deleon, etc.

    I’d try to sign him to a MiLB deal before offering him up for grabs. If Pap and Kolozsvary got nabbed, Antone will get picked up.

  7. Doug Gray

    Overton wouldn’t be the first person on my non-tender list, but he would most certainly be a guy I wouldn’t hesitate to non-tender if I needed a spot. He’s the kind of guy you can get on minor league deals all offseason.

    • Jim Walker

      We do not deeply disagree on this, pending who it is that gets the spot instead of Overton.

      If Overton is on the 40 man roster and optioned, he cost $120K, as I interpret the CBA salary structure. If he gets called up he costs them $720K-730K. Do they get another guy who profiles better than what Overton did this year at those rates? The uncertainty of that in my mind is why I said keep him.

      If it came down to Overton or Antone (only 6 months younger) for a 40 man spot, I’d go with Overton given Antone’s injury history.

      If it were Overton or young guy, I’d have to know the young guy’s projected ceiling to decide.

  8. Stock

    First of all I am assuming the Reds will not compete in 2023. Those of you who think the Reds have a chance to win the division in 2023 will not be very happy with my logic here.

    Second, I don’t think the 40 man is this winter. I think it will be next winter when the Reds have an additional nine players they will need to add or risk losing in the rule 5 draft:

    Joe Boyle, Connor Phillips, Bryce Bonnin, Rece Hinds, Jose Acuna, Alex McGarry, Christian Roa, Yerlin Confidan, and Braylin Minier

    I think five of these players are locks, Bonnin will be if healthy, and I hope McGarry, Confidan and Minier force to Reds to add them also.

    I have 17 offensive players on my projected 40 man and a space for a catcher. I also have two slots for FA or rule 5 picks.

    That leaves 20 spots for pitchers. I have the following 14 pitchers taking spots:

    Antone, Ashcraft, Cessa, Cruz, Diaz, Greene, Hoffman, Lodolo, Sanmartin, Santillan, Sims, Dunn, Brandon Williamson, and Levi Stoudt

    I give three spots to Overton, Warren and Moreta because I think these three have the potential to be good ML pitchers. I give them a year and if it does not pan out they are dropped prior to next years real 40 man roster crunch.

    I give 2 spots to Vladimir Gutierrez and Kuhnel. They both have options and have shown enough that they are worth another look. Again they are both easy drops next year if their performance is substandard.

    My final spot goes to Justin Wilson. He should be ready in May or June and if he pitches the way he was in 2022 prior to getting hurt he will bring more in a trade than Naquin did this year.

    • Stock

      should be: Second, I don’t think the 40 man squeeze is this winter.

      Forgot one important word.

  9. Optimist

    Agreed – Overton seems to be in the group of 1 – easy to keep given the salary, and brief performance stats in 2022, and 2 – easy to be the last guy released/DFA if the spring numbers are awful.

    Moreta seems like a classic AAAA guy – 26th man/extra arm for double headers and so forth.

    If the list is alphabetical does that mean Sims and Santillan are not on the bubble, or have options remaining?

    • Stock

      I would have neither Sims nor Santillan on the bubble. They will be without a doubt on the 40 man this winter. If he did not have an option left he would not be on my 40 man. I am hoping he begins the year in the Louisville bullpen. I hope Antone, Cruz, Diaz, Hoffman, Sanmartin, Santillan, Sims, and Dunn start the year in the bullpen with Cessa in the rotation.

      • Stock

        If Moreta did not have options I meant to say.

      • Optimist

        Agreed – just wanted to confirm this is a bubble list, so those omitted are locks for the 40 man. Also agree with your comment above about the squeeze coming next winter – most of those liable to be released this winter are 27+ years old – next winter’s list gets that number back down to 25-26 – much tougher decisions on possible development.

    • Jim Walker

      Neither Sims nor Santillan were on my list.

      For 40 man roster purposes, option status does not come into play. A guy currently on the 40 man roster (or 60 day IL) is either going to be on the 40 man roster, exposed to waivers or a non-tender free agent when the dust clears. If he was exposed to waivers either he was claimed or cleared. If he cleared he would be either outrighted or released and thus also a free agent

      • Stock

        Options play a big role. If Moreta has zero options I don’t see the need to keep him on the 40 man if there are 8 or 9 RP in front of him. But since he has an option he can be sent to Louisville and be brought up when injuries occur.

  10. Rednat

    I TRUST THE cowboy when it comes to the bullpen pitchers. he seems pretty high on Warren and Santillan as far as their approach to pitching and getting people out so I hope they get another chance

    • Harry Stoner

      I guess the Reds have given up on Santillan as a starter.

      IIRC he got shifted into the bullpen when the team had a productive rotation.

      I wouldn’t mind seeing him given a few more chances to start in ST.

      I don’t seek Gutierrez or Dunn as bankable starters at all.

      • Optimist

        As to Gut and Dunn. I think we’ve seen the best of Gutierrez, basically a 4-5 rotation piece at best, perhaps not bad, but low chance of dramatic improvement.

        Dunn, though, seems quite the opposite – much higher ceiling, but Senzel-like history of injuries. Next season is probably his last chance to become a good MLB starter – then, the bullpen or retirement/injuries. Maybe the best he can provide is a few years of very good 50-100 ip seasons bracketed with time on the 40-60 day lists.

  11. Old Big Ed

    This doesn’t even account for the 6-8 guys whom other organizations have non-tendered or DFA’d and whom the Reds invite to spring training. Or a crafty veteran signee, like Johnny Cueto or Wade Miley.

    The bullpen is going to have about 90% turnover from last season.

    • David

      Well, technically not 90%, unless you count every man who pitched in the bull pen in 2022. 🙂

      Diaz and Cruz should return. As will Moreta. I think that David Bell sort of misused him, and might have moderately hurt him. Much like he misused/overused Antone and the result was a second elbow surgery.
      Some people like San Martin as a reliever. I am …meh.
      Kuhnel is a big guy that throws hard, but he also has location and control issues. Pass.

      I would keep Dunn, just because he may get over his shoulder issues by next Spring. Or not.
      I think Gutierrez and Santillan are Reds Organization guys (came up through the minors), and will be given the “benefit of the doubt” until next Spring.
      I like TJ Antone, but his arm (Elbow) may be shot now. But I guess we keep him, until next Spring.
      Not hot on Sims; I think he is injury prone. I would let him go.
      Warren. Gone
      Wilson. Gone
      Hoffman; not sure yet.
      Overton: I think we keep him until next Spring. He may be another guy that is injury prone, but he did well when he was in there. Prior to 2022, he was just a career AAA-AAAA guy who was always on the bubble with somebody. Maybe he turned a corner and is better now. Unknown.

      See, a lot of these guys actually have some talent; ie, they can throw hard and have some good stuff. But when it comes to entering a game and throwing strikes, they are lacking. I don’t know what their make-up is as a pitcher; how smart or coachable they are. If they aren’t progressing, it’s time to let the go.

    • Jim Walker

      I agree, Everybody not named Diaz is just a placeholder for now. Best of what they got until they see who better they may stumble onto.

      The work done by guys the Reds couldn’t bring around who have pitched well in the playoffs over the last week really makes me start to wonder about Derek Johnson. He is overall pitching coordinator now, correct? How much and how long of a pass does he get for his work with starters when he can’t seem to do anything with building out relievers?

      • Harry Stoner

        The proclivity, habit or requirement that Reds’ relievers walk the first batter they face must have been a point of discussion among the manager, team coaches and hopefully, Johnson.

        How could it not?

        We can certainly imagine Bell muttering his same rote excuses about it, but not Johnson.

        It’s a problem that has been going on for at least a couple years, yet it appears to be ignored.

        What are they warming up for? Relief pitchers are coming into games unprepared, at least mentally, to control their pitches.

        You’d think it would be Topic 1A in the bullpen or clubhouse before or after games, but it goes on and on and on.

        Walk. Hit batter. Homerun. Game lost or put out of reach.
        Then the relief pitcher ‘settles down’ and gets a few outs.

        Reds relievers routinely give free passes to guys hitting far below the Mendoza.

        Not just one pitcher, it seems to have effected the entire lot.
        Diaz appears to have his head in the game and at least speaks as if he does.

        Bell shares the blame for his mystifying shuffling of relievers in the 6th and 7th innings but at least he was showing a glimmer of a willingness to use a quicker hook.

        How anyone in the organization doesn’t see this as Job #1 amazes me.

        If 100 losses is supposedly ‘unacceptable’ to Krall (even though it seems like it is absolutely acceptable to him), spending some time and money on the bullpen could readily cut that down to 90 losses, even with the same cast of also rans out on the field.

        Not going to get the team into the playoffs on its own, but can reduce the misery of Reds fans in the meanwhile.

  12. Tom Mitsoff

    I keep Overton, Moreta, Law and Solomon.

    I liked Law’s stuff — basing that judgment on eye test only. I realize he is fringe, but this team needs guys who can get big leaguers out.

    Solomon hasn’t had enough of a look to make a real judgment yet, so he stays.

  13. Mark Moore

    Given the complete crapshoot that was our bullpen for the most part, I have to say I really don’t have any strong opinions. I think I’m generally aligned with you. You have to think some of these guys will make it through unclaimed and end up back in Goodyear on minor league contracts.

    Always keep in mind other teams have to do the same thing as we do. And that means a lot of players “exposed” for a wide variety of reasons. The focus should be on the 100% keepers from where I sit.

  14. JB

    Agree with this. I would try to give a Law a non roster invite if possible. I thought he looked decent. Relief pitchers are an odd bunch. Only the good ones seem to be able to put a couple of good years together. They are such a crap shoot.

  15. Michael B. Green

    The guys with options will probably stay, but someone like Law could stay too.

    I would double the budget on a training staff that can minimize injuries to our pitchers and develop a routine that does not include TJS.

  16. Old-school

    Bobby Nightengale with enlightening article on the bullpen featuring Buck Farmer. bottom line is Reds literally arent bringing in any new bullpen arms that cost any real money and you can extend that to the SP and OF and C.

    Buck Farmer quoting how DJ and Reds are where he wants to be….just as Chase Anderson did. This quote from DJ

    “Thats going to be us for awhile. Thats where we are organizationally…..For us as a group…we have to do whatever we have to maximize …..what they bring to us”

    Then Buck, Ian, Derek Law mentioned

    Reds 2023 is a budget purging season and a reboot. Moose and Votto contracts are being expunged.

  17. BK

    Bad news for Art Warren today … expected to miss all of 2023.