The non-tender date is after the World Series is completed and the Cincinnati Reds will have plenty of decisions to make about who to tender contracts to for the 2023 season among their players who are not on guaranteed contracts. Two weeks ago we took a look at the position players who are likely up for debate within the front office. Last week Jim Walker took a look at half of the pitchers on the roster who were probably being discussed and today we’re going to look at the rest of them to round out the series.

As noted above, Cincinnati has a lot of roster trimming to do. When the World Series is over the 60-day injured list disappears and the players currently on it will once again count towards the 40-man. Free agents will drop off, but even so, Cincinnati will need to make some moves to get to 40, and they will need to drop below 40 as they will need to create roster spots to add prospects near the end of November in order to protect them from the Rule 5 draft. The odds are that the Reds will likely protect at least six prospects, but it could be as many as 10, leaving the front office perhaps needing to non-tender, trade, or DFA a whole lot of players on the roster.

Fernando Cruz

Probably the best story in baseball this year that no one outside of Cincinnati even knows about, Fernando Cruz is the epitome of never giving up. He was drafted as a shortstop in 2007, transitioned to the mound in 2011, and then didn’t pitch in affiliated baseball from 2016-2021 and only pitched in winter leagues in Venezuela, Puerto Rico, the Dominican Republic, and Mexico in those years before signing a minor league deal with the Reds prior to the 2022 season and ultimately making his big league debut at 32-years-old.

Being called up in September, Cruz allowed two earned runs in 14.2 innings – that’s a 1.23 ERA – and struck out 21 batters. He also walked nine batters, an issue he didn’t show while in Triple-A with Louisville.

On one hand, Cruz has three options and will make the league minimum salary if he remains with the club. He performed well in the final month of the season. On the other hand he’s going to be a 33-year-old reliever when the season begins in 2023 and he’ll have all of 14.2 innings in the big leagues under his belt.

You’ve got the lowest salary possible, options, and good performance in 2022 for Cruz as reasons he could stick around. But his age, inexperience, and the numbers crunch for younger players could play into a decision that goes the other direction.

Kyle Dowdy

Like Fernando Cruz, Dowdy will make the league minimum salary next season if he’s in the big leagues. He will also have two option years remaining. He pitched in just two games for the Reds this year – both in September.

Dowdy spent almost all of the year in Triple-A Louisville where he posted a 3.96 ERA in 52.1 innings, allowed just three home runs, walked 31 batters, and had 56 strikeouts. He kept the ball in the park while pitching for Louisville, but his control was spotty and his track record in the big leagues is 22.1 innings in 2019 with the Rangers where he walked more batters than he struck out, and 6.1 shutout innings in September for the Reds this season. He’s going to be 30-years-old when the season begins in 2023. Dowdy feels more like a guy you bring in on a minor league deal every year rather than a guy you keep on the 40-man roster over the offseason.

Buck Farmer

The decision on Buck Farmer feels like an easy one on the surface. He threw 47.0 innings for the Reds this past season with a 3.83 ERA. There are a few things working against him, though. First is that he is out of options. The second is that he’s arbitration eligible and MLB Trade Rumors projects that he will get a raise that basically doubles the amount of money he’ll be paid next season, projecting a $1.4M number. He will also be a free agent following the 2023 season unless he signs a deal longer than one season and avoids arbitration.

During the season Farmer kept the ball in the ballpark well, giving up just two home runs all season – something he’s not exactly been good at throughout his career. He also struck out plenty of batters, fanning 54 of the 199 batters he faced on the season. But he also walked plenty of guys, giving out 25 free passes in just 47.0 innings.

He performed well in 2022, but with a raise due and perhaps questions about his home run rate returning to his career norm along with a higher than you want to see it walk rate, there’s a chance the team could go in a different direction on a 32-year-old who will be a free agent following the season.

Ian Gibaut

Picked up on waivers by the Reds in July from the Dodgers, Ian Gibaut was solid but unspectacular in his 34.2 innings with the Reds. He posted a 4.67 ERA (96 ERA+, so slightly below the league average). He also walked 18 batters. Those are the negatives on his resume from 2022.

There were some positives, too. He struck out 48 of the 154 batters he faced (31% K rate) and he allowed just three home runs. Another positives that isn’t performance related that could work in his favor is that he will make the league minimum salary and would be under team control through 2027 if he remained with the club that entire time. He is out of options, though.

Gibaut turns 29 next month and his big league performance hasn’t been bad, but it hasn’t been good, either. He’s been solid for the most part, but with some struggles in the control department. The combination of needing roster spots, his being out of options, and a limited track record in the big leagues at age 29 could work against him. But a team that needs pitching like Cincinnati does, Gibaut was indeed a solid reliever for them over the final three months of the year and he’ll be making the league minimum. This decision could seemingly go either way.

What happens?

Keeping Buck Farmer feels like a safe bet. The Reds may be cheap, but they aren’t THAT cheap. He struggled to start the year with Cincinnati and had a 6.75 ERA before he was DFA’d and sent to Louisville. But after he came back up on July 9th he threw 35.0 innings of 2.83 baseball and didn’t give up a home run.

Kyle Dowdy feels like a guy who is more likely to be non-tendered than a guy who the organization keeps around. They need roster spots cleared, used 35 pitchers (and three position players) during the season, and Dowdy threw in just two games. All of that suggests he’s not very high on the priority list.

Fernando Cruz and Ian Gibaut both can have arguments made in both directions. Keeping Cruz around feels safer to me, but I wouldn’t be surprised if both guys were still around next spring.

This authors take: Farmer and Cruz will remain on the 40-man roster.

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

27 Responses

  1. Hotto4Votto

    I think there’s enough trimming to take place elsewhere that the Reds can hang onto Farmer, Cruz, and Gibaut. At least to start the off-season. I expect the roster churning on the fringes to continue though, and it’s a long way to OD.

  2. wkuchad

    “The Reds may be cheap, but they aren’t THAT cheap.”

    Are we sure?

    I’m keeping Farmer for sure. I’d like to keep Cruz depending on available spots, but maybe instead try and sign him to a minor league deal.

    • Jim Walker

      My age is probably showing a bit, but the current Reds remind me of a Frank Zappa song from the 1970’s, “Cheepnis”.

      The lyric is about low budget horror movies in the 1950s and 60s in which various strings and mechanical means could often be seen operating the “monsters” and other props. Many fans of these movies apparently became more taken with looking for these things than watching the actual movie itself.

      This is where the Reds led us. Call it the Cheepnis Syndrome. 😉

      • Doug Gray

        Jim, you’re as young as you feel. Those are the rules.

      • LDS

        Well, that’s the first time I’ve seen Zappa quoted on RLN. Far too many of us here are old enough to remember him.

      • Daytonnati

        All hail, Frank! He knew stuff 🙂

        “Centerville
        A real nice place to raise your kids up
        Centerville
        It’s really neat!

        Churches
        Churches, and liquor stores”

      • JB

        Nice one Jim. Zappa- Don’t eat the yellow snow. I believe Bob and Phil did.

  3. MBS

    Not much controversy here I’m keeping Farmer, and Cruz. Gibaut, and Dowdy are the definition of replaceable.

  4. LDS

    Keeping Cruz & Farmer in the short term seems reasonable. Gibaut & Dowdy not so much. It all depends on how cheap the Reds will really be this off season. Do they try to pick up a couple of quality BP pieces or continue their dumpster diving ways. For once, I think @Wkuchad & I agree, the Reds really are that cheap.

  5. Fanman

    Cruz absolutely is a diamond in the rough. Also, has moxie to pitch in pressure situations. Farmer pitched well and is a strong candidate. Regardless of age these 2 pitchers deserve to be on roster..Gibaut is a bubble candidate. Has more to prove.

  6. Optimist

    “They aren’t THAT cheap” may be a limit they’ll test, but in these cases I suspect the issue is far more the open roster space. Unlike the catchers, would any of these guys get claimed immediately? Would you prefer any of them to keeping Hopkins or Richardson? Those are likely the primary factors in the decision.

    • Jim Walker

      I am guessing that at his age Cruz would be an MiLB free agent once outrighted. Certainly, if he has ever been outrighted before, he would have that choice despite not having enough MLB time to have it. Also, he should have enough MiLB time just on its own.

      • Optimist

        Sounds right – maybe the issue is would anyone outbid the Reds to bring him into ST on a MiLB contract? Perhaps, but not by much – I think the Reds can keep all these guys, one way or another, without putting them on the 40-man now.

        And I’m with Doug on the “they aren’t that cheap” – they’d pay a bit extra to bring them all into ST on MiLB contracts, perhaps with bonuses for making the MLB roster. Other than the effects of pitching in GABP, I don’t see huge incentives for these guys to leave. The catchers, yes, always looking for the AAAA talent there, but not borderline bullpen pieces.

  7. west larry

    Cruz and Farmer are definite keepers. Gibaut and Dowdy not so much. It depends on how many players they want to protect from rule five.

  8. David

    Fernando Cruz pitched pretty well at the end of the season.
    Regardless of his age, what more do you want? He’s not decrepit.
    Of course, they should keep him.

    Buck Farmer; I think he is (generally) a positive. As with a lot of guys that pitched out of the bullpen for the Reds this year (and last), I think they would have been more effective if not so overused.
    I would vote to keep him.

    Ian Gibaut looked good at times, but….see my comment about Buck Farmer. Maybe he was overused or mis-used, too.
    Dowdy is young. What do the pitching coaches think? Is he teachable, did he actually progress in his pitching this year?

    At the end, how many arms (pitchers) will be on the squad going into Spring Training? As West Larry said, how many young players need Rule Five protection, and how many spots on the 40 Man need to be cleared?
    I don’t think we can count on Tejay Antone, or Lucas Sims. Art Warren, again, will not be ready or maybe even with the Reds.

    Shopping the waiver wire does not indicate quality, which is what Krall will end up doing in January/February.
    The bullpen is the one place where spending a reasonable amount of money ($15 million on a few GOOD pitchers) COULD result in adding Wins Above Replacement to the team. But, is ownership really interested in winning?

    • Old Big Ed

      Every team surfs the waiver wire for bullpen arms — even the high-revenue teams. Relievers come and go; some are bad for one team and show up two years later as a stud for another team.

      It’s pretty much an object lesson in short sample size. When they throw about 60 innings a year, there is pretty much a small sample size alert on every one of them.

      Maybe the Reds will luck out with one of these guys, or a guy they bring in on a minor-league contract. And maybe the won’t. But the Cardinals and Yankees and Padres will also trying to get lucky with similar rolls of the dice.

      • David

        There is nothing wrong with looking at the waiver wire for one or two arms. The Reds have looked to staff out the bullpen this way.

        That’s my complaint. At least this year, they will go into Spring Training with Alexis Diaz, and probably Reiver SanMartin, and maybe a couple of the guys above (Cruz and one or two others). There is also a possibility that there is someone or two in the minors that will make the team; besides Daunte Moreta, who should.
        The Reds need a good lefty (everybody does!!), and a long man (will Hoffman come back, or will that be Dunn’s role?).

  9. JoshG

    let em all walk
    I’d be willing to be Farmer doesn’t come close to repeating this years numbers

    • David

      Reading a little on the Reds roster, the AAA roster of the Riverbats, etc.

      Dowdy, Farmer and several other marginal Reds’ relievers from 2022 are all at or over 30 years old (and Doug said so right in his column….reading comprehension?).
      So really, Cruz looked good in his 14.2 innings (and his role as a closer with the Riverbats), so I would bring him back. Even at age 33. I would guess he does not have a lot of innings on his arm, but I could be wrong.
      The rest, I think, are all replaceable.

  10. JoshG

    The Marlins hire Skip Schumaker as manager.

    • Mark Moore

      Saw that. Skippered by Grit Schumaker. Ain’t baseball a grand thing?

      • TR

        The Marlins could develop some grit like their cross-state rivals in Tampa Bay.

  11. Redgoggles

    They are all pretty good options! Wait we were relegated to AAAA, right?

    Yawn. Wake me up when we have ownership that cares about its product/customers……..

  12. Redsvol

    It’s hard to care about any of these pitchers honestly. Bullpen pitching performance is so unpredictable and none have or will have any longevity with the club. Bullpen has been a mess for a long time.
    The Phillies finally fixed their bullpen this year and are in the World Series – so I guess there is hope we will one day be able to fix ours. Former coach Caleb Cotham is one we shouldn’t have let get away.

    • Harry Stoner

      The Reds won’t be able to fix their bullpen problems until they acknowledge that it is a problem.
      A few years back (fwiw) the NYTimes referred to it a “..the historically bad Cincinnati bullpen…”
      One can argue with that as they see fit.
      The Nasty Boys were 30+ years ago.
      There have been a few bright spots since then, but the number of losses pegged to bad bullpen performance and increasingly poor use of the bullpen has been staggering.
      The “Cincinnati Tradition” of relief pitchers walking the first batter they face (and hitting the second) smacks of poor preparation, mental and physical which tracks back to coaching.
      Cotham was a throw in on the Chapman dump.
      At 34 years old he was offered a MLB pitching coach position.
      How many hats does Derek Johnson wear?
      How effective can he be?
      Investing a $2M salary on a “Director of Relief Pitching” would be money well spent.
      1/5 of what was wasted Minor.