The Cincinnati Reds made a surprising move this afternoon as part of several moves that they made. After announcing that Luis Cessa was going to be skipped in the rotation this time around and would go to the bullpen for the short term, the Reds announced that instead he has been designated for assignment. Cincinnati also placed left-handed reliever Reiver Sanmartin on the injured list and called up pitchers Kevin Herget and Ben Lively from Triple-A Louisville.

Luis Cessa had some real struggles this season in the rotation. A reliever for the last handful of years, Cincinnati gave him the opportunity to join the rotation instead of trying to go out and find an actual starting pitcher via trade or free agency this offseason. Cessa went out and posted an ERA of 9.00 in his seven games, allowing 46 hits and 26 runs in his 26.0 innings, while walking 12 batters with just 11 strikeouts. It was about as bad as it gets. The surprising move to just designate him for assignment rather than allow him to join the bullpen and see if he could return to form there is an interesting one. Especially since they are simply replacing his spot on the roster with either Kevin Herget or Ben Lively – two 30-somethings without much track record of success in the big leagues.

It would seem that Ben Lively, at least in the short term, will take over the spot in the rotation vacated by Luis Cessa. He last pitched in the big leagues in 2019 when he made one appearances for the Kansas City Royals. In his big league career he’s made 20 starts – mostly in 2017 – and six relief appearances. His ERA is 4.80 in his 120.0 innings.

Update at 3:45pm

Lively has been in Triple-A with the Reds for the past two seasons. In 2022, the then 30-year-old posted a 4.09 ERA in 18 starts. This season he’s pitched in five games and thrown 27.0 innings with a 2.33 ERA, 10 walks, and 16 strikeouts. His fastball works in the low 90’s and he’ll mix in a cutter, slider, curveball, and change up to go with both the 4-seam fastball and sinker.

Kevin Herget has pitched in four games with the Reds this season. The 32-year-old allowed two runs in 7.2 innings earlier this season pitching out of the bullpen for Cincinnati. While pitching in Triple-A he’s thrown 7.1 innings and allowed six earned runs on 11 hits, five walks, and five strikeouts.

As for Reiver Sanmartin – it seems the news isn’t great. He left his last outing over the weekend mid at-bat. Today he moved to the injured list with a left elbow stress reaction.

If you are sitting there staring at your phone or your monitor and wondering why Andrew Abbott didn’t get called up, you aren’t alone. The left-handed started has made three starts in Chattanooga (1.15 ERA) and three starts in Louisville (3.00 ERA) while striking out 60 batters in 30.2 innings to go along with just nine walks. The rationale to call up 30-something year olds instead of a 23-year-old who has been on an incredible run of pitching since the start of last September is certainly a move that a team could make. But it’s one that is tough to wrap your head around, too, unless the team is simply waiting until the weekend to call him up.

70 Responses

  1. LDS

    SMH, anyone surprised? I’m not. Probably early to call up Abbott. On the other hand, he could be a star. These two guys? Never were and never will be – so they fit right in with Bell Ball. Go Newman.

    • SteveAreno

      Newman on base twice and scored two runs so he’s making you look silly tonight!
      Go LDS.

    • mac624

      In a lost season I’m not shocked at all, but Abbott will pitch in the big leagues this season. The only question is when.

      As for Newman, I’m ok with him being on the team and playing and see if they can trade him by the deadline for something. Same with Meyers. I think it’s obvious the Reds signed them to try and flip them and you can’t do that if they don’t play. Come August, a lot of the future for 2024 and beyond will be arriving. Until then, it’s going to be a hodgepodge of frustrating moves and inning burners signed or brought up.

  2. Kevin H

    Interesting moves to say the least. I too thought Abbot would be called up.

    Line up is out and Senzel has been moved up in the order, however Friedl is batting 8th??

    Recently someone wrote and stated the batting order doesn’t matter, however why would you want to bat your hottest guy on the team 8th? To me batting order does matter and will always matter, however that is just me.

    • David

      Batting order does matter. Scherzer was supposed to start tonight, but instead we get some lefty who will probably shut out the Reds.
      And….Newman is starting at SS.

    • LDS

      @KevinH, Friedl is 2nd. Newman is 8th. Newman starting against a RH’er instead of Barrero. Trade Barrero to the Dodgers.

      • Kevin H

        interesting as I went to twitter and see it, however on the Reds website has another order. Thanks for correction

      • Kevin H

        He is a left handed pitcher. Barrero so far can’t hit left handed pitching.

      • LDS

        @KevinH, true thus far he hasn’t. But the sad thing is both this year, and for their careers, Barrero hits LH’ers better than Fraley. That says a bunch about the Reds roster.

      • Oldtimer

        Friedl is batting 8th. Senzel 2nd.

    • BK

      The Mets scratched Scherzer and are now starting LHP David Peterson. At least Friedl is starting.

    • Hunt4RedsOct

      Scherzer has been replaced tonight by lefty Peterson. I’m grateful Friedl going to start against a lefty.

      • LDS

        Scherzer scratched is ok. But it’s not like he had resembled his old self thus far this year. Peterson isn’t doing great either. However, I have full confidence that the Reds will find a way to screw up and lose. And Fraley can’t hit LH’ers either.

      • redfanorbust

        I am grateful we did not have to face Scherzer. I am so scherzer of this.

    • Melvin

      Yep. That’s what I’m seeing too. I thought Cessa would have value in the pen? As I recall Herget didn’t make it out of the first inning last time.

  3. David

    Kind of surprised that they DFA’d Cessa. He still might have value to someone.

    Not surprised Abbott was not called up. I still think he needs some more starts in AAA to see if he can polish up his location…not just throw strikes but location in the zone.
    Lively is a little older, and not a “top prospect”, but effective in AAA this year. A logical alternative to Cessa/Weaver. He could be useful this year.

    If Weaver gets knocked around in the next few starts, then Abbott might show up in Cincy.

    San Martin? Well, wish we still had Bennett Sousa.

    • Daytonnati

      I would take Cessa over Frank German, I think??

      • greenmtred

        Is German on the MLB roster? I didn’t think so. He throws hard and is just 25. I’ll wait and see.

  4. MBS

    I wonder if Lively is up here to piggy back with Weaver. You’d think that they’d bring up a reliever until Sunday, not a starter who’s just going to sit on the bench and be of no use over the next 5 days.

    • BK

      All three of Herget’s appearances with Louisville have been as a starter. I expect he will be the long reliever for the Reds.

      • MBS

        What you say makes total sense, but it’s odd timing. Also the bullpen has been very taxed as of late. Ins, or just a way early move?

        Ashcraft 1.2 IP last start
        Lodolo 3.2 IP
        Green 5.2 IP
        Cessa 3.1 IP

      • BK

        Really no good options at AAA for relief pitchers.

  5. LDS

    Hunter Strickland has been released. About time

      • LDS

        Send them to Bell, @G. I, for one, am glad we won’t ever have to endure Strickland again. Bell on the other hand….

      • greenmtred

        One less thing for you to get incensed about, though….

      • LDS

        Never incensed. Just realistic. The Reds are cheap. Bell is a lousy manager. And mediocrity reigns.

      • Melvin

        “mediocrity reigns.”

        I’m afraid that’s true.

      • greenmtred

        Perhaps incensed was too strong a word..Yes the Reds are cheap.

    • MK

      Doug missed this move in his report. This is most positive move of the bunch. Too bad they couldn’t keep him to be a batting practice pitcher. He has certainly helped a lot of opposing hitters with their swings.

  6. old-school

    I never thought Cessa had “the stuff” to be a starting pitcher or for that matter the fastball or electric slider( Sims) to be a good reliever. On with more sorting and cheaper pitchers.

    Ashcraft came up I think May 20’s last year so I doubt it will matter in August of this year if Abbott is called up May 9th or May 29th.

    What is interesting is Cessa makes $2.65 Million which for the Reds is significant. Is this a clever cost cutting calculated gamble, as Reds have given up on him and someone might claim him as a bullpen piece and hence the Reds get out of his remaining $2 million?

    • Optimist

      Interesting point Old School, to which I’d add to my comment that they may find another team to take the salary AND send us a A-level flyer of some kind.

    • AllTheHype

      If he can’t survive in the Reds BP, doubt some other team values him at $2M for same. He will be a FA soon after he goes unclaimed.

    • MK

      He wasn’t that effective for the Reds in the bullpen.

      Didn’t he purchase the Viking helmet? He might take it with him.

  7. Optimist

    This is surprising in several ways. First, the obvious of who is called up and how soon will Abbott be called up. I thought they’d wait a little bit, and we may see Stoudt again, but the prospects really should be arriving in June – Abbott and McLain obviously, maybe Hopkins or Chuckie if there are other moves or injuries, then CES, and then EDLC.

    That said, though, this is certainly an advertisement for a trade. A few roster status questions – can Cessa decline an assignment and opt for FA status? If he does so, or if the Reds find no takers for a trade, can they recall him to the roster (either the MLB or 40-man)?

    Unless they see something in the numbers, or there are other issues, I’ve always thought Cessa is much more valuable in the bullpen, though the rotation tryout may have been a useful exercise for all concerned.

    Of all the options Cessa moving onto the Bats roster seems unlikely.

    • Optimist

      Trade Rumors answered my question – Cessa can elect FA status if he clears waivers.

      • Jim Walker

        But Cessa loses the balance of his 2023 salary (~$2m) if he declines outright assignment. I don’t think he has made that much in his career he is likely to do that unless his agent already has somebody on the line.

        I suspect the Reds hope someone is going to offer a deal for him before they send him to waivers or that he will get claimed on waivers. Either way that gets his salary off their books. And if he is outrighted and accepts, they’ll probably keep trying to move him.

      • Optimist

        Jim – I think Cessa retains the salary if he elects FA. It’s akin to the Moose DFA – if another team selects him, they pay league minimum and the Reds cover the rest. That’s why I expect they’re burning the lines for a nominal trade of some sort, since Cessa’s value is likely somewhere between the minimum and the 2.6 prorated the Reds still owe him.

      • Optimist

        Thought so, which makes the DFA even stranger. With SanMartin out for a while, and now this, the bullpen for the next week is going to be interesting. I suppose Herget and Lively are at best multi-inning types, and maybe there’s a handshake or timed opt-out with Cessa to send him to Louisville if he clears waivers this go around. Even with Abbott coming soon, they’ll need bullpen help.

      • jon

        Is there a chance Cessa wanted outrighted?

  8. Indy Red Man

    Weaver and Lively both have career era’s under 5 in the bigs. It might be a stretch for either to pull that off in GABP, but finding 4-5 starters that can do that moves them closer to .500 moving forward. Weaver has a live arm atleast. Big start for him tonight

  9. Jim Walker

    Why not Abbott? When it comes to the Reds just think of this Gloria Estefan lyric:

    But there’s always tomorrow to start over again
    Things will never stay the same the only one sure thing is change
    That’s why there’s always tomorrow

  10. Votto4life

    I thought the Reds would move Cessa to the pen. Kinda surprised he was DFA’d. Lively and Hegert doesn’t make this team better.

    • JayTheRed

      I am pretty surprised Cessa is gone. He was a quality reliever when he had that job.

  11. Frankie Tomatoes

    Luis Cessa had to get into some sort of discussions to get DFA’d didn’t he? It’s just so tough to believe they would DFA him unless he said he wasn’t going to go back to the bullpen.

    • J

      I’m not buying that. Cessa has had success as a reliever. His ERA is 9.0 as a starter this season. Seems to me he should be begging to move back to the bullpen to salvage his career.

      I think the previous commenters have it right. The Reds are hoping someone will take his salary of their books, because they’ve got much cheaper options to take his place.

      • Old-school

        I think Reds pay $2.65 mil for a SP. cessa failed

        They dont pay that for relievers. This is Krall saying we can find a reliever at minimum wage who may better. Gamble that 1 of 29 other teams who are all desperate for bullpen arms DO pay $2 million for a reliever. Drop in the bucket for most teams. I also dont know that Cessa is better than Herget.
        He is cheaper and Krall is looking for value

      • Jimbo44CN

        Puzzling? This organization? No, just par for the course. Bring in more retreads. That’s the way of the Reds.

    • BK

      Last year, Cessa had better results as a starter than a reliever. His numbers were worse in 2022 than in 2021 (K rates, WHIP, walks, etc.) and fell off a cliff in 2023. Although not a perfect comparison, his first-inning numbers were abysmal, indicating that his poor results were not a byproduct of facing hitters multiple times in a single outing but rather that his stuff wasn’t even good enough the first time through. I’m not sure that Cessa’s DFA is a big surprise.

  12. Bdh

    Should’ve had Anderson up.

    With him going to Tampa, Cessa DFA’d and the other 2 coming up to Cincinnati what does Louisville’s rotation look like now?


    They won’t get Dunn or Gutierrez for another couple months so Is Wynne getting a spot in the rotation? Who else? Maybe they’ll get one of the AA guys away from that league with the experimental balls

    • BK

      Good questions … AAA pitching staff is a mess!

  13. Zach

    Let’s see how Abbott progresses later into the year. He’s only pitched 30 innings so far this season and everyone is wondering why he isn’t in the big leagues yet? He’s been impressive so far but it’s also early in the year. The latter half of the year is tougher on starters.

    Nonetheless, I’d like to see him get his inning count up this season in AAA. The most he’s pitched is 118 innings (last season). This will also give him time to refine his game.

    Maybe a sip of MLB before season end is in the plans?

    • VaRedsFan

      Mike Leake – 0 minor league innings.

      • greenmtred

        That’s true but is an exception to the norm, not just for the Reds but for any team.

    • JayTheRed

      I am thinking they will have Abbott pitch another 15 to 20 innings before he would be moved up to the Big Leagues.

  14. MK

    Lively has looked good to me this season. He is a couple years away from his bad arm ,experienced in the KBO, and he seems to have lost a few inches around the waist. Been a while since his lights out year at Bakersfield. Hopefully he can get back to that path.

  15. Tom Mitsoff

    It may have been mentioned here at Redleg Nation sometime previously, but I would recommend that those who have a subscription to The Athletic take a look at C. Trent’s article about some reasons why the Reds aren’t bringing up the top prospects who are hot. If nothing else, he poses points that warrant consideration.

    • Jim Walker

      I agree McLain and CES both will benefit from more PAs at AAA, especially McLain since he has never hit anywhere nearly as well as he is now at AAA.

      However, I about fell off my chair when C.Trent was talking about them needing to first earn positions better at AAA because it seems like the Reds are constantly switching several guys around and giving them OJT at different positions at the MLB level.

      • Melvin

        ” I about fell off my chair when C.Trent was talking about them needing to first earn positions better at AAA”

        I know what you mean. Hope you didn’t hurt yourself. 🙂

  16. Eddiek957

    I think Cessa got Phammed by the Reds. Too much early season responsibility with too little spring training. If Cessa gets picked up Xmas came early

  17. VaRedsFan

    I don’t know what people are remembering.
    Cessa was not good in the bullpen last year.

    He was good when he first got here…then regressed.

    • Ron S

      All are old ex relievers go somewhere and get better.DJ is not a pitching whisperer.

  18. old-school

    Nick Senzel and Friedl spark plugs in that inning.

    Senzel is playing good defense at 3b and elite hitting against lefty pitchers. Thats 2 major league skills.

  19. Redsvol

    I am shocked by the dfa of Cessa but very encouraged by it. I thought it was worth keeing him as a bullpen piece. But Doug’s review of his stats show how terrible he has been this year.

    Encouraged because it shows that Krall is not business as usual and willing to wait half a year for a guy to figure it out. This sends a message to the team in my opinion. Get your stuff together and compete – or you will be replaced.

    I agree with many that Abbot deserves a shot but Doug had a good article on how his stuff has changed in AAA – suggesting he needs some time with the MLB ball before bringing him up. Let him learn in AAA so when he comes up it is likely for good. I don’t think it will be long. Weaver and Lodolo need to start getting some better results.

  20. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I can understand not calling up Abbott “out of need” actually.

    What I would be more ticked off with would be if they keep Abbott in the minors till he is 30-something, with this same success he’s having right now for the entire time, “just in case” one of the starters gets injured.

    I mean, 6 total starts at AA and AAA, to me, doesn’t mean that much. I want to see a bit more from him. But, if he keeps it up, he essentially presses the Reds to call him up.