The Cincinnati Reds have signed free agent pitcher Alec Mills to a minor league contract. This is the second free agent signing the team has made of a former big league pitcher in the last week – the team signed Brett Kennedy away from the Long Island Ducks and already has him in the rotation with Triple-A Louisville.

With injuries, releases, and ineffectiveness the already shallow pool of pitching that the Cincinnati Reds had when the season began has just gotten worse. We wrote about that earlier today in the Reds Notebook, and it seems that we weren’t the only ones who noticed it as the club was out looking to made at least one other addition.

Alec Mills, unlike Brett Kennedy, was not pitching anywhere this season. Last year the right-handed pitcher began the season in Triple-A with the Cubs on a rehab assignment after missing the first six weeks of the season with a quad strain. He was activated and called up in early June to join the team in the big leagues, pitching in long relief out of the bullpen for the next month. He got out to a solid start, allowing four runs in 9.0 innings in his first three games, but then the wheels fell off and he allowed 15 runs in the next four games covering 8.2 innings. That led to a stint on the injured list with a lower back strain. The right-handed reliever never returned from the injured list. Following the season he was outrighted off of the Cubs 40-man roster and elected to become a free agent.

The 31-year-old has spent parts of six seasons in the big leagues, but only twice has it been a full season. In 2020 he made 11 starts for the Cubs and posted a 4.48 ERA. The next season he made 20 starts and 12 more relief appearances with Chicago, throwing 119.0 innings and posting a 5.07 ERA. For his career he’s posted a 4.95 ERA in 256.1 innings in Major League Baseball.

You can see his career stats here.

38 Responses

  1. J

    I’ve never pitched at any level of baseball, but I’m going to hire an agent and see if I can get the Reds to sign me to a minor league deal. It would be a low-risk move, and the signing might actually generate a little buzz.

    • LDS

      Yep. Dumpster diving continues. Hey, Roy Hobbs is out there somewhere

    • Jim Walker

      The job isn’t without legitimate health and safety risks. A pitcher has to dodge or field those hard hit balls right back up the middle. And you wouldn’t be getting paid at that $720K MLB minimum annual salary rate to do it.

      • J

        My pitches probably won’t be close enough to the strike zone for me to have to worry about this.

      • LDS

        @J, I hear you. I could probably get it in the neighborhood of the batter and they’d probably be a bit ahead of the pitch – the first time. I’d likely wind up pulling a Spaceman and hoping the batter doesn’t pull a Big Dog.

  2. Optimist

    MLB 4.95 ERA, back side of career arc, back/quad strains – if they get 20-30 ip out of him, great – may be a more effective placeholder for the Bats prospects to work around.

    • David

      Yeah, I think he helps fill out the ‘Bats rotation, which is pretty weak and lousy.

      I have looked at their box scores, and a couple of times in the last few weeks, they did the “bullpen” game thing.
      Abbott, Stoudt, now Brian Kennedy (from the Long Island Ducks!) and….., and….

      Lively is up here, as is (now) Williamson. Chase Anderson was sold off (now with the Rockies !), and a bunch of actually crummy relievers (but with..Potential!).

      So actually, the ‘Bats rotation and bullpen is more of a dumpster fire than the Reds.

      Ladies and gentlemen, I give you….The Future!!

      • Votto4life

        Yeah Nick Krall gets lots of credit for the likes CES and Spencer Steer, yet he gets no criticism for not having anyone resembling a starting pitcher, besides Abbott, in AAA.

  3. Rafael

    No he visto otro dirigente que tome o haga tantas malas decisiones como este Sr. Bell. Su derrota de ayer fue su culpa, ya El lanzador habia perdido su control del juego Al llenar las bases y Bell decidio dejarlo hasta que lo masacraron.

    Bell no hace movimientos de lazadores a tiempo ó los remueve antes de lo devido.

  4. ChrisInVenice

    I’m surprised their aren’t better options internationally.

  5. David

    Just a quick review, for those following at home:

    Tejay Antone, on the 60 day, after hurting his forearm in Spring Training, after coming back from his 2nd elbow ligament replacement surgery (Tommy John surgery). My own prognosis is that he will likely not pitch again for the Reds this season.

    Fernando Cruz, older Mexican reliever, on the 15 day IL

    Justin Dunn, with the chronic sore right shoulder, on the 60 day IL. My prognosis is that someday he will have to have shoulder surgery, which will likely either end his career or blanking out at least another year.

    Vladimir Gutierrez, 60 day IL. Recovering from TJ surgery, will not pitch with the Reds until next year….maybe.

    Casey Legumina, 15 day IL

    Nick Lodolo, 15 day IL. Likely to be moved to the 60 day IL with some kind of “stress fracture” in his tibia. Return in…August?

    Connor Overton, 60 day IL, since Spring Training. Back soon? Maybe, and maybe he just pitches in AAA.

    Riever SanMartin, 60 day IL. Sore elbow? Shoulder? Back when? Who knows.

    Tony Santillan, 60 day IL, from back soreness last year. Now he has knee problems, likely because he is overweight and landing on his left leg, the excess weight has hurt his knee.

    There’s not much to pick over here.

    Fernando Cruz and Casey Legumina are most likely to come back sometime “soon”. As for the rest, who knows. There is not much help in AAA either.
    If somebody else gets hurt with the Major League club, who knows who they turn to. Daniel Duarte? Joel Kuhnel? Frank German? Alan Busenitz? Rickie Karcher? Levi Stoudt? (I actually think Levi Stoudt would do alright once he adjusts to ML hitters.)
    The cupboard is bare.

    And they still have to make room for Andrew Abbott on the 40 man roster, if he is to come up. (Lodolo to the 60 day IL)

      • David


        I am flying on fumes and memory, and you use the internet to find real answers. Geez, what a dope I am. 😉

    • LDS

      Yep, as I said on the previous thread, these guys won’t solve the problem. Neither will dumpster diving. Spend some real money and get some MLB talent.

    • J

      The funny/sad part of all these injuries is that baseball “experts” continue to believe pitch counts are actually helping pitchers avoid injuries. They’ve all been very carefully monitored for years and they’re all getting injured all the time.

      • greenmtred

        Pitch counts are probably controversial. Clearly, pitchers used to throw many more pitches per game than they do now despite (because of?) the lack of off-season conditioning programs. Pitchers today mostly throw harder, so there’s that. I also would guess that all players decades ago didn’t focus exclusively on baseball year round. Pitchers then didn’t all remain unscathed, though: Sandy Koufax cut short his great career because of debilitating arthritis in his left (pitching arm) elbow.

      • LDS

        I mostly agree with @Greenmtred, though I think the modern emphasis on spin rate and power contributes to the injuries. If you have power, e.g., Greene, learn to use it effectively. On the other hand, there’s nothing wrong with pitching like Greg Maddux 106+ WAR, 300+ Wins and rarely hit 90mph. He lasted 23 years.

      • greenmtred

        I agree with LDS: it probably isn’t just throwing hard. And I did always enjoy watching Maddox pitch.

    • Dean

      That’s a helluva synopsis. You are an informed fan. Thanks.

  6. Tim

    This means that if the Reds are going to win games they have to score a lot of runs. That is not what they’ve been doing so far this season.

  7. Old-school

    Just a lot of piling on.

    Dont think johnny Cueto would have moved the needle. Hes old and injured. Reds wildly won Tyler Mahle trade. Hes done till 2025. Sonny gray lets see. Like that guy but he ends up on the IL for 10 days every 3 months and wouldnt be a playoff maker in 2023. Castillo is great but cost $130 mil. See how that goes.

    Reds arent and werent winning this year. Especially with almost 40 yo Votto making $25 mil and Moose making $18 mil playing for last place Rockies.

    2023 was never a winning year.

    Mets cant do it with $250 mil

    • Earmbrister

      Wade Miley is also back on the IL. He can’t stay healthy for any length of time.

      As you mentioned, our old friend Sonny Gray can’t stay healthy for a full season. And he rarely pitches out of the fifth inning. The Reds were smart moving him and the other pitchers and going full rebuild. The prospects cupboard is quite full, because they were willing to commit to the rebuild.

      Like anything in life, no pain no gain.

      The rash of pitching injuries has brought out the I told you so’s. Let them have their day, because they won’t have long to crow.

      Future is so very bright ?

      • Earmbrister

        Forgot that were in an emoji desert.

        Turn that ? into a !!!

  8. Votto4life

    Yet, there are still some here who still believe the Reds shouldn’t have pursued starting pitching over the past off-season.

    • greenmtred

      It would have depended on who they pursued, Votto. I would have been all for getting high-upside younger pitchers with enough years of team control to remain factors for the duration of the window of contention that may be opening. I don’t know who was actually available, though. And, of course, there’s always the money it would have cost…

  9. RedsGettingBetter

    Couldn’t they offer a minor league deal to Bumgarner?

    • Doug Gray

      Sure, they could. But there’s probably two problems there…. first – he probably wants a lot of money to sign such a deal (guess low 6-figures), and he’s simply not good anymore (and apparently a huge headache). You can get other guys for far less money, and while they may also not be good, it’s less of a headache and you can a little bit of money.

      • Dan

        I agree w/ Doug – MadBum seems like a first-class jerk, from what little I’ve seen. That plus his recent total ineffectiveness… no thank you.

  10. JB

    Didn’t Mills throw a no hitter or combined no hitter? I believe he pitched good against the Reds but who hasn’t.

    • Earmbrister

      I believe he did, vs the Brewers

  11. Votto4life

    I am sure Alec Mills was out of baseball simply because he was just flying under the radar. The Reds probably know something about him that the other 29 teams do not. Perhaps he was once Dj’s Uber driver and DJ saw something in him that he liked.

    • Doug Gray

      It’s also possible he was still recovering from injury (I do not know if he was or not – but he missed the entire second half of last season with an injury).

      • JB

        Had a disc removed from his back last year

      • Doug Gray

        Right. But is that why he went unsigned – because he was still recovering from that?

      • JB

        Yes that’s what I heard. It was done last fall and it takes time with something like that and alot of teams weren’t willing to take the risk.

  12. Harold

    ‘We have had a lot of issues with our pitchers staying healthy. We have signed some placeholder pitchers who may will probably not be around the Reds long. Hang in their Reds fans? I think better days are ahead.

  13. Dan

    Why did we dump Chase Anderson? He’s no savior, but I would think he could’ve at least eaten a few innings. He was decent last year. And was at least PITCHING this season!!

    Oh right… the Castellinis needed a little more cash.

    • Doug Gray

      Chase Anderson was going to opt out of his contract within 2 days of when he was traded unless he was added to the big league roster. The Reds, at that specific moment in time, did not have a spot for him on the 26-man roster. So rather than let him walk away for absolutely nothing, they traded him to a team that needed someone to throw a few innings and got something in return.

      I’m all about calling out the ownership for being cheap for no reason at all. This case, however, is not one of them.