The Cincinnati Reds designated five pitchers for assignment this week. Justin Dunn, Vladimir Gutierrez, Alan Busenitz, Brett Kennedy, and Connor Overton all cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A Louisville.

Three of those pitchers were dealing with injuries or returning from injuries last year. Vladimir Gutierrez had Tommy John surgery in the summer of 2022. He began his comeback in the second half, but he suffered a setback while rehabbing with Triple-A Louisville in August and was shut down. Connor Overton also had Tommy John surgery, but his came near the end of May after injuring himself in his third outing of the year a month prior with Cincinnati.

Justin Dunn, who has struggled off and on with a right shoulder injury since the middle of the 2021 season and has pitched in just seven big league games since June 18th of that season, underwent shoulder surgery late in the 2023 season. He had begun a rehab stint, pitching in two games with the complex league team in late August before making one appearance with Louisville before he was shut down. Shortly after it was announced that he would undergo surgery.

Brett Kennedy made a return to the big leagues for the first time since 2018 when he was with the San Diego Padres. He began the year pitching for the Long Island Ducks before being picked up on a minor league deal and sent to Triple-A Louisville. Cincinnati would call him up several times in the second half of the season and he pitched in five games, throwing 18.0 innings with a 6.50 ERA.

Alan Busenitz spent 2019-2022 pitching in Japan for Rakuten. In 2023 he returned stateside and signed with the Reds on a minor league deal in January. He pitched in six games for the Reds during the season – four in May, one in August, and one in October. During that time on a big league mound he allowed two runs in 7.0 innings with a walk and five strikeouts.

It’s not too surprising that they all cleared waivers. You just don’t know what you will get with Vladimir Gutierrez, Justin Dunn, or Connor Overton as they are all going to be working back from surgery and injuries. Kennedy and Busenitz are guys who have a combined 25.0 innings in the big leagues since the start of 2019.

Those five moves drops the Reds 40-man roster down to 38 players. That number does not account for Nick Lodolo, Reiver Sanmartin, or Graham Ashcraft – all of whom are on the 60-day injured list. They will have to be removed from the injured list once the World Series is over and will then count towards the 40-man roster. Five players are also free agents and or have a 2024 option that seems unlikely to be picked up (Joey Votto – option, Curt Casali – option, Harrison Bader – free agent, Luke Maile – free agent, and Buck Farmer – free agent). That should get the Reds under the roster limit when the time comes.

22 Responses

  1. Optimist

    VladGut is the only one that is the very mildest surprise – guess his recovery is tentative enough that no other team thought and claim and patience was worthwhile. That said, does this make any (or all) of these guys free agents?

    • Jim Walker

      We saw Lopez and Reynolds opt for free agency last week because they had been on the 40 man roster during the season. My first off *guess* is that being on the MLB IL counts the same; and, they would have that option unless there is a service time requirement they do not meet.

      I don’t watch pro football and hockey doesn’t start until later in the week. If I get bored enough tonight, I may try to research this further.

    • J

      All stay in the organization at Triple A as of now !!

      • Optimist

        Looks like this is the answer as to the contract status – it clears the roster space as Doug notes, and I won’t be surprised if some of them, notably VladGut and Dunn, are offered MiLB contracts and return.

  2. Melvin

    It’s getting close to 40 man roster crunch time again. Interesting.

  3. BK

    None of these are surprises. Dunn and Gutierrez didn’t pitch for the Reds in 2023, and who knows when they will be ready, if at all, in 2024. The biggest surprise to me is that Sanmartin was not on the list. Hopefully, it’s an indication that his recovery is going well.

    • TR

      I hope San Martin makes it back. A reliable lefty is always needed in the bullpen.

    • Hotto4Votto

      SanMartin was the surprise for me as well. All the others make some level of sense as to why they would be DFA’d. I was pretty sure the same fate awaited SanMartin as well. Guess we’ll see how the rest of the offseason goes.

      • LarkinPhillips

        I view San Martin as a duplicate for Moll and young. I expect him to be dfa as well eventually.

  4. LDS

    Good first step, though there are several others that need to be moved as well.

    • Harry Stoner

      Pretty obvious moves.

      No surprises or pain involved.

      All low hanging fruit.

      The tougher decisions are yet to come.

      • LDS

        Agreed, like Senzel & Votto. But today the Dodgers are down 0-2, losing at home again. That makes it a good day regardless.

  5. RedsGettingBetter

    This was the first group. Coming soon the second one to open spots to rule 5 players and maybe free agents or trading

  6. CI3J

    I’m curious, why do they use the term “suffered a setback” in sports when what they really mean is “he re-injured himself”?

    • therickdelux

      Because suffering a setback may have nothing to do with a re-injury. No two people heal or recover the same way. An initial 6-8 week recovery timeline could be extended out if said player’s attempt to return to the field continues to result in tightness, soreness, or any other reason. The recovery period is extended, thus a “setback” in the initial recovery prognosis.

  7. kypodman

    I cannot imagine that Maile would not be signed back for next year.

    • mac624

      We shall see, and I would love to have him back as well. I suspect there will be other teams trying to sign him as well as he’s a really good bench piece/Back up catcher in today’s baseball landscape. Hopefully the proximity to his hometown will help the Reds if they choose to try and resign him.

      • Doc

        Why not either Perada or Robinson from AAA as second catcher?

      • BK

        @Doc, hitting was way up in the International League this year–fifteen percent more earned runs this year compared to 2021 after adjusting for the difference in number of games. I wouldn’t be surprised if either was added to the 40-man for depth, but I have to think the Reds were happy with Maile and that he won’t cost too much to bring back.

    • JayTheRed

      I too want to see Maile resigned. Guy was solid for a backup catcher.