On Monday the Cincinnati Reds made multiple roster moves, outrighting five pitchers who they had designated for assignment last week. Now they’ve lost three of those pitchers to free agency. Justin Dunn, Alan Busenitz, and Brett Kennedy all opted to choose to become free agents rather than accept their outright to Triple-A.

Justin Dunn’s time with the Reds organization was not one he’d prefer to remember. He was acquired by Cincinnati in March of 2022 as a part of the trade that sent Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker to Seattle and brought back Jake Fraley, Brandon Williamson, and Connor Phillips with Dunn. When he arrived he was dealing with a shoulder injury that he had suffered the summer before with the Mariners.

He missed the first half of 2022 before making his Reds debut in August. He pitched for five weeks before his shoulder began to act up again. When he arrived to spring training his shoulder was still bothering him. He didn’t pitch until he began a rehab stint out in Arizona with the complex league minor league team in the middle of August. Dunn pitched in two games there before joining Triple-A Louisville on August 22nd. He threw an inning that night against Toledo. It was the final time he pitched as his shoulder didn’t feel right. A little more than a week later it was announced he would be undergoing shoulder surgery.

For Brett Kennedy, he may remember his time with the Reds a little more fondly. Firstly, he ended his time with Cincinnati healthy. But secondly, the club gave him an opportunity to return to the big leagues for the first time since 2018 after they signed him away from the Long Island Ducks of the Atlantic League in May. While much of his season was spent in Triple-A with Louisville, he pitched in five games between July and September with Cincinnati and threw 18.0 innings with a 6.50 ERA.

Alan Busenitz had pitched the previous three seasons in Japan and was very effective for Rakuten. Cincinnati signed him as a free agent in January and after spring training ended he was sent to Triple-A. It wasn’t long before he found himself with the Reds. He pitched in four games with the team in May before being optioned back to the minors. Busenitz didn’t return until August when he pitched in one game. The Reds brought him back for the final game of the year and he capped off his season with two perfect innings. He allowed just two runs in his 7.0 innings with Cincinnati during the season.

55 Responses

  1. JB

    Nothing to see here. It’s time for the Reds to start getting rid of guys that are AAA fodder and Dunn is basically done. Time to move guys up to AAA next year like Petty and get them going. It’s about being young now and stop carrying guys on the back half of their careers. Keep drafting good talent and filling your minor league system with them. The days of old are hopefully gone where the minor league teams stink and Louisville is filled with the Kennedys and Busenitz’s.

    • RedBB

      Ya I don’t get why there isn’t universal apathy to this move. He was basically the worst pitcher on the team when he was actually pitching.

    • Jdcole

      They are AAA fodder, but having organizational depth that is experienced is important. They are valuable because you can send them up and down and not the development of prospects like Petty. They can be replaced but their roles will always need to be filled.

    • MK

      This is how AAA has always worked . A combination of guys on the way up and those on the way down. The Reds nor most teams have enough true prospects to fill this level of competition. That also means those prospects are not ready for fill-in roles with the Big team when needed temporarily. As far as Petty goes he should be in AA where he belongs to develop in a season where not limited to 4-innings per appearance. Those short starts don’t work at AAA and above.

      One thing about all three of these guys is when the die there obituary is going to correctly state they were Major League Pitchers.

  2. CI3J

    Eh, one is perennially injured, one should retire, and one was kinda sorta decent in a small sample size.

    Not too fussed about losing any of them, other than I wish the Reds could have gotten a different player from the Mariners in that trade. Dunn was supposed to be the headliner coming back, and he basically contributed nothing.

    • JB WV

      That’s the way it works sometimes. Fraley and Williamson are already significant contributors and Phillips definitely has starting potential. Suarez had a decent year but Winker could already be done. Only thing that bothers me is why Dunn wasn’t more thoroughly checked before the trade.

      • MK

        They knew exactly what they were getting in Dunn in fact they said as much when the trade was announced. Just as the Reds had to include Winker to move Suarez’s contract maybe the Reds had to take Dunn to get a ptbnl like Phillips. Just don’t know how those conversations went. But it was clear they knew Dunn’s status when acquired.

      • JB WV

        @mk, I understand what you’re saying and it makes sense they would do their due diligence. But to say that an injured pitcher was the key piece in the trade doesn’t make sense and yes, it seems that Dunn was more of a throw in.

      • Mario

        Agreed Dunn was a throw in to increase the organization’s pitching depth. It didn’t work out. Injuries stink and I wish him well.

    • Jim Walker

      Doug’s initial RLN report on the trade that brought Dunn to the Reds referred to Dunn as the “centerpiece”. I am sure Doug did NOT pull that idea out of thin air. Somebody connected with the Reds must have painted that picture for Doug to have written that.

      4 days later Doug ran a detailed analysis piece taking a deeper dive into Dunn’s situation and shoulder issue beginning to raise questions about Dunn’s status and what was going on with him.

      Here is a link to the analysis piece. Click on the bold type at the end of the 1st sentence to jump back to the original report.


      • Dean

        Good research. Doug takes the time to respond to some points. Am disappointed he didn’t acknowledge this one.

      • Doug Gray

        Only so much time in the day, Dean. And there are literally hundreds of comments posted a day here. I don’t always see them all.

  3. Brian Rutherford

    Wish these guys good health and a good career going forward. Thanks for contributing to a fun season.

  4. LDS

    Good – less work for the FO. Bottom line, Krall should never have taken Dunn as part of the deal. And Dunn electing free agency is funny in a sad sort of way. What does he think his value is given how poorly and how little he’s pitched in recent years?

    • Doug Gray

      You choose free agency because it means you can actually choose the team down the line. If he accepted his outright and remained with Cincinnati there’s a chance he wouldn’t become a free agent until after 2025. Now he’s got a chance to find a team to play for in 2024 (maybe – what surgery he’s having has not been specified, so he may or may not miss the entire year). But he also gets a chance to work with another teams medical staff.

      It’s not likely a move about money or anything like that. It’s about having options on his end.

      • DataDumpster

        Exactly. It always mystified me why players stay for several years in one organization in the MiLB after only getting a few cups of coffee at the majors. Don’t they realize that most are being used just to cover an injury, have no chance at all for an extended MLB spot due to conflicting team needs, personnel, misguided coaching and so on. Guys like Alejo Lopez come to mind as well as several others that failed badly for the Reds but found success elsewhere (Gausman, Jankowski, Perez) and the others that we curiously gave to the Giants a few years ago. If you can’t gamble to see your value on the open market, then maybe you should just hang it up. Good luck to all of them even though we could little to nothing from this group.

      • Doug Gray

        They stay because most of the time they don’t have the option to leave. You can’t just become a free agent at any point that you want to. There are rules that govern that kind of thing.

      • LDS

        Makes sense, a good move on his part, but certainly better for the Reds.

      • Doug Gray

        I would not be surprised if he signed a 2-year minor league deal with someone that would include some incentives if he gets to the big leagues and all of that kind of stuff.

      • DataDumpster

        Regarding my previous comment and Doug’s response, I thought the DFA process was pretty much stated as follows:

        “When designated for assignment but the player hasn’t been traded and has cleared the waivers, he can be released from the team. This makes the player a free agent who can sign up with any team of his choosing (if the team wants him), including the one who just released him.”
        Not as simple as that?

      • Jim Walker

        @DD>> Not as simple. Once a DFA player has cleared waivers, the team has the choice to outright him to the minor leagues instead of releasing him. Under the CBA, there are several conditions or combination of conditions which in turn allow the player to reject outright assignment and become a free agent.

        These are in part detailed at least partially in Section XX.D.1-4 of the CBA (beginning on printed page #110, as originally numbered in the document. .PDF search page # will differ).

        Dunn was eligible under XX.D.1 as I read it because he had accrued the MLB service time to be arbitration eligible.


      • DataDumpster

        @Jim Walker; Came up with the goods again! Looks like there is a 3 year service requirement (with other complicating factors) that come into play. Thanks, I almost get a little nervous trying to understand that kind of language. Clearly unsportsmanlike. That being said, few people truly succeed with the first venture (or team) they join with so if at all possible, a change of venue always opens up new possibilities and perspectives.

    • CI3J

      He was once a very highly rated pitching prospect. Someone will give him a chance to heal up and see if he can still be that pitcher everyone thought he was going to be.

      I personally have my doubts, but as you said, he’s not going to be able to ask for much money, so it’s a low risk, high reward kind of proposition for a team.

  5. Optimist

    I wonder if Dunn is truly done with the Reds. Makes perfect sense as Doug explains, but after looking around at no cost, it may be worth his while to return. He basically gets to pick where he wants to work out for the next year or two, and check out various staffs and facilities. Someone will likely make a minimal offer, so it’s no cost wherever he ends up.

    • Doc

      The Reds probably know him best and nothing says they can’t sign him if they think the potential is greater than the risk. FA might boost his bargaining power a bit, but Krall has demonstrated that sunk cost is not improved by sinking more cost.

      The Reds stuck with Dunn for two plus years and covered all his medical care. His way of showing thanks is to say goodbye. So be it. Don’t let the door hit you in the butt on the way out.

      • Optimist

        Doc – This is purely a business decision – neither party “owed” anything to the other – this is all covered under the CBA, and effectively anticipated when trades are made. Dunn was the “throw-in” on the original deal, and was even a throw-in of sorts on his prior deal 4 years earlier.

        He clearly has MLB talent, just not MLB health. If he wants to keep trying, some team will likely make him an offer, and I won’t be at all surprised if it’s the Reds. At this point he’s a 8th/10th starter option for a callup if healthy – every team needs those.

  6. Laredo Slider

    Justin Dunn reminds me of an ex-Reds RHP named John Roper. Very similar including injury history.

    • PTBNL

      Ryan Madson did the same thing to us

  7. old-school

    Doesnt fit the Reds timeline of win now and accrue a talented healthy deep 26 and 40 man roster. Who knows though. I almost choked on my lunch reading mlb traderumors off-season outlook for the Mets and read this quote on their bullpen for 2024.

    ” A run at an expensive bullpen arm like Josh Hader or Robert Stephenson seems unlikely”. Robert Stephenson is an expensive bullpen arm now?

    • Jim Walker

      BobSteve will be a service time FA who made $1.75m (arbitration) in 2023. He was traded from the Pirates to the Rays the 1st week of June and finished the year with them.

      With the Rays, he pitched 38.1 innings (42 appearances) and finished with an ERA/FIP of 3.10/2.45 and WHIP of .678. That was good for 1.1 bWAR total on the season even after his poor early season performance with the Pirates.

      So, yeah, he found something or got hot at the right time and is going to get a nice payday for it.

      • Old-school

        Unreal Jim .

        Ill never forget him walking a run in against the cubs pitcher with bases loaded and never threw a fastball

        Bullpenners at 30 on their 4th team??? Who knows

        I never heard of Ian Gibault a year ago

      • Rick

        I was with OS until I read your post & then to the link referencing Kyle Snyder’s role.
        That made me think about the Rays pitching magic that I never quiet understood, or atleast it’s orgins until now.
        Thanks, Jim

      • Jim Walker

        Relievers are a fickle bunch, quite possibly baseball’s equivalent to placekickers in US football. They can win or lose a game for the entire team in a heartbeat; and, can seem to “get it” or “lose it” on a dime, sometimes more than once in a single season. Knowing when a guy is more than a commodity flash in the pan is hard to predict.

      • wkuchad

        Placekickers – great analogy Jim.

  8. MK

    Different subject but I have been surprised to read about a potential homecoming for #19 in Toronto. It will be interesting to see if his comments to play only for the Reds are superseded by his desire to keep playing. Certainly would take some of the heat off the team for the Reds fans who think the sun rises and falls on him.

    • TR

      At this point #19 in Toronto makes sense to me. The Reds have gone young. To a long-time fan whose love of the Reds goes back to the late 1940’s, I don’t remember too many Red’s youth movements like now, and the result this year was an exciting season with the future looking good. The time is here to move on from the past and give that roster spot to a young player.

      • JayTheRed

        I have to chime in here as a Blue Jays fan. There is this guy named Vlad who plays 1st base pretty well. Though he did have a more average year this past season. Toronto already has a ton of players that are DH types or rotated. I would be shocked if the Blue Jays do anything with Votto at this point.

    • Beaufort Red

      He later stated he would be open to play fir someone else if not the Reds

  9. RedsGettingBetter

    Well, It’s a little weird to me that none of the pitchers electing free agency was claimed in waivers, so I wonder whether it’s a good idea to make the decision or it will be better staying with the Reds at AAA and trying to have good season and waiting for a call up later… Will they really make interest from any team after already clearing waivers? Or maybe Will they looking for an Indy or Asian deal?

    • Jim Walker

      Baggage like arbitration eligibility in Dunn’s case comes along with a waiver claim and is not a factor in a free agency signing, especially to a minor league deal.

  10. Eddiek957

    I’m thinking Indy ball has to be the last resort. Everything is up from there. Depending on the surgery a flier on Dunn two years minor league contract wouldn’t be the worst transaction. Votto in Toronto sounds nice. Aaron left the Braves for Milwaukee Mays left the Giants for the Mets. If the last two seasons haven’t told Joey his time has come, I’d rather see him playing for the Blue Jays than the Reds

  11. Melvin

    “Justin Dunn’s time with the Reds organization was not one he’d prefer to remember. He was acquired by Cincinnati in March of 2022 as a part of the trade that sent Eugenio Suarez and Jesse Winker to Seattle and brought back Jake Fraley, Brandon Williamson, and Connor Phillips with Dunn.”

    Still turned out to be a pretty good trade in my book. I don’t miss either one of those guys to be honest. I always thought Winker should be traded for exactly the possibility of what’s happening now. He just plain can’t hit anymore. Not to mention he has a weak arm, slow speed, and poor defense. Throw all that in with the fact that he’s injury prone and…….

    • Harry Stoner

      I’ll admit I didn’t think highly of the Suarez-Winker trade at first.

      Winker was coming off his All Star year and showing signs of getting it together and hitting with power.

      Geno wasn’t that far removed from his ~50 HR season and was a productive bat despite his high K rate.

      Or average K rate in EDLC terms…

      Williamson was an enticing but distant prospect, Fraley seemed totally bland, Dunn an obvious throw in.

      When Krall held out for Phillips the trade brightened in my view.

      In retrospect, sure, things look better.

      Winker inexplicably washed out. Was that predictable? Certainly a lot of folks here will say “I knew it!” But a lot of folks were saying Winker had finally arrived.

      While Fraley is a limited hitter, he certainly has made up for Winker’s productivity.

      Suarez really hasn’t bounced back fully and his production has been more than made up for with Steer and CES.

      Williamson and Phillips vs Mahle? Not a question there for me, now.

      So, I’ve come around a lot on the trade.

      For me, the Castillo trade hurt the most. I’m high on Marte, and Arroyo will likely be solid trade bait.

      Stoudt and Moore? Yawn.

      Castillo is the kind of pitcher the Reds are looking to spend money on now.

      In retrospect, seeing the development of Steer, CES, McLain and the acquisition of Benson, that trade seems less positive.

      Of course it was all about the $$ at the time and the rapid development of the above players was unknown.

      Like everyone, I was hoping / trusting that Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft etc. would have it all locked down by now.

      I still think they will in time. More or less.

      As much as Marte is a sheer pleasure to watch hit, so was watching Castillo pitch.

      In the short term, I don’t think the Castillo trade looks very good.

      In the long term, it’s likely to look much much better.

      • Melvin

        It would be cool to have Castillo and Marte both. 🙂

      • Jim Walker

        It all depends if Castillo would have signed an extension with the Reds on terms similar to what he did with the M’s.

        The Reds seem to have adopted their own version of a don’t ask so you don’t have to pursue policy where extensions for players are concerned given guys like Castillo and Castellanos always seem to say in retrospect the Reds seemed totally disinterested in finding out what it might take to retain them as Reds.

  12. Redgoggles

    Regarding the Castillo trade, I think he was only signed through 2023? So the next 5-6 years of Marte/Arroyo will likely make this deal seem much better from our point of view.

    We’ve already seen that with the Mahle deal (due to his unfortunate injury), and that possibility exists with the Sonny Gray deal too (if Petty continues his rise).

    I don’t miss Suarez (the player, I miss the personality) and all the SO’s and it seems like Fraley/Williamson/Phillips will out likely outperform him over the next few years, at a much lower cost.

    All – or at least a high majority – wins by Krall from where I sit. If his batting average with this offseason trades/free agent signings are as high, we could be looking at some very fun summers (and Octobers) starting next year.

    • Harry Stoner

      Well…we keep discussing here that Krall has been better at selling Reds’ assets than acquiring other teams’ assets.

      Some of the smaller trades: eg Benson, were good. Newman was fine, but Krall paid a lot for less than a year of him, likely not expecting McLain and EDLC to rapidly fill in Barerro’s shoes.

      Moll has worked out so far, but he was expensive.

      Other Krall acquisitions (via trade or FA) are more dubious: Moran, Myers, Minor, Pham.

      The Bader and Renfro pickups were useless.

      Bell didn’t bring Vosler, Pinder and Strickland back to camp, Krall did.

      I’m not sold at all yet on the Gray for Petty deal. Time will tell.

      I may be in the minority here, but I don’t think Krall walks on water just yet.

      For the punchless Reds, getting Steer and CES was certainly a coup.

      I’m not convinced yet of Krall’s ability to trade prospects for assets.

      He’s taken a cautious approach so far, antagonizing some fans here and pleasing others.

      I’m okay with that.

      No one wants to see a reverse Mahle deal go down.

      What I’ve been most impressed with is Krall’s willingness to cut out dead wood contracts and eat the $$. He’s shown some huevos with that.

      I’m both interested and more than a bit apprehensive about what lies ahead this winter.

      • Jim Walker

        I am about where you are with Krall. I believe most of the stupid and borderline stupid personnel moves he has made were directly under the orders of ownership to dump post haste payroll (and then often in a kneejerk reaction) add back payroll.

        And while it is easy to dump salaries when the players are actually worth what they are being paid, Krall appears to have gotten good prospect return.

        But now the real test comes in deciding which prospects to trade and getting good MLB level value for them. The media has played along to a degree about how good all these prospects are that the everyday fans are going to be expecting blockbuster returns on all of them which could make things interesting for Krall.

      • BK

        I would add signing Drury and Naquin to MiLB contracts and flipping them both for solid prospects to the positive side of the ledger.

        Bader and Renfroe provided what the team needed to bridge a COVID outbreak–the alternative would have been to recall players from the minors who had not performed well at the Majors.

        Lastly, selling in a “seller’s” market is much easier than buying in a “seller’s” market. That said, your overall point is valid. Krall deserves credit for bringing a solid foundation of quality talent to the Reds and down on the farm. However, he must address the pitching shortfalls during the offseason. Anything less than putting a team together that is expected to contend for a division title will rightly be considered a failure this offseason.

      • Optimist

        The only trade which may go sideways or worse is the Gray/Petty deal, and even that was a salary shedding deal.

        Since the Moose/Casty/Akiyama signings, they have no high $/multi-year contracts? Correct? So, he’s cleared the budget, brought in loads of young talent, overseen some very good drafts, and is set to make bigger acquisitions this winter.

        The final item is the only one he’s not yet completed with great success.

  13. old-school

    Brandon Woodruff is having the same surgery as Dunn and will miss most if not all of the 2024 season. His arbitration number is about $11 mil estimated in his final controlled year as a Brewer. Interesting to see if the Brewers non-tender him a contract and he has played his last game as a Brewer before hitting FA a year from now.

    Brewers pitching could be in trouble as Burnes is in his last year as well and there was a lot of tension last off-season surrounding his arbitration negotiations. Reds have a big opportunity in 2024 to win the NL Central.