Earlier this month the Cincinnati Reds designated five pitchers for assignment and all of them cleared waivers. Among that group of five pitchers was right-handed pitcher Vladimir Gutierrez. While some of the players that were designated for assignment opted to take free agency, Gutierrez didn’t do so immediately. Perhaps there was a rules-related reason for that, but the Cuban righty has now opted to become a free agent.

Cincinnati signed Vladimir Gutierrez in September of 2016 as a free agent. He was just 20-years-old when he signed, though he would turn 21 a few weeks later.He’d begin his minor league journey in 2017 and spend the entire season in Daytona. In 2018 he’d spend the entire season in Double-A Pensacola. Then in 2019 he pitched the entire season in Triple-A Louisville. During 2020 he didn’t pitch in the big leagues, and in 2021 he saw time in Triple-A with th eBats before being called up to Cincinnati where he made 22 starts and posted a 4.74 ERA.

In 2022 things went south for Gutierrez. He made eight starts before being moved to the bullpen for what turned out to be his final two outings of the season. In total he threw 36.2 innings with a 7.61 ERA before he was injured and underwent Tommy John surgery.  He missed the final three months of 2022 and then all of 2023 as he recovered. He did, however, begin a rehab assignment in the minor leagues in late July, making five appearances but he was shut down after a setback in his August 12th outing for Triple-A Louisville. Gutierrez didn’t return to the mound the rest of the year.

While it feels unlikely that Gutierrez was going to be in the running for a spot in the rotation if everyone was healthy, there was a chance he could have helped the bullpen. And if not, he could have provided some starting pitching depth for the club if he was in Triple-A. It’s possible for the club to bring him back, but they’ll also have to compete with other teams for his services at this point.

21 Responses

  1. Melvin

    At one time he was considered to be a pretty good future pitcher for the Reds as I recall.

  2. RedsGettingBetter

    He is a question mark right now and turning 28 years old by 2024 season. In his last outing threw the fastball at 90 .9 MPH…

    • Dean

      Lost his fastball when he couldn’t use Spider Tack. Tyler Mahle used it, too.

      • Mark Moore

        Timing kind of fits, doesn’t it?

  3. Harry Stoner

    No great loss here, but it’s certainly been a rough patch for a once promising pitcher.

    He showed some flash at first, but it wasn’t sustainable and then injury struck. A cautionary tale.

    Folks here might use this again to call into question the emphasis on high spin rates and the stresses that puts on the lower arm / elbow.

    My hunch is that VG will kick around for a little bit with other organizations between AAA and MLB and in a year or two re-establishes himself as a fair to middling reliever.

    Going to need some good guidance to figure out a new approach to pitching if his velocity remains down.

    Maybe he thought he wasn’t getting the support he needed in Cincinnati, or perhaps just looking for greener pastures.

  4. AMDG

    “Lost” seems like a bit of an exaggeration 😉

    Vlad gave up lots of hits and lots of runs at every level of the minors.

    He always seemed destined to be that back of the rotation guy like Jeff Hoffman, Luke Weaver, or Mike MInor who is supposed to “eat innings” while getting pounded.

    • DataDumpster

      I guess you didn’t follow the Phillies too closely in the last series. Jeff Hoffman was credited with 6 scoreless innings of relief in the NLCS with no BBs surrendered. He also had a pretty stellar season this year after being a off and on guy for us with a penchant for you know what (like the rest of the Red’s relievers).
      Sorry to hear about Vlad, seems like a lot of young pitchers nowadays see little reward in their career’s to go along with a ruined arm. I also had thought he and Santillan had a future here. I also thought Hoffman was worth a shot too.
      2 down, 1 up, and I’m 0 for 3!

      • Harry Stoner

        Parting with Hoffman was a strange move imho.

        He seemed like the kind of swing man pitcher the Reds could have sorely used in 2023.

        Weaver had to have been a better option than Dream Weaver.

        I thought Bell was high on him?

        Anyone know why things didn’t work out?

  5. CI3J

    He was once a pitcher you could pencil into the rotation consistently, but the truth is he’s not good enough for a team that’s looking to compete.

    Good luck, Vlad, wherever you may end up.

    • TR

      And then there’s Tommy Pham, a former Redleg, whose well into his veteran playing years, now in the WS with the D-Backs.

  6. Max BRAGG

    Victor hope you get right contract,but the YOUNG REDS say GOODBYE!

  7. old-school

    I saw great game summer of 2021 with Reds/marlins with Vlad going against Alcantara. They were matching each other inning by inning and pounding the strike zone and Vlad was hitting all his pitches. Its a shame both had TJ surgery. Alcantara will miss all of 2024 and I think the reds shut down Vlad late season as things weren’t building back up for some reason post TJ. Been a tough 2 seasons for Vlad and Santillan, who both looked really good in spring of 2021 and big parts of the next Reds good season.

    • Jim Walker

      Have you seen anything about Santillan’s status? He was having a very strong final month of 2023 at AAA.

      I don’t think he had the MLB service time to bail as a FA becasue of being outrighted during the season. Don’t know if there is another loophole he can escape through other than Rule 5 draft pick if he isn’t put back onto the 40 man.

      • old-school

        @ Jim. I have not. I read he was in a really bad state in 2022 with excruciating back pain and left the team to go back home. Any injury that limits exercise for months on end can weigh on your physical and mental state. By all reports he was ready to go and in a much better place mentally and physically in 2023 but things never materialized. I hope for him he gets well in the off-season.

        It’s been a tough 7-8 years watching talented high end young guys succeed at AAA and play in prospect AS games but then not graduate to MLB regulars who succeed and help the team win championships. Billy Hamilton, Brandon Finnegan, Nick Senzel, Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson, Tony Santillan, Vlad Gutierrez, Tony Cingrani, Jose Barrero, Cody Reed, Tejay Antone, Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler and Sal Romano among others. That doesn’t count Stephenson and India who had great starts to their careers and then injury and non-performance caused them to stumble.

        Hopefully, the FO acquires 4-5 established players to help the rotation , bullpen, and everyday lineup as history teaches us there will be 3-4 young guys who we are counting on to graduate to successful every day regulars who either get injured or just cant sustain MLB success day in and day out.

    • DaveCT

      Gutierrez has a nice run of 8 or more starts that year, where he looked as if he was developing into nice back of the rotation piece. I’m sure he’ll have a few decent opportunities to catch on elsewhere.

      One question, though — becoming a free agent doesn’t preclude a return, so much as the opportunity to see what else is out there, correct?

  8. Jeff K

    I’m going to miss ol’ Spider Neck.

  9. Indy Red Man

    Vlad the impaled. The guy always got lit up. We have to do better then him and Kuhnel or whatever his name was. We have to build a functional staff if they’re ever going to compete. No more Weavers, Minors, and random scrubs from AA. Injuries kill us though? Maybe hire a Lady Cleo type with a Magic 8-ball