The Cincinnati Reds announced today that they had re-signed right-handed reliever Tony Santillan for the 2024 season. The deal is a minor league one with an invitation to big league spring training.

It wasn’t that long ago that Tony Santillan was a staple in the clubs bullpen. After coming up through the minor leagues as a starting pitcher, he moved to the bullpen in 2021 with the big league club and posted a 2.91 ERA that season in 26 games, throwing 43.1 innings with 56 strikeouts.

During the 2022 season he picked up four saves for the Reds before suffering a back injury in the middle of June. It would wind up costing him the remainder of the season. It also kept him off of the mound early in the spring of 2023, but he returned in early April with a rehab stint in Triple-A Louisville. Santillan dealt with other injuries and was shut down for two months before beginning another rehab stint in Louisville in the middle of June. Starting in July he had a three week stretch where he was up-and-down between Cincinnati and Louisville, but he headed back to the minors on July 20th and he didn’t get the call back to the big leagues.

On August 29th the Reds designated him for assignment. A few days later he cleared waivers and was outrighted to Louisville where he remained for the rest of the season. There’s no transaction noting that he elected free agency, but it’s possible that he had indicated to the team he was going to and they came to a new agreement before he needed to do that.

The season in Louisville was a struggle for Santillan. He battled consistency throughout his time with the Bats, posting a 7.88 ERA in 35 games – including his rehab time. He walked 28 batters and had 40 strikeouts in 32.0 innings.During an 11-day stretch in mid-August he allowed 12 earned runs in 2.2 innings where he walked nine batters and had just one strikeout. Outside of that stretch, not including his rehab time, he threw 20.1 innings while allowing one home run, walking 11, and striking out 26 to go along with an ERA of 3.98 for the Bats.

An interesting note is that in 2023, Tony Santillan’s fastball had the best velocity it’s ever had. It was 1.2 MPH faster than it was in 2021 and 0.1 MPH faster than in 2022. His problems on the mound appear to be more about the execution of his pitches, and his ability to throw them for strikes more often, than his stuff declining when he returned from injury.

26 Responses

  1. LDS

    A good move on his part I think. Hopefully for the Reds as well. Still not overly optimistic, but ST is months away so there’s a chance.

    • Pete

      If he comes to camp in shape and has his mind focused, he could be very helpful. A big “if” but he has the tools. I like it as long as he isn’t on the 40-man. Time to step up big man.

  2. Melvin

    “If he comes to camp in shape and has his mind focused”


    • Jimbo44CN

      Exactly, like him if he’s in shape.

      • Beaufort Red

        I don’t think it’s a question of stepping up. His injuries snd surgeries have nothing to do with stepping up. And has he ever showed up to camp out of shape? Weird statements.

      • David

        For a while last year, he was very overweight. I think he was up to 275 lb. Whether that was from over-eating or lack of conditioning / running (due to other injuries), I don’t know.
        I think that is the meaning of the comments. The “overweight” problem mainly affected his knees, especially his left knee, as that is the “landing” leg/knee for a right handed pitcher.
        If he shows up 220-240, that is a good sign. He is a big man, and can carry a lot of weight.

      • Pete

        @BeaufortRed: If Tony shows up at Spring Training looking like the picture that accompanies this article, I’m think he is going to be formidable. He did not look anything like this last season. We all should expect competition in this camp to be fierce and all I’m saying it would be beneficial to all if TS comes in totally prepared – mind & body. No slight intended.

    • Harry Stoner

      Tony Santillan is from Seguin, TX, just down the road from me.
      Very nice CenTex town.
      Viva Seguin! as we say.
      Great barbecue. Okay, awesome barbecue.
      If Santillan put on some weight while convalescing back home, I’m not going to blame him.
      It could happen to the best of us.
      I’d like to see him get back healthy, in shape and deliver on his promise.
      Could be a key player for the Reds going forward.

  3. west larry

    I wonder if the reds would claim Perdomo from the pirated. He’s cheap, six=eight, and strikes out a lot of guys.

    • Tar Heel Red

      Unlikely west larry. Perdomo ended last season of the IL with elbow problems. From what little I have read he seems like he may need surgery to repair.

  4. RedsGettingBetter

    If Santillán recovers his command and control over his pitches could be a nice option to the bullpen or , at least, meaning depth at triple-A in case of injuries arise at major level

  5. Klugo

    Well, I’m happy to know that they know that Free Agency has begun.

      • Jim Walker

        I think the guys who have the required service time and are out of contract are technically free agents right now and permitted to talk with all teams; but, until Tuesday they can only sign (back) with their former team.

  6. MBS

    I liked Santillan, and Gutierrez. Hopefully he also comes back.

    • DaveCT

      I really like Santillan’s aggressiveness. He kinda has that mean streak look about him when he’s on the mound. I also agree on Gutierrez. Would not mind seeing him at AAA building his way back.

  7. old-school

    If my FA calendar is correct, Reds have a Monday night deadline to make a decision on JV $20 mil option. Assuming they dont pick it up, do they get ahead of things and hammer something out now before he goes to FA or do they let things play out and and he goes on the open market and Reds/Votto have a staring contest for months as Votto wants his regular role and salary to the highest bidder? Im opting for the ladder.

    • Votto4life

      Which will be fine, as long as, they invest the money saved back into the team.

    • Tar Heel Red

      >Agree old-school…a 40-year-old with his current skill set is not going to get a contract with a guarantee of playing time. The Reds, or any other team, would be foolish to do so. To me the time to move on has long since passed for both parties.

    • BK

      “NOVEMBER 6: After the five-day waiting period, free agents will be eligible to sign with any club. This is also the deadline for decisions on club options, player options, opt-outs and mutual options. It is also the deadline for clubs to decide whether or not to issue qualifying offers to eligible players, with that deadline at 4:00 pm Central specifically.”

    • Optimist

      I commented a while ago that this is really just a Reds decision – there won’t be any sort of process or negotiation. They decline the option, and decide If they make an offer – the size of the offer is almost irrelevant (OK – league minimum would be insulting), but the difference between what they offer, if they decide to do so, and what he’d get in the market is unimportant. Say they offer 3-5m and someone else offers 7-8m, OK, Joey can decide, but doubtful the Reds would negotiate at all.

      Nobody will “guarantee” playing time, though it could be interesting if plenty of incentives/bonuses are included – ABs, All-star status, MVP votes, etc..

      I won’t be shocked if the Reds simply move on and keep the roster spot for another, but they have hinted at having him return, so there’s that.

  8. Votto4life

    I see the Dodgers decline an option on Lance Lynn. Unfortunately, I can see the Reds fishing in that pond.

    • Jason Franklin

      Could you imagine just how many homeruns he would give up in GABP? The Reds need groudball pitchers or guys who blow away batters… or push the fences back. I don’t see them pushing them back.

  9. Mark Moore

    Lot’s of mutual options getting declined today. Bellinger and Miley among them. Hot stove is definitely warming up.