From a pure baseball perspective, the number Cincinnati Reds fans will most appreciate seeing next to Dan Straily's 2016 season is likely 4.3, or the total bWAR he posted in a breakout campaign. He was the most consistent performer on the pitching staff throughout the season, and mixed a potent concoction of 80-90 mph pitches with great spin rate and funky movement to weave together the most impressive season of his career.
For Straily, who'll turn 28 years old in just over a month, the number he might well remember more about 2016 than any other is 2.131, however, and for his sake that's a damn unfortunate development. MLB Trade Rumors' Tim Dierkes has been tracking the Super Two cutoff for weeks now, and that's been of sincere interest to the Reds' bottom line for 2017 thanks in large part to Straily himself. We checked in on his case a few weeks ago after MLBTR initially suggested he'd qualify as a Super Two, since their proposed $3.9 million price tag would be quite a large raise from his league minimum salary.
As it turns out, it looks as if Straily will have to wait - and turn in another solid season - before that big payday will come his way.
Seems a bit out of place right now, but...Super Two is confirmed at 2.131.— timdierkes (@timdierkes) October 27, 2016
Straily finished 2016 with just 2.126 years of service time, which didn't place him in the top 22% of MLB players with between 2 and 3 years earned, which means he won't be arbitration eligible until after next year. From an accounting perspective, the gist is that he'll once again earn close to the $512,000 he earned in 2016, which frees the Reds from nearly $3.5 million of additional commitment to their payroll next year. It's good for the Reds' pocketbooks, but bad for a journeyman who was finally in a position to sign a life-changing contract, especially as a player who patrols the most injury-prone part of a roster.
With Straily's lack of options and the army of arms the Reds currently possess in the upper minors, he'll once again have to perform above and beyond what his stuff suggests just to keep a spot in the starting rotation in 2017. And in an unfortunate twist that is emblematic of the business of baseball, such a development would not only stand in the way of a massive raise, but would also put him firmly on the list of non-tender candidates this time next year.
Baseball is just damn cruel, sometimes. In a similar vein, options, injury, and lack of performance cost John Lamb his spot on the Reds' 40-man roster yesterday, as the team noted. Lamb went under the knife earlier this week for yet another back surgery, his second such major operation in the last year, and that left him once again on schedule to miss the start of a season. Between a slew of players from the 60-day DL needing 40-man roster spots and a pending Rule 5 Draft that will require many more roster additions, Lamb became an obvious choice to lose his roster spot, but that also comes with an important caveat. Since he's injured, it's highly unlikely anyone will claim him, which leaves the Reds in a good position to keep him in the organization despite removing him from the roster. While Lamb hasn't yet posted the kind of numbers anyone would truly like to see, his talent and his lefty-throwing ability still have value as both depth and upside, so it's good to know he'll likely get one more chance with the Reds (assuming he can ever stay healthy).
Somewhat hidden in that transaction announcement was the addition of Ariel Hernandez to the 40-man roster, since the hard throwing righty has neither been in the organization very long nor ended up on any of the list of the top prospects in the system. Baseball America's JJ Cooper is well aware of Hernandez, however, and spoke both with him and Reds' farm director Jeff Graupe about the immense talent possessed by the 24 year old. He's the owner of a plus fastball and a potentially devastating curveball, but the path he's taken to get to this point - from being cut by the San Francisco Giants, through shoulder surgery, and with a stint in Indy ball - makes getting excited about his potential in the big league bullpen that much more tangible. To quote vintage RR, he's one to keep your eyes on going forward.
Finally, MLB Pipeline's Jonathan Mayo caught up with both Chad Wallach and Brandon Dixon in the Land of the Endless Strip Mall, checking in on both as they rep the Reds in the Arizona Fall League. Both came to the Reds from other organizations as part of the deep rebuild we've witness over the last two years, and both have hit well in the AFL in early action. That's good for them, since they're both set to be part of the previously mentioned roster crunch the team will face in the run-up to December's Rule 5 Draft. Joining them both in AFL play and in that crunch is the Reds' former 37th round draftee, Zach Vincej, whose slick glove already had him in consideration for a 40-man roster spot. However, the usually light-hitting SS has been knocking the cover off the ball in Arizona, enough so that he landed at #3 on BA's latest AFL Prospect Hot Sheet.