Late Monday night we heard that the Cincinnati Reds had been contacted by the Seattle Mariners to talk pitching, with the AL West squad looking to add an arm to their rotation. FOX’s Jon Morosi did the rumor leaking, but so far a quick perusal of Reds.com, Mariners.com, WhatBadgersEat.com, Bob Dutton’s Famous Twitter Timeline, and The Enquirer’s Reds page yields no further corroboration of any potential deal in the works.
What we do know, however, is that the Mariners exited the Winter Meetings with a clear eye towards augmenting their pitching staff, as MLB.com’s Greg Johns relayed last week. Per Johns, it seems clear that the M’s aren’t just looking to bolster their starting staff, they’d prefer to do so via trade - likely because what’s left on the free agent market doesn’t offer a lot of promise. Johns seems set on the idea that Seattle would like to add “a proven veteran who can be an innings eater,” which throws a curveball into determining which Reds starter they’d like to acquire.
Anthony DeSclafani appears to be the best overall trade piece the Reds have, with his peripherals in line, age, and amount of team control left on his contract, but he’s coming off an injury-shortened year and has never sniffed 200 innings in a single season (meaning he doesn’t exactly qualify as “veteran” or “proven,” so much). Homer Bailey, on the other hand, has a pair of 200 inning seasons under his belt, but has twice had major arm surgery since then and can’t exactly be counted on to eat innings at the moment (his gigantic contract also being a roadblock). Brandon Finnegan just wrapped his first season as a full-time starting pitcher, and none of Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, or Amir Garrett can yet claim to be veteran or dependable just yet.
That may well mean the spotlight was on Dan Straily, although the 28 year old hasn’t exactly made a career habit of eating tons of innings. The 191.1 he threw in 2016 was a career high (and dwarfed the 68.2 IP combined he threw at the big league level across 2014 and 2015), but he does seem to have the kind of rubber arm that could soak up innings as a 5th starter for a solid Seattle rotation. Straily’s 31 dingers allowed in 2016 led the National League, but that wouldn’t necessarily be as big of a problem if pitching with Safeco Field as his home park, in theory. With 4 years of team control and having just missed out on the Super Two cutoff, Straily will still be cheap, and the M’s might well realize the Reds are looking to move him after recouping plenty of value less than a year removed from being plucked off waivers.
Of course, the Reds have repeatedly said they’re looking at options for adding a veteran starter to their own mix of rotation candidates, too, as The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan reported last week. The current rotation mix includes just four “locks,” so to speak, with a pile of unproven (albeit talented) guys also as candidates, so while cashing in on Straily would likely be a wise move in a vacuum, it would create a ripple effect that would task a lot of young arms with picking up a lot more innings. Provided, of course, that they didn’t turn around and sign a scrap heap starter to plug in where Straily left off.
Our friends at Lookout Landing touched briefly on this particular rumor in their morning roundup (with more opining in the comments there, if you’re into that sort of thing). Should anything really get put in motion, however, I’d suggest checking back in with LL for their analysis, too, since that’s a fine writin’ group of folks.
In other news, FanGraphs has rolled out updated Splits Leaderboards for your stat-minded perusal, which is something that has my inner-nerd high-fiving itself. Finding basic split information - such as how a pitcher performs against lefties versus righties - has always been pretty straightforward, but finding information on “split-splits,” if you will, has not. Now you can see that both Joey Votto and Jose Peraza ranked among the top 17 players in all MLB in batting average against RHP in away games in 2016 (min 80 PA), should you choose to. Neato.
Finally, our own Eric Roseberry spoke with Patrick Dubuque for the latest installment of On Baseball Writing, and the recording can be heard here. Go put your ears to work, since this entire series has provided some great insight.