There had been rumors over the winter that the Cincinnati Reds had interest in former Milwaukee Brewers starting pitcher Yovani Gallardo. Of course there had been rumors that the Reds were interested in Gallardo, since it seems every winter the Reds have interest in under-the-radar, low-cost signings of veteran pitchers who are probably past their primes.
Trying to catch lightning in a bottle, if you will.
Sometimes, it works out half-decently. Dan Straily was relatively veteran-y when the Reds claimed him two years ago, and that worked out a-ok. Scott Feldman was semi-cromulent last year before being felled by old man knee late in the season. This time around, it seems the dice has been rolled officially on Gallardo, as the Reds signed him to a 1-year, major league contract this morning, according to FanRag’s Robert Murray.
#Reds sign RHP Yovani Gallardo to one-year MLB deal.— Robert Murray (@RobertMurrayFRS) March 31, 2018
The Reds later confirmed the signing, noting that Zack Weiss had been optioned to open a spot on the 25-man roster and that Stuart Turner - who the club had carried at the big league level all of last year as a Rule 5 draftee - had been DFA’d to open a spot on the 40-man roster.
Gallardo, 32, is undoubtedly a specimen of impeccable health, as he actually passed a Baltimore Orioles physical in order to sign with them in 2016, one year after posting a 124 ERA+ in 184.1 IP with the Texas Rangers. That, of course, came on the heels of an excellent 8 year run in Milwaukee where he owned a 3.69 ERA in nearly 1300 IP. So, there is certainly track record with him.
However, those days seem somewhat long gone, as he’s posted just 5.57 ERA in 248.2 IP since signing that Baltimore contract, having spent one year as an Oriole and last year with the Seattle Mariners. His K-rate has plummeted, as he’s fanned nearly 3 batters per 9 innings fewer in that span since his Brewer days, though his fastball velocity (92.2 mph) in 2017 at least saw a bounce-back to levels commiserate with those from his time in Milwaukee.
It’ll be interesting to see how he’s deployed, especially since he’d been back in camp with the Brewers for most of this spring with the chance to be a starter. He’s only logged 9 relief appearances in his 298 career games pitched, though 6 of those did come just last year, so there’s certainly a chance the Reds will try to use him in a swing-man role. He’s also the owner of a 3.77 ERA in over 88 innings pitched inside Great American Ball Park, so he’s certainly familiar with how to pitch in its tiny dimensions.
Without knowing the exact specifics of the financial ramifications, it’s hard to get too worked up about this signing, though it certainly seems like a bit of a stretch to guarantee him big league money (and the roster spot). Once you find out he’ll only be making $750K (with a chance of up to $1 million), and the idea of rolling the dice on him as depth makes the idea much more palatable. Hopefully, either he’ll pitch well enough for us to praise this signing as a brilliant move, or the young pitchers around him will rise up and take his role in spectacular enough fashion for us to forget it ever happened.