It’s been a long, hard fall for lefty Brandon Finnegan. The former 1st round pick and prize of the Johnny Cueto trade with the Kansas City Royals back in 2015 had a solid enough 2016 season, his 172 innings of 107 ERA+ ball helping anchor a rotation that was desperate for anything of quality, but a series of back and shoulder injuries seriously derailed his 2017 season before a 2018 season that was utterly, horribly bad.
The Cincinnati Reds didn’t see much improvement from Finnegan during the spring, which left him on the outside looking in when it came time to set the active roster. On Thursday, we found out just how far he’d fallen in their eyes, as Finnegan was designated for assignment to free up a roster spot for the claim of old friend Jose Lopez from the San Francisco Giants.
Lopez, you’ll remember, was the Seton Hall product who had a rather mediocre year in AAA last year and lost his roster spot back in February when the Reds signed Zach Duke. He spent his spring with the Giants and failed to make their squad, and was recently placed on waivers at the end of camp. My best guess is that he’ll join the crowded mix back in Louisville as an occasional starter who’ll most likely get moved to the bullpen to see if his stuff will play up better in that role.
As for Finnegan, well, there are ample questions. His pedigree would suggest that someone, somewhere will claim him and continue to give him a shot - he’ll still just be 26 years old in two weeks. However, shoulder injuries have a long history of completely derailing pitching careers, and it’s quite possible that most teams out there have the same impression of him now that the Reds do, his most recent results deeming him not worthy of a roster spot anywhere. That might see him go unclaimed and stick around the Reds system in hopes that he can figure out how to pitch again, though I’d place the odds of that happening very, very low.