Few who followed the Cincinnati Reds through their deep, dark rebuild will forget some of the larger missteps made along that path. As the team began tearing down the last vestiges of their 2010-2013 run, they were flipping established big leaguers for prospects almost monthly, with only a precious few of those deals actually panning out.
Perhaps the most widely frustrating of those deals involved then-closer Aroldis Chapman, whose off the field issues had significantly dented his reputation and, therefore, his trade value. So when the Reds finally moved him to the New York Yankees for a four-prospect return, Reds fans were mostly resigned to the fact that they weren’t going to see their franchise altered on the field as a result.
While those four players certainly fit that unfortunate bill as players, the Reds did end up landing a pretty damn valuable piece in that trade after all - that came in the form of Caleb Cotham, who shrugged off injury on the mound to eventually develop into one of the game’s brightest young pitching minds. He ended up as Assistant Pitching Coach and Director of Pitching as the Reds revamped their entire pitching instruction across the entire franchise, and Cotham - along with Driveline’s Kyle Boddy and Pitching Coach Derek Johnson - have widely been credited with revolutionizing the Reds pitching staff these last few years.
Today, though, that triumverate comes to an end. The Philadelphia Phillies announced earlier Friday that they’d hired Cotham, just 33 two weeks ago, to be their new pitching coach.
Phillies have hired former major leaguer Caleb Cotham as the team’s new pitching coach. pic.twitter.com/qihB7bUu4z— Philadelphia Phillies (@Phillies) November 20, 2020
That’s a pretty meteoric rise, honestly, though one well warranted.
In Philadelphia, Cotham will get to work with the likes of Zack Wheeler, whom the Reds pursued significantly in free agency one year ago only to come out as the under-bidder. Wheeler pairs with Aaron Nola to form quite the formidable 1-2 punch, and it’s an almost certainty that Cotham will only continue to further their development.
It will be interesting to see exactly how the Reds react to this move. They surely knew it was only a matter of time before Cotham moved on, but in a winter where finances are a bit tight and we’ve already seen thinning in the front office ranks, it remains to be seen how aggressive the Reds will be in backfilling on their staff at this juncture. Of course, considering the pitching staff itself has already seen Cy Young winner Trevor Bauer and rotation stalwart Anthony DeSclafani enter free agency, it may well be yet another sign that the pitching staff we’ve come to adore over the last two years might look significantly different once we see the Reds back on the field again.
Congrats to Caleb, and here’s to him having great success with the Phillies against precisely 28 other franchises across the league.