After culling the roster of some of their most reliable relief arms and trimming the 40-man roster by nearly a quarter, it was clear the Cincinnati Reds were going to need to make some additions at some point. Given their desire to reduce payroll this winter, that was likely to come in the form of under-the-radar adds, players in whom they believed there to be much more future performance than established, back of the baseball card experience.
One such addition just might have been made on Wednesday. The Reds announced they’d signed former Philadelphia Phillies and Tampa Bay Rays reliever Édgar García on a one-year big league deal, adding an intriguing, if inexperienced righty with a fiery arm.
García, 24 in October, has only appeared in 42.1 IP at the big league level, most of which came with Philadelphia back in 2019 prior to his trade to Tampa. Tampa used him sparingly in 2020 before non-tendering him this offseason despite not yet being arbitration-eligible, so Garcia will be making roughly the league minimum in 2021 (and has team control through 2026, if the Reds so choose).
Those 42.1 big league innings have seen 29 ER yielded alongside a warty 1.67 WHIP, but one thing García has done is pile up some strikeouts, with 46 in that time. His walk rate in just over 300 minor league innings is a much more palatable 2.3 per 9 IP, and his K-rate peaked at 11.8 per 9 IP in a pretty damn impressive stint with AAA Lehigh Valley during the 2019 season.
He’s almost exclusively a fastball/slider guy who uses those pitches almost evenly, with his fastball sitting 93-95 mph most of the time. And while MLB’s Statcast doesn’t have a ton of data on him just yet (given his limited big league time), his fastball spin during a large-enough 2019 sample graded out as above average, and we’re now well aware that’s something the Reds believe they can augment with their Driveline team in place.
It’s a low-guarantee move, but also an incredibly low-risk addition of an arm that does appear to have some serious promise. He’s got an option remaining, too, so the Reds will have the chance to be a bit patient with his development, too.