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Cincinnati Reds activate Robert Stephenson, designate Cody Reed for assignment

The bullpen gets one arm back, and sheds another.

Cincinnati Reds Summer Workouts Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images

There was a time when the Cincinnati Reds were supposed to be on the cusp of a stellar new starting rotation, and two of the primary reasons behind that thought were Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed. Stephenson, the former 1st round pick, was just about as elite of a pitching prospect as the Reds had seen in quite some time, while Reed, the talented lefty, was one of the prizes the Reds picked up from Kansas City in the trade that sent ace Johnny Cueto the other way.

The Reds finally ended up with an elite rotation, but neither Stephenson nor Reed were a part of it. Stephenson, at least, seemed to settle into a spot in the bullpen last year, and was set to be leaned on in that roll again this year before an injury set him back. Today, he was activated by the Reds in an attempt to help stitch back together what’s been a battered bullpen thus far, and in doing so the Reds designated the struggling Reed for assignment to make room.

Reed, now 27, pitched to an ugly 5.79 ERA and 6.67 FIP in action this year, numbers that unfortunately echo what he’s done in numerous outings for the Reds over the last five seasons. And while his mix of fastball/slider from the left side continues to tantalize, he’s now out of options and can’t simply be stashed at the Prasco facility in hopes of a future breakout equivalent to his talent.

That means that the entire return the Reds got from the Cueto deal is now off the roster. Brandon Finnegan, who is back in-camp at Prasco, is still with the Reds after a bevy of injuries, but lost his roster spot over a year ago. Factor in that the Reds don’t have anything left to show from that deal or the trades that shipped out Todd Frazier, Brandon Phillips, Mike Leake, or Jay Bruce, and you can certainly see why it took doling out over $150 million in free agency this winter for the Reds to again vault themselves into being ‘contenders’ after the would-be rebuild.

Anyhoo, at least we can hope to see the return of good-Bob, the one that fired 64.2 innings of 125 ERA+ ball last year, as that would do a lot to help sort out the scrabbled back-end of the Reds bullpen right now.