The Cincinnati Reds have a good number of pitching expats living within other MLB organizations these days, as is the case with all 30 clubs. It is a monopolistic vacuum, after all, and there are only so many qualified athletes at all capable of playing this sport at this level out there, particularly while on the mound.
This list will likely not be comprehensive, nor is it truly intended to be, but I’ll aim to highlight the 2021 season performances of a good number of hurlers who have formerly plied their trade within the Cincinnati system who found themselves elsewhere.
Cody Reed - LHP, Tampa Bay Rays (traded by CIN in August 2020)
Reed’s story has layers upon chapters at this juncture, with injuries and underperformance long his calling card. He’s a lefty who can buckle knees, though, and he’s going to continue to get chances, just like he has with Tampa - when healthy.
He allowed 5 R (4 ER) in 9.2 IP for the Rays early in the season before undergoing surgery to address Thoracic Outlet Syndrome in mid-May. Fortunately for him, he returned to throw 6.1 IP for AAA Durham in late September, meaning he should (in theory) be healthy for a run at a big league spot again come Spring Training 2022.
Aroldis Chapman - LHP, New York Yankees (traded by CIN in December 2015)
The former Cincinnati closer continued closing for the Yankees in 2021, though he had one of his more ‘disappointing’ seasons statistically. His 128 ERA+ was his worst since the 2011 season, and his 3.99 FIP was far and away the highest of his career. His 1.31 WHIP was similarly a career worst.
He’ll be 34 before the 2022 season begins, and his average fastball velocity was down almost 3 mph from his absurd 2016 peak. Still, he’s under contract for some $16 million for 2022 and that average velocity was still 98.4 mph, so he’s going to get a chance to show he’s still got the chops for another big contract somewhere.
Matt Harvey - RHP, Baltimore Orioles (granted free agency after 2018 season)
The arduous journey for Harvey continued in 2021, this time with the 52-110 Orioles. His 6.27 ERA was the highest among the 96 MLB pitchers who threw at least 120 IP in 2021, though his 4.60 FIP suggests he, like pretty much anyone who donned an Orioles jersey in 2021, was pretty unlucky (that FIP ranked as 30th highest).
He eventually landed on the 60-day IL in September with knee inflammation, and after making a cool million bucks in 2021 (after signing as a MiLB free agent) is once again a free agent this winter.
Archie Bradley - RHP, Philadelphia Phillies (non-tendered by CIN after 2020 season)
Bradley was only briefly a Red, added for the 2020 stretch-run in that pandemic-shortened season. He was a purely a salary dump upon exit, too, as he was non-tendered instead of getting a raise on his $4.1 million (pre-proration) 2020 salary.
The Phillies signed him for $6 million, and he turned into a reasonably solid piece for their bullpen. He fired a 3.71 ERA (113 ERA+) in 51 IP, though his 7.1 K/9 was noticeably down from his 2019 peak. His 4.35 FIP was the highest since he switched from the starting rotation to a bullpen role back in 2017, too. Not exactly the greatest platform year for heading back into free agency, though I’m sure he’ll find a home with a club willing to pay for a bullpen in 2022. Those exist, I’m told...
Raisel Iglesias - RHP, Los Angeles Angels (traded by CIN in December 2020)
Going just by bWAR (2.8), Iglesias just posted his single best season as a big leaguer in 2021.
Going just by fWAR (2.0), Iglesias just posted his single best season as a big leaguer.
Going just by saves (34), Iglesias just tied his single best season as a big leaguer.
Going just by games finished (59), Iglesias just posted his single best season as a big leaguer.
Going just by K/9 (13.2) and K/BB (8.58), Iglesias just posted his single best season as a big leaguer. That K/BB was the 3rd best among the 196 MLB pitchers who threw at least 70 IP in 2021, trailing just Liam Hendriks and Jacob deGrom.
His WHIP (0.92), FIP (2.83), ERA (2.57), and ERA+ (174) were not his best as a big leaguer, but were all well, well better than his career marks. Iglesias will be a free agent this winter, and will get paid by a club committed to fielding a bullpen capable of carrying a team to numerous victories in 2022 and beyond.
Josiah Gray - RHP, Washington Nationals/Los Angeles Dodgers (traded by CIN in December 2018)
The former 2nd round pick of the Reds made his big league debut in 2021 for the Dodgers, and later was flipped as a major piece in the deal that landed Max Scherzer and Trea Turner in LA. It was far from easy for the 23 year old, however, as he allowed 22 ER in 17.1 IP over a 4-start stretch in August/September.
He pitched to a much tidier 3.54 ERA over his other 10 games, however (53.1 IP), and obviously figures to be a big part of the Nationals rotation as they attempt to pick up the pieces from what’s turned into a reasonably thorough rebuild.
Johnny Cueto - RHP, San Francisco Giants (traded by CIN in July 2015)
One of the precious few players still active from the 2012 Cincinnati Reds, Cueto has already somehow wrapped the $130 million deal he signed with the Giants. He battled injuries during the 2021 season, but still managed to fire 114.2 IP of exactly 100 ERA+ ball.
That means over the life of said deal, he went 39-27 with a 3.81 ERA (108 ERA+) across 103 starts (614 IP), with 9.6 bWAR accrued during said deal. He’ll be 36 in February, and I hope like hell he’ll be pitching with a team I don’t dislike again next year.
Anthony DeSclafani - RHP, San Francisco Giants (reached free agency after 2020 season)
Disco had a largely brilliant year for the Giants, posting career bests in FIP (3.62) and K/BB (3.62) across 167.2 IP as a core member of their starting rotation. His pair of complete game shutouts led all of baseball, and his 3.17 ERA (129 ERA+) was valued at 4.1 bWAR before his hitting, or lack thereof, was factored in.
FanGraphs valued him at 3.0 fWAR, and he’ll be a free agent again this winter after earning $6 million on his 1-year deal with San Francisco.
Kevin Gausman - RHP, San Francisco Giants (non-tendered by CIN after 2019 season)
After his brief cameo as a starter-turned-reliever for the 2019 Reds and subsequent non-tender, Gausman latched on with the Giants for 2020 and pitched well enough to warrant a Qualifying Offer as he reached free agency. He accepted, came back to San Francisco for 2021, and was positively brilliant.
He fired 192 IP of 2.81 ERA (145 ERA+), his 33 starts the most in the majors. His splitter is, and was, completely filthy, and he was valued at 5.3 bWAR and 4.8 fWAR for his work. He’ll be a free agent entering his age-31 season and will do so with no draft-pick issues attached (since he cannot receive a QO again), and he’ll surely land a big deal from a club that’s not looking to use him as a reliever.