The Reds awful failures at free agent signings

Since the 2004 baseball season, the Reds have signed 28 free agents to contracts which were worth $1,000,000 or more.

For 2022 that includes the likes of Pham and Moran. And going back to 2004 we find names like Moustakas, Parra, Gregg, Storen, Simon, Madson, and Lidle.

Most of these players were over 30, with an average age of 32.

From these players as a total, the Reds’ offered contracts which totaled $284.15 million.

In exchange for that money, the Reds netted a total WAR of 12.5 from these players during their time in Cincinnati. That’s an absurd average of $22.7 million spent per 1 WAR gained by their biggest free agent signings.

(As the 2022 season is still ongoing, those players’ WAR is not included, but the early returns point to more negative than positive, making the problem even worse).

Of those 28 players, only three of them produced a WAR greater than 1.0 while with Cincinnati. Those players are Nick Castellanos (3.3 WAR), Wade Miley (5.4 WAR), and Francisco Cordero (5.2 WAR).

Those 3 players contributed 13.9 WAR at a cost which averaged $9 million per 1 WAR.

Removing these 3 players, the remaining 25 big signings returned a total of -1.4 WAR.

With 25 of the Reds last 28 biggest free agent signings bringing back a cumulative negative WAR, the striking conclusion is that the Reds have failed miserably with free agent signings.

And it’s not just a recent problem (Pham, Shogo, Moose), but goes back nearly 2 decades.

  • 42% of the signings (pre-2022 season) failed miserably: negative WAR or never played
  • 29% were bad: total cumulative WAR was not negative, but was less than 0.5
  • 17% were below average: total cumulative WAR of 0.5 to 1.0
  • 13% were above 1.0 (the 3 players mentioned above)

I guess it’s understandable why the team is hesitant to spend money, when they are so bad at it.