Reds and Free Agency: Righty Bullpen Options


Yesterday, we looked at a few lefty bullpen arms that could aid the Reds bullpen. Today, we go to the other side: the right-handers.

Just because the Reds had arguably baseball’best bullpen for the 2012 season doesn’t mean you can’t improve in that area. GM Walt Jocketty showed that a strength can be improved wen he traded for Jonathan Broxton. Same can be said as we continue to looking forward to 2013.

Now, we know there will be the ongoing saga of what role Aroldis Chapman will play next season. This can work two ways. Find a closer to replace Chapman (which we’ve already covered) or sign who you can, or even go the trade route, then make a decision on the Cuban Missile based on that.

Of course, the sooner you can determine the route you wish to pursue, the better.

Even if the Reds decide to bring back either Broxton or Ryan Madson as a closer, you may still need another arm from the right-handed side. The reason is a growing consensus that the Reds could non-tender Logan Ondrusek. That would open the door for at least one of these three guys.

(Charles LeClaire-US PRESSWIRE)

Jason Grilli – Grilli wasn’t even in baseball in 2010. Since joining the Pittsburgh Pirates during the 2011 season, Grilli has re-discovered himself and improved…a lot. He’s the highest ranked free agent righty reliever on MLB Trade Rumor’s list of top 50 free agents at #33.

While Grilli’s W-L is nothing to behold (3-7, 1-6 in 2012), his other numbers are. For his two seasons as a Pirate, Grilli posted an ERA of 2.76 and a WHIP of 1.161. One area that helped: contact rate. Opponents simply couldn’t get to his pitches. In 2011, the overall contact rate was 75.9% (according to Fangraphs). Last year, 71.4%. This decrease despite the fact Grill threw more pitches in the strike zone. In fact, Grilli’s 52.7% was the highest he’s ever posted for Zone%.

Another promising sign is that Grilli decreased his walk rate (BB/9: 4.13 to 3.38) and increased his strikeout rate (SO/9: 10.19 to 13.81).

If there is a cause for a pause, it is that Grilli was more of a fly ball pitcher last year (44.9%). The opposite held true for his 2011 (32.9%). That would, in part explain the uptick in his home runs allowed.

Grilli is strictly a two-pitch pitcher these days having ditched the cutter prior to 2012. It will be a four-seamer or a slider. His average speeds: four-seam, 93.6; slider, 82.5.

(Tim Heitman-US PRESSWIRE)

Koji Uehara – Even though he will be 38 in early April, Uehara can still pitch. He did miss most of June, all of July and most of August recovering from a strained lat. Upon his return, regardless of the situation’s leverage, he flat out blew opposing hitters out of the box. He suffered from one bad outing…in 17. For those 17 games (14.2 IP), Uehara silenced bats to a slash against of .143/.160/.224. He struck out 21 of 51 batters. He only walked one.

Yes, one. And get a load of this. For the entire season, Uehara’s SO/9 was 10.75. His BB/9 was 0.75. True, the season was abbreviated with the lat injury.

His pitch repertoire is more expansive than Grilli’s, and his velocity isn’t close to Grilli’s as Uehara’s fastball averaged 88.8 last season. He’s never been about velocity. Location, location, location. And he’s darn solid with that approach. He has maintained that velocity as well.

A bonus could be that Uehara has pitched in an extremely hitter-friendly stadium. Not much of a need to re-work his thought process.

(John Rieger-US PRESSWIRE)

Mike Adams – Another Ranger, as in Texas Ranger, as in baseball, but you already gathered such.

Adams was sent to the Rangers in 2011 from San Diego. As usual, no one thought he could attain the number in Texas that he did with the Padres. He hasn’t, but it honestly isn’t what he did immediately after the trade. It was his 2012 season.

His walk rate jumped (1.7 to 2.9) and his strikeout rate decreased (9.0 to 7.7). He also allowed almost twice as many hits (H/9: 2011, 5.4; 2012, 9.6).

Then why mention Adams? He showed he can’t pitch in a hitter’s park. So why the fuss? His 2012 was still statistically better than Ondrusek. Your hope, goal, dream, whatever you wish to label it should you sign Adams is that the trend ceases.

In addition, Adams recently had surgery for Thoracic Outlet Syndrome, a rare condition involving neck and shoulder pain, numbness and tingling of the fingers, and a weakening of the grip. Adams states he already feels better after having the procedure.

For the record, MLB Trade Rumors predicts Grilli will go to the Brewers, Uehara will don Dodger blue and Adams lands in Philly.

These are three guys I wouldn’t mind seeing on the Reds roster for 2013, but you will note, there are a ton of righty options available aside from this trio.

Depends on your preference. Mine lies with one of these three.