Cincinnati Reds: What to do with Brandon Finnegan?

CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 06: Brandon Finnegan #29 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning against the Miami Marlins at Great American Ball Park on May 6, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - MAY 06: Brandon Finnegan #29 of the Cincinnati Reds pitches in the second inning against the Miami Marlins at Great American Ball Park on May 6, 2018 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /
facebooktwitterreddit

 With the heavy focus on pitching this off season, the future of several pitchers on the Cincinnati Reds roster is in question. One of these pitchers is lefty Brandon Finnegan.

Brandon Finnegan came to the Cincinnati Reds in July of 2015 when the Reds traded Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals. The trade was controversial and heavily questioned at the time given Cueto’s talent as one of the best pitchers in Reds history.

However, with National League Central rivals like the Chicago Cubs and Milwaukee Brewers, who have several strong lefty batters in their lineups, bringing three young left-handed pitchers to the Reds seemed like a good idea. Finnegan was supposed to be the main piece of the trade as a top prospect and former first-round draft pick.

But since the trade Finnegan has only appeared in 40 games for Cincinnati, all of them as a starter.  With only 11 wins since coming over from the Royals and a career ERA of 4.11, Finnegan has been, in short, disappointing. He has been injury prone since 2017, bouncing back and forth between Louisville and Cincinnati.

More from Blog Red Machine

In 2018 Finnegan started only 5 games for the Reds and only pitched 20.2 innings, with a 7.40 ERA. In that short time he gave up 27 hits, 17 earned runs, and walked 15 batters. Finnegan’s time in Triple-A Louisville was no more impressive. Sporting a 7.05 ERA, Finnegan had only 2 wins in 28 appearances.

I think the question of what to do with Finnegan has two possible answers. The first is to give him a shot as a reliever in either Cincinnati or Louisville. The bullpen is clearly the only place for him given his struggles in the starting rotation. Finnegan is only 25, and with a new manager on board and Derek Johnson on as the new pitching coach this is definitely a viable option.

However, I think the smart thing to do would be to add Finnegan on to a big trade for a starting pitcher. There are several teams who would likely be interested in one of the big prospects in the Reds system, such as Nick Senzel or Taylor Trammell. Teams are also usually willing to pick up an extra reliever in a trade when they can.

Finnegan could be a significant piece of a trade to the Cleveland Indians for Corey Kluber or even to the New York Mets for Noah Syndergaard. Either of those pitchers would be excellent and much needed additions to the Reds starting rotation. Offering up a top prospect plus one or two relief pitchers could possibly make that trade happen.

Top 5 Reds free agent signings of all-time. Next

With promises from the Cincinnati Reds front office that pitching is their top priority we are all waiting to see what moves they will make. I would be interested to see what Johnson can do with Finnegan, but I think, given his track record and statistics, moving Finnegan is the best option for the team right now. Starting pitching is too important. If adding Finnegan to a trade can bring in a new, experienced starter then that is what the front office should do.