The Cincinnati Reds made a flurry of moves on Saturday and one more move is expected today. Will Zach Duke follow in Matt Kemp’s footsteps and be released as well?
The Cincinnati Reds were wheeling and dealing over the last few days. Nick Senzel was called up from Triple-A Louisville, as was Cody Reed. Cincinnati sent Scott Schebler down and also released Matt Kemp. With a vacancy on the 40-man roster and a call-up for Josh VanMeter likely, what will the Reds do next? Is Zach Duke safe?
The release of Matt Kemp was surprising, but not shocking. Kemp was on the 10-day injured list with a broken rib and even before the injury his production was not good. Kemp was owed $21.5M this season, but with the $7M in cash the Reds received from the Los Angeles Dodgers, Cincinnati is out about $14M.
The deal with the Dodgers did, however, allow the Cincinnati Reds to get out from under the $23M they’d have owed Homer Bailey if he were still part of the team. If the Reds had chosen to release Bailey rather than trade him, tack on an additional $5M for his buyout. Any way you slice it, Cincinnati came out on top of that deal regardless of Kemp’s production this season.
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Now, with Kemp out of the picture, the Reds are rumored to call up former fifth round pick Josh VanMeter. VanMeter has been crushing the ball in Triple-A and after sending Scott Schebler down to Louisville, it only makes sense to add another left-handed bat to the bench.
If VanMeter takes the vacated spot on the 40-man roster as expected, someone on the 25-man will have to be sent down or outright released. With 14 pitchers now in the Cincinnati Reds clubhouse, it’s likely to be one of them.
Narrowing down the pool even further, the Reds have four left-handers in their bullpen. That seems a bit excessive, so one of those players is likely to be headed out of town today. The question is, who will that player be?
The most likely candidates are Wandy Peralta, Zach Duke, and the newly promoted Cody Reed. Both Peralta and Reed have options, while removing Duke from the 25-man roster would require an outright release or being designated for assignment, which would expose Duke to waivers.
Given his team-high 9.00 ERA, Zach Duke would be unlikely to be picked up by a rival club and if the Reds decided to designate him for assignment, Duke would likely find his way to Triple-A Louisville provided he accepted the assignment.
Peralta is another option after the left-hander struggled against the San Francisco Giants on Friday night. Peralta’s poor outing took his ERA, which was below 1.00, and ballooned it up to 4.09. Wandy Peralta has allowed 4 walks on the season, but also has 8 strikeouts.
Cody Reed did his best last night to prove that he belongs in the big leagues. The former first round pick of the Kansas City Royals was dealing in the 2.1 innings that he pitched last night. Reed struck out 4 and only allowed 1 hit after taking over for Tanner Roark. Reed gives David Bell a southpaw that has the ability to go a bit more than any other lefty in his bullpen.
Optioning Reed or Peralta would be just that, a simple move that wouldn’t open another roster spot. If the Cincinnati Reds decided to move on from Zach Duke, his spot on the 40-man roster would become available. However, without a need to open that spot, is releasing Duke really a necessary move at this time?
Rather than releasing Zach Duke, I think it’s much more plausible for the Cincinnati Reds to option either Peralta or Reed back to Triple-A Louisville. Duke was the team’s only major league free agent signing this offseason, and in his last three games, he has not allowed a run.
For now, expect Zach Duke to keep his spot on the team, but I believe he’s on a very short leash. Any more performances like we saw at the end of April where he surrendered 3 hits, 3 runs, and struck out no one during a 2-game stretch will likely result in Duke being let go. For now, I think the Texas native is safe, but we’ll see very shortly.