Cincinnati Reds: Projecting the bullpen after trading for Jeff Hoffman

Who will join Jeff Hoffman in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen?

The Cincinnati Reds and Colorado Rockies swapped former first-round picks yesterday with Jeff Hoffman and Robert Stephenson changing area codes. Hoffman, though he’ll be given a chance to start, is likely ticketed for the bullpen. What might Cincinnati’s relief corp look like next season?

For starters, no pun intended, let’s take Michael Lorenzen out of the mix. With Cincinnati likely to lose both Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani to free agency, Lorenzen looks like the frontrunner to take the fifth spot in the Reds rotation. He’ll likely join Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, and Wade Miley.

So who’s a lock to part of the Reds bullpen in 2021? You can go ahead and put Amir Garrett’s name in permanent ink. Garrett is one of the best left-handed relievers in the game and is entering his first year of arbitration eligibility. The southpaw is David Bell’s only consistent left-handed option, so rest assured that we’ll be counting on AG next season.

Raisel Iglesias is another name you can add to the list. Though some fans throughout Reds Country would prefer for Iglesias to find a new home, he actually played very well last season. Yes, we’ll all remember his collapse in the postseason, but let’s remember that the Reds scored a grand total of zero runs in two games against the Atlanta Braves in the Wild Card Series.

Iglesias is in the final year of his contract, which may actually work in favor of the Reds. Cincinnati also has Archie Bradley, whom they acquired at last year’s trade deadline. If Iggy struggles, Bell can turn to Bradley late in games. The former Arizona Diamondbacks closer has 28 career saves.

With the trio of Garrett, Iglesias, and Bradley assured to be in the Reds pen next season, let’s turn our attention to a few other pitchers. Lucas Sims comes to mind as a lock to be in the bullpen next season. Sims had a coming party in 2020 and led all relievers in innings pitched (25.2), ERA (2.45), and strikeouts (34).

Tejay Antone will likely get a long look as a potential starter in 2021, but he performed much better out of the bullpen last season. As a starter, Antone went 0-2 with a 3.86 ERA. However, in nine relief appearances, the right-hander struck out 27 batters over 19 innings and posted a 1.89 ERA.

Jeff Hoffman will occupy one of the eight spots available in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen. Though he has experience as a starter, it seems more likely that Hoffman will find his home as part of the Reds relief corps. He’ll give David Bell an experienced right-hander who can eat innings; something every manager needs throughout the season.

José De León got into some games last season, but we certainly didn’t see him at his best. A highly-rated prospect at one time for the Tampa Bay Rays, De León has the talent, but a slew of injuries have derailed his career to this point. De León has a lively fastball and a plus-slider. With no more minor-league options available, this could be De León’s last shot.

For the eighth and final spot in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen, I’m going to go with another relatively new name; Brandon Bailey. Cincinnati acquired Bailey last week in trade with the Houston Astros. Bailey fits the mold of what GM Nick Krall is looking for; a young arm with minor-league options remaining.

With the exception of only one left-hander in the mix, I actually like the way Cincinnati’s bullpen is shaping up for the 2021 season. I’m sure we’ll see a few more additions as we get on the other side of the non-tender deadline, but don’t expect to see the Reds add any big names like Trevor Rosenthal or Brad Hand.