Cincinnati Reds: Possible reunion with pitching prospect in Rule 5 Draft

Could Packy Naughton return to the Reds in the Rule 5 Draft?

With the non-tender deadline and Winter Meetings quickly approaching, the Cincinnati Reds will undoubtedly look to fill out the 2021 roster. With four spots currently available, Cincinnati could dip into free agency, make a trade, or add a player or two through the Rule 5 Draft. The Reds should reunite with left-handed pitcher Packy Naughton.

Oddly, the Los Angeles Angels kept the left-hander off their 40-man roster. This move, or lack thereof, leaves Naughton unprotected and any team has the ability to swoop in and pluck the 24-year-old from the Angels’ farm system.

Packy Naughton was part of the trade that brought Brian Goodwin to Cincinnati at the trade deadline last season. Oddly enough, it makes sense that the Reds may look to non-tender Goodwin in the coming days, as the outfielder is estimated by MLB Trade Rumors to make between $2.7M-$3.6M next season. That’s a lot of money for a rotational outfielder.

On the flip side, the Cincinnati Reds have no left-handed bullpen arms outside of Amir Garrett on the current roster. That’s an area that must be addressed this offseason, and what better way to do so than to bring back a player with whom the organization is already familiar.

Naughton put up great numbers in 2019, going 6-10 at Double-A Chattanooga in 19 starts. Naughton pitched 105.2 innings and posted a 3.66 ERA. Naughton, unlike Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray, is not going to overpower hitters, but rather picks his spots and relies heavily on his command and control to get batters out.

Packy Naughton’s strikeout-rate in 2019 was just 18.1%, but his walk-rate, according to FanGraphs, was an impressive 5.8%. Amir Garrett, Cincinnati’s star left-hander has never had walk-rate below 9.5% during his major league career, and the same trend was true during his minor league career.

In Cincinnati’s desperation to find another left-hander for the bullpen, perhaps reuniting with Naughton is the answer. It would be a low-cost option, as Cincinnati would have to pay $100,000 to the Angels in order to attain Naughton’s services. The kicker would be that Naughton must remain on the active roster or be offered back to Los Angeles for $50,000.