If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it. Well, the Cincinnati Reds‘ bullpen is broken and it’s time for GM Nick Krall and the front office to fix it. The Reds own the worst bullpen in the league, and yet, the team is still in contention with about 100 games to go in the 2021.
There are some obvious parts of the Reds relief corps that are working well. Tejay Antone, who’s likely back this week, has been Cincinnati’s best weapon to deploy when needed. Lucas Sims has been solid, and veteran Brad Brach has pitched well. Outside of those three, there’s not a single arm in the Reds’ pen that David Bell can turn to with much confidence.
With so many question marks within the bullpen ranks, in order for Cincinnati to have a shot at a postseason berth and perhaps more, additional arms must be added. Who are a few relievers that may be available, and what would the Reds have to give up in order in pull off some deals prior to July 30th?
1. Reds trade Alex Blandino to the Los Angeles Angels for relief help.
The Cincinnati Reds have enough fringe major league infielders that dealing one is not going to hurt. Alex Blandino has value, but ultimately, he’s a utility player. Cincinnati already has adequate bench depth with major leaguers Kyle Farmer, Mike Freeman, and Alejo Lopez has been lighting up the minor leagues this season. Lopez could fill a bench role as well.
How about a trade that sends Blandino back home to California? The Los Angeles Angels seem to be out of contention in the AL West, though they’re currently sitting at .500 and awaiting the return of former MVP Mike Trout. However, sacrificing two bullpen arms like Steve Cishek and Junior Guerra wouldn’t send the wrong message to the LA fans that this team is rebuilding.
I know the idea of adding Cishek and Guerra isn’t a blockbuster type of deal, but it’s a very Cincinnati Reds type of deal. Cishek is signed for this season to a $1M contract, and Guerra signed a minor league deal with LA this offseason.
Cishek has a quirky delivery that he uses to confuse opposing batters and has career ERA of 2.84. His walk-rate is a bit high this season, but Cishek has yet to allow a home run on the season. Guerra isn’t quite the pitcher he was with the Brewers a few years ago, but over 18 games, he’s pitched 33 innings, meaning he has the endurance to give the Reds multiple innings of relief.
Cincinnati may have to sweeten the deal just a tad by adding a player like Bo Takahashi who’s 1-3 with a 6.23 ERA at Triple-A Louisville this season. The 24-year-old has spent seven seasons in the minors, but could be a back-of-the-rotation starter or long reliever out of the Angels bullpen.