3 free agents the Reds should sign once the MLB lockout is over

San Diego Padres left fielder Tommy Pham (28) looks on.
San Diego Padres left fielder Tommy Pham (28) looks on. / Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports
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It's fair to say that several positions on the Cincinnati Reds roster are not up for grabs. Joey Votto is cemented at first base, Jonathan India will be starting at second base, and Jesse Winker will trot out to left field on Opening Day.

The battle for the starting shortstop job will be intense as Jose Barrero and Kyle Farmer are likely to go head-to-head during spring training. With Tucker Barnhart off to the Detroit Tigers, Tyler Stephenson is now the unquestioned starting backstop for the Reds heading into 2022.

But there are still a few gaps throughout the Reds lineup. We all know that Bob Castellini isn't typically known to open his wallet, so whoever Cincinnati may target in free agency is unlikely to command a gargantuan salary. Which free agents should the Cincinnati Reds target once the lockout is lifted?

1. Reds should target Tommy Pham after the MLB lockout is lifted.

Even though they should, the Cincinnati Reds are unlikely to pursue Nick Castellanos once free agency opens. With that gaping hole, Nick Krall will need to find some way to add a right-handed outfield bat to the Reds lineup. Tommy Pham could be a nice stopgap option.

Pham has spent the last two seasons in San Diego. During that time, Pham slashed .226/.335/.370 with 18 home runs, 61 RBIs, and a wRC+ of 97. No, those numbers are nowhere close to what we saw from Castellanos, but like I said earlier, the Reds are unlikely to spend big once free agency opens.

The nice thing that Pham brings to the table is patience at the plate. The 34-year-old owned a 13.6% walk-rate the past two seasons. It was rumored earlier this offseason that Pham would even entertain the idea of playing first base.

Sure, the Reds have Joey Votto installed as the everyday first baseman, but at 38 years old, it's doubtful he'll start 150-plus in the field. Votto could take over DH duties for a couple games while Tommy Pham and Mike Moustakas split duties at first base.

Adding Tommy Pham to the roster will not replace Nick Castellanos' production, but it'll take away some of the sting. Adding Pham would also allow David Bell to platoon Nick Senzel and Tyler Naquin in center field. Senzel hasn't shown that he's able to stay healthy, so having a backup plan up the middle of the outfield is crucial.

Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Ian Kennedy (31) reacts.
Philadelphia Phillies pitcher Ian Kennedy (31) reacts. / Kyle Ross-USA TODAY Sports

2. Reds should target Ian Kennedy after MLB lockout is lifted.

The biggest unknown on the Cincinnati Reds roster might be the bullpen. While adding Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson last summer helped, losing Tejay Antone for the 2022 season definitely hurt. Maybe a veteran hurler like Ian Kennedy would bring some stability to the Cincinnati relief corps.

Kennedy split time last season between the Texas Rangers and the Philadelphia Phillies. Due to injuries, Kennedy was counted upon to be the Rangers' closer, but was dealt to the City of Brotherly Love in July.

After spending the majority of his career getting opposing batters to chase, Kennedy relied on his fastball last season and saw a good deal of success with it. Kennedy went to the heater 82.5% of the time and averaged 94.1-MPH.

This type of deal would be akin to what Sean Doolittle agreed to last winter. There are several young pitchers on the Cincinnati roster, but a veteran presence in the bullpen would be welcome in 2022. Perhaps Kennedy is that guy.

Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Ryan Tepera (51) throws a pitch.
Chicago White Sox relief pitcher Ryan Tepera (51) throws a pitch. / David Banks-USA TODAY Sports

3. Reds should target Ryan Tepera once the MLB lockout is lifted.

Ryan Tepera played college ball for the Sam Houston State Bearkats, so it only makes sense for him to take up residence in Cincinnati, right? All kidding aside, Tepera had a fantastic 2021 season and could be a great boost to the Reds bullpen.

Tepera spent the majority of his career in Toronto before heading to the Windy City in 2020. The right-hander played for the Cubbies that season and split his time between the North Side and South Side of Chicago.

Tepera pitched in 61.1 innings last season and posted a 30.8% strikeout-rate and just a 7.9% walk-rate. Tepera was the National League Relief Pitcher of the Month in May last season and was part of combined no-hitter on June 24th.

The Cincinnati Reds need to improve the bullpen, period! Lucas Sims, Amir Garrett, and Luis Cessa are all solid options, but Ryan Tepera is a difference maker. With Tejay Antone on the shelf, David Bell needs a bullpen ace for the upcoming season. Tepera has the potential and could be signed for about $5M per season.

Ranking every Reds player on the 40-man roster. dark. Next

While everyone in the Queen City would love to see Nick Castellanos and/ or Mychal Givens return to Cincinnati, that seems very unlikely. However, a few other low-cost free agents could help the Reds remain competitive in 2022.