3 free agents the Reds should sign immediately before big-market teams gobble them up

With Yoshinobu Yamamoto off the board, big-market teams who missed out on the Japanese pitcher will pivot to other free agent hurlers.

San Francisco Giants pitcher Sean Manaea
San Francisco Giants pitcher Sean Manaea / Meg Oliphant/GettyImages
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Yoshinobu Yamamoto has reportedly agreed to a 12-year deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers. While fans can debate about whether or not the Dodgers' massive spending spree is good for the game, at least the free agent market should finally begin to open up.

Baseball's offseason has gotten off to a sluggish start as teams and agents were waiting for Yamamoto and Shohei Ohtani to sign. With those two deals, plus the acquisition of Tyler Glasnow, in the rearview mirror, the rest of baseball can get back to business.

However, with the New York Yankees, Boston Red Sox, and other big-market ball clubs missing out on Yamamoto, the high-dollar free agents are sure to be gobbled up rather quickly. With that in mind, the Cincinnati Reds should immediately target these three free agent starters.

1. Reds should immediately sign LHP Sean Manaea

The Cincinnati Reds have already signed Nick Martinez to a free agent contract this offseason. Martinez, though he's likely to get a chance to be part of the Reds rotation spring, seems like the perfect candidate to split time as a starter and reliever.

The same could hold true for Sean Manaea. Last season with the San Francisco Giants, Manaea appeared in 37 game with 10 starts. The left-hander totalled 117.2 innings of work and struck out 128 batters.

Manaea relies on a three-pitch mix (fastball, slider, and changeup) with his heater sitting in the mid-90s. The southpaw started 60 of 62 games from 2021-2022, so Manaea has the makeup to take the ball from Reds manager David Bell every fifth day.

Sean Manaea does a very good job of keeping the base paths clear of free runners as well. Having another swingman like Manaea is not a bad thing, especially with the extraordinarily young group of starting pitchers the Reds currently employ.

So many of Cincinnati's starters have minor-league options remaining. It's not crazy to think that players like Brandon Williamson or Connor Phillips will begin the 2024 season at Triple-A Louisville.

2. Reds should immediately sign RHP Michael Lorenzen

A reunion with former pitcher Michael Lorenzen could be just what the doctor ordered. Lorenzen left the Cincinnati Reds organization following the 2021 season. In an effort to show that he had the chops to be a starting pitcher, Lorenzen returned to southern California.

Lorenzen signed with the Los Angeles Angels during the 2021-22 offseason and then inked another free agent contract the following offseason. After beginning the 2023 season with the Detroit Tigers, Lorenzen was traded before the deadline to the Philadelphia Phillies.

While Lorenzen pitched a no-hitter with the Phillies, the right-hander was relegated to a bullpen role over the final month of the season. But Lorenzen, just like the aforementioned Sean Manaea, has the ability to work as both a starter and reliever.

The Cincinnati Reds coaching staff obviously have familiarity with Michael Lorenzen, and there's no doubt that he'd be a good fit in the clubhouse. Lorenzen pitched in career-high 153 innings last season and struck out 111 batters.

While one could argue that Lorenzen's stuff works better coming out of the bullpen, having that pitcher that can work in a dual-role is something the Reds might covet.

If Cincinnati intends to contend in 2024, they can't run out the Michael Mariots and Randy Wynns of the world when injuries befall their rotation. Adding Lorenzen would give the team tremendous flexibility.

3. Reds should immediately sign RHP Noah Syndergaard

Some Reds fans are sure to scoff at the idea of adding Noah Syndergaard, but according to FanSided's Robert Murray during an appearance on Foul Territory, the right-hander has received interest from several clubs already this offseason.

Syndergaard is in line for a bounce-back season following an unfortunate showing in 2023. The pitcher formerly known as Thor has lost his velocity, but that's not the biggest reason Syndergaard struggled in 2023.

Syndergaard operated in the low-to-mid 90s in 2022 and put up very good numbers. During that season with the Philadelphia Phillies, Syndergaard was 10-10 with a 3.94 ERA in 130-plus innings of work.

Syndergaard has always done a good job of keeping free runners off base. Even last season, despite a hideous, 6.50 ERA, Syndergaard still had a walk-rate below 5-percent. Reds fans know all too well, walks will haunt, and having a veteran like Syndergaard who keeps the free passes to a minimum would be a nice addition.

Seeing as how Noah Syndergaard would be looking to return to form and re-enter free agency next offseason, it's a good bet that the 31-year-old would be willing to accept an incentive-laden, one-year deal.

With the Cincinnati Reds putting so much of their hopes for the future on the likes of Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Andrew Abbott, signing a starter for more than two years is a good way to inhibit the growth of their young starters.

Adding an arms like Syndergaard, Sean Manaea, or Michael Lorenzen are all temporary solutions to allow the young pitchers to continue to develop. But the Reds better hurry; other teams are going to gobble up starting pitching very quickly.