2. Kevin Gausman, Former Reds relief pitcher
The talent was always there, but Kevin Gausman never really put it together during the early part of his career. A former first-round pick, No. 4 overall by the Baltimore Orioles in 2012, Gausman bounced around the league quite a bit.
After six seasons and an ERA of 4.22 over 236 games with the Orioles, Gausman found a new home in Atlanta. During his year-plus with the Braves, the right-hander posted a 4.77 ERA and was eventually let go after 26 starts.
The Reds swooped in and picked up Gausman off waivers in 2019, as a reliever, Gausman recorded 29 punch outs over 22.1 innings and posted an immaculate inning during his 15 appearances with Cincinnati to end his 2019 season.
The Redlegs declined to bring Gausman back and decided instead to non-tender the Colorado native rather than pay what likely would have eclipsed a $9M salary in 2020. That's exactly what the San Francisco Giants paid Gausman that offseason, and there may not have been a better bargain in all of baseball.
In 2020, Kevin Gausman posted a 3.62 ERA over 59.2 innings of work and his strikeout-rate reached a career-high of 32.2%. Gausman parlayed that success into what amounted to a one-year/$18.9M contract after agreeing to a qualifying offer.
Gausman is sure to cash in this offseason and likely will sign a massive extension with the San Francisco Giants or find a new home as a free agent. The Cincinnati Reds sure wish they had an arm like Gausman in their rotation. The 30-year-old went to his first All-Star Game this season and finally realized the potential that saw him taken in the first round nearly 10 years ago.