4. Ben Lively, Right-handed pitcher
Of all the players mentioned, no move was more questionable than outrighting Ben Lively in October. For some odd reason, the Cincinnati Reds removed Lively from the 40-man roster only to see him sign a new deal with their in-state rival, the Cleveland Guardians.
Quite frankly, it was one game that ruined Lively's entire stat line from 2023. After giving the Reds 6.2 innings on July 26th against the Milwaukee Brewers, a game in which he gave up just two runs and got zero help from Cincinnati's lineup, Lively was sent back out five days later and got dismantled by the Chicago Cubs.
Lively allowed 13 runs on 13 hits including four home runs. The right-hander worked four innings because the previous game saw David Bell's bullpen cover 5.2 innings and allow just one run in Cincinnati's 6-5 win over the Cubbies. Lively took one for the team the following night in an effort to rest the bullpen after Andrew Abbott was only able to go 3.1 innings the previous game.
If you remove that one outing from Lively's performance last season, his ERA drops from 5.38 to 4.25. Lively pitched in over 80 innings, recorded 79 strikeouts, and walked just 2.5 batters per nine innings pitched. Are you sure the Reds don't need a veteran who can put up those types of numbers in 2024?
Ben Lively won't become a free agent until after the 2028 season and still has minor-league options remaining. Lively is a better option than Levi Stoudt, Alex Young, and a few other pitchers currently on the Reds 40-man roster. No matter how you look at it, this was a mistake by the Reds' front office and one they'll regret in 2024.