Cincinnati Reds sign walk-prone right-hander to minor league deal

Texas Rangers pitcher Pedro Payano (51) throws a pitch.
Texas Rangers pitcher Pedro Payano (51) throws a pitch. / Benny Sieu-USA TODAY Sports

Over the weekend, the Cincinnati Reds signed right-hander Pedro Payano to a minor-league deal with an invite to spring training. Payano has struggled with free passes during his career, but adds depth to the Reds minor league system.

This is a low-risk signing for the Cincinnati Reds. Payano has two minor-league options remaining and is still only 27 years old. Last season, as part of the Detroit Tigers' minor league system, Payano appeared in 24 games and posted a 4.65 ERA.

The Reds signed RHP Pedro Payano to a minor league contract.

Pedro Payano began his career with the Texas Rangers. Signing for $650K in 2012, Payano began playing rookie ball at age 17. Recording strikeouts has never been Payano's issue, but allowing free passes. Last season, Payano put up a 12.6% walk-rate.

What will Payano's role be this spring? That's anyone's guess, but one would assume he'd be given the opportunity to land a spot in the Cincinnati starting rotation. The right-hander has a four-pitch mix, with a changeup that's probably his only plus pitch.

Payano's fastball sits in the mid-90s and his breaking stuff is average at best. Perhaps the Reds would best utilize Payano as a right-hander out of the bullpen, allowing him to focus on just his fastball/ changeup combination.

Pedro Payano will have plenty of competition just to make the Reds roster. The starting rotation, barring a trade, will be Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Vladimir Gutierrez, Tyler Mahle, and one of Reiver Sanmartin, Hunter Greene, or Nick Lodolo.

Should the Reds give Payano an opportunity to win a spot in the Cincinnati bullpen, he'd still have a steep hill to climb. Luis Cessa, Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims, Art Warren, Tony Santillan, and others are ahead of Payano on the depth chart.

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Brandon Bailey, Kyle Dowdy, and Ben Lively were already signed to minor league contracts and will be fighting for a spot on the Cincinnati Reds roster as well. In the end, the addition of Pedro Payano is most likely for depth at the Triple-A level, but if Derek Johnson can help him to command the strike zone, the Dominican native could be a nice addition.