Hunter Strickland signed a one-year contract with the Cincinnati Reds earlier this week. Jon Heyman of MLB Network revealed the details of Strickland's deal which lead me to believe that the right-hander could be in-line to be David Bell's closer in 2022.
Strickland will receive a base salary of $1.825M during the upcoming season and has performance bonuses that can total $750K. Strickland also has a $250K assignment bonus if he's traded during the season.
Will Hunter Strickland be the Reds closer in 2022?
Hunter Strickland's contract is highly-incentivized for the right-hander to be the Cincinnati Reds closer in 2022. After being on the mound to finish 20 games, Strickland will trigger a $100K bonus for every five games he finishes. Basically, if Strickland finishes 20 games, he'll receive a $100K bonus. If he finishes 25 games, he'll earn another $100K. Strickland can earn up to $500K if he finishes 40 games in 2022.
Strickland, who played for three different teams (Tampa Bay Rays, Los Angeles Angels, and Milwaukee Brewers) finished 19 games last season. So, if he wants to trigger at least one of those $100K bonuses, he'll have to be on the mound more often during the ninth inning in 2022 than he was in 2021. Strickland finished 35 games in 2018 with the San Francisco Giants.
Strickland's contract also prompts the 33-year-old a $50K once he appears in 45 games. He'll receive an additional $50K for every five games he pitches in after that up to 65 games played, which would equal $250K. Strickland made 57 appearances last season, so if the Georgia native matches that total, he'd earn an additional $150K in 2022.
David Bell has already been on record, via MLB.com, as saying that he expects Hunter Strickland to be a key piece at the backend of the Cincinnati Reds bullpen. Without Amir Garrett, Michael Lorenzen, or Mychal Givens, that's a good strategy.
"He’s going to pitch at the back end of our bullpen. That may change, given each day...But I fully anticipate, with his experience and the year he had last year and where he is at this point in his career, that he’s going to pitch very meaningful innings for us and help us win games from the back end of the bullpen."- David Bell, Reds manager
The Cincinnati Reds bullpen has been a problem for sometime. The team entered last season without a proven closer and 10 different pitchers recorded a save for the Reds in 2021. While pitchers like Luis Cessa, Tony Santillan, and Art Warren may get their opportunities to close out games as well, it sounds as if Hunter Strickland is the most likely pitcher to get the ball in the ninth with the lead.
The Reds traded Raisel Iglesias prior to the 2021 season and Amir Garrett was dealt to Kansas City earlier this spring. Strickland is one of the team's most seasoned arms in the pen and has 21 career saves under his belt.