As 2023 comes to an end, the Cincinnati Reds haven't made a free agent signing since inking infielder Jeimer Candelario to a three-year, $45-million deal.
The Reds still could stand to make a few additions in order to buff up the team before the 2024 campaign kicks off. Notably, they could use some help in the bullpen department.
After last season, Cincinnati could use at least one more arm to help round out the bullpen. Former first-round pick Robert Stephenson would be a nice under-the-radar pickup for Reds.
Former Reds pitcher Robert Stephenson could help bolster the bullpen.
Robert Stephenson's tenure in Cincinnati (2016-2020) left a lot to be desired. It took the right-hander three seasons of yo-yo'ing between Triple-A and the major leagues before Stephenson began earned a more solidified role as a reliever.
During his two seasons in Cincinnati coming out out of the bullpen, Stephenson's numbers were marginally better. After three subpar seasons of a 5.54 ERA as a starter, Stephenson posted a 4.58 ERA over 74.2 innings as a reliever.
Since leaving Cincinnati, Stephenson has spent time with the Colorado Rockies, Pittsburgh Pirates, and most recently the Tampa Bay Rays. In Tampa, he notched a 2.35 ERA through 38.1 innings while holding a 179 ERA+ which was his best stretch thus far in his career.
The Cincinnati Reds may be able to acquire Robert Stephenson at a reasonable price on a one or two-year deal. The backend of Cincinnati's bullpen with Stephenson, Lucas Sims, and Alexis Diaz could be quite formidable.
Stephenson made a huge leap once he swapped out his slider for a faster, sharper cutter. That pitch allowed Stephenson to reach a career-high strikeout-rate of 38.3-percent during his time in Tampa.
Stephenson's breakout with the Tampa Bay Rays has brought his potential into the spotlight, now more than ever. However, I still think Stephenson is under-the-radar. That being said, I think the Cincinnati Reds need to capitalize and add Stephenson while he's still on the open market.
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