3 NL Central rival relief pitchers the Reds should target at the MLB trade deadline

The Cincinnati Reds may need to do the unthinkable in order to bolster their bullpen for the stretch run.

St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jordan Hicks (12) pitches
St. Louis Cardinals relief pitcher Jordan Hicks (12) pitches / Peter van den Berg-USA TODAY Sports
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3. Reds should target NL Central rival pitcher Chris Stratton at the MLB trade deadline.

While they may not be ready to admit it, the St. Louis Cardinals are in need of a rebuild. The Cardinals pitching is far from ready to compete with the top dogs in the major leagues, much less the NL Central. Every rebuild starts, as fans of the Cincinnati Reds know all too well, by trading away veterans on expiring deals.

Chris Stratton fits that mold. A longtime veteran of the NL Central, Stratton has been part of the division for the past five seasons. The right-hander was with the Pittsburgh Pirates from 2019-2022 and joined the Cardinals last August after an inter-division trade on August 1st saw Stratton shipped to St. Louis.

Despite this Stratton's lack of success against the Cincinnati Reds, the right-handed reliever has seen decent success for the 2023 season. His 2.99 FIP is promising, despite an ERA of 4.20. Stratton has maintained an ERA+ above 100 in three of the past four seasons.

It likely wouldn't cost the Reds an arm and a leg to acquire a pitcher like Stratton. Signed through just the 2023 season, the 32-year-old will be a free agent this offseason.

There is always risk that comes from dealing within your own division, but it's a path that the Cincinnati Reds should certainly explore at this year's trade deadline. Weakening your closest rival while improving your own fortunes is always preferred, but the Reds are in contention for the postseason this year and can't let that opportunity just pass by without making an effort.

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