3 unconventional free agent targets to bolster the Reds starting rotation

Sometimes the traditional way of doing business isn't always the right way. Will the Reds take a different approach to free agency this offseason?

Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (21) delivers a pitch
Japan starting pitcher Shota Imanaga (21) delivers a pitch / Sam Navarro-USA TODAY Sports
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There is much chatter throughout Reds Country about adding a starter or two through free agency this offseason. The Cincinnati Reds rotation ranked 28th in ERA last season and several starting pitchers were sidelined due to injury.

While high-dollar free agents like Aaron Nola and Blake Snell are unlikely to land in Cincinnati, some mid-tier free agents like Michael Wacha and Eduardo Rodriguez might be tempted to join the Reds this winter.

However, there are a couple unconventional free agent targets the Reds could consider as well. These players have either made their mark overseas or may not be the traditional starting pitcher that fans are used to seeing.

1. Reds could target Japanese pitcher Shota Imanaga

Japanese pitcher Yoshinobu Yamamoto is getting all the attention this offseason, and rightfully so. The right-hander has established himself in Nippon Professional Baseball as the best pitcher in the league, and will likely be in line to land a contract worth more than $200-million this offseason.

While not at the same level as Yamamoto, Shota Imanaga is a very good pitcher in his own right. The left-hander put up very good numbers in the NPB last season for the Yokohama BayStars with back-to-back seasons of an ERA below 3.00.

As good as Yamamoto was, Imanaga actually recorded more strikeouts than his Japanese counterpart. Imagana's 174 punch outs led the NPB and narrowly eclipsed Yamamoto's 169 strikeouts.

The posting system is a bit different than free agency, so the Cincinnati Reds would owe a posting fee to the BayStars if they decided to pursue Shota Imanaga this winter. At 30 years old, Imanaga has valuable experience, albeit all overseas.

After watching New York Mets rookie hurler Kodai Senga dominate the league last season, there's reason to believe that Imanaga could have success states-side as well. Most scouts and experts view Imanaga as a middle-of-the-rotation starter in the majors.