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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2. Reds could target reliever turned starter Seth Lugo

After years as working as a relief pitcher, Seth Lugo was finally given the opportunity to start in 2023. The right-hander excelled in that role and should undoubtedly be on the Cincinnati Reds' shortlist as the club investigates the free agent market this offseason.

Lugo is unconventional in the fact that, like former Reds pitcher Michael Lorenzen, the veteran is trying to remake himself from a reliever into a starter. While one season does not a career make, Lugo did a terrific job showcasing his talents in 2023.

A former 34th-round pick of the New York Mets, Lugo covered 26 starts for the San Diego Padres last season and posted a very respectable 3.57 ERA. That number is right in line with his ERA from the previous two seasons when Lugo posted a 3.50 ERA (2021) and 3.60 ERA (2022) as a reliever.

Like current Reds starter Graham Ashcraft, Seth Lugo is not going to produce enormous strikeout numbers. Lugo's strikeout-rate, according to Baseball Savant, ranked among the middle of the pack at 23.2-percent. Lugo's 6.0-percent walk-rate, however, was among the best in baseball.

It's estimated that Lugo, according to MLB Trade Rumors, could land a three-year contract in the neighborhoood of $42-million. That $14-million average annual value (AAV) is nothing to sneeze at, but given his consistency throughout his career, Lugo could be a solid addition the Reds rotation.