Free agent pitcher Kenta Maeda reportedly agreed to two-year/$24-million contract with the Detroit Tigers. Maeda is the fourth significant starter to come off the board this offseason.
The Philadelphia Phillies agreed to a massive contract extension with Aaron Nola while the St. Louis Cardinals locked up both Lance Lynn and Kyle Gibson. While Nola was likely not on the Cincinnati Reds' radar this offseason, the other three hurlers likely were.
With Maeda, Lynn, and Gibson now off the board, the market for low-end and mid-tier starters is beginning to take shape. With that in mind, the Reds should ramp up negotiations with free agent starter Lucas Giolito.
Reds should ramp up negotiations with Lucas Giolito
Before you begin to laugh off the thought of Cincinnati signing Lucas Giolito to a free agent deal, don't pretend you weren't in the same camp with nearly every other Reds fan clamoring for the right-hander to pass through waivers this past summer.
Reds Country was holding its collective breath after the Los Angeles Angels made the decision to waive Giolito just a few weeks after acquiring the right-hander through a trade with the Chicago White Sox. Instead, Giolito landed in Cleveland and finished his year with the Guardians.
Giolito didn't have his best season in 2023. The former first-round pick went 8-15 with a 4.88 ERA. However, Giolito was still able to get swings and misses, something coveted by the Reds coaching staff.
The 29-year-old posted a 25.7-percent strikeout-rate with over 200 punch outs for the second time in three seasons. Giolito also logged 30 or more starts for the third consectutive season. If the Reds are looking for a dependable starting pitcher, you're not going to find many better than Giolito.
Lucas Giolito surrendered the most HRs in the American League in 2023
Of course, there are some drawbacks. Lucas Giolito led the AL in home runs allowed (41) last season. But, Lance Lynn just signed a new deal with the St. Louis Cardinals despite allowing 44 balls to leave the yard in 2023.
Giolito's 41 big flies surrendered is also a bit of an outlier. Prior to 2023, Giolito's career-high for homers allowed was 27. Over his eight year career, Giolito has allowed 1.5 home runs per nine innings pitched
Giolito's numbers before the trade deadline were also quite good. Prior to be dealt from the South Side, the right-hander owned 3.79 ERA in 21 starts with a 118 ERA+ and 1.223 WHIP. After being traded, however, Giolito's stats took a nosedive.
The expectation among most MLB experts is that Lucas Giolito will be looking for a short-term deal; one that would allow him to re-enter free agency, perhaps, as early as next offseason.
With so many young and talented pitchers within the Cincinnati Reds organization, it seems a bit foolish to invest millions of dollars and three-plus years into a pitcher on the wrong side of 30. That's what it would cost to land a pitcher like Sonny Gray, Eduardo Rodriguez, or Jordan Montgomery.
The Reds should instead ramp up negotiations with Giolito and attempt to solidify the top of their rotation heading into the 2024 season.