It's safe to say that the 2023 Cincinnati Reds' bullpen overachieved. Hats off to Alexis Diaz, Lucas Sims, Ian Gibaut, and others, but Reds fans know that reinforcements are necessary heading into the 2024 season.
The Reds bullpen was absolutely gassed down the stretch. You can't squeeze blood from a turnip, but Reds manager David Bell definitely tried his best on multiple occasions last season.
The Reds front office will now focus its attention toward free agency, and possibly the trade market, in order to shore up the relief corps. Cincinanti could definitely use one, if not two additional relievers this offseason.
Let's look at the best relief pitcher targets for the Cincinnati Reds in free agency. Keep in mind, this is the Reds we're talking about, so get those thoughts of Josh Hader wearing a wishbone "C" out of your mind. But these pitchers would all help bolster the Reds bullpen and be affordable.
15. Buck Farmer, Right-handed reliever
Buck Farmer is the lone Cincinnati Reds free agent on this list. Farmer went 4-5 with a respectable 4.20 ERA in 71 appearances out of the Cincinnati bullpen. Farmer was used most often as a middle reliever.
There's merit to brining back Farmer at the right price, as the right-hander showed grit and durabliity last season. But if the Reds are truly looking to upgrade the bullpen heading into the offseason, there are better options available.
14. Will Smith, Left-handed reliever
Will Smith is the first of a lot of left-handed relievers who'll appear on this list. Smith spent last season with the Texas Rangers and posted a strikeout-rate of 24.3-percent. But Smith's ground ball-rate (30.5-percent) could be a problem at Great American Ball Park.
The Reds currently have left-handers Sam Moll and Alex Young on the 40-man roster. Reiver Sanmartin is likely to be retained as well, but he'll be rehabbing from Tommy John surgery next season. Smith is a solid option, but there are better southpaws available for the Reds.
13. Kirby Yates, Right-handed reliever
Kirby Yates made 61 appearances for the Atlanta Braves in 2023 and struck out an impressive 80 batters while posting a WHIP of 1.19. Yates was striking out better than 30-percent of the batters he faced last season.
Yates, however, also walked a ton of hitters. The 36-year-old allowed 37 walks in 60.1 innings of work. With Yates, you get two extremes; a lot of strikeouts and a lot of walks. Prior to this season, Yates had only appeared 15 games since 2020.