Ranking the best free agent relief pitcher targets for the Reds

The Reds have some money to spend this offseason and the club needs to find some relief for the bullpen.

New York Yankees pitcher Keynan Middleton
New York Yankees pitcher Keynan Middleton / Adam Hunger/GettyImages
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3. Keynan Middleton, Right-handed reliever

Now we're getting into the pitchers who may not only be the best fits for the Cincinnati Reds, but also profile to pitch very well at Great American Ball Park. Kaynan Middleton is near the top of that list. The right-hander has good velocity and struck out over 30-percent of the batters he faced in 2023.

But it's that ground ball-rate (56.5-percent) that's very intriguing. This is going to sound like a broken record, but the Reds need pitchers who can keep the ball on the ground. Middleton can do that and is just 30 years old. The former New York Yankees reliever should be on the Cincinnati Reds' radar.

2. Wandy Peralta, Left-handed reliever

The numbers speak for themselves. Wandy Peralta, according to Baseball Savant, ranks in the 94th percentile in ground ball-rate (57.1-percent). Peralta went 4-2 for the Yankees in 2023 with a 2.83 ERA. This was the second season in a row in which the lefty posted a sub-3.00 ERA.

Is Peralta one of those pitchers the Reds wish they'd have held on to? You better believe it. The southpaw has turned himself into quite the reliever after spending his first three-plus seasons with Cincinnati. Peralta posted a 5.00 ERA in 177 games with the Reds. Since 2020, Peralta owns a 3.01 ERA in 200 appearances.

1. Jordan Hicks, Right-handed reliever

If Jordan Hicks is focused on being a closer, then this a pipedream. Alexis Diaz will be the Cincinnati Reds' closer for the foreseeable future. But, Hicks could be a dominant setup man and give the Reds that 1-2 punch that the Milwaukee Brewers enjoyed a few years ago with Josh Hader and Devin Williams.

Hicks throws gas. According to Baseball Savant, the right-hander ranks in the 100th percentile in fastball velocity. Hicks also has an outstanding ground ball-rate of nearly 60-percent. The biggest flaw in Hicks' game is command, but the rest of his repertoire is outstanding.

The Reds have to upgrade the bullpen this winter. Adding one or two free agents is one option. The Reds could always look to trade for a reliever as well.

But with only Hunter Greene and Luke Maile under contract for 2024, Cincinnati should have plenty of payroll flexibility without having to sacrifice prospects in order to improve the roster.

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