Reds unable to retain Ben Lively after rival club inks the pitcher to free agent deal

Ben Lively will not be returning to the Cincinnati Reds in 2024.

Cincinnati Reds pitcher Ben Lively
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Ben Lively / Jim McIsaac/GettyImages

It was a bit surprising to see the Cincinnati Reds allow Ben Lively to test the free agent market. After all, the right-hander gave them nearly 100 innings of work in 2023, he was pre-arbitration eligible, and has a minor league option remaining.

But there was obviously something Cincinnati's front office saw, or didn't see when it came to Lively. Rather than keep him as part of the offseason roster, Lively was outrighted to Triple-A and eventually elected free agency.

The former Reds hurler now has a new home, and it's not too far away from the Queen City. Lively signed a major league contract with the Cleveland Guardians. Lively will likely compete for a spot in the backend of Cleveland rotation or could be a middle reliever for the Guardians in 2024.

Former Reds RHP Ben Lively signs major-league deal with Guardians

The Cleveland Guardians have reportedly signed Ben Lively to a one-year deal worth $750,000. That's just north of the league minimum. Lively was 4-7 in 2023 with a 5.38 ERA in 19 appeances, including 12 starts.

Lively was originally selected by the Cincinnati Reds in the fourth round of the 2013 MLB Draft, but didn't find much success until taking his talents overseas to play in the KBO. Lively then returned states-side in 2022.

The fact that Cincinnati allowed Lively to test free agency and eventually watched him sign with an in-state rival would seem to signify that the Reds foresee themselves in need of an upgrade. While Lively provided good depth last season, the Reds have been linked to some bigger names this winter.

Pitchers like Dylan Cease and Shane Bieber have been tied to the Cincinnati Reds, as have Michael Wacha and Lucas Giolito. While Ben Lively would have brought some experience to the Cincinnati clubhouse, it's unlikely the Reds would have afforded the right-hander the opportunity he's likely to receive in Cleveland.