Regrading the Reds' free agent signings midway through the 2024 season

It's time to pass out midterms.

Cincinnati Reds infielder Jeimer Candelario
Cincinnati Reds infielder Jeimer Candelario / Andy Lyons/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds didn't necessarily go all-in this past offseason in terms of free agent spending. But the Reds didn't just sit on their hands either. Cincinnati spent over $100 million in free agency with hopes of supplementing their incredibly young and talented roster.

While GMs and baseball executives pore over countless stats trying to find the perfect fit for their team's need, not every free agent signing is a home run.

After watching the Reds fail to address the starting rotation at the trade deadline last season, fans were excited to see president of baseball operations Nick Krall add some arms and an extra bat to Cincinnati's roster this past offseason.

With the 2024 season about halfway over, it feels like a good time to regrade the front office decisions — sort of a midterm report card if you will. With over 70 games played this season, what grade should the Reds' top free agents receive?

Justin Wilson & Brent Suter have carved out their role for the Reds

Grade: B-

Let's lump both left-handed relievers together, shall we? The Reds agreed to terms with Brent Suter and Justin Wilson this past offseason in order to add some left-handed depth to the team's bullpen. Prior to the 2023 MLB trade deadline, Alex Young acted as the team's lone left-hander to come on in relief.

Suter looked like a perfect fit for Cincinnati during the early-going, but has scuffled of late. Wilson has endured the exact opposite in 2024, with his early-season struggles now in the rear view mirror.

The pair of southpaws have each carved out a fine role for themselves, and will continue to be low-to-mid-leverage relievers for manager David Bell. There are times when Bell will lean on Suter and Wilson, but most high-leverage situations that call for a lefty will go to Sam Moll.

Frankie Montas has endured an up-and-down season with the Reds

Grade: C-

Frankie Montas has gone from the Reds Opening Day starter to a middle-of-the-rotation veteran. Montas has been inconsistent to say the least — throwing seven innings of shutout baseball one night, then turning around and exiting after throwing just two innings his next time out.

Montas has been surpassed on the Reds' depth chart by Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, and Andrew Abbott. The right-hander is Cincinnati's No. 4 starter at the moment, and that's not what he's getting paid $14 million to do. The Reds fanbase would love to see more consistent performances from the former Oakland A's All-Star.

Jeimer Candelario has started to show why the Reds signed him to a 3-year deal

Grade: B+

Jeimer Candelario caught a lot of flack from the Reds' fanbase during the month of August. But the former Detroit Tigers infielder began to right the ship in May, and has become one of the Reds' most consistent hitters since the calendar flipper to June.

Candelario's defense is suspect, but with the impending return of Noelvi Marte, that aspect of his game can take a backseat. Look for Candelario to act as the Reds' designated hitter more often as the team hopes to ride his hot bat into the playoff conversation over the second-half of the 2024 season.

Emilio Pagán's absence has defined his Reds' tenure thus far

Grade: D

Emilio Pagán has spent more time in the trainer's room than on the field, and when you're not available, it's hard to pass out an accurate grade. Pagán was the Reds' first offseason signing, and a questionable one at that. The right-hander had been a victim of the long ball in the past, and that type of pitcher typically doesn't fare well at Great American Ball Park.

But more than home runs, it's been Pagán's consistent placement on the injured list. The right-hander landed on the IL with a triceps injury earlier this season, and then after one appearance, was shelved again. Pagán's time away from the game has defined his Reds' tenure thus far, and he's not expected back until closer to the All-Star break.

Nick Martinez has become a valuable member of the Reds bullpen

Grade: B-

Grading the Nick Martinez signing is difficult because his role is still somewhat undefined. With Carson Spiers getting the start on Monday for against the Pittsburgh Pirates, it would seem that Cincinnati is more confident in Martinez coming out of the bullpen than starting.

But what he's done in long relief has been terrific. More than once this season, the Reds have had to count on Martinez to go multiple innings in a bullpen-game or when a starter falters. Martinez's true value to this year's team may not be known just yet, but he's a great asset to have around.

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