The Cincinnati Reds had one of the worst bullpens in the MLB last season. Earlier in the week, the team took a major step in trying to improve this area by signing relief pitcher Drew Storen.
On Tuesday, Storen signed a one-year, $3 million contract with the Reds. The contract includes an additional $1.5 million in incentives, based on how Storen performs. The 29-year-old will now have the opportunity to revamp his career with a new team.
Storen had arguably the worst year of his career in 2016. He started out the season with the Toronto Blue Jays, and was traded to the Seattle Mariners in late July. Between the two teams, he went a combined 4-3 with a 5.23 ERA.
It was not that long ago that Storen was a solid closer for the Washington Nationals. Originally drafted by the Nationals with the 10th overall pick of the 2009 MLB Draft, he made his MLB debut in early 2010. Storen saved 43 games for Washington during the 2011 season. In 2015, the Nationals decided to convert him to their setup man after the team acquired Jonathan Papelbon from the Philadelphia Phillies prior to the trade deadline. This switch did not go well for Storen however, as he struggled to adjust to his new role. The 2015 season ended in disastrous fashion for the Nationals, as they ended up blowing their lead in the NL East to the New York Mets.
The Nationals decided to trade Storen to the Blue Jays in exchange for outfielder Ben Revere following the 2015 season. This gave him the opportunity for a new start, as things clearly did not end well in Washington. He had a rough time in Toronto, but started to look like his old self again once he was traded to Seattle. Storen put up much better numbers with the Mariners than he did with the Blue Jays, as he had a record of 3-0 and posted a 3.44 ERA in Seattle. If the Reds can get this Storen during the 2017 season, then this signing will definitely pay off for them.
The Reds desperately needed to fix their bullpen this offseason. Last year, their bullpen had an ERA of 5.09, which was second-worst in the National League. They allowed an NL-worst 330 earned runs. Additionally, this bullpen led the NL in walks with 297.
Storen should be able to help improve this bullpen. Given that this group mainly consists of a bunch of young pitchers, his veteran presence will be beneficial to the team. Although it has not yet been officially determined, it would not be surprising at all if Storen was named the closer for the upcoming season. Reds manager Bryan Price would be smart to use Storen in this role. It is clear that in his career, he has thrived the most as a closer, not as a setup man.
It was a smart move for the Reds to sign Storen. Because of his struggles last season, he did not cost a lot of money. It’s a low-risk, high-reward situation for the team. Storen will now get another chance to prove that he can still be a good relief pitcher.