The Reds have agreed to re-sign right-hander Ryan Mattheus, whom the team non-tendered last month, per SB Nation’s Chris Cotillo (on Twitter). MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reported this morning that a deal was close (via Twitter).
Mattheus will most likely receive a minor league contract, Sheldon notes, which seems like a rational expectation, given the fact that he was non-tendered despite a modest salary projection of $1.3MM from MLBTR contributor Matt Swartz.
The 32-year-old Mattheus, a client of the Boras Corporation, was designated for assignment by the Angels in May and claimed by Cincinnati off waivers. The longtime Nationals reliever went on to log 55 innings for the Reds in 2015, making him one of their most-used and most durable ’pen arms. Mattheus recorded a 4.09 ERA with Cincinnati (4.02 ERA overall), averaging 5.7 K/9 and 2.8 BB/9 to go along with a 52.7 percent ground-ball rate and a fastball that sat at 92.9 mph. Mattheus did struggle against lefties, yielding a .324/.355/.515 batting line, though he was better against same-handed batters, who hit .256/.345/.301 against him.
Cincinnati’s bullpen picture is wide open after the trade of Aroldis Chapman to the Yankees, as J.J. Hoover and Jumbo Diaz are probably the only locks from the right side. Mattheus will compete with Carlos Contreras, Blake Wood, Keyvius Sampson and possibly Michael Lorenzen (though he could still be used as a starter) as he looks to earn a spot in manager Bryan Price’s relief corps.
Oh thank God
Minor league deal? Fine. He didn’t have a remarkable 2015 season for the Reds, but he quietly did a lot to stabilize a bullpen that was far worse before his arrival. After being a successful waiver claim he deserves a minor league deal and spring training invite. If he doesn’t end up making the team, fine.
Several of the Reds’ young arms, like Finnegan, Lorenzen, and Moscot, are probably better off starting the season in AAA than in the bullpen. Hopefully Mattheus can help them from being rushed.
I never liked him as a nat.