The Reds announced on Tuesday that they’ve designated right-hander Barrett Astin for assignment in order to clear space on the roster for righty Deck McGuire, whose contract has been selected from Double-A. Cincinnati has also reinstated outfielder Jesse Winker from the 10-day disabled list and recalled right-handed pitching prospect Keury Mella, who will be making his MLB debut when he first takes the hill for the Reds.
Astin, 25, was acquired along with fellow righty Kevin Shackelford in the 2014 trade that sent reliever Jonathan Broxton from Cincinnati to Milwaukee. The former third-rounder out of Arkansas enjoyed a terrific 2016 campaign in Double-A (2.26 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 in 103 1/3 frames) but has posted an ERA north of 6.00 in both Triple-A and a brief Major League stint this season.
In eight big league innings, Astin allowed six runs on nine hits (two homers) and seven walks with just a pair of strikeouts. Astin does have a pair of options remaining beyond the 2017 campaign, so a club that is intrigued by his quality 2016 output could conceivably claim him, bring him to camp next year and option him without first needing to expose him to waivers.
The 28-year-old McGuire is a known name to some thanks to his No. 11 overall selection out of Georgia Tech by the Blue Jays back in the 2010 draft. He’s yet to live up to that draft billing, struggling greatly in Triple-A for the Jays, Athletics, Dodgers and Cardinals before landing in the Reds organization this past winter.
While McGuire spent the year in Double-A rather than the minors’ top level, he notched a strong 2.79 ERA with 9.1 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 with a 38.8 percent ground-ball rate through 168 innings (27 starts). McGuire has never made it to the Majors, so this call-up represents a payoff after seven minor league seasons working toward that end.
As for Mella, the 24-year-old as billed as the centerpiece in the 2015 trade that sent right-hander Mike Leake to San Francisco, though left fielder Adam Duvall, who was also in the deal, has since proven to be a high-quality return on his own. Mella ranks 21st among Reds farmhands, per Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, and has pitched to a 4.30 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 46.3 percent ground-ball rate through 134 innings for Double-A Pensacola in 2017.