The Reds have acquired left-hander Sam Moll and international cap space from the Athletics, according to announcements from both clubs. The A’s will receive pitching prospect Joe Boyle in exchange. To make room for Moll on their 40-man roster, the Reds transferred Hunter Greene to the 60-day injured list.
Moll, 31, has spent the past three years serving as an effective reliever in the Oakland bullpen. From 2021 to the present, he’s made 106 appearances, allowing 3.65 earned runs per nine innings. His 24.9% strikeout rate and 50.6% ground ball rate are both strong, though his 11.5% walk rate is a few ticks higher than league average.
2023 has been a strange season for him, as his 4.54 ERA is higher than the previous two campaigns despite so much stuff going right in terms of his under-the-hood numbers. His 27.1% strikeout rate, 11.2% walk rate and 52% grounder rate are each improvements over recent years. It seems a .340 batting average on balls in play and 68.2% strand rate have helped some extra runs across the plate, as his 3.25 FIP and 3.71 SIERA are both career bests.
MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently took a look at Moll’s season and highlighted his increasing use of a four-seam fastball. Dating back to mid-May, he has a 3.80 ERA in 23 2/3 innings, striking out 30.9% of opponents against an 8.2% walk rate, still getting grounders on over half the balls allowed in play. He has a 2.35 FIP in that time and a 2.97 SIERA.
The Reds have leapt into contention this year on the strength of their young core of position players, currently sporting a record of 58-49 that has them atop the National League Central, half a game ahead of the Brewers coming into today’s action. Left-handed relief was an obvious area for the club to add, since Alex Young has been their only southpaw reliever for much of the year. Reiver Sanmartin recently underwent UCL surgery and won’t be back any time soon. Moll is a long-term option for the Reds, as he is slated to finish this season with between two and three years of service time, meaning he can be retained for four seasons beyond the current campaign and isn’t even slated to reach arbitration until after 2024.
The A’s had little reason to hang onto Moll, despite those years of control. He didn’t establish himself at the big league level until his age-29 season and is now 31. The A’s have been leaning hard into a rebuild recently, with their 30-77 record the worst in the majors. Ownership is going to be focused on moving the team to Las Vegas in the immediate future and might not make the necessary investments to get the club back into competitive shape for a while.
Instead, they have exchanged him for Boyle, a 23-year-old right-hander who is listed at 6’7″ and 240 pounds. He was drafted by the Reds in the fifth round of the 2020 draft and got a brief professional debut in the lower levels of their farm system in 2021. He split last year between High-A and Double-A, tossing 100 2/3 innings over 23 outings with a 2.86 ERA. He struck out 36.5% of batters but also issued walks at an eyebrow-raising 20% clip. He’s made 19 more Double-A starts this year with similar results, striking out 31.5% of opponents while walking 19.4%, leading to a 4.50 ERA.
Both Baseball America and FanGraphs currently list Boyle as the #20 prospect in the Reds’ system. The book on him seems to be that he has excellent stuff but worrisome control, which matches the stat line. He has a triple-digit fastball and quality breaking stuff as well, but will need to greatly rein in his command in order to be effective.
Greene will now be ineligible to return until 60 days from his placement on the injured list due to hip pain, which was on June 18, officially keeping him out until August 17. He’s expected to make a rehab start this weekend with a planned return in late August.
Image courtesy of USA Today Sports.