July 4: Per Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Mills has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A.
July 2: Per a club announcement, the Reds have made a series of roster moves. Cincinnati has designated right-hander Alec Mills for assignment and optioned right-hander Eduardo Salazar to Triple-A. In corresponding moves, the club has recalled outfielder Stuart Fairchild to the majors and activated right-hander Derek Law from the 15-day injured list.
Mills debuted with the Royals back in 2016 but has spent most of his time in the big leagues with the Cubs to whom Kansas City traded him the following year. From 2018 to 2020, Mills served as a solid swingman for Chicago, posting a 3.87 ERA and 4.59 FIP in 116 1/3 innings of work highlighted by a no-hitter against the Brewers during the shortened 2020 season. Since then, however, Mills has struggled mightily at the big league level. In 136 2/3 innings of work in the 2021-22 seasons, Mills posted a brutal 5.66 ERA, 26% worse than league average by measure of ERA+, with a 4.95 FIP. Those numbers prompted the Cubs to outright Mills off the 40-man roster last November, a move that resulted in Mills entering free agency.
He went unsigned throughout the offseason before eventually landing with the Reds on a minor league deal back in May. He posted a 4.09 ERA in 11 innings with the club in the minors before being selected to the roster prior to yesterday’s game against the Padres. Mills entered the game in the seventh for what proved to be a disastrous performance as the righty allowed five runs (two earned) on four hits (including a home run), a walk and a wild pitch while hitting a batter and failing to record a strikeout. Going forward, the club will have seven days to trade, release, or pass Mills through waivers. If passed through waivers, the club can assign him outright to Triple-A, though since Mills has been previously outrighted in his career he could opt to reject that assignment and test free agency.
Salazar, 25, made his MLB debut with the Reds earlier this year. In 12 1/3 innings of work this season, the righty has struggled to an 8.06 ERA and 4.66 FIP. He’ll return to the minors, where he’s posted a 4.03 ERA in 22 1/3 innings split between the Double-A and Triple-A levels, to serve as bullpen depth going forward.
Fairchild, 27, slashed .237/.331/.404 in 184 plate appearances while chipping in eight stolen bases and covering all three outfield spots prior to his demotion late last month. He hit well during his brief stint in Louisville, slashing .240/.296/.680 with three home runs in just 27 plate appearances. Fairchild figures to slot back into the club’s outfield mix alongside TJ Friedl, Jake Fraley, Will Benson, and Nick Senzel going forward.
Law, 32, returns to the club after missing six weeks with an elbow sprain. Prior to his trip to the IL, Law was one of Cincinnati’s more effective relievers this season, with a 2.57 ERA in 21 innings of work. That performance is somewhat belied by a 5.09 FIP thanks to Law’s elevated 14.3% walk rate compared to a 22% strikeout rate. Still, Law seems likely to join the club’s late inning mix ahead of closer Alexis Diaz alongside the likes of Buck Farmer and Lucas Sims.