The Reds announced they’ve signed reliever Buck Farmer to a one-year deal. Outfielder Bubba Thompson was designated for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster. Farmer, an Excel Sports Management client, is guaranteed $2.25MM, reports Mark Sheldon of MLB.com (on X). Ari Alexander of KPRC2 adds that the deal includes incentives that could take the total to $2.6MM.
It’s the third straight season in which Farmer will work in Cincinnati’s middle relief group. The 32-year-old (33 in February) was a durable middle innings option for skipper David Bell last season. He made 71 appearances, which tied for 12th in MLB, and logged 75 frames. His results were around league average.
Farmer allowed 4.20 earned runs per nine. He struck out 22.7% of batters faced while walking 9.4% of his opponents. His 13.3% swinging strike rate was the highest of his 10-year big league run, although it didn’t translate into many strikeouts. Last season’s strikeout percentage was down from the 27.1% mark he posted in 2022. Farmer’s home run rate also ticked up.
That said, he has generally been a solid bullpen option since joining the Reds on a minor league contract in 2022. He owns a 4.06 ERA in 122 innings with Cincinnati. Bell has generally deployed Farmer in medium-leverage situations with decent results, even if his production tailed off in the second half of 2023.
Farmer earns a slight raise relative to his $1.75MM salary from his final arbitration season. He steps into a relief group that’ll also include Lucas Sims, Sam Moll, Tejay Antone, Alex Young and free agent acquisition Emilio Pagán to bridge the gap to closer Alexis Díaz. Righty Ian Gibaut is out of options, which gives him a good chance to secure an Opening Day job. The Reds could look for another high-leverage arm as they enter the 2024 season with legitimate postseason aspirations.
Tacking on $2.25MM brings their payroll commitments to roughly $88MM, as calculated by Roster Resource. That’s a few million dollars north of last year’s approximate $83MM mark. It’s still well below the $115-120MM range of the preceding two seasons, so Cincinnati should have the ability to bring in another acquisition or two as they look to round out the roster. Rotation depth seems the primary concern and the team could look for a right-handed platoon bat in the outfield.
Cincinnati claimed Thompson off waivers from the Royals earlier this offseason. The 25-year-old outfielder had spent his entire Kansas City tenure in Triple-A. His MLB experience consists of 92 games for the Rangers over the past two seasons. He’s a .242/.286/.305 hitter over that stretch, striking out nearly 30% of the time.
Thompson hasn’t produced much at the plate in the minors either. He hit .259/.339/.395 over 302 Triple-A plate appearances a season ago, well below-average production given the hitter-friendly nature of the top minor league level. Strikeouts have been an issue throughout his career. Thompson has top-of-the-scale speed and the ability to play all three outfield spots, however, so he could be of interest on the waiver wire. Teams typically have seven days to trade players or run them through waivers following a DFA, but that clock is paused this week for the holidays.
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