The Reds announced Tuesday that left-hander Brandon Finnegan has cleared waivers and will be assigned outright to a minor league affiliate (which affiliate appears yet to be determined). He was designated for assignment last week when Cincinnati re-claimed righty Jose Lopez from the Giants.
Now 25 years old, Finnegan was a headlining piece sent from Kansas City to Cincinnati in the 2015 Johnny Cueto blockbuster. He’d been selected in the first round of the 2014 draft and debuted with seven innings of one-run ball that same season, also appearing on the Royals’ 2014 postseason roster. At the time, there were split opinions on whether Finnegan would be a starter or reliever, but to this point in his career he’s struggled in both roles.
Finnegan did give the Reds 172 innings of 3.98 ball out of the rotation in 2016, though with 7.6 K/9, 4.4 BB/9 and a .256 average on balls in play, that success looked difficult to sustain. Fielding-independent pitching metrics all pegged Finnegan near 5.00 that season. As it turns out, he didn’t even get a legitimate chance to build on that success in 2017, however, as a shoulder issue cost him the bulk of the season. Finnegan was sidelined by biceps issues for part of the 2018 season as well.
All in all, since that 2016 season, Finnegan has just 33 2/3 innings in the Majors with a 6.15 ERA and a 30-to-28 K/BB ratio. Finnegan’s work in the minors wasn’t any better last season, as he yielded a 7.05 ERA with 57 strikeouts and 40 walks in 67 2/3 innings (primarily as a reliever).
At the time of the trade, few could’ve predicted that Finnegan would pass through waivers unclaimed just over three years later, though injuries and last year’s struggles in the upper minors prompted teams to shy away from the once touted lefty. The Reds will now have the opportunity to try to get Finnegan back on track without dedicating a 40-man roster spot to him.