Five players who spent time with the Reds in 2023 are now free agents, per the transaction log on MiLB.com: Michael Mariot, Alejo López, Matt Reynolds, Kevin Herget, and Alec Mills. All five were designated for assignment and sent outright to Triple-A at some point during the year. Following the conclusion of the regular season, they had the right to elect free agency, a right which they have now exercised.
Mariot pitched in one game for Cincinnati in 2023, marking his first big league appearance since 2016. Over the past seven years, he has signed minor league deals with the Reds, Padres, Royals, Phillies, and Tigers, as well as contracts with teams in the Atlantic League, the Mexican League, the American Association, and the Chinese Professional Baseball League. While his MLB stint with the Reds didn’t last long, it’s undeniably impressive that the 34-year-old righty made it back to the big leagues after so much time away. In all likelihood, he will look to sign another minor league contract for 2024.
Unlike Mariot, who has bounced around quite a bit throughout his professional career, López has played in the Reds organization since the team selected him in the 27th round of the 2015 draft. The utility man made his major league debut in 2021 and earned semi-regular playing time in 2022, appearing in 61 games with a .645 OPS. Unfortunately for López, he was designated for assignment before the 2023 season, and with so much infield depth on the roster, the Reds only selected his contract for a couple of brief stints with the big league club; he appeared in one game, hitting a double and scoring a run. Still just 27 years old and with an option year remaining, he’ll look to latch on with a new club in need of infield (and outfield) depth this offseason.
Despite playing 92 games for the Reds last year, Reynolds didn’t stick around long in 2023. He was DFA’d in January but had his contract selected again in April after Wil Myers hit the injured list. He remained on the roster for just over a week, appearing in two games. Out of minor league options, he was DFA’d again once Myers returned and spent the rest of the season at Triple-A, splitting his time between all four infield positions. Reynolds has played in the majors in six of the past seven seasons, and after posting an .865 OPS at Triple-A, the versatile infield defender and former second-round pick should be able to find another minor league deal over the winter.
Following an impressive performance at Triple-A, Herget made his MLB debut last season at 31 years old. In three appearances for the Rays, he gave up six runs in seven innings of work, but evidently, he did enough to earn a more extended look with the Reds in 2023. After signing a minor league deal with Cincinnati over the offseason, Herget had his contract selected in early April. Across five separate stints with the big league club, he threw 24 1/3 innings, winning a game and collecting a save. While he gained more MLB experience this year, Herget failed to produce encouraging numbers at either the major or minor league level, posting an ERA over five at each. As a free agent, he will have the opportunity to negotiate a new minor league deal. Alternatively, he could choose to return to independent league ball, having previously played in the Atlantic League and the American Association.
Mills is perhaps best remembered for his 2020 campaign with the Cubs, his only season as a full-time starting pitcher. He finished with five wins in 11 starts, including a no-hitter against the Brewers on September 13. Following a less effective season in 2021 and an injury-marred campaign in 2022, Mills was sent outright to Triple-A and elected free agency after the season. He signed a minor league deal with the Reds in 2023 and spent most of the year at Triple-A Louisville, posting a 6.10 ERA in 12 games (nine starts). In his lone MLB appearance, he gave up five runs (two earned) in a single inning of work. While it has been a couple of years since he last looked like a capable big league pitcher, the 31-year-old righty will presumably look to sign a new minor league deal.