The Reds have signed right-handed pitcher Pedro Payano to a minor league contract, according to the team’s official transactions page. Payano was a minor league free agent, thus making him eligible to sign a contract during the lockout.
Originally signed by the Rangers, Payano made his affiliated debut in rookie ball as a 17-year-old in 2012. Working primarily as a starter, he climbed up the ladder of the Rangers’ system, getting to Double-A in 2017 at the age of 22. In 2019, he was able to make his major league debut at the age of 24, pitching in six games for the Rangers, four of them starts. He threw 22 total innings in those games, with an ERA of 5.73, strikeout rate of 16.5% and walk rate of 14.6%.
After being designated for assignment by the Rangers, Payano signed a minor league deal with the Mets for 2020. He didn’t get called to the big leagues and the pandemic wiped out the minors that year. The Tigers gave him a minor league deal for 2021 and and gave him some innings at both Double-A and Triple-A. The Double-A results were excellent, though in a small sample of just six starts and 29 innings. He had an ERA of 3.10, strikeout rate of 31.9% and walk rate of 12.4%. In 95 Triple-A innings, however, he put up an ERA of 5.12 with strikeout and walk rates of 19.1% and 12.7%.
Payano has struggled with the free passes ever since reaching the upper levels of the minors. His 9.1% walk rate at Double-A in 2018 was his only campaign below 10% in recent years. However, he’s still just 27 years old, meaning there’s still time for him to refine his approach and take his game to another level. The Reds have plenty of interesting rotation options, but adding depth is always good. The club has also been rumored to be considering trading Sonny Gray, Luis Castillo or Tyler Mahle as a way to trim payroll, which could make the presence of depth options even more important. Payano has just 26 days of MLB service time, meaning that the Reds could retain his services for years to come, should he find another gear in his performance and earn himself a roster spot.