Finally, the Reds have signed someone! And it’s a good signing, as far as I’m concerned:

Quiet all offseason, the Reds did not wait long after the holidays to make their first big league contract signing. On Tuesday, they addressed their bullpen by signing veteran reliever Drew Storen to a one-year, $3 million contract.

There are additional bonus incentives worth up to $1.5 million, and Storen will also get a $500,000 assignment bonus if he is traded.

Storen, of course, was a closer during his time with the Washington Nationals, racking up 43 saves back in 2011 and 29 in 2015, when he lost his job to that Papelbon numbskull. While he was not good last year in 57 games with Toronto and Seattle, he wasn’t quite as bad as his 5.23 ERA might suggest. I predict that Storen will win the closer’s role in Cincinnati to begin the season.

In the end, he’s just 29 and just a year removed from this description:

Storen’s coming off a season with a career-best strikeout rate and his fastest fastball in years, and his breaking ball has started to look like the one that Jose Fernandez throws.

Given the amount of money the Reds are committing, Storen is worth the gamble. He has something to prove, and if all goes well, the Reds may be able to flip him for a useful part at the trade deadline. Or maybe he’ll work his way into the team’s plans, who knows? It doesn’t hurt that he’s something of a local kid; Storen was a high school teammate of Reds catcher Tucker Barnhart.

C. Trent Rosecrans had a ton of interesting information from Storen’s press availability (with GM Dick Williams) earlier today. Here are the tweets, and here’s Zach Buchanan’s story for the Enquirer.

Blame Chad for creating this mess.

Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, “The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds” is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad’s musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine.

You can email Chad at

Join the conversation! 51 Comments

  1. Two more of these types of signings and flip them at the deadline, please.

  2. It is satisfying to hear Williams use BABIP and good control as the reasons for signing Storen.

    • I saw that too, that’s a positive sign on the analytics front.

    • I don’t know.

      To say a pitcher was appealing because he had a high BABIP is a little strange. After all, that is not a good thing. It may mean that he got a little unlucky and is a good candidate for positive regression. But when it is accompanied by a significant velocity dip, homer spike, and increase in hard hit%, like it was with Storen, then that high BABIP could be just because hitters were consistently squaring him up.

      Jason Marquis and Kevin Gregg both had solid k and walk rates in their short time in Cincy. They were terrible because when they didn’t strike somebody out, they got the crap beat out of them.

      • Yeah, it would have been nice if he qualified his statement with something about sample size…

        BUT… just knowing that he even has BABIP rolling around in his head is a positive, in my book.

    • I agree but am still alarmed about his velocity loss last season.

  3. The price and length seem good for the Reds. I think this will be a good value signing overall, especially if he performs and they can flip him. Generally, I’m not for dipping into FA to spend money in the bullpen. But 3m for Storen is something I’m fine with. It comes with upside and little risk. Plus the hometown team connection is cool. .

    • I have another thought after reading the article on Lorenzen: Is it possible that Storen, if successful, could make a shot at the rotation more likely for Lorenzen?

  4. This will be the most interesting Reds ST I can ever remember…There will be multiple story lines every day.

  5. I hope Storen is fantastic.

  6. Does this mean Iglesias and Storen can be the late-inning, high-leverage guys and Lorenzen can rejoin the conversation for the rotation?

  7. From Red’s site “The Reds did not assure Storen that he would be their closer in 2017. Iglesias, Lorenzen and Cingrani will also be in the mix as manager Bryan Price explores being more innovative with roles, potentially using his closer or setup men in earlier high-leverage situations. How Price uses his relievers will be determined in Spring Training, Williams said.”

    • Cingrani? Really?

      Didn’t the league already figure him out?

      • Certainly.

        But if you dis him now, you -further- reduce whatever trade value he has.

      • From Doug Gray the other day “Tony Cingrani went out to Washington (the state) to train with the guys at Driveline (where Dan Straily went, as well as many other big leagues). He worked on developing a cutter while out there to give him another look. We will see how it worked out when the season rolls around. Hopefully it helps.” I’m not Tony’s biggest fan either but if he can learn a pitch with a wrinkle that can keep hitters from sitting on his FB,might make a big difference in his performance…

        • That is neat to hear. Guys like Straily and Trevor Bauer are very cerebral in their approach. At this point, it can only be a positive for Tony, I’d say.

        • I took it that way too….there still may be time to make Cingrani the pitcher he was hyped to be all those years ago.Don’t think Bryan Price cares much for specialists much but Tony yet work out to be a good LOOGY..

        • Cingrani knows this is a make or break season for him: not just with the Reds, either. Great to see he’s trying to improve.

        • Every bullpen employee not named Raisel should have made the trip to Seattle. Look what the 2 seamer did for Lorenzen or the change for Straily and Finnegan.

          Jumbo Diaz could certainly use a second pitch. And Cody Reed looks like he could use Lorenzen’s 2 seamer.

          I wonder if Price knows those guys well from his pitching coach days in Seattle

        • They have a pretty cool website ….ya know when Dick Williams came aboard he said Reds would start investing more into this type of thing…the sports sciences and I’m all for that.I’d much rather see Reds resources go to this than another Ross Ohlendorf 🙂

  8. Pretty good signing. The decline in velocity and DL stint for shoulder inflammation late in the season are concerns.

    He was good in 2015

    • People are saying that his high BABIP was probably just bad luck. That may be true or not, I don’t know, but as far as I can tell the drop in his velo is not bad luck. It might be an indicator of him not being as good as he once was. But, then again, he’s only signed for a year so I guess it won’t matter much if he does suck this year.

  9. Well this is reason for Optimism!

    • From reading many of the comments I would say many people posting here are at the very least cautiously optimistic, especially for a 1 year deal and only $3 million.

  10. I always liked this kid. I think this is very positive.

  11. Great signing. Flip at the deadline to a contender if he does well. If not, it is only a one-year deal.

  12. Why would a high BABIP make someone appealing? Correct me if I’m wrong but, isn’t a high BABIP, a bad thing? I know that Williams had said that he’s looking for relievers who’ve had a down year or two who have something to prove but it’s like he’s purposely looking for bad pitchers in the hopes of finding a gem. Well, I guess that’s exactly what he’s doing and he wasn’t sugarcoating it. I know the Reds aren’t expected to contend this year so if Storen or any other pitchers the Reds sign that fit the mold Williams is looking for, have a bad season, then I guess it wouldn’t matter much (if at all). I just hate that we’re not trying to contend right now. I know there’s a “plan” and all. It just sucks waiting for this “plan” to come to fruition.

    • Depends on how high. Most pitchers have BABIP around a certain number (29%) because they have little control over what happens to the ball once it’s in play. That’s the batting average for the normal spread of hitters a pitcher faces. Maybe pitchers have a small degree of control over BABIP and can lower it to 28%. But if I pitcher, especially a reliever with a small sample size, has a high BABIP, it was probably due to bad luck. The Reds are right to look for pitchers with unusually high BABIP.

      Loved hearing Dick Williams talk about “the things that pitchers can control” meaning strikeouts and walks. That’s a huge step forward for FO thinking.

      • It is just pleasing that actual performance metrics are being discussed versus counting stats like saves or total K’s or hits allowed etc.

  13. Well, it beats Ross Ohlendorf!


  14. Storen’s high BABIP (32%) last year doesn’t completely exonerate his year. His strikeout rate was down from his career-high the year before, but still good. Same for high swinging strike rate. Those are cases where Storen had an amazingly great 2015 and he reverted to his pre-2015 form in 2016.

    Even assuming Storen’s BABIP was higher due to bad luck, his FIP was still 4.21 last year, which isn’t great. His xFIP (normalizing home run rate) was 4.06. His best ERA-estimator was his SIERA, which was 3.51. That’s still a full run higher than his previous years.

    The one concerning stat is his fastball velocity, which dropped from 94.1 to 92.3. And in that case, his 2016 number was lower than his career rate. Although he had been trending down in FBv other than 2015.

    Dick Williams had this exactly right. Given the kind of money the Reds wanted to spend on this roster spot, you aren’t going to get a player that doesn’t have an issue or two. Storen may have the most upside of the ones that fall into that category.

    • Does it bother anybody else that we’re purposely looking for pitchers who have had bad seasons? Again I realize we’re not expected to do anything this year but it’s just weird. I really hope that nobody will be surprised if Storen has another bad year.

      • Why would anyone be bothered that they’re looking for value? Were he coming off a great season then he wouldn’t be affordable.

        He has a history of success and he had a bad year. His high BABIP shows that bad year may have disproportionally been the result of bad luck.

        You do understand that teams with limited resources need to find value? Maybe he’ll be good….maybe he’ll suck, but I like the thought process Williams is showing by looking at high BABIP.

        • So value means sucking. How much bad luck can a pitcher have? What if this is a downward trend that he’s starting bcuz he’s not as good as he used to be? I guess it don’t matter if he has another bad year bcuz he’s only signed for 1year, right, and we ain’t supposed to do nothing this year anyway? I guess I hope he has a good year though. Tell you what though, some call this forward thinking but it sure seems backwards to sign players coming off of bad years in the “hopes” that they do good.

        • Well, if Storen is indeed trending downward due to injury or some other factor, then the Reds didn’t spend much and no real opportunity cost either. So this is a low risk transaction and nothing to fret over. However, if he bounces back, then they have another good piece for a BP that could use several more good pieces (or a possible trade piece) and they didn’t spend much on him. In other words, this deal has upside.

          There’s plenty of things to complain about with the Reds. This signing isn’t one of them.

        • Value means to obtain for less than intrinsic value….sucking means to suck.

          I forgot that a player’s performance perfectly correlates to what he did the year before. The smart teams always pay top dollar. They learned that from Warren Buffet.

          Perhaps you could offer a realistic alternative to searching for value?

      • Doesn’t bother me at all.

        I never buy securities the day after a big market rally, either.

      • When you only want to spend $3 million, you can’t sign pitchers who had good seasons. See Kenley Jansen. The Reds strategy is – explicitly – to find pitchers who are available at a less expensive price. And that means ones with flaws. Storen was great up until last year and he’s not 30 yet. Among pitchers in the pool for that type of signing, the Reds did well.

        If the Reds were determined to spend on the bullpen *this year* I’m glad they did it this way instead of a more expensive, long-term contract.

      • Its very difficult to buy low – and nobody gets excited that period, this looks like an opportunity, thought he might get 5 -8 million- so looks worth it to me

      • I think it comes down to how much they wanted to spend. At that price level, you are looking at a pitcher who probably had a poor year the prior year but a strong track-record going into that season. Storen fits that mold exactly. I don’t think it is a matter of looking at bad pitchers. Bad pitchers with the stuff to have upside, are generally brought in on minor-league deals. Make sense?

        • Relievers with a track-record and coming off a good year are getting a whole lot more money and are out of the Reds budget at this time.

  15. I hope he stays healthy and has success being a closer. He thrives when he’s closing so why not use him there. He will only benefit the team in this role and his value will increase substantially as the season progresses. This will also make Iglesias hungrier once he is given the opportunity to close out games.
    If Storen is a fit and the team is playing well then it gives the team investing in him long term at a great value. I don’t think could have made a better acquisition at such a good value. If the team would now aquire someone like Travis Wood then they will have a dramatically improved pitching staff and team. These one year deals for veterans are what makes most sense for this team.
    Getting a backup catcher and a #3 starter would be all that is left to do for the team.

    • Mentioned this on another thread but Wood is looking for a rotation job or he would have already signed with someone. If he does need to settle for a bullpen job, it will likely be with a contender. Not out of the question of course but I’d say it is highly improbable he’d sign with the Reds unless they outbid a contender or offered him a legit shot at the rotation. I don’t think that would be a wise move for the Reds either.

  16. I thought this would be a good try for the Reds. Have watched Storen in DC. He got shafted twice there…having good seasons just to have Rizzo pull the rug out from under him. No one sure’s why, except alot of people blamed him for blowing the final playoff game with the Cards in 2012. I was at that game. Nats up by 6 runs early…but I knew the Cards would come back. Can say that late in that game Storen tried painting the corners and didn’t get the calls. I think given a chance he can help the Reds. The young Reds psyches really can’t afford another historically terrible bullpen that throw away games.

  17. I too like this pickup, and in particular I like that the Reds did not have to offer a multi-year contract to lure a free agent reliever. Perhaps it reflects a home town “discount” but I’m much more comfortable with rolling the Storen dice on a one year deal. Welcome home, Drew.

  18. Well it’s not the Ryan Madson signing from a few years back … but I’ll take it.

  19. I wouldn’t automatically put him at closer. I believe it’s definitely a move to bolster the pen. And, if we start anyone at closer, it might be him. But, for anyone at closer, I would put them on a short leash.

  20. Chuck, how about signing good players. And no one can tell me that they can’t afford it bcuz the purpose of the trades/rebuild was to save money. I buy that the Reds aren’t trying to contend right now and THAT being the reason that they’re not signing good plyrs but not that they can’t afford them.

  21. I just hope the Reds do what the Braves keep doing…singing several “vets” and then flipping them at the trade-deadline for a prospect (or two). I hope they sign another vet pitcher or two and flip ANY of them that are healthy and wanted in July.

    The Braves have added several prospects to their top 10 list just by low-cost vet signings and flips.

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About Chad Dotson

Blame Chad for creating this mess. Chad launched Redleg Nation in February 2005, and has been writing about the Reds ever since. His first book, "The Big 50: The Men and Moments That Made the Cincinnati Reds" is now available in bookstores and online, at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and wherever fine books are sold. You can also find Chad's musings about the Cincinnati Reds in the pages of Cincinnati Magazine. You can email Chad at


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