In a move that seems downright shocking, the Cincinnati Reds have optioned Amir Garrett to Triple-A Louisville. It’s probably not even arguable that he’s been the best starting pitcher on the team this season. He’s posted a 4.25 ERA in 36.0 innings with 14 walks and 28 strikeouts. He leads the starters in ERA, innings and strikeouts.

Despite all of that, the move makes some sense. The team has two off days over the next 10 days, which means that they can skip Amir Garrett in the rotation both times. That does a few things. First, it will help them limit his innings slightly. He will still throw on his days for the Louisville Bats, but I’d expect him to be on a bit of a lower pitch limit. That let’s him get in his work, but also save a little bit on his arm for later in the season. Second, the next time he will be needed, and is eligible to be recalled, will be May 20th. That’s very important as it will give the Reds an extra year of service time if they call him up on that day. Instead of becoming a free agent after 2022, he would then be a Red through 2023.

From a player perspective, this move looks bad. He’s been the best starter and he’s still heading to the minor leagues because of innings limits, or service time concerns, or both. From an organizational standpoint, this move looks smart. To a point. With the team struggling to get innings from their starters, sending down the guy who has been the most reliable may hurt the whole wins/losses column.

The Reds are sending Garrett down and bringing up reliever Barrett Astin. He’s got to be getting plenty of miles on his car, driving it between Louisville and Cincinnati. He’s pitched in four games with the Reds this season and hasn’t allowed a run. He has walked three batters with just one strikeout. With the Bats he has posted a 6.39 ERA in 12.2 innings. He’s given up 20 hits thanks to a .432 BABIP with Louisville so far. He’s walked four batters with 11 strikeouts in that span, suggesting that he’s probably been rather unlucky on balls in play. With Robert Stephenson being the lone long man in the bullpen at this point with the demotion of Cody Reed earlier this week, look for Astin to be that guy for the next few days if needed.

Update: 4:20pm

Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that, as expected, the move is to keep the innings under control for Amir Garrett.

It’s really innings management, first and foremost,” Price said, “and being able to make sure that he’s able to pitch the entire month of September as a starter and not have to go, ‘Oh well, he’s at 165 innings on September first, so we’ll pitch him as reliever the rest of the year.’ We don’t want to do that.

42 Responses

  1. Pat McLaughlin

    Huge head scratcher…while in first place too. I’m a Rookie Davis fan but he seems much more likely for assignment. A control year, innings limit…but in first with arguably your best pitching performer to a club that’s sizzling at the plate? Ride the winning wave while you can!

    • MK

      Davis obviously has the same team control issues buy should be OK from an innings standpoint from his time on the DL and a couple of short starts he has had.

  2. Norwood Nate

    Pretty savvy move to wait until this point, where we have the option of rolling with a 4-man rotation. It buys the extra year of time, and it buys innings for the end of the year. While I’m sure it sucks for Garrett, until the rule changes, no reason for the Reds not to take advantage of it.

  3. Brad

    I like the move. Love the extra year of service time. Dont know enough to know how many innings Amir can throw this season. Have to imagine this was planned a while back. Of course, this may be the first stretch of the season that the bullpen is not completely taxed.

    Would like to make sure Reds get another year from Rookie Davis as well. If, and a big IF, the Reds can stay in Wild Card contention, will be really hard to make these moves later in season.

    Kudos to Dick Williams and Reds Front Office for thinking outside the box.

    • Hingle McCringleberry

      Strangely, I agree with Chris Welsh believe it or not. There has been no definitive evidence that reduced innings have ever prevented an arm injury. Its just something teams believe like an old wise tale.

      Mechanics are 99% of arm injuries.

      • Hoyce

        For future reference: it’s old wives tales.

      • Doug Gray

        Yes. Throwing a baseball, with any mechanics, leads to 99% of arm injuries.

  4. Bill

    This is a quote from page 96 of the 2012-16 CBA, “If a Player is optionally assigned for a total of less than 20 days in one championship season, the Player shall be credited with Major League service during the period of such optional assignment(s).” http://mlb.mlb.com/pa/pdf/cba_english.pdf

    Can’t find the latest CBA on the internet, but I have read nothing to indicate this rule changed. If this rule is still in effect, the day Garrett could be activated for service time purposes would be 27 May.

    • Rick in Va

      But that sounds like it has to be 20 days total for the whole year, not 20 consecutive days. So they could option him this time for 10 or 14 days, then option him again later for another 6 or 10 days, and that would get them the extra year. Not saying they should, or would, just that they could.

      • Gaffer

        Unless it’s changed, it’s 20 consecutive days. Doug?

    • Doug Gray

      It’s certainly an interesting thing, Bill. I’m not 100% sure how the rule works, but let’s take Kris Bryant as an example: He did not get sent back in his rookie year and came up less than two weeks after the season started. The Cubs got the extra year for that. Maybe there’s some weird wording or something, elsewhere, because the rule as you show it, would suggest that the Cubs didn’t get the extra year for Bryant.

      • allthehype

        A ML season is approx 183 days. Players are considered to have a year of service time if they have 172 days of ML service. If the are optioned to start the season, they need to spend approx 12 days in minors to delay free agency by a full year.

        However, if a player is optioned during the year, they must spend 20 days in the minors in order for it to not count as ML service time per the criteria in the CBA.

      • Bill

        The rule specifically applies to “optional” assignments, so I don’t think Kris Bryant is comparable example. Bryant attended Spring Training in 2015 as a non-roster player and then had his contract “purchased” on Apr 17, 2015.

  5. Jack

    I don’t like it under the circumstances. Wait till they fall out of the race then do it, right now it is just alienating fans who won’t understand the move.

    • Jack

      And I have think players remember this in the future.

      • MK

        Jack along those lines I imagine in a few years when Garrett refuses to give the Reds a hometown discount he will be villified in the press and among fans for his lack of loyalty.

      • Doug Gray

        Most players don’t, nor should they, give hometown discounts – especially when it’s not actually their home town. Garrett’s going to hit free agency at the age where he’s got one shot at a truly big deal. Get every penny you’re worth (but get it in bills).

      • greg

        If they remember it in the future, and it truly bothers them, then they should negotiate for a change in the next CBA. As it is, I think they’re smart enough to understand how the business works.

  6. James K

    At first I begrudgingly saw the logic in this, but on second thought it seems less reasonable. If the team plans to demote him for 10-20 days at some point (which does make sense, to save his innings), why not wait to do it when he is pitching less effectively?

    • Doug Gray

      Because he may not pitch less effectively?

      While he certainly didn’t pitch poorly the last time out, he walked four batters with just two strikeouts. That probably isn’t going to happen too frequently. With how the schedule lines up, being able to skip the 5th guy for two weeks, it’s perfect, as far as timing goes.

      At the same time, for the player, it’s terrible. Amir has pitched better than any other starter and he’s the one that gets to go to Louisville.

  7. The Rage

    Not a overly thumbs up to Feldman/Davis either. They think they will need the extra “arm”.

    The Reds need Homer Bailey to return healthy in June in the worst way.

    • Doug Gray

      They need him to not only return, but return and at the very least be able to eat some innings.

      • Hingle McCringleberry

        So why is bronson here? I thought innings eaters always came out of the pen. Right?

  8. Kap

    Was really shocked when I read this but I understand. He has options so why not? Save his arm so he can continue his development. Very logical move. Just hope he understands and doesn’t let that sink in

    • Hingle McCringleberry

      It looks bad considering stevenson should have been sent back first. Screw the extra year. He was your best starter.

      • Kap

        He won’t miss more than a start. He’ll be back very soon

  9. Hingle McCringleberry

    I’ve said it before that this organization is clueless. You need no other example than this move. Its a petty move. If you can lock up bailey and votto a little early, Amir might be that guy too. Then you bring up a guy who cant get AAA batters out. SMH! Astin I think was the brewers return for broxton. This lets me know Jocketty still has his finger prints all over this one. If Im Amir, i’m really upset about this. Way to bust a guy’s confidence.

    What Dusty accomplished here was an outright miracle considering the backwards thinking of the front office then.

    • Doug Gray

      The backwards thinking put Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Scott Rolen, Jay Bruce, Johnny Cueto, Homer Bailey, Mat Latos, Aaron Harang and Bronson Arroyo on the same team. But sure, they couldn’t get anything right.

      I think this is a real weird move, particularly if it’s not going to effect the service time unless he’s down for more than 20 days (which I can’t imagine – though, they’ve also left themselves a window already with this one from Price:

      Probably tomorrow or the next day he will pitch maybe an inning, maybe two on the 12th and then he’ll throw a bullpen after that,” Price said. “Then we’ll assess when he’ll come back and pitch for us.

      If they REALLY wanted to, they could *justify* it by pointing out the control problems he’s had in the last three starts where he’s got 11 walks and just 7 strikeouts. Not that I agree with it at all, but if they had to find something to make it sound credible, that’s what they could lean on by getting one more trip through without him to make the days add up.

      • Hoyce

        I love the move. An extra year, for 3 starts. 2 of which, someone can be skipped over. Especially when the Reds plan on limiting his innings. So they don’t have to shut him down in sept. If, big IF, the Reds are still in contention.
        Front office is finally waking up after years of baffling moves. Reds have to protect their resources.

  10. Krozley

    Very smart move. At some point, you had to sent him back to grab that extra year of control. Good time to do it now with the off days coming up and his recent control issues. Protects his innings as well. They can do it again around the all-star break and not really have him miss a start. It stinks for Garrett for sure, but the Reds are playing by the established rules and it just makes sense to gain that extra year of control at probably the best time to do it.

  11. Simon Cowell

    “From a player perspective, this move looks bad.” The players are in this for the money so I am thinking from a players perspective it doesn’t look bad so much, however, I am most certain Amir and his agent are steaming right about now. Everyone knows the real reason he is being sent down and it is service time

    With the Reds being a small market team this is a good move though. There is almost 0% chance the Reds can ever resign Garrett unless they are able to ring him into a deal in the next year or two (which I hope they do not do). So it is best that the Reds get as much service time as they can out of him. His last year on the Reds though they should have him pitch 300 innings. That will just fine. Players are in it for the money and the teams are in it for the money so get your moneys worth.

    • Chris

      Doug,

      With Amir, we supposedly have him under our umbrella until 2023 if we play it right. I agree with the move. Can you possibly post info on our other prospects(the ones whose service time clock has already begun) and/or point me in right direction as to where we can find that info? I’m thinking like:

      Reed
      Stephenson
      Davis
      Romano
      Peraza
      Herrera
      Duvall
      Schebler
      Suarez

      Thanks.

      • Doug Gray

        With the rookies you’re going to need to do the math on your own. For the guys that have been around a little bit, you can go to Baseball Reference, then scroll all the way to the bottom. It’ll tell you when the earliest possible free agency year is.

    • Doug Gray

      So it doesn’t look bad from the players perspective, but the player is steaming over it? I’m confused by the logic here, or maybe I’m misreading it or you mistyped it.

      • Simon Cowell

        They see it also as a business decision. They are steaming because the Reds got the upper hand thanks to the lose wording of the CBA. It isn’t bad but they are ticked that they were not able to get the upper hand to prevent such a move. If Amir’s agent is worth his salt he is talking right now with the Reds front office trying to work out a deal to get his player more time and money. Again… I hope the Reds do not resign him or anyone else. Let them go.

  12. Herzog

    This – especially what Price said – almost makes me believe that the Reds are believing in contending this season. Limiting his innings for September and potentially October.

    • Simon Cowell

      You need to get that out of your head. This team is playing good but no way they are playing like this come September. Baseball is funny stuff and it could happen but highly unlikely

  13. The Duke

    Good for the Reds. This was a tough call that needed to be made at some point. Beginning of the year would have been the easy out, but i’m happy to see they are treating it like the business that it is. Amir’s a grown man and he knows how the game behind the game is played. He’ll get over it and when the time comes he’ll negotiate the best thing for himself, like he would and should have in the first place. Just like the Reds need to.

  14. William Kubas

    Interesting discussion……..lesson learned in sending Mike Leake to the minors in 2011

    Garett is losing 20/182 (10.9%) of a league minimum $500,000 salary……the Reds should compensate him for the lost $54,500 lost by going to Louisville.

    Again, interesting discussion

    • Simon Cowell

      Curious. Why should the Reds compensate him anything? He is making plenty good money playing once every five days? He is being sent down for pure business reasons so why in the world would they just give him 54K for no logical reason?

      • OklaRed

        We understand this is a business and the reds are protecting their interest, their was no outrage when Amir was part time player protecting his options to NBA and possibly harming Reds outlook. Also does anyone belief he would be allowed to pitch 200 innings and if not why should he be at major league level for those days he would not be used. I see no problem with this move

  15. Rick

    This has worked so well with Desclafani and bailey, you know , bring them along gradually to help protect their arms.