With all of the depth the Reds have put in their organization one might ask how much is enough? Evidently GM Walt Jocketty did not think they reached that point before signing veteran Clay Hensley to a minor league contract. The 33 year-old right-hander is an MLB veteran since 2005 and appeared in 60 games out of the world champion Giants bullpen last season, putting up a 4.62 ERA. Terms of the deal have not been confirmed but he is expected to earn something in the ballpark of the the $750k that he made last season.
He’ll come to Cincinnati from a minor league deal and that’s likely where he’ll be come opening day. Coming into this season expectations are higher for the Reds than any season in recent years and their front office isn’t taking any chances that an unexpected shortage of arms will come back to haunt them in the upcoming season, even though their bullpen is already plenty deep. Hensley started off the season well and was a good contributor to the Giants effort for most of the season, getting his ERA under three on August 2. After that he spent some time on the DL with strained groin, got hit hard over his final 14 appearances, and saw no action in the post season.
At one time Hensley was considered part of the foundation for San Diego to build their staff on for the future. He debuted as a 25 year-old in July, 05 after serving a 15 game suspension for use of a banned drug in the minor leagues. That didn’t stop him from turning in a nifty 1.70 ERA in 24 appearances. They moved him to the rotation the next season and he finished with a sub-four ernie in almost 200 innings. A shoulder injury put him on the DL in 08 and he was never effective again for the Padres, putting up a six-plus ERA in 45 games over the next two seasons before they granted him free agency.
He spent 09 first with Houston and then Miami and did not pitch in the majors. After that he came back to have a very good season with the Marlins and put up a 2.16 ERA over 68 relief appearances in 2010. Things did not go as well for him while contending with injuries the next season making him available to the Giants before last season, the same team that originally drafted him in the 8th round in 2002.
Hensley is not a power pitcher and normally stays in the 80’s, often with a sinker used to induce ground balls that he mixes with a slow curve and changeup. The Reds already have right-handers Jonathan Broxton, Jose Arredondo, Logan Ondrusek, Sam LeCure, Alfredo Simon, and J.J. Hoover in a relief corps that will be tough for Hensley to crack. Still, he’s a veteran of over 500 MLB innings with a flat four ERA and a ground/air out ratio of 1.5, so he can be an effective pitcher when his health permits. He’ll start out at Louisville, but he’s capable of making some noise if one of the incumbents falters.
The Reds avoided arbitration with Mat Latos by signing him with a 2 year/$11.5M contract. He will be arbitration eligible again in 2015.
Shin-Soo Choo settled on a one-year, $7.38M contract. He made $4.9M last season with the Indians who included money to pay for his raise in their trade to the Reds.