Trading for right-handed reliever Addison Reed could be one of the best things a team does this July. In my mind, he hasn’t received the same type of attention on the relief market as David Roberton, Pat Neshek or Brad Hand. But in some respects, Reed has been just as good — if not better than — his relief pitcher compliments.
That could be why MLB Trade Rumors listed Reed as their No. 3 top trade candidate on their latest installment of the Top 60 Trade Candidates, noting:
He’s been dominant since taking over the 9th for the Mets and could be the best right-handed reliever available. Barring a stunning run, New York looks to be a clear seller, with the deadline representing a nice consolation opportunity to cash in on some players who’ll be free agents at year end.
Considering how many contending teams would benefit from adding Reed, the Mets will have the opportunity to sell high on him, even when taking into account the fact that he will be a free agent this winter.
The Nationals, Rangers, Rockies, Angels, Mariners, Cubs, Yankees, Dodgers and Royals could all look to upgrade their bullpen during trade deadline season, but it is not known which teams will be prioritizing long-term upgrades as opposed to those of the short-term variety.
Regardless, Reed could help the bullpen of any team for three reasons: his versatility, his ability to pitch well in high-leverage situations and his overall effectiveness. Let’s break him down, so you can get a real sense of what teams would be acquiring when the Mets ultimately pull the trigger.
Reed has had experience in nearly every relief role over the course of his career, and he has pitched well in all of them. Reed’s spot in the bullpen over the course of his career can be broken down into three phases: Addison Reed the closer; Addison Reed the setup man; and Addison Reed the hybrid.
Let’s begin with the closer version of Reed, which was mainly from 2012 to 2014 while he was a member of the Chicago White Sox and Arizona Diamondbacks. In three years, Reed totaled 101 saves with just 18 blown saves. His ERA was nothing to be proud of for a late-inning reliever at 4.22, but a 195 to 56 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 185 2⁄3 innings kept his FIP at a much better 3.58. His best year came in 2013, which resulted in a December trade that sent him to the desert.
Set-up man Addison Reed came next. The 2015 Diamondbacks mostly relied upon Brad Ziegler to close out games for them, so once they fell out of contention, Reed became an expendable bullpen piece. They shipped him to the Big Apple, and the Mets greatly appreciated it. Reed posted a 1.17 ERA down the home stretch for New York, being utilized as a bridge to Jeruys Familia.
Reed pitched well in New York, but he had a tough postseason experience that year. His World Series performance, specifically, was bad. Reed allowed four earned runs in 3 2⁄3 innings against Kansas City, appearing in five games. That didn’t make the Mets hesitate to bring him back in 2016, and he had his best year of his career, posting a 1.97 ERA with 91 strikeouts and 13 walks over 77 2⁄3 innings.
It’s been more of the same from Reed this year, but after Familia got injured, he returned almost seamlessly into the closer role. One thing has changed for Reed, though: he’s pitched more than one inning in 11 percent of his appearances, and he has been effective in all of them.
If he is traded, Reed doesn’t seem to mind which role he’s placed in as long as he is pitching.
Over the past two seasons, out of 234 pitchers with 100 or more innings pitched, Addison Reed ranks sixth in the Major Leagues in wOBA against in high-leverage situations, making him a real threat to shutdown opposing offenses when they are within striking distance. This is a major key for teams looking to make a postseason run.
In these situations, opposing hitters are slashing just .219/.249/.330 against Reed, with 136 strikeouts as opposed to just 18 walks. Perhaps even better, he’s limited damage against teams by only allowing nine home runs in the 480 batters faced during these stressful times. Overall, Reed has a 2.15 ERA in high-leverage situations, fifth in baseball over this span and well below the MLB-average 4.35 ERA that pitchers are posting in this area this year.
What does this tell us about Reed? He’s at his best when you need him, which is huge. He can help you win those close games on the road that limit the magic number, or he can help you climb the standings to make a postseason run. He’s got a skill that few other pitchers have: being able to pitch well when the stakes are the highest.
Lastly, Reed is just a good pitcher. His fastball velocity sits in the 93 mph range with the ability to hit 95 or 96. It generates more whiffs than the average fastball, too, as 13.7 percent of those pitches are swung at and missed. He compliments the fastball with a slider that sits in the 86 mph range. According to Brooks Baseball, it has less depth than the average slider, but he has still managed to get hitters to whiff at 16.4 percent of them.
Overall, Reed has thrown 679 pitches this season with 86 whiffs. His 12.7 percent whiff rate compares similarly to Wade Davis’ (12.8 percent). Reed generates lots of swings and misses, which is exactly what you want out of a relief pitcher.
The only issue is that Reed doesn’t throw too hard, which could be one of the reasons he has flown under-the-radar this trade season. Yes, there are counterexamples like Pat Neshek, but Neshek has posted better results than Reed while also being named an All-Star.
All in all, it’s likely your team would benefit by adding Addison Reed.
Devan Fink is a Featured Writer for Beyond The Box Score. You can follow him on Twitter @DevanFink.