The Reds have signed right-hander Shea Spitzbarth to a minor league deal, according to his transactions tracker at MLB.com. He’s been assigned to the club’s Complex League affiliate for now but will presumably move to a higher level after getting some work in.
Spitzbarth, 28, has five innings of major league experience under his belt, which came with the Pirates in 2021. He recorded a 3.60 ERA in that brief time despite a miniscule 4.5% strikeout rate, getting helped out by a .176 batting average on balls in play and 89.3% strand rate. He spent the majority of that year in Triple-A, tossing 46 2/3 innings with a 2.12 ERA, 21.5% strikeout rate, 11% walk rate and 44.1% ground ball rate.
He was outrighted at season’s end and signed a minor league deal with the Tigers for 2022. He threw 53 2/3 innings in the minors last year with a 2.85 ERA, though the numbers under the hood weren’t as impressive. His 20.5% strikeout rate and 14.3% walk rate were both a few ticks worse than league average. A .214 batting average on balls in play and 81.7% strand rate kept the ERA down but led to a 4.65 FIP.
The Reds have actually had a strong relief unit overall this year, as their collective bullpen ERA of 3.71 puts them in the top 10 league wide. However, their depth is getting tested by injuries, with each of Tejay Antone, Fernando Cruz, Derek Law, Casey Legumina, Reiver Sanmartin and Tony Santillan current on the IL. Spitzbarth will add some non-roster depth and try to earn his way back to the majors. If he does so, he still has options and less than a year of service time, which would give the Reds the option of retaining him as a cheap depth piece for an extended period of time.