The St. Louis Cardinals have a bullpen problem, and Addison Reed could fix it real quick.
The free agent closer saved 19 games in 2017 for the New York Mets before a midseason trade to the Boston Red Sox, where Reed didn't close games, but still pitched very well in the rugged A.L. East.
Reed solves a number of problems for the Cardinals, namely giving their bullpen a true sense of identity going in spring training next month. Instead of an island of misfit toys thrown together, the Cardinals would have an organized group of efficient arms with an ability to shift.
At the moment, the team is tentatively riding the Luke Gregerson train to put the seal on late and close games. While Gregerson isn't a bad option, he'd be a better setup man for this team. Adding Reed would provide the Cards with late game flexibility. Gregerson has only two seasons of double digit save totals. While his strikeout rate is very good, he could be an extremely reliable setup man.
Reed has four seasons of double-digit save totals, and when given the opportunity, he rarely lets a team down. Reed is also durable in each league, finding success in multiple divisions, which takes a quality arm.
How about brass pitching details? Reed is the epitome of steady for a reliever. He's maintained an average strikeouts rate of 9.5 K/per nine innings for the past five seasons, topping 10.0 twice. In 2017, Reed averaged five strikeouts for every single walk. The man gives few free passes, and his 0.9 home run rate is stellar as well.
With Reed, the Cardinals could run with a late game setup that finishes like this: Tyler Lyons, Gregerson, and Reed. You'd have three arms with high strikeout rates and enough polish to give the starting rotation peace of mind when they depart games. If needed, pitching coach Mike Maddux can shuffle the late inning deck if he has to, and it wouldn't effect neither pitcher. However, finding a set group is the key to success.
Acquiring Alex Colome would be swell, but the Tampa Bay Rays aren't opening the door that wide, and there's fair reason to be worry about Colome's decreased strikeout rate in 2017. If you could acquire Reed for mere cash, why give up players for Colome?
The 29 year old Reed gets his outs via a four seam fastball that averages 93 miles per hour in speed and a slider that tops out around 86 mph. The latter is where Reed gets hitters to swing and miss on. He briefly used a changeup in May of the past two seasons, but survives by mastering the heater and the slider.
There's a need for innings in the rotation, but the bullpen needs serious repair. I was an advocate for signing Reed AND Juan Nicasio back in November, but the latter arm signed with Seattle and the market froze up over December. With Trevor Rosenthal gone and Seung hwan OH regressing and departing as well, closer options on the team are scarce.
Alex Reyes should return around midseason, but the Cardinals can't wait that long. They blew a high number of games in 2017, something that crippled the team's chances late, before Nicasio showed up and rectified the ninth.
Acquiring Reed would solve a big problem and wrap up the offseason quite well. Many fans will scream about wanting more than Marcell Ozuna, Miles Mikolas, Gregerson, and Reed, but that's a quietly efficient winter in a weak free agent market.