Cincinnati has been aggressive all offseason acquiring pieces for a World Series run in 2013 and they still haven't stopped as we enter February. Friday after announcing an agreement that added catcher Miguel Olivo with a minor league contract more news came later in the day that former Brewer Manny Parra has agreed to a one-year/$1 million contract with an opportunity to add another $400k in bonuses. After adding a long-sought leadoff hitter and bench depth the top remainder on their wish list was another lefty for the bullpen which lost Bill Bray to free agency and Aroldis Chapman to the rotation. Parra is now a candidate to take that role as he takes a spot on their 40-man roster opened by designating Todd Redmond for assignment.
The 30 year-old Parra has a low-five lifetime ERA in over five hundred innings pitched in his five year career with the Brewers. He missed the entire 2011 season to a sprained elbow and back problems and came back last year with a flat five ERA in 62 appearances. That wasn't good enough for the Brewers to tender him a contract for arbitration and he became a free agent.
He was a late-round selection by Milwaukee in 2001 before rising through their system. In 2007 he debuted at the MLB level after appearing in only four AAA games. He was originally a starter before they converted him into the pen in 2010 and his best season was his rookie year in 08 when he went 10-8 with a 4.39 ERA. It appears that the first chance he'll get to contribute with the Reds is as a lefty specialist and last season the AVG/OBP against him by left-handed hitters was .229/.323 which was .067'/.080' lower than right-handers' success. He's used to the challenges from pitching in Miller Park which is almost as hitter friendly as Great American Ball Park and last year he allowed only three homers in 58 innings, much lower than his previous rate as a starter.
It's hard to tell if the Cincinnati front office will still be on the lookout for another arm for a bullpen that is already quite crowded. Soon after the completion of the 2012 season they re-signed Jonathan Broxton to replace Chapman at closer and earlier this week they avoided arbitration with long-man Alfredo Simon. Jose Arredondo, Sean Marshall, Logan Ondrusek, and Sam LeCure seem like locks to retain their jobs leaving Parra, J.J. Hoover, Mike Leake and Nick Masset competing for the final spot. Leake was last year's no. 5 starter and is out of rotation after the conversion of Chapman. Hoover was an effective closer at Louisville in 2012 when he wasn't keeping a 3.05 ERA in his 28 appearances for the Reds. Masset was a workhorse out of the pen prior to last season when a shoulder injury kept him out of action and is scheduled to receive over $3M in 2013.
The move appears to confirm earlier comments by Reds GM Walt Jocketty that they prefer to have top southpaw prospect Tony Cingrani continue his development as a starter instead of using him to round out their bullpen. He will join Pensacola teammate Daniel Corcino at Louisville in a rotation with veteran Armando Galarraga. It's uncertain where Mike Leake will start the season and Redmond is now in limbo with Pedro Villarreal remaining on the 40-man roster.
Right now Cincinnati is much deeper with pitching than at any time in recent history. On paper Parra's past results aren't much reason for excitement, but then again neither were Simon's when they picked him up off waivers before opening day last year and he proceeded to turn in a sub-three ERA campaign. The Reds have seen Parra in action plenty while he's competed in the same division over the last six years. He's been knocked around some over his career, but oddly he's done well against top division rival St. Louis. Don't be surprised to see him continue wearing a Reds uniform after the team heads north from Arizona this spring.
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