Reds Add RHP Magill

After signing one veteran to a minor league contract last week Cincinnati made another move this week that will affect their outfield when they traded Chris Heisey to the Dodgers in return for minor league pitcher Matt Magill. Used primarily as a starter earlier in his career Magill could work himself into the mix as the Reds look to rebuild their bullpen.

Cincinnati has added former Dodger farmhand Matt Magill to their organization from a trade Tuesday. The 6’3”/215# right-hander had been with Los Angeles since he debuted for their rookie league affiliate as an eighteen year-old after his selection in the 31st round of the 2008 draft. Since then he’s worked his way steadily up the pipeline reaching AAA Albuquerque in 2013. That season he went 6-2 with a mid-three ERA while being used mostly in the rotation and even got a shot with the Dodgers where he got roughed up in six appearances.

Things didn’t go as well for the Royal High School (Simi Valley, CA) alum last season when his ernie spiked up nearly two runs and he made more relief appearances than starts. He’s recently turned 25 years old and may be more of a suspect than a prospect. He could perhaps provide some bullpen depth the Reds may need after non-tendering Logan Ondrusek and Curtis Partch.

Magill brings a low/mid 90’s fastball and his best pitch is a slider that he throws with good command. At one time some had projected a spot for him in a future Dodger rotation and he’s struck out nearly one batter per inning pitched throughout his seven minor league seasons. That rate dropped to 7.4 K’s/9 IP last season which was only slightly higher than his walk rate (6.3/nine). Of course strikeouts are never a problem for any pitcher; it appears the questions around Magill now are regarding his ability to prevent hitters reaching base when they’re not punched out, something MLB hitters had little trouble doing when he allowed around two runners per in the 27 innings he threw against them in 2013.

Then again, Cincinnati has put a lot of confidence in Bryan Price’s abilities to develop pitchers since his arrival as pitching coach in 2010. He’s provided good return, but his responsibilities have been increased since he took over as manager before last season. The trade will likely have a bigger impact on the Reds outfield because they dealt veteran Chris Heisey in return. Heisey has seen significant action as the team’s “fourth outfielder” since his arrival in 2010 and even came off the bench to deliver ten pinch-hit home runs.

Heisey was a handy guy to have around with the ability to play all three outfield positions, but his production at the plate ebbed over the past couple of seasons, both of which he failed to get to base at a .300 rate. He had his moments in a Reds uniform, like in 2011 when he hit 18 HR in only around 300 plate appearances (.487 SLG), but he had never been able to take ownership of regular duty in left field and is arbitration eligible. With the Reds payroll burdened by some lucrative contract extensions inked over the past few years this move smells like a salary dump.

Meanwhile Magill will work to get back to the MLB level with Cincinnati. There should be opportunity after the Reds bullpen last season was plagued by injuries and ineffectiveness. Veteran Jonathan Broxton was dealt away at the trading deadline and 30 year-old rookie Jumbo Diaz, who wasn’t even on the opening day 40-man roster, worked his way into action during some high-leverage situations. With other possible deals pending, Magill should have about as much a chance making an impact with the Reds as Heisey will in the crowded Dodger outfield.

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