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Fay: Storen isn't a sure bet for the Reds -- but he's a good one

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Posted at 6:07 PM, Jan 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-01-03 19:18:54-05

CINCINNATI -- The Drew Storen signing looks like a good one for the Reds.

It could also be the only one that adds a player under a major-league contract.

"It’s possible if we don’t find the right value," president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. "We told people all along we were going to be patient. That paid off with Drew. We are able to find a win-win situation for both of us.

"They’re other targets we have our eye on. But we do have a criteria in mind for the type of player we’re trying to acquire and the amount we’re willing to spend. We’re trying to find the right match. If we don’t, we like the group we’re putting together.

"We’ll keep looking to make the team better."

Storen has the potential to do that in a big way, and he fit the team's limited budget. The list of players who fit those criteria isn't long.

Storen was cheap in baseball teams -- $3 million in salary with a chance to make another $1.5 million in incentives. The 29-year-old right-hander put up a 1.12 ERA in 2014 and a 3.44 ERA in 2015 for Washington.

He went 4-3 with a 5.23 ERA last year, however, in a season split between Toronto and Seattle. That’s why he was available for the price at which the Reds got him.

It’s the kind of low-risk, high-reward move a team in the Reds' position has to make. The Reds targeted Storen from the beginning of the offseason.

"Very much so," Williams said. "We identified a group of pitchers that we wanted to go after that fit certain criteria. Drew was one of them. We made contact with his agent early. We pursued him. We think we provide a very good opportunity for him here."

The opportunity? Storen could be in the closer mix. That will be determined during spring training.

But whether he closes or not, Storen can help the Reds. The three guys at the backend of the bullpen -- Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Tony Cingrani -- are all young. Storen is only 29, but he’s pitched in big situations since entering the big leagues at 22.

"I think Drew will be a great resource," Williams said. "It will be good to have someone come with Drew’s track record. It’s impressive with what he’s been able to do his first seven years in the big leagues."

The Reds like the fact that Storen’s strikeout and walk rate stayed consistent with his career numbers last year.

"He had a higher batting average on balls in play (BABIP) than he had in most of all his seasons," Williams said. "The fact that he was able to control the ball with a good three-pitch mix ... We saw a guy with very consistent track record before last year."

His BABIP was .320 last year. It was .259 in ’14. Just bad luck? The Reds are hoping so.

More troubling is Storen's drop in velocity. He averaged 91.8 mph on his fastball last year, according to Fangraphs, down from 94.0 in 2015.

"I really don’t know what it was," Storen said.

Williams said Storen was in the 93 range in his last outing.

"We still think he can be effective in that range," Williams said.

Again, there’s no guarantee that he will. But when you’re shopping on baseball’s bargain shelf, you don’t get sure bets. I think the bet on Storen was about as good as the Reds could make.