Sean Doolittle Deal With Reds (www.mlb.com)

CINCINNATI — Instead of using internal candidates, the Reds appear to have turned to the free-agent market for a closer. They agreed to terms with left-hander Sean Doolittle on a one-year, $1.5 million deal, plus performances bonuses, a source told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.
The club has not announced a

CINCINNATI — Instead of using internal candidates, the Reds appear to have turned to the free-agent market for a closer. They agreed to terms with left-hander Sean Doolittle on a one-year, $1.5 million deal, plus performances bonuses, a source told MLB.com’s Jon Paul Morosi.

The club has not announced a signing, but it’s likely it will wait to do so until Doolittle passes a physical.

Doolittle, 34, threw just 7 2/3 innings over 11 appearances with a 5.87 ERA for the Nationals in 2020, after he missed time with right knee fatigue and a right oblique strain.

Injury issues have persisted throughout Doolittle’s nine-year career in the big leagues with the Nationals and A’s. He has been on the injured list nine times since 2014, but he has a lifetime 3.07 ERA, a 0.97 WHIP and 111 saves.

Cincinnati didn’t have a clear-cut closer for 2021 after Raisel Iglesias was

for Noé Ramirez in December. The move saved the Reds over $9 million in salary. Another potential closer, Archie Bradley, was non-tendered and has since signed with the Phillies.

Amir Garrett, Lucas Sims and Michael Lorenzen were all considered possibilities to close. Garrett and Sims could be top late-inning setup choices for manager David Bell. Lorenzen is expected to compete for a spot in the rotation, but he could also figure into the bullpen plans.

Doolittle was a 2018 All-Star and won a World Series for Washington, but he will have to re-establish himself in ’21. Besides enduring injuries last season, he also battled with diminished velocity on his fastball. At its peak, Doolittle’s four-seam fastball averaged 95.4 mph in ’16, and it never tracked less than 93.3 mph for a season. In ’20, the four-seamer averaged 90.7 mph.

The Reds are no strangers to having left-handed closers. Over the years, they’ve employed lefties like Aroldis Chapman, Randy Myers and John Franco in that role.

Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook.



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