The St. Louis Cardinals non-tendered their once top prospect; since then, there has been little news regarding Alex Reyes. The former all-star has seen a lack of reported interest so far in free agency and could be a fit for any team looking for relief help, meaning every team. There are several reasons to and not to sign Alex Reyes. I want to examine his current outlook to see if he is a fit for the Minnesota Twins.
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The first thing you notice about Alex Reyes when you look at his career is injuries, injuries, injuries. And more injuries. Health has not been a blessing Reyes’ has received in his career and was likely the reason the Cardinals gave up on him. Reyes crossed the 20-inning threshold just twice in his career, in 2016 and 2021. Most recently, he missed all of 2022 due to a shoulder injury. His injuries prior to 2021 didn’t seem to impact his stuff much, but every injury is different. It is unknown whether or not he can be the same pitcher he was two years ago. Given his health track record, it is more likely he doesn’t pitch at all than he gives you innings, and it is very valid that teams are concerned about this.
The other major concern with Alex Reyes is his control. His raw stuff can compare with the best in baseball but where it’s going is a different story. In his lone full season in 2021, he had the second-highest BB% and second-highest BB/9 in all of baseball. He also had 10 wild pitches in 2021, which would have ranked fifth among qualified starting pitchers. Alex Reyes, a reliever, pitched over 100 fewer innings than his counterparts in that category. His command issues track back to his early minor league days, so it’s likely this problem never goes away.
So what about the good stuff? He walks everyone, and we have one season to base our entire case to bring him in; what’s the upside? As mentioned before, Reyes was an all-star in 2021, and for good reason. According to Baseball Savant, he was 95th percentile in xBA, 94th percentile in xSLG, 91st percentile in Barrel%, 95th percentile in whiff%, and 87th percentile in K%. Reyes is effective against both left-handed and right-handed hitters as well. Versus lefties, he had a .155 batting average against and a 26.9% K%; versus righties, he had a .195 batting average against and a 33.1 K%. He served as the Cardinals’ primary closer and recorded 29 saves for a team that won 90 games.
His fastball routinely crests triple digits, but I want to focus on his best pitch, his slider. Reyes has maybe the best slider in all of baseball. In 2021, among pitchers with 100 PA against, his slider generated the lowest RV/100 (run value per 100 pitches*) in all of baseball at -3.8, just ahead of Jacob deGrom. It finished top ten in batting average against (3rd .089), SLG against (9th .222), wOBA against (7th .196), swing and miss% (2nd 55.8%), and K% (2nd 56.9%). This is one of the most devastating pitches in all of baseball.
Alex Reyes is about as big of a risk as you can take on a player. With his persistent command issues and colossal injury history, this could blow up as much as any reliever signing could (shoutout Joel Zumaya). Fortunately, Reyes isn’t set to make much, his arbitration projection, according to MLB Trade Rumors, was just under three million, so a one-year deal for two to three million would make sense. If the Twins were to pull this off, they would likely have a second-year option attached to it. Reyes might have the best stuff out of any Twins reliever, including Jhoan Duran. If Alex Reyes can stay healthy, he could be one of the most dominant relievers in Major League Baseball.
*Run Value: http://tangotiger.com/index.php/site/article/run-values-by-pitch-count