The Cincinnati Reds continue to reshape their roster and their clubhouse in the last quarter of the 2019 season.
Nine players who were on the Opening Day roster are no longer with the team. They have been either traded, waived or demoted to Triple-A Louisville. That doesn't include reliever Amir Garrett, who's serving an eight-game suspension, or Derek Dietrich and Tyler Mahle, who are on the injured list.
On Thursday, as the Reds began a four-game series against the St. Louis Cardinals at Great American Ball Park, the latest new face to join the team, reliever Joel Kuhnel, settled into his locker just a few stalls down from where reliever Jared Hughes had dressed the last two seasons.
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The Phillies claimed Hughes off waivers, and the Reds replaced him with a rookie who posted a 2.00 ERA in 16 appearances with the Louisville Bats.
“We’re just at a point now where we continue to try to put together the best team we can,” manager David Bell said.
When Kuhnel, an 11th-round pick in 2016, pitches for the Reds, it will be his big-league debut. The Bats teased by him by first telling him he was going back to Double-A Chattanooga, where he started the season, before breaking the real news.
“It was kind of a sigh of relief,” Kuhnel said, “but I’m super happy and super excited to be here. I couldn’t stop smiling. I was just so happy. I called my fiancée and mom and dad and everybody. I couldn’t believe it was actually coming true.”
The Reds hope Kuhnel and Matt Bowman, who also was called up from Louisville to replace Sal Romano, can help a bullpen that has struggled since July 1. The bullpen had a 3.73 ERA at that point, the best in the National League. Through Wednesday, after the Reds were swept by the Washington Nationals, that ERA stood at 4.52, the seventh-best in the league.
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Two of the bullpen's veterans, David Hernandez and Hughes, have departed in the last week. They were two of the team's best relievers a year ago but could not replicate that success. The Yankees signed Hernandez to a minor-league contract Thursday.
Hughes moves on to the Phillies after posting a 4.10 ERA in 47 games. He had an 8.10 ERA in his last 10 games.
“Jared was as big a part of this team as you can ever be as far as in the clubhouse,” Bell said. “Everything he’s done in the bullpen for the culture there and for our entire team, he will be missed. He’s a great person and a great guy. He made us better in a lot of ways. He’ll be missed for all those reasons.”
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