Evan Reed is a 28 year old right-handed relief pitcher who was drafted by the Texas Rangers in the third round of the 2007 amateur player draft out of Cal Poly San Luis Obispo. Being a college pitcher when he turned pro, he got a later start than many others vying for a job in the Tigers' bullpen this spring, but he finally made his major league debut in Detroit last season.
After three years in the Rangers' organization, he was traded to the Florida Marlins as part of a deal for Jorge Cantu in 2010. When the Marlins put him on waivers at the start of the 2013 season, he was claimed by the Tigers, who optioned him to Toledo. That would be his third and final option year, used up in 2013.
Should Reed not make the team out of Spring Training, the Tigers will not be able to send him back to the minors without first putting him on waivers, and any team can claim him for the nominal waiver fee. This also means, all other things being equal, the Tigers might decide to keep Reed on the roster rather than risk losing him, and send another player to the minors.
Despite being out of options, Reed will have to earn his way onto the roster, which has just one or two spots available. Five roster spots are probably spoken for in the Tigers' bullpen, between Joe Nathan, Bruce Rondon, Joba Chamberlain, Al Alburquerque, and Ian Krol. Phil Coke, or another left-hander, is likely to get a sixth spot. Reed will have competition from Jose Ortega, Luke Putkonen and others for the last seat on the bus to Detroit.
Listed at 6'4", 255 pounds, Reed was called up from Triple-A Toledo last May when Darin Downs went on the disabled list. Reed made 16 appearances for Detroit for a total of 23 1/3 innings, posting an ERA of 4.24 and a WHIP of 1.54. He struck out 17 and walked eight batters while allowing an opponent's batting average of .301. He was optioned back to Toledo at the start of August when the Tigers called up Jeremy Bonderman. Reed was called back up in September after the minor league season.
Reed's work in Toledo earned him the time that he spent in Detroit. In 49 2/3 innings, he posted an ERA of 2.54 with a WHIP of 1.17 and a .221 OBA, allowing just one home run.
Most observers, including myself, believe that Luke Putkonen has the inside track on the last spot in the bullpen this spring. But as we all know, there are always surprises every spring, be it an injury, a trade, or a surprisingly good or poor performance from an unexpected source.
Reed had some interesting reverse splits with the Tigers last season, with a line of .304/.328/.455 against right-handers and .275/.391/.368 against left-handers. He allowed his only two home runs to righties, and gave up eleven runs in 13.2 innings, while giving up five runs in 9.1 innings to lefties. Five of 16 runs allowed were unearned. He's not a ROOGY.
Key to success
Reed needs to find a way to bring the success that he showed in Toledo last season up to the next level. His ratios are okay, with the exception of the .300-plus average allowed overall.
Outlook for 2014
Reed is sitting on the bubble, possibly one of the last cuts made before Opening Day. If he pitches well in the spring and the opportunity presents itself, he could be on the team going north. If not, the Tigers will likely try to trade him and get something rather than risk losing him on waivers. If he does clear, he will be outrighted to Toledo.