The Reds have claimed right-handed reliever Michael Feliz off waivers from the Pirates, per a club announcement. In order to open a spot on the 40-man roster, Cincinnati designated righty Sal Romano for assignment.
Feliz, 27, was one of four players the Pirates acquired in the 2017 trade that sent Gerrit Cole to Houston. He came to the Bucs with a heater that averaged better than 96 mph and a 33.8 percent strikeout rate compiled between the 2016-17 seasons. Those numbers have all taken a step back since the trade.
Feliz posted a 3.99 ERA for the Pirates through 56 1/3 innings in 2019 — his best season in the big leagues to date. However, he was hampered by shoulder and forearm issues during his time in Pittsburgh, and his fastball was averaging a career-low 94.1 mph through 7 2/3 innings in 2021. He still posted an above-average 27.7 percent strikeout rate in Pittsburgh, but his walk rate rose a bit (to 10.6 percent) and Feliz was also quite homer-prone, serving up 18 long balls in 113 1/3 frames.
Overall, Feliz has pitched 234 1/3 innings in the Majors and has only a 5.07 ERA to show for it. Fielding-independent marks are more bullish on the righty (4.01 FIP, 3.31 SIERA), so the Reds will hope that a change of scenery will help him get on track and tap into the potential that once made him one of the Astros’ most promising farmhands. Feliz is out of minor league options, so he’ll immediately join the Reds’ bullpen and try to sort things out at the MLB level.
The 27-year-old Romano showed some promise as a rookie back in 2017, when he logged a 4.45 ERA through 16 starts (87 innings). He’s struggled through every big league opportunity he’s had since that time, working to a collective 5.48 ERA through 184 frames with a well below-average strikeout rate (16.3 percent) and roughly average marks in terms of grounder and walk rates (44.4 percent and 8.6 percent, respectively).
Like Feliz, Romano is out of options, meaning any club that claims him or acquires him in a trade would have to carry him on the big league roster. The Reds will have a week to see if there’s a team interested in acquiring him or to try to pass him through outright waivers.