Trade News: Astros, Reds Complete Swap

With Lance McCullers undergoing season-ending surgery, the Houston Astros had a 40-man roster spot to fill and have done so by trusting their analytics department to acquire a reliever from the Cincinnati Reds.

The Astros get 28-year-old RHP Joel Kuhnel from Cincinnati for some bullpen depth.

The surface numbers haven’t been too kind for Kuhnel, as he posted a 6.36 ERA in 58 innings last season in Cincinnati, but the underlying metrics say that Kuhnel actually performed well, and was a victim of bad luck.

A .343 BABIP against him was unsustainable, as was the exceptionally low strand rate of 60%. Advanced metrics pegged him with a solid  3.78 xERA and a 3.52 xFIP, largely fed by his strong control, which featured a solid 56:14 strikeout to walk ratio. The Astros, of course, are big believers in analytics.

Kuhnel only pitched three innings for the Reds this season, his fourth year with the club, and was designated for assignment earlier in the week. The right-hander will now report to the Astros Triple-A affiliate as bullpen insurance. 

The Reds get cash considerations in return from Houston. 

Photo: Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK