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Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tyler Mahle traded to Minnesota Twins, why it’s a great move

Matt Johnson
Tyler Mahle, Minnesota Twins
Albert Cesare / The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tyler Mahle is headed to the Minnesota Twins, joining the AL Central leader just hours before the MLB trade deadline.

Mahle became available thanks to the Reds’ rebuild, with the front office seeking to tear down the roster. A few days after the blockbuster trade sending All-Star pitcher Luis Castillo to the Seattle Mariners, Cincinnati is now moving its second-best starter to the American League.

C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic first reported Minnesota and Cincinnati were engaged in serious discussions. Mahle becomes the second Reds’ starting pitcher to join the Twins this year, coming months after the club acquired Sonny Gray.

The trade is now confirmed by Jon Heyman of the New York Post.

According to C. Trent Rosecrans, Cincinnati will receive infield prospect Spencer Steer, third base prospect Christian Encarnacion-Strand and left-handed pitcher Steven Hajjar in exchange for Mahle. Steer is rated as the No. 6 prospect in Minnesota’s farm system (The Athletic) and Encarnacion-Strand is one of the breakout hitters in the minors this year.

  • Tyler Mahle contract: $5.2 million salary (2022), arbitration-eligible in 2023.

Mahle could be poised to take a significant step forward on the mound. The 27-year-old generated significant trade interest this summer, including from the New York Yankees and St. Louis Cardinals. With Montas in New York and the Cardinals focusing on Carlos Rodón, Minnesota’s package of prospects won the bidding war.

It’s a significant addition for the Twins, who needed a reliable No. 3 starter behind Gray and Joe Ryan. There are also numbers that suggest Mahle could even overtake Ryan as the No. 2 starter on the staff.

  • Tyler Mahle stats (2022): 4.40 ERA, 1.25 WHIP, .228 batting average allowed, 25.9% strikeout rate

Mahle’s splits offer a stark contrast and highlight the struggles of pitching in hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark. In 2021, the 6-foot-3 righty struggled at home with a 5.63 ERA and a 1.48 WHIP in 78.1 innings. Across 101.2 innings away from home, he dominated with a 2.30 ERA and 1.04 WHIP.

Tyler Mahle splits (2022)IPERAHR/9BAAK-BB%WHIP
Home starts64.14.761.26.25714.6%1.41
Road starts40.03.830.68.18921.2%0.98

Things got off to a rough start to open the 2022 season. Mahle struggled to the tune of a 7.01 ERA with an alarming 10% K-BB rate, .283 batting average allowed and 1.71 WHIP in his first six starts. He’s been far more effective as of late, holding opponents to a .208 BAA with a 1.09 WHIP, 19.7% K-BB rate and a 3.55 ERA.

Backed by a superior defense in a ballpark that is the eighth-most friendly to pitchers this season (Baseball Savant), Mahle could prove to be one of the most underrated acquisitions from the MLB trade deadline. With both the Chicago White Sox and Cleveland Guardians relatively quiet at the trade deadline, this is a massive step towards Minnesota winning the division this year.