Before the Cincinnati Reds started their three-game series against the Los Angeles Dodgers in September, reliever Mychal Givens stepped forward during the pregame relievers meeting.
Givens, who the Reds acquired in a trade deadline deal with the Colorado Rockies, had spent the previous two seasons in the NL West. He had seen Mookie Betts, Justin Turner and the rest of the Dodgers lineup more recently and more frequently than anyone else in the Reds bullpen. So he gave advice to the entire Reds bullpen on how to pitch against them.
Givens quickly stepped into a leadership role in the Reds bullpen, and he also had one of the best stretches of his career. After the trade deadline, Givens picked up eight saves and was one of the most trusted relievers in the Reds bullpen.
“It was a great experience and a great team,” Givens said. “I was really happy they thought of me and traded for me. It was a really good time here.”
Givens, 31, is one of three free agents on the Reds roster following the 2021 season. During the seventh year of his career, Givens had his most consistent opportunity to be a closer with the Reds.
Even though Givens joined the team at the end of July, he finished the year tied for the team lead in saves. He picked up all but one of the Reds’ saves in September and October, and manager David Bell had him get the last out of the regular season in the final game against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Entering free agency, Givens said it doesn’t matter to him what role he has out of the bullpen.
“My satisfaction was winning ball games,” Givens said. “If it’s the seventh, eighth or ninth, it doesn’t matter. It’s about winning a ball game for me. It’s what we prepare for every offseason, we prepare for a World Series. If it’s the seventh, eighth or ninth, I need to go in there and do a job.”
Givens said he took more pride in his leadership role than the fact that he picked up saves. Early in his career with the Baltimore Orioles, Givens said relievers like Brad Brach, Darren O’Day and Zach Britton showed him how to be successful.
As one of a few veterans in a young Reds bullpen, Givens said he tried to take on that responsibility.
“I’ve learned from a lot of veteran guys before me, and they were guys that helped me through my career,” Givens said. “I’m here where I’m at now to be that person and influence the younger guys so we can help them be successful.”
Givens and Michael Lorenzen are the two free agents in the Reds bullpen, and they were the two pitchers who pitched in the most high-leverage situations for the Reds in the second half of the season.
There’s a strong class of free agent relievers this offseason, including former Reds pitchers Raisel Iglesias and Archie Bradley. In addition, highly regarded relievers like Kenley Jansen, Kendall Graveman, Brad Boxberger and Alex Colome will hit the market.
At the end of the season, Givens said he hasn’t put much thought into how his free agency process will develop.
“I want to spend time with my family, that’s my mindset heading into free agency,” Givens said. “That’s all I’m thinking about right now.”