Reds have 5 Baseball America Top 100 Prospects Doug Gray January 22, 2018 65 Comments The Cincinnati Reds have five of Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospects for the 2018 season. The list, which is the gold standard for prospect lists on a national level, was just released this morning and can be found here. Nick Senzel leads the way among Cincinnati Reds prospects. The third baseman checks in at #7 on the list. It marks the second straight season in which he is inside of the Top 10. Since the lists began in 1990, Nick Senzel and Homer Bailey are the only Reds prospects to have made two Top 10 lists. During the 2017 season the former #2 overall draft pick hit .321/.391/.514 between Daytona and Pensacola. Hunter Greene cracks the list next for the organization. The right handed pitcher ranks 29th overall. He, like Senzel, was also the #2 overall pick in his draft. The 18-year-old didn’t spend much time on the mound during the 2017 season after being drafted. He threw just 4.1 innings, and served as designated hitter in seven more games. Late in the season he decided to focus solely on being a pitcher. Reports out of instructional league, where he pitched more than he had in the regular season, were very strong. Marking three top 50 prospects in 2018, Taylor Trammell jumps up to 48th on the list. The outfielder spent the entire 2017 season with the Dayton Dragons. Trammell had a well rounded season, hitting .281/.368/.450 in the Midwest League. He showed off some power, with 24 doubles, 10 triples and 13 home runs. He also showed off plenty of speed, racking up 41 stolen bases during the season. Jumping down the list we see Tyler Mahle show up 90th on the Top 100. The 22-year-old right hander spent time at three different levels in 2017. He began in Pensacola where he posted a 1.59 ERA in 85.0 innings. That earned a promotion to Triple-A Louisville where he barely missed a beat, posting a 2.73 ERA in 59.1 innings. The Reds then called him up in September where he posted a 2.70 ERA in 20.0 innings in the Major Leagues. Known for his control, he walked just 30 batters with 138 strikeouts in 144.1 innings in the minors this past season. Rounding out the Reds players on the list, and almost the entire list itself, is Jesse Winker. The outfielder came in as the 98th best prospect in baseball according to Baseball America. Most of his 2017 season was spent in Triple-A. With the Bats in Louisville he hit .314/.395/.408 over 85 games. The left handed hitter did see a decent chunk of time in the Major Leagues during the season. In 47 games he would hit .298/.375/.529. After hitting just two home runs in Triple-A over 374 plate appearances he crushed seven homers in just 137 plate appearances for the Reds. This marks a return for Winker to the Top 100 list, where he resided for the 2015 and 2016 lists, but missed out last season. How do the Reds stack up to the NL Central? Looking at the National League Central division, the Reds seem to be a tad behind the Brewers on this list, but ahead of everyone else. The Brewers have six Top 100 prospects, led by #18 Lewis Brinson. The Reds have five players on the list, as noted above. The Cardinals have four, led by Alex Reyes who is recovering from Tommy John surgery. He’s their only Top 50 prospect. The Pirates have two prospects on the list. Both are in the Top 50, led by Mitch Keller at #12. The Chicago Cubs don’t have a single prospect on the list. Earlier this morning I wrote about the Reds history in the Top 100 lists at Baseball America. In there I used a crude AP Style point system to rank the Top 100 classes for the Reds since 1990. Using that same format, here’s how the division stacks up this year: Team Points Brewers 251 Reds 233 Cardinals 193 Pirates 146 Cubs 0 Overall Thoughts Most of the Reds rankings seem about as expect, with one exception. I thought that Tyler Mahle would rank higher on the list. My belief was that he would fall somewhere in that 50-75 range, closer to 50. Seeing him down at 90th was a surprise. The other surprise, though not nearly as much, was Taylor Trammell. While I’m quite high on Trammell, I thought he’d wind up about 15-20 spots lower than he did. Personally, I’d have him about where he ranks (based on historical rankings – I haven’t done a deep dive into these specific rankings in terms of who the other 95 players are) right now – I just thought that scouts concerns about his arm and possibly pushing him to left field would cause a bit of a drop versus my belief that while his arm isn’t great, it’s enough to handle center field every day. 65 Responses Hoyce January 22, 2018 Mahle’s rank is confusing. He’s been great at every level. And once u get his nerves out of the way, I think his walk rate comes back down to what he’s used to. I’ll take low to mid 2 ERA from a starter all day long. Doug Gray January 22, 2018 Well, no one on the planet thinks Tyler Mahle is going to be a sub 3.00 ERA guy in the Majors. If anyone believed that, he’d be ranked #1. Most scouts believe he’s a #4. I think he could be better than that – though, I also think that what a scout believes a #4 is and what reality says a #4 is are very different. Most scouts seem to think he’ll wind up posting numbers like Mike Leake did, though they aren’t exactly similar pitchers in terms of stuff. Colorado Red January 22, 2018 I think if he is like a Mike Leake player, I can live with that. About a good 3. sultanofswaff January 22, 2018 I agree that Mahle’s walk rate will come back to his norms, but what gives me pause about him at the big league level is that he won’t strike out a lot of guys. His ceiling to me is a #3, which is a real achievement for the front office given his draft position. That’s less $$$ you have to spend on the free agent market to cover those innings. HavaKlu January 22, 2018 Unless a team has a true # 1 like Kershaw or Scherzer, it would be difficult for many teams to differentiate between a 1 thru 5 order. You can throw a blanket over 2, 3 and 4 and sometimes 5 and who ever peeks out first will be that #. In other words I think designating someone as a #2 or 3 or 4 is relatively meaningless. Jordan January 22, 2018 @HavaKlu the #1/#2/#3 etc. parlance you hear is generally just scout speak. It doesn’t always translate into “This guy should be the third guy in your rotation.” It almost always is just relative to his upside. So while guys like Hunter Greene have top-end upside (scouts say he’s a future #1/ace), guys like Mahle with lack of stuff but good production often can’t get into the #1 or #2 discussion, because they lack upside. Doug Gray January 22, 2018 Basically, when scouts say a guy is a #whatever, that is on a normal playoff team. Most of those teams have legit #1 types, not your Jimmy Haynes is the opening day starter so he’s your #1 type. Of course, my issue with that is that basically, it implies that there are only about 40 guys that are either a #1, #2 or #3 combined. And well, that’s just not true. In an even distribution of talent, there are 30 #1’s. There are 30 #2’s. And so on. HavaKlu January 22, 2018 Jordan and Doug—-that’s exactly my point. Aside from the few teams that have a legitimate # 1, Kershaw type, it really matters little whether a guy is labeled with 2, 3, 4 or 5 potential. AndyBado January 23, 2018 What would be a more appropriate description for the reality of starting pitching in MLB? And how many players are in each category? Maybe something like this — – Ace: at most 20 guys in MLB – Good starter: 30 players – Dependable starter: 50 players – Fringe starter: 50 players Usually the best pitching staffs have at least 3 of those top 50 guys (aces/good starters). In 2017, the Reds only had 1 (and then only in the second half of the season) — Castillo. Gaffer January 22, 2018 While there being 30 #1,s is reasonable, no one historically has talked like that. I think most people call an ace based on a solid performance in nearly every start and a near certain all star. Sure, that’s a high bar but clearly that is what people mean. If there are 8 playoff teams, a third starter on one of those teams is probably a top 25-30 pitcher. Most people think a third starter is better than the 60-90th starter. Doug Gray January 22, 2018 I think the reason no one has historically talked like that because they never adapted the terminology with expansion of teams. They still speak about the number of #1’s and #2’s as if it’s 1952 and there are 14 teams instead of 30. I’ll agree, I think there are ACES and there are #1’s and that all #1’s aren’t ACES. But, I do think it’s insanity to suggest there aren’t 30 #1 guys in a given season. Norwood Nate January 22, 2018 Ramos checks in at 79. About the range I expected. Colt Holt January 22, 2018 Anybody know what Cliff Lee is doing these days? After years of seeing the likes of Stephenson, Garrett, Reed, Finnegan, and others, I was curious what Cliff Lee looked like as a prospect and found this gem of an article by Baseball Prospectus back in 2008. This is an article to keep in mind with the wealth of guys who haven’t mastered control yet. Arrieta is a more recent reminder that a team like the Reds must find a way to help these guys put together the pieces rather than give up on them because the results can be staggering. https://www.baseballprospectus.com/news/article/8061/player-profile-cliff-lee/ sultanofswaff January 22, 2018 Yes, these look-backs are instructive. I’ve commented frequently about BobSteve’s delivery reminding me of David Cone, and sure enough Cone also struggled with command early in his career. Of course, some guys never put in together. Edinson Volquez, anyone? B-town Fan January 22, 2018 Perhaps the Reds could get Cliff Lee to come to Spring Training to work with are young pitchers and give them some insight on changes he made in his transition to the major leagues that made him the pitcher he became. Very interesting article. sultanofswaff January 22, 2018 Anyone else been consistently surprised this offseason about how little teams have received back in prospects for major league talent? On multiple deals I’ve said to myself the Reds could’ve made a better offer without subtracting their top prospect pieces. Now I read that Addison Reed was looking for a Midwest team close to his wife’s home in Akron. The Twins land him on just a 2 year deal. SERIOUSLY? ohiojimw January 22, 2018 I think that just like in the Jocketty days, the Reds have a static world view. They have a plan they are trying to follow and are not very adept adjusting on the fly as conditions evolve and change. Andy January 22, 2018 Not surprised. If MLB teams can pay Senzel 500K/year for 4 years (assuming they play the game and avoid super-2), he’s worth way more than most established MLB stars, even ones with years of ARB-team control remaining. Teams have figured out that paying veterans 20-40 times as much money for 30-50% better production doesn’t make sense. The player’s union needs to work on fixing the pay curve: more dollars for new stars like Bryant and less for aging legends like Pujols. If they don’t, lots of able vets are going to retire early in favor of the next rookie. Doug Gray January 22, 2018 The problem is, as I have noted more than a few times on the site, is that it’s the veterans that set the rules. It’s going to be real hard to tell them to vote against their own interest so the young guys now can make more money in favor of them getting that money. They don’t care so much about the guys who will really benefit from that kind of system, because those guys are right now in middle and high school. wes January 22, 2018 Brewers system is full of hot air. Their best prospect, Brinson, seems to be legit even though he was a big question mark most of his career and the 2nd baseman seems legit. Outside of that- there’s yuge question marks on rest of guys! Reds are vastly superior imo. Reds borderline top 5; Brewers borderline top 10. Not a shock to see Greene slip a bit. here’s what surprised me: Austin Hayes blew up Brenden Rogers fell a ton Luis Robert fell a ton! Glad Reds didn’t spend the money now??? wes January 22, 2018 Oh and Ohtani not being one is a surprise. Braves are going to be the team to beat for a decade very soon. Doug Gray January 22, 2018 Greene didn’t slip. He was ranked 30th on July 7th. He’s up one spot now. Luis Robert didn’t fall a ton. He was ranked 45th on July 7th. He’s 58th today. That’s basically not even a real fall. And no, I’m not glad the Reds didn’t spend the money. wes January 22, 2018 My bad. Was comparing BA to my memory of MLB. Greene was top 20 and ahead of everyone in his class and Robert was top 25 GM Nep O'Tism January 22, 2018 The Alfredo Rodriguez signing continues to make less and less sense to me. The Reds spent $7m and locked up their ability to offer big money to anyone else for a few years for a 23-year-old who hit .253/.294/.294 with a 72 wRC+ in A+ last year. For reference, Tim Tebow hit .231/.307/.356 with a 96 wRC+ last year in A+, and is/was a football player. Is there any light at the end of that tunnel, or was it just the waste it seemed like it was destined to be from the get-go? Piggly Wiggly January 22, 2018 Add in the $5MM the Reds gave another Cuban SS in Jose Israel Garcia after that. That is $12MM wasted on non-hitting SS’s. Greenfield Red January 22, 2018 I’m not sure where you’ve seen that Garcia is a non-hitting SS. All of the info I’ve seen on him is that we don’t yet know what all he can do. Also when it comes to the SS position in the future, it seems pretty much everyone is forgetting on name: Miguel Hernandez. Doug Gray January 22, 2018 Rodriguez didn’t stop them from making offers to anyone. They would have still blown by their limit when they signed Gutierrez and Garcia (as well as several others along the way). What signing Rodriguez did was take a little bit of money out their pocket. Rodriguez is a vastly better baseball player than Tim Tebow. There’s not a single thing that Tebow could provide to a Major League team right now that’s useful other than mentor. Rodriguez could provide actual value on the field right now as a defender. GM Nep O'Tism January 22, 2018 I was not including Tebow because I thought he could ever have value for a major league team. I was including him because I don’t see how a 23-yo OPSing .588 at A+ could ever stand a reasonable chance at making it to the majors. I do understand he could value with a glove, but if that glove is attached to a feather duster for a bat, is it really any value? Even Cesar Izturis hit .261/.295/.330 in the minors. So right now Rodriguez is performing like a less powerful Izturis (words I never thought I would use). It just seems like a really poor use of resources for a team that (supposedly) doesn’t have a ton of resources to spread around. Is it a scouting failure, development failure, or failure of approach that the top 5 prospects right now are all international signees, yet the Reds are busy chasing no-hit glove guys. I will give them credit on Chapman/Iglesias, but they don’t seem to be able to do much with international signings for guys who aren’t major-league ready. Doug Gray January 22, 2018 Well, from the very beginning I thought they were paying too much for a guy like him. Then they paid him more to wait to sign so they didn’t go over their limit in 2015 as they had their sights set on some guys in 2016. The Reds haven’t really been in the international market much. At least at the top end. Iglesias, Chapman – I mean, yeah, they were international guys, and Chapman in particular was young at the time of his signing, but they were legit professionals at the time of signing, too. Generally speaking, the top prospects that are international guys that sign at 16/17 at the ones who were signed to big dollar deals, and the Reds just haven’t been in that market. There’s a lot of reasons for it. You’ve got to establish relationships to even get into the conversation. To do that, you’ve got to spend the money, and sometimes spend more than a guy is worth just to show you are serious in the future. The Reds went big in 2008 with Rodriguez and Duran. Then they didn’t spend 7-figures on another teenager internationally for 7 years before paying Cristian Olivo for $1M. Can some of that go on ownership? Probably. Some of that money, rightfully of course, went to guys like Chapman and Iglesias, who were well worth every penny that they got. We don’t think of that as being part of the international spending because they were in the Majors so quickly, but I’m sure it’s why they didn’t spend as much over that time. But, I think some of it comes down to the fact that the Reds didn’t have a big presence in the past, and that means they didn’t get access to some of the top end guys. Sure, they were able to see them when they were 14 or 15 at open workouts, but the buscones probably weren’t taking them too seriously, either, because of their track record. I don’t think necessarily that it’s a scouting failure. I mean, yes, I do think that if someone said he was likely to hit enough to produce, say, a .725 OPS, they were probably off on that target. But you’re never going to be right every time. I think that Rodriguez can definitely hit better than he showed last year. I’m not sure if we will see it this year, though, because it’s not like Pensacola is an easy place to hit, either. But, I won’t be shocked if he’s eventually a .650 OPS guy who can pick it at shortstop. Whether that’s a starter or not, well, just how much can he pick it? Personally, I’d rather have the bat first shortstop as long as he’s not actually a third baseman pretending to be a shortstop. But not every team looks at it that way. Let’s talk a little bit about the international market. I think it was 2014 when the Yankees signed 10 of the Top 30 international prospects in one year. TEN. The Reds, since 2008, have signed nine such guys in 10 years combined. It’s tough to do well in that market if that’s how you’re going to operate. Yorman Rodriguez, Juan Duran, Jonathan Perez, Aroldis Chapman, Raisel Iglesias, Cristian Olivo, Alfredo Rodriguez, Vladimir Gutierrez, and Jose Garcia. That’s the list. The Reds have done far better with the pitchers, than hitters, but all of the pitchers except Perez were signed as non-teenagers. Perez, of course, got injured and re-injured and never threw a single pitch in a game for the organization. What will be interesting to see, and unfortunately we are probably 10 years away from having the slightest clue if it will happen, is if the team can perform better in these markets when everyone has to play by the same rules with essentially the same money. Can you scout or develop better than the other guys? It’s not so much a “can you spend for better players” anymore. Bill January 22, 2018 This year may give us better insight in to Alfredo Rodriguez. The lengthy layoff from baseball has to take some time to overcome coupled with the first time experiencing the grind of a 5-month professional season. I’m saying we’ll see improvement, but I think we’ll know this year what the Reds got for $7M. Piggly Wiggly January 22, 2018 This time next year Greene will be out of the top 50. A complete season from Greene is not in the cards. They will shut him down when he gets close to 100 IP’s. It will be a season of adjustments for Greene. The kid gloves will still be on. Set the bar and expectations low for Hunter Greene in 2018. Temper expectations this year and next year should see some progress. Greene is no Nick Senzel. Bill January 22, 2018 And now for perspective let’s see what some of the top high school pitchers from the 2016 draft did in 2017: – #3 Ian Anderson (Braves) … 83 innings – #4 Riley Pint (Rockies) … 93 innings – #7 Braxton Garrett (Marlins) … 15.1 innings prior to TJS – #12 Jay Groome (Red Sox) … 55.1 innings – #17 Forrest Whitley (Astros) … 92.1 innings – #30 Cole Ragans (Rangers) … 57.1 innings None eclipsed 100 innings. All but Garrett (injured) and Ragans (never in the Top 100) are in today’s BA rankings. Doug Gray January 22, 2018 Let’s play out this scenario: Greene throws 100 innings. He shows the stuff he’s shown to this point. There’s ZERO chance he’s outside of the top 50. Look at the numbers that Jay Groome put up this year. He’s no Hunter Greene. And he was STILL in the Top 75. Groome: 55.1 innings. 5.69 ERA. 30 walks. 72 strikeouts. He’ll be the same age that Greene is/was in his first full season (18). He pitched briefly in rookie ball (11.0 innings, 1.64 ERA) before going to Low-A (6.70 ERA in 44.1 innings). You’ve constantly had some complaint about Hunter Greene. So I’m not surprised by your post. The content of it doesn’t hold much water, though. redleggingfordayz January 22, 2018 I am honestly wondering where the Hunter Greene hate has come from within the Reds fandom. I really am not trying to start an argument on here at all, I am just curious where all this started I guess. Are people really this mad he took that long to sign last year after the draft? Or is it because he openly stated he wanted to play for a west coast team? He is an immense talent and the Reds were lucky to get him at #2. I think we should all just provide encouragement and try welcoming him into this amazing fandom. We Reds fans are extremely passionate and I love that, but we should really try and channel that in a positive way/ Especially because the majority of us have no idea who Hunter Greene really is as a person and I doubt he deserves most of the flack he has gotten. I personally have only read that he is an outstanding kid with an open mind trying to learn the game to the best of his ability. What more can you ask? Doug Gray January 22, 2018 Money envy. Bothered that he is “entitled” because he waited to sign, and shut himself down in high school. Mind you, I don’t think there is a single thing wrong with how he handled the situation. I think it was incredibly smart. But, some people think you better just follow the line or they just can’t handle anything about you or what you do. Colorado Red January 22, 2018 Why the hate on Hunter? You seem to have written him off already. He appears to be a very smart young man. That being said, the big money is when he hits arbitration , and FA. Bill January 22, 2018 Nice showing for the Reds. Shed Long is #6 on today’s MLB.com list for second basemen. Hal January 22, 2018 The Greene bashing is also the equivalent of a website tease trying to get clicks (or in this case a reaction). I have almost never seen the original bashers follow up on the conversation after logical arguments show they are misinformed. Has a jilted lover feel to it but I am just going to stick with my “attention seeking” theory. In other words, don’t respond and it will go away. Tom January 22, 2018 Off topic: Latos trade was possibly a mistake. Something I’ve never agreed with. Yes, he contributed in 2012 and 2013 for a bargain price. But was his salary the true cost? Alonso could have really helped when Votto went down in 2012. He would have been a far better bench bat than anyone else in the playoffs as well, where offense was too short. Boxberger would have made the bullpen that much stronger in the playoffs and regular seasons to this day. Madson went down in 2012 as well. Perhaps Chapman could have stayed a starter? Grandal could have filled in at 1b in 2014, when again Votto’s absence hurt the season. 2014 could have been his rookie year in the Reds system. Maybe a Meso – Bruce – Frazier OF would have worked out. Volquez went through ups and downs, but killed it in Pit in 2014. Neither here nor there really. Perhaps he could have helped the pen in 2012, or been traded for a CF. These 4 players would have helped the Reds in 2012, 2013, 2014, and 2015 to possibly have stayed competitive. Based on various scenarios, could we even still have Gregorious? Lively? Still…my theory would require that the Reds have spent payroll to get CJ Wilson that year. His 2012 and 2013 seasons went for 10 and 11 mill each. Toss out Ludwick’s and Madson’s bad deals and we’re not talking much money extra. Would it have hurt to see Bailey walk? In 2018 and beyond, I hope the Reds owners find ways to add so called “expensive” FA fixes and let the young players come up and stick around to build a deep roster. Burn options, AAA shuttle, work on position flexibility, etc. Do what it takes. Yelich, for example, wouldn’t be worth the price. Keep all the prospects. Let them flame out or succeed here. Add the next healthy FA starter you possibly can. Arrietta would help the Reds tremendously. Doug Gray January 22, 2018 I’ll defend the Latos trade until the day I die. I’d make it, hindsight and all, 150 times out of 100. Zero question. Gregorius is a free agent after next year. Lively – well, I have to ask, what good would having him really be? He’d be, what, 9th at best on the starting pitching depth chart? Eventually, the team is going to need to add players outside of the organization. I’m not sure they are there yet, but the next team that is basically only relying on internal options is going to be the first one in a very, very long time. Tom January 22, 2018 2011 was an ugly year and Latos gave the sense that pitching would be stable. CJ Wilson would have done the same. In the balance of things, the Reds got what they bargained for, it was just lopsided in terms of talent. I’m no longer in favor of that trade and the principle behind it. It was 2 trades worth of talent. Gregorious and Lively are minor circumstances. My suggestion is that perhaps they could have been retained due to the bizaro what-if world I’m painting. Add CJ Wilson Don’t sign Madson (b/c Boxberger is still here) Don’t resign Phillips (Cozart / Gregorious combo) Don’t sign Bailey or Cueto (no room available they would say) Don’t resign Ludwick etc etc Retain Alonso for bench / backup / smaller trade Retain Meso for c/lf duty Retain Grandal for c/1b duty Retain Gregorious for UT / starting role etc etc At some point, the value the Reds (or Cubs or any team) create during a rebuild is squandered with big trades. Breaking through a spending cap for 1 or 2 years is potentially far more cost efficient than selling cheap premier talent. Tom January 22, 2018 Here’s a snarky way to put it: Yay, we sucked for 5 years to get Yelich! I don’t think we’ll see the Reds do that. Hopefully they have a plan to get premier FA talent here asap. The farm is right about at that point. Arrieta would be a strong move at 4 years 100 mil. Colorado Red January 22, 2018 Giants sign Austin Jackson to a 2 year 6 mil contract. Looks like the Billy Hamilton to SF is officially over Kap January 22, 2018 Yep. Only other option for billy would be the Rangers but unlikely. Might as well hold onto him until siri or trammell is ready Jasonp January 22, 2018 I see a couple people mentioning going out and signing good/expensive free agent and just wanted to comment on what I think. I don’t think we are going to add any impact free agent until they sort out our young pitchers. They won’t want to sign a pitcher for 15+ mil/yr until they see if they can get good production from what they already have. Once they have an idea of who is going to be in the rotation for the next 3+ years I think they will then look outside the organization to round out the team. Bill January 22, 2018 Exactly! Tom January 22, 2018 I get the sorting out part, but how long is enough? We already know a lot. Bailey is in the rotation unless he’s injured. Castillo is in the rotation unless he bombs. Mahle is an innings eater. Finnegan will get another chance, his shoulder probably makes him bullpen. Stephenson won’t go back to the pen, he’ll get his chance. If / when an injury happens, Romano will step in. Garrett will spend time in AAA working on his control. No one else is particularly relevant. Which player above are you sure is better than Arrieta over the next 2 years? This is the worst staff in baseball. It needs big time help. Right now we’re hoping Castillo can anchor the staff. That just says we’re punting 2018 as well. If this team is good enough to get to 500, as many here have said, it should be that much closer to 87 wins with a pitcher like Arrieta. The market has softened on FA signings. Go get a difference maker now. Question is, what if the rotation, which is full of weakness, is not enough in 2018 as is? Then go hunting for a deal for 2019? If the rotation is “supposed” to come together over the next year, why not add some firepower there as well? Kap January 22, 2018 Forgot about desclafani. He can be a decent number 2 or good number 3 if healthy. CP January 22, 2018 I agree that adding some firepower will help, but the bigger need may be an upgrade at CF and/or SS. Both of those spots could potentially be better served to be upgraded than the SP’s, because we have internal options that could fill the SP’s. But we don’t have anyone close to the MLB that could internally fill SS or CF and be an upgrade. Doug Gray January 22, 2018 It’s not about being better than Arrieta. It’s about being good enough and making league minimum. Sure, if you had no confidence at all that any of them could be a 3.70 ERA kind of guy moving forward, then sure, Arrieta makes sense. Maybe. But I think the Reds believe that multiple of the young guys can be that, on top of Castillo and DeSclafani. Finnegan’s coming off of a muscle problem, not a shoulder problem. That’s very important to note here, because a shoulder is sometimes a death sentence. A muscle issue, not so much. Now, there’s plenty of questions abound here, because he’s basically hoping to repeat his second half of 2016, but hopefully improve his walk rate he showed then, too. He’s still quite a bit unproven, himself. DeSclafani needs to show he’s got health in front of him. Bailey’s going to get every possible chance he can be in 2018 because of that contract. Let’s hope he can find consistency, because there were times when he looked solid last year. I’d also argue that this isn’t the worst staff in baseball. In 2017 it was, but that staff is not returning. They aren’t giving 14 starts to Bronson Arroyo. Tim Adleman isn’t going to lead the team in innings pitched. Asher Wojiechowski isn’t getting 60 innings as a part-time starter. Livalverto Bonilla isn’t getting a handful of starts. If you don’t have any answers for 2019, then you have the answer for 2019. If Robert Stephenson shows in 2018 that he can’t take another step forward, if Amir Garrett is healthy but doesn’t show improvement, if DeSclafani can’t go a full season because of his elbow, if Brandon Finnegan doesn’t step forward/show he can remain healthy – then you need to figure out the next plan. Unless you have huge steps forward from multiple prospects, then you probably need to hit free agency then. But right now, I’m just not sure it makes sense for the Reds. They’ve got too many other options to look at to go out and spend $15M+ a year for 4 years. Tom January 22, 2018 True on Desclafani, knew there was one more. All you can say about him is “cross your fingers!” Billy needs to platoon with someone until Senzel arrives. Senzel to 3b, Suarez to SS. I’d like to see Peraza and Hamilton platoon CF. There is no fixing the team without fixing pitching first. Tom January 22, 2018 Pitching will evolve. Some good things will happen. I don’t agree with being frugal for frugality’s sake, in this case. Each pitcher on the staff has some serious challenges ahead. I think we’re possibly right back here next year, with Votto 1 year older, arbs going up, saying ok so we think we have 3 guys for the rotation, we just need to sort through these other 7 guys…. If Arrieta can’t be won over to come here then I really don’t like the other players available. Cobb and Darvish have injury problems. Lynn is blah. Bill January 22, 2018 I also don’t think we know Mahle is an innings eater after 4 big league starts where he labored to average 5 innings each. I don’t see this a frugality for frugality’s sake. Making a major FA acquisition would come at the expense of getting the many questions that the Reds have answered AND it would reduce flexibility to fill a need once the questions are answered. At this point, I think the Reds need to stay the course and be opportunistic in making trades and signing FA. That doesn’t mean I don’t find this offseason boring and this rebuild too long and frustrating. Next off-season will be the time to fill the holes or adjust the plan. Tom January 23, 2018 I think it’s asking a lot for the rotation to fill out with 3.70 era on average. Right now there is no one who has proven in 2018 they can be that guy. Out of 8 pitchers vying for 5 spots you have 2 very serious injury concerns: Bailey and Desclafani 2 somewhat serious injury concerns: Finnegan and Garrett 2 promising and unproven #3/#4 types: Castillo, Stephenson 2 promising and unproven #4/#5 types: Mahle, Romano I’d put 50% odds on the current crop averaging 4.00 era. Look at playoff teams, we don’t have #1 to compete in the slightest. Be realistic, there probably isn’t a Cueto type player in this crop. You need insurance. The rebuild is essentially over. The climb begins. There is no plan B in 2019 and 2020. You need to win. Get a good deal at any point in time, but don’t waste an opportunity along the way. Doug Gray January 23, 2018 The entire rotation? Maybe. One guy from the “unproven” list? No, I don’t think so. Jake Arrieta is not going to be cheap. He wasn’t a difference maker last year, either. He was good, but he wasn’t great. Adding him doesn’t move the needle a ton unless he goes back to the 2015 version of himself. That guy is worth going and getting. But that guy isn’t likely coming back. What you are likely to get from Arrieta in 2018 is a 3.50 ERA and 180 innings. That’s a good pitcher. That’s not a difference maker. That’s not a guy that’s going to take the Reds and put them over the top. IF the Reds find themselves in the race in July – trade for a guy like that. But until then, I think there’s just too many outside factors that make it a “slightly too soon” kind of move. Tom January 23, 2018 I agree that some good is going to shake out from this rotation. For me, the choice isn’t Arrieta vs. a good cheap #2 from the unproven crop. The Reds need both now and probably in the future. If I’m betting a 5 year rebuild, I don’t view Desclafani, Bailey, Finnegan or Garrett as comforting scenarios. They should all be on innings limits this year. And half will be lucky to pitch all year. Castillo should also have an innings limit. As should Reed, who doesn’t require much attention until he emerges from his reconfiguration. Romano, may also need some limitation based on his problems last year. Mahle and Stephenson should take the ball 200 innings this year. Those are the only two who look sure to go. By 2019 the Reds will be extremely fortunate to have 4 healthy, and successful, pitchers to plan around for a full season. With the amount of money this team has, contending right away should be the plan. Waiting until July, risking falling out of the race, then trading from your valuable, affordable prospect base for a half, 1.5 or 2.5 seasons of an Arrieta quality player is actually kind of a reckless way to go about it. The Reds never land big FA pitchers, and maybe never will. It’s a shame. The money can be there. The 5 year effort hinges on the rotation. Make it solid. Doug Gray January 23, 2018 Waiting until July does a few things: First, if you were going to fall out of the race before then, Arrieta or someone like him wasn’t going to make the difference anyways. Second, by July, you’re only in the race if you’ve got your rotation working, likely have Senzel and Winker in the lineup and are producing at an above-average level, and then what you’ve got on the farm is almost all “extra parts”. Looking at 2019, 1B, 2B, 3B, SS and at least one corner outfield spot will be locked up if you’re contending on July 1st. Your pitching will also be looking good. You can trade from the farm without taking much of a hit to the next several years at the MLB level. If the pitching isn’t stabilized/performing by July 1st, then you only make a trade if the deal is there to be had. Otherwise, you hold off until the offseason, re-assess who should stick around for 2019 in the rotation and fill the remainder from the outside. Stephenson, Romano, Mahle, Garrett, DeSclafani, Finnegan, heck, even Bailey could all slide to the bullpen, probably, for 2019 if they aren’t performing in 2018 (could slide there sooner). The odds that all of them just stink up the joint, while not impossible, are incredibly unlikely. Someone(s) from that group will be there with Castillo. Maybe you get a good look from Jose Lopez in the second half, too. After that, it’s probably 2020 before you’re looking at the next crop of real starting pitchers unless someone comes out of nowhere, or just blows up (say, Santillan or Gutierrez – both of whom have the stuff) and rockets through the upper minors in dominant fashion. Get some answers, one way or the other in 2018. Make moves from there. Wes January 22, 2018 When the time is right I believe the reds will add payroll. I think that time could be now as well if the market stalls. Next season there will be 20 teams that miss out on the big names. If you can get a big name pitcher this year for market value or less than you gotta be considering it right ? Lynn/Cobb 4 years for 70 mill Tom January 23, 2018 Putting off improving the team will put the Reds at a disadvantage mid 2018 or pre 2019 in any trade talks. Another Latos style deal is a bad idea. The Reds need cheap young players staying home where Chris Buckley has brought them. Every one of the first 75 or so picks from 2011 to 2018 should stay with the team until it’s proven beyond a doubt they cannot provide value. The teams that generally benefit from trades are the ones who deal from unneeded veterans with 2-4 years of control to teams who are filling a desperate need. Trade Suarez in a year or two. Barnhart in 2-3 years. Iglesias. Hamilton. Or don’t, but always look to bring in younger talent. 2014 – 2016 happened because the talent dried up. They waited too long to trade BP, Frazier, Cueto, Chapman, Cozart because they lacked a farm system that had players waiting. They were gripping too tight and had no option but to play it out. No new blood came in after 2012 because it was traded away for a short term play. It’s an interesting thought to wonder what prospects the Reds would have it they traded each of Bailey, Cueto, Frazier, Bruce, Chapman, and Cozart with 2 years left on their deals. Hal January 22, 2018 Arrieta would take less from 25 teams or so to not come to Cincinnati. He has bashed the city for years and simply does not like it. Couple that with a losing culture and there is zero chance. No inside info, just strong gut feel. MuddyCleats January 23, 2018 Nice article and discussion. When was the last time Reds had 5 in top 100 @ the ML level? Michael Smith January 23, 2018 Tom, the only issue I have with your list is where you place Castillo. 141 era plus last year. He is your next Cueto. Tom January 23, 2018 He’s got a running start, and I love the guy, but the weight of this rebuild cannot be on his shoulder. This rebuild must work, and coming out the other side of 2018 with no ace in hand, much less a complete playoff rotation, puts the Reds in a bind in 2019 and beyond. Not every year is there an injury free TOR pitcher in FA for less than 6 or 7 years. If Arrieta could be pursued and persuaded to come here for 4 or 5, it should be priority. Let the Cubs sign Darvish with the arm troubles and see how that works out for 6 or 7 years. Arrieta is the only rainmaker left on the market. Michael Smith January 23, 2018 I get what you are saying Tom. Just wanted to point out that I think you were a bit low on him with your assessment. Without question we need more than just him to pitch well. Alex Reds January 23, 2018 This list sure makes me wish we had Luiz Gohara (ranked 23rd), a top 25 prospect for Zach Cozart instead of nothing. If we had Gohara, Reds farm is easily top 5 overall. Luiz had a strong debut in the majors at just 20 years old. To the commenter saying Luis Robert wasn’t worth it since he was farther down the rankings in his stateside debut, he had a .491 OPS and .536 SLG. I’m surprised he’s not rated higher. Another thought is with just a quick glance over, the 2015 MLB Draft mid to later first round picks aren’t well represented in the top 100 list. This is the year we picked catcher Tyler Stephenson. That appears to be a very top heavy year and not much else. The 2016 MLB Draft, Senzel is looking like an excellent choice, and arguably the best choice in the whole draft for any player. He is the highest ranked of any 2016 draft pick. First overall pick Moniak did not make the top 100, and had a horrible year at the plate in 2017, he’s still young though. Kyle Lewis and Corey Ray are both performing poorly at A+ ball at ages 22 and 23. Riley Pint has also performed poorly so far. Cal Quantrill was rated in this BA top 100, but he had a slightly below average year as well. Young 3B’s Kirilloff and Lowe so far haven’t impressed. Blake Rutherford didn’t do well last year, and fell off big time after the trade. Forrest Whitley wasn’t selected until pick 17, but he has absolutely dominated, all the way through AA ball at a young age (20). He is ranked #10, and rightfully so. Ian Anderson has been phenomenal at A ball at age 19. Matt Manning has really well at age 19 as well in a small sample size. The only real arguable competitors to picking anyone over Senzel out of the entire 2016 draft are Forrest Whitley and Ian Anderson so far, and even that may still favor Senzel, depending on whether you value a starter or a position player. Even the Reds second pick just after the first round, Taylor Trammell, is ranked #48, and outperforming many of those picked in the top 10 picks in the 2016 draft. So far, it looks like the Reds won the 2016 draft with their first two picks. The 2017 draft is still too early. It will be interesting to watch and see if MacKenzie Gore continues to outperform Hunter Greene, as the Reds passed on Gore, and he was picked one pick later. Gore had an outstanding rookie debut with a 1.27 ERA and almost 15 K/9 with 34 strikeouts and 14 hits allowed in 21 innings. Another player that I will continue to follow is Jo Adell.