The guys over at MLB Trade Rumors has released their estimates for the arbitration numbers for 2019. The Cincinnati Reds have seven players that are due for arbitration raises.

Scooter Gennett is due the most money. That’s unsurprising, he’s put together back-to-back All-Star caliber seasons since being acquired on waivers from Milwaukee. He made $5.7M in 2018. According to MLB Trade Rumors, he’s going to nearly double that and get $10.7M in 2019.

Billy Hamilton, who made $4.6M in 2018, is due a moderate raise, too. He’s projected to be paid $5.9M in 2019. Unlike Gennett, Hamilton hasn’t exactly torn it up on the field. He’s been the starting center fielder since 2014, but has yet to really have a season where he’s been any sort of threat offensively.

Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, Anthony DeSclafani, Michael Lorenzen, and Curt Casali are also all due raises. The biggest is to Jose Peraza, who will be going from league minimum to a projected $3.6M. In total, those players are projected to get raises of nearly $8M.

For the Cincinnati Reds, this is where things get interesting. They’ve said that payroll will be at an “all-time high” for 2019. That, of course, doesn’t tell us much. Just that it’s going to be more than $115-118M, depending on which figure you believe was the previous high. The payroll in 2018 was $101M. If the team is going to use the free agent market, and pay market prices for production, then they are going to need to spend a whole lot more than $120M to be competitive.

That means that the Reds may need to be more creative. Perhaps it means using prospects to acquire players in trade to improve the team, and make those acquisitions of players be those who aren’t yet making big dollars. That will be expensive in terms of prospects, though.

Another option could be to trade the two guys getting the most money in arbitration. While Scooter Gennett has been a very good player for the Cincinnati Reds, he’s probably close to replaceable, today. Nick Senzel is one of the best prospects on the planet. He also happens to be very capable of playing second base. And for the next three years he’ll make about $1.7M combined because baseball is set up to pay young players nothing, and pay old players with declining skills a boatload. The trade market hasn’t seemed to be strong for Gennett if you’re to believe the rumors. Still, there’s got to be some value for a middle infielder who can OPS .870, even if there are some other flaws in his game.

And then there’s Billy Hamilton. The Reds haven’t shown much confidence in anyone else being able to play center field every day. If they were to trade Hamilton, and I do believe there’d be some market for him, they’d have to likely find someone outside of the organization to play center in 2019. And maybe 2020 depending on the development of guys like Taylor Trammell, Jose Siri, and TJ Friedl. There’s even a chance, that unlike Scooter Gennett, the Reds could non-tender Billy Hamilton and allow him to become a free agent.

While we don’t know exactly what the Reds are planning to spend on payroll in 2019, it doesn’t seem that anyone is thinking it’s going to be a lot more than $120M. That’s not exactly leaving a ton of money to spend on improving the club versus 2018. But if the team replaces Gennett with Senzel, that saves $10M. And if they move on from Hamilton, it’s another $6M. Whether that means you just go out and get a few free agent starting pitchers. Or whether it’s a combination of spending in free agency and trading for someone who is making money, it gives the Reds many more options for improve for 2019 where they would theoretically have $35-40M to work with for 2019 instead of just $15-20M.


43 Responses

  1. redlegs4ever

    So with these projections and raises already due to players under contract I have the Reds adding about 19 Mil in payroll and shedding roughly 15 Mil. So if Spotrac and my math is right that should put the Reds payroll around 105 without any free agent or trade additions.

    • redlegs4ever

      I screwed that up and forgot Votto’s raise, so more like payroll around 110 with no further additions.

      • redlegs4ever

        I screwed up thinking I screwed up, Votto is due a 75,000 dollar pay cut not 5 Mil raise, just ignore me talking to myself and know the first post is right… Probably…….

  2. Brad

    Looking at projected arbitration salaries made me think. The Cubs have an excess of SP for 2018 if they pick up Cole Hamels $20M option (which they should.)

    Who says no:

    Reds trade RHRP Rasiel Iglesias to Cubs for LHSP/LHRP Mike Montgomery (19: Arb 2 @ $3M, 20: Arb 3 @ $4M projected), LHSP Drew Smyly (19: $7M), either CF Albert Almora (4 years control) or Ian Happ (5 years control) and a prospect. Could take RHRP Brandon Kintzler (19: $5M player option) also.

    Gets Cubs under luxury tax line and moves excess SP to improve bullpen. No, I have no interest in helping the Cubs, but this could be a creative way to fill 2 SP roles, move an overvalued asset and fill CF.

  3. ChiRedsFan

    *A plan:
    1) convince Castellini that the Homer Bailey contract is a sunk cost that must quarantined; i.e. the Reds go into 2019 with a $110MM+ budget (excluding the Bailey quarantine). Bailey despite Reds and I assume his best efforts is no longer a viable ML pitcher. As of now, even using a 40 man spot for him carries an unnecessary opportunity cost. The Reds spent about $100MM in 2018 but $40MM of that was dead $$ (actually negative WAR which is even worse- Mesoraco/Bailey)
    2) trade for a presumably limited return Gennent
    3) leaves Reds with about $80-85 committed in 2019
    4) invest the remaining $25-30MM into those 350 innings you mentioned in another post
    5) use Reds prospects to trade for a 3+ WAR outfielder

  4. Big Ed

    It would take some sack to non-tender Gennett, but it may be the right thing to do, if they can’t trade him. Apparently nobody in baseball really believes Gennett can repeat his performance from 2018. (Nobody thought he could repeat his 2017 performance, either, so there is that.)

    It is not a stretch to believe that Senzel will produce as much as Gennett in 2019, so why spend the extra $10 million?

    My own belief is that playing Senzel in left in instructional league is a ruse, to cover their real intent of playing him in center field next year. If the Reds flat-out admit now that the plan is to play Senzel in center, then they will lose all leverage in trading Hamilton. Teams will know that the Reds are unlikely to keep a $6 million fourth outfielder, and that Hamilton would then be non-tendered and available as a free agent, without having to offer anything for him.

    Playing Senzel in center would allow them to keep Gennett for one more year, but I’d rather have a right-handed hitting second baseman. They already have Votto, Winker and Schebler as left-handed hitters in their lineup, and I don’t think that they need four of them.

    • Doug Gray

      I can’t imagine them non-tendering Gennett. If they are for sure they aren’t going to pay him, they’ll trade him for whatever they can get. They’ll take something, it just might not be all that much.

      • Big Ed

        You are right that a non-tender will not happen. Maybe I am wrong, but there does not seem to be any other team out there that believes Gennett will produce $10 million in value next year. If not, then Gennett has no trade value, except maybe for a B- level prospect.

        There is little economic difference between a non-tender and a trade for a marginal prospect. I will concede there is a big PR difference. But I expect them to keep Gennett another year, and play Senzel in centerfield.

  5. Krozley

    Finnegan, Wisler, and Mason Williams would also be due arbitration if they are retained. I would guess their salaries would be under $1 million each, but it may be a factor in whether they are kept around. I hate to give up on Finnegan as he will only be 26 and Wisler was pretty effective out of the pen after coming over. I would let Williams go as he is easily replaceable.

    • redlegs4ever

      I believe Finnegan got enough days this year while on the DL to qualify for Super 2. Both Wisler and Williams do not have enough service time to qualify for arbitration. Wisler is just over 2 years and Williams not even 2 years of service time.

      • Krozley

        Cots contracts has all three eligible with Wisler as super 2. Baseball reference confirms Wisler and Finnegan, but does have Williams as not eligible until 2020. I wouldn’t think he was eligible either, but still think he may be non-tendered.

      • redlegs4ever

        I can’t speak for Cots but I know baseball-reference arbitration and free agent projections are based on the player getting a full year of service time.

        Super Two hasn’t officially been announced yet but I’m sure Finnegan qualified at 2.149 service time.

        Matt Wisler now has 2.030 days of service time, that will not even be close to Super Two.

        And Mason Williams now has 1.147 service time, obviously not Arbitration eligible. Mason is out of options and has the right to refuse an assignment though so no guarantees he is around next year.

      • Kinsm

        None of the 3 are eligible. Finnegan didn’t play the requisite amount of time with the big league squad this year to qualify for Super 2 status.

      • redlegs4ever

        Finnegan was at 2.107 service time and was either on the major league disabled list or the active major league roster for 42 days. As I stated previously I would be stunned if 2.149 service time did not qualify for Super Two…

  6. Shawn

    Trade Billy and Scooter for prospects. Sign A.J. Pollock, 4 yr 64 Million, and play Senzel at 2B. Sign 1 really good pitcher 20-25 Million. Trade prospects for a middle of rotation pitcher and call it a day.

    • B-town Fan

      I agree with this, add A. J. Pollock in place of Billy. I suggested a this idea a couple days ago, the two pitchers I would suggest are free agent starters Red Sox’s Nathan Eovaldi and the Dodgers Hyun-Jin Ryu.

    • Norwood Nate

      I support this plan. I like the idea of signing Pollock and a SP with the available funds after moving Hamilton and Scooter.

    • Patrick

      Pollock is not that much better than Billy. So spend 16M a year vs 6M is to get 1 fwar(10 runs). That extra value comes from his ability to hit HRs. The 10M is better spent on pitching. Pollock is 31 so you should expect his defense decline to continue. Also he has had injury issues.

      Billy is so under appreciated by Reds fans because of what he does in the batters box. WAR really under values Billy’s defense (where it said he only saved 4 runs with his glove) and base running and even then he was at 1.3 this past year which is 10M on the open market. So he is a bargain at 6M

      • redlegs4ever

        “Billy is so under appreciated by Reds fans because of what he does in the batters box. WAR really under values Billy’s defense (where it said he only saved 4 runs with his glove) and base running and even then he was at 1.3 this past year which is 10M on the open market. So he is a bargain at 6M”


        Good post Patrick!

      • redleggingfordayz

        I think the main point here is, why pay a player 6 million dollars for a team that is going to lose around 90 games unless they substantially improve the pitching staff? Might as well save those dollars and put Siri\Ervin\Or some Misc CF off the free agent scrap heap. There are no playoff teams with a hitter as bad as Billy starting 162 games (unless you count Ian Desmond I guess).

      • redlegs4ever

        There’s also no playoff team, or any team for that matter, with a player that brings the elite level defense and other worldly baserunning that Billy does.

        You say there’s no point in having Billy if the pitching doesn’t improve, but I ask how do you expect run prevention to be improved by removing your only plus defender??

    • Big Ed

      Pollock is roughly league-average in OBP over the last 3 years, over which period he never appeared in more than 115 games. Next year is his age 31 season.

      No thanks, at $16m/year. Senzel can be expected to produce just as much or more than Pollock next year, and much more over the next few years.

  7. BurgRed

    I’m thinking that picking up Scooter off of waivers actually set the rebuild back a few years. Scooter did great don’t get me wrong but now our top prospect has no where to play! This has also resulted in a higher payroll and no clear path for Senzel. Plus we didn’t win any more games with Scooter than without him. Take what you can get and get back to the build.
    Hamilton will now get expensive and do the same as Scooter, higher payroll without any benefit. Put Siri or Trammell in center and restart the build.
    Use savings for starting pitching, come on Bob.

    • redlegs4ever

      You make some good points about Scooter, and that’s without even mentioning him being here resulting in the Reds never finding out what they had with Dilson Herrera as well.

    • Colorado Red

      The one disagreement I would have is about scooter.
      The problem is the pitching is so bad, even with the Babe, we would lose.

      • MuddyCleats

        Agree, and the key term there is PITCHING. Most young Reds pitchers THROW hard enough, but few develop into quality SPs! I think Lorenzen is one who has displayed a better mental approach n 2018 and might b a good SP candidate n 2019? He showed ability to stay w/in himself by not overthrowing and has improved his change up. IF he can throw more strikes and accept weak contact as success, I think he could lower his pitch count & be another quality option?

    • Redsvol

      I’m with you – no reason to keep Hamilton or Scooter – even if you have to non-tender them. Time to put Siri in center and Senzel and/or Herrera at second and roll with it. That should give us 20-25 million to spend on pitching and some bench pieces. I’d like to see Jon Jay or Cameron Maybin signed as insurance against Siri not handling it but I think he can and at 6$ million less than Hamilton. Then go get 2 innings eaters – Lynn, Eovaldi, or Happ. If it works out, also trade some prospects for a controllable stud like Snell – Time to totally rework the starting rotation and give team a chance.

  8. 1 broke hillbilly

    A responsible GM would Never trade scooter and replace him with Senzel. I don’t want another Brandon Larson. Gennett is her to stay. Start trading these prospects for younger prospects with higher upside. With the ineptness of scouts finding good pitching , trade some of these guys for good young arms.

  9. Cguy

    The Reds not only need pitching, they need the absolute best young starting pitching they can get. That means $100MM type contract to a FA or trading. The only player the Reds have currently that would yield a reliable MLsp is Eugenio Suarez. Suarez ranked 17th defensively among 3rd basemen with 19 errors in 336 total chances. He carried a 0.3 DWAR for 2018. He still has much more trade value than Scooter even though Gennett ranked 9th defensively among 2nd basemen with 11 errors in 665 TC. By the way 665 TC was the most among all 2nd basemen so 11 errors was not out of line. Scooter had a 0.2 DWAR for 2018. Senzel projects better as a 3rd baseman than a 2nd baseman, plus 3 of the Reds top 8 prospects (Reds site) are future (or could become in India’s case) 2nd basemen. Putting Senzel @ 3rd would save the Reds about $26-27MM over the next 3 years. Finally, the Reds probably have 1 of the better young 2nd basemen currently @ ss . If Peraza can’t improve his defense at ss, then he projects at 2nd after Scooter becomes a FA. Reds end up with a much better roster going forward if they successfully trade Suarez now, & Scooter late next July (or sign him to a team friendly contract now).

  10. Michael P

    I would be happy with these off-season transactions:

    1: Trade Iggy to Braves for a ready to contribute prospect package. Headliner would be one of Kyle Wright/Touki Toussaint/Mike Soroka along with middle SP LHP prospects of either Joey Wentz/Kyle Muller and a 3rd lower value prospect lottery
    2: Sign free agent RHP Patrick Corbin *Big Money*
    3: Trade Billy/Scooter for some bullpen help (offload some $$)
    4: Sign free agent CF A.J. Polluck
    5: Package some of our prospect talent for another younger middle rotation starter. I would not give up Senzel, Tramell or Greene but would look to trade one or two of Jeter Downs/Shed Long/Stuart Fairchild/Aquino and a few other lower level prospects.

    Starting Lineup: C Tucker, 1B Votto, 2B Senzel, SS Perza, 3B Suarez, LF Schebler, CF Polluck, RF Winker. SP1 Patrick Corbin, SP2 Castillo, SP3 Trade, SP4 Disco SP5 Mahle. Use Amir Garrett as the closer and hope you get some bullpen help from the Scooter/Billy trades. By end of the year Tony Sanitllan, Vladimir Gutierrez, Jimmy Herget, or Scott Moss may be ready to help the rotation.

    • Shawn

      Agree with everything except you would have to trade Scooter and Billy for prospects because anyone wanting them would be trying to win now and wouldn’t want to trade away pieces that were ready to help now. You can flip the prospects. Also, Herget is a reliever

  11. Chris B

    I don’t expect this to be popular but what if the reds give the Diamondbacks a call (since they are reportedly looking to start a rebuild) and offer to take Zack Grinke and his contract in exchange for the last year of Baileys contract and a prospect that is ranked around 20 or so.

    • Shawn

      Diamondbacks would be more likely to add prospects of their own and try and get someone to take Grinkes salary

      • Chris B

        No one is giving up anything to get him with that contract. Them taking Homer back is simply the same money every team is going to require them to give back. And maybe I’m wrong maybe it would take more of a prospect to get that done but even if it would I would still probably do the deal.

    • Shawn

      They are paying Greinke over 30M a year. No way I make that trade if I’m the Reds. Homer will be off the payroll after this year. 5 M buyout next year

  12. MuddyCleats

    Realize it’s not popular, but Reds should try 2 trade Votto! His is the elephant in the room and $$$ spent on his contract do NOT translate into a rebuilding Reds team. He simply takes too much (proportionally) of what Reds r willing to spend! Perhaps he’s ready to go to a winning organization and Reds COULD benefit w/ a quality prospect or two. Every Reds trade is watered down by Org trying to get too many players in return. Yankees need a 1B & could use a quality hitter around all those sluggers. Not sure who they R, but I am confident there R teams out that who would like to have Votto and have quality to offer Reds in return

    • redleggingfordayz

      It isn’t popular because as has been stated a lot of times on this site, Votto has full no trade protection and he has personally stated he is going to retire a Red. This is never going to happen.

  13. Chris B

    Corbin to this point has had one good year so I wouldn’t be in on him if it was up to me. I also don’t understand why people are rushing to sign Polluck? What am I missing about him that makes people think he is that much of an upgrade?

    • Redsvol

      totally agree with this Chris B. Pollock is the classic “good looking” player that never has/can put it together. He’ll always leave you wishing he produced more. Jose Siri and a platoon with a free agent (one of Jon Jay, Austin Jackson, Cameron Maybin, or Leonys Martin) can provide replacement level play at a fraction of the cost of what Pollock will make on the market. Much rather see the money put back into 2-3 new staring pitchers.

  14. Patrick

    I would consider trading Scooter or Senzel to the Phillies who need an offensive up grade. I would try to get one of their 3 young pitchers Pivette, Efflin or Velaquez they have experience in a HR park, their FIPs were much better than their era so I think they are nice candidates to bust out and improve the rotation.

    I can see the Phillies going out and spending money on a vet starter or two. I think the time is now for the Phillies just like a couple of years ago with the Cubs.

    • AirborneJayJay

      Phillies may need a new manager first, if their manager gets indicted by that federal grand jury investigating IFA signings. Kapler may very well be going to the federal pen for his role in LA. Things are not looking good for Kapler.
      The Phillies Nick Pivetta though, is exactly the pitcher the Reds should be going after in a trade. Or maybe Eflin. Especially if the Phillies sign Charlie Morton.
      Pivetta is #2 on the starting pitcher realistic wish list behind Noah Syndergaard.

  15. AirborneJayJay

    Signing AJ Pollack to a multi-year, multi-million dollar free agent contract is beyond lunacy. The Reds will have to keep Hamilton on the roster even with Pollack. Pollack has played in only 12 G in 2016, 112 G in 2017 and 113 G in 2018. Chronically injured is his theme. Thinking he’ll magically get back to his 2015 form when he hit .315/.367/.498 and was worth 6.8 fWAR is just plain silliness. Absurd, really.
    Pollack made $7.8M in 2018, so he is looking at about $10M-$11M per year for 3 years. And that is keeping both of Scooter and Hamilton. That will leave no money for starting pitching. You will have to trade both Scooter and Hamilton first, to sign Pollack. Can the Reds feeble front office make 2 trades to facilitate a free agent signing, before that free agent signs elsewhere? Too many moving parts for the Reds front office to make that work. We are talking about the Reds slow, plodding, wait for the market to come to them front office.
    No, Pollack ain’t happening in Cincinnati.

  16. redlegs4ever

    Too many posts to respond to individually so I think I will address this broadly in one post.

    1st off, BILLY.. IS… NOT…. THE…… PROBLEM…………..

    This team needs at least 2 SPs, 4 wouldn’t hurt, maybe even a 5th, and a SS. And this could all realistically be done with a payroll around 125 Mil. Sign Jose Iglesias to play SS, sign Nathan Eovaldi to be a nice 3-4 starter. Now here comes the big one, Robbie Ray just became available from a Diamondbacks team likely to tear it down, trade Senzel, if that’s what it takes, for Ray who is a no doubt TOR pitcher when healthy and a lefty which is something the Reds have always salivated over. Ray is projected about 6 mil in arbitration, I think Iglesias wouldn’t command much more than that AAV on a 3 year deal and Nathan Eovaldi is the real high upside low risk signing of this class.

    There are several other moves they could make this offseason to cut payroll and restock the farm a bit. All of Bob Steve, Dilson, and Peraza have no real place to play or were never given a chance, they could all return halfway decent prospects IMO.

    Another big move, this team need to gut EVERY pitching coach, consultant, instructor in the entire minor leagues, when the failures are this cascading and catastrophic in nature, it’s the only thing you can do.