The Major League Baseball General Manager meetings began today and there’s already news leaking out. The Cincinnati Reds “are going to get the pitching” according to Bob Castellini. They will also have their highest payroll ever, though how high remains to be seen. It seems that the Reds are targeting some high end free agent pitchers according to two national reporters.

Jon Heyman of MLB Network first reported that will be considering the top of the starting pitching market and named Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel. He also mentioned that the team is interesting in Matt Harvey, too. A few minutes after that report came out, Jon Morosi, also of MLB Network, reported that the team is showing interest in Corbin and J.A. Happ.

One of the pitchers named above is not like the others: Matt Harvey. But we’ll get to that a little bit later. Let’s look a little bit more at the other three. First, let’s take a look at their stats from 2018.

Patrick Corbin is the clear cut better pitcher on this list. It’s not really all that close. He’s younger, he kept the ball in the park more (though Keuchel is right there with him, and he had to face the DH), he showed better control, and he missed significantly more bats. All of that led to better run suppression, too. He’ll also likely be the guy who should get the most money. But that isn’t necessarily the case. Over the weekend I looked at what Jon Heyman and an expert predicted for contracts and the difference between the Keuchel and Corbin was small, with each picking one guy getting a bigger deal. Kiley McDaniel at Fangraphs just released his projections this morning and has the two close, too, but Corbin getting more over the duration with Keuchel signing a shorter deal for more per year.

This is where a guy like J.A. Happ gets interesting. He’s going to be 36-years-old next season. It probably wont’ require a 5-year contract to get him to sign. The Heyman article projects him at 2-years and $13M a season. McDaniel has him projected at 2-years and $14M a season. That kind of deal has a whole lot more of a “Cincinnati Reds” feel to it than the ones projected for Dallas Keuchel or Patrick Corbin. But, would a pitcher signing a short term deal, who will almost assuredly have other options, sign in Cincinnati where it’s a tough sell that you will be competing at least in 2019? Maybe that would require an overpay versus what other teams are offering and the deal gets a little bit less friendly.

There were some “bigger” names leaked here. And the good news with that is that in the past the Cincinnati Reds wouldn’t have even been mentioned for such players. Those types were out of their market. They were too expensive to chase after. The bad news is, those names are now out there. And if the Reds wind up missing out on all of them and have to settle for, say, Matt Harvey and the likes of his lower-mid-tier free agent pick ups, it’s going to be a pretty bad look on the organization who talked a big game heading into the offseason.

Let’s talk a little bit more about Matt Harvey. He joined the Reds midseason and performed significantly better than he had with the Mets. That’s good. The Reds identified him as a guy they felt they could fix some things with. They stated that when he was acquired, and sure enough, he improved. A lot. But even with those improvements, he was still below-average. In his 128.0 innings with the Reds he posted a 93 ERA+. His walk rate was very low, which was great to see. And his strikeout rate was solid, but unspectacular. He, however, like the rest of the starters, struggled mightily to keep the baseball in the ballpark.

Bringing back Matt Harvey would not be a bad thing on the surface. There are some things to like with what he brings to the table. Even if he is simply the same pitcher as he was in 2018 for the Reds, that’s a guy you could slot in at #4 in your rotation and be very happy with. The problem lies in that, right now, he might slot in at #1 or #2. If he becomes the top guy you bring in, it doesn’t really improve the club at all. If Matt Harvey is the third guy you bring in, that’s a pretty good improvement. He’ll be the cheapest of the options talked about. But there’s a reason for that, too. He simply wasn’t as good as the other pitchers were in the last season or four.


30 Responses

  1. Colorado Red

    I would prefer Yusei Kikuchi over happ.
    36 is too old to offer a 2 year deal to.
    Not sure Evoldi, Dallas or Corbin want to come to Cincinnati.
    Yusei Kikuchi would be a nice pickup for the first Japanese player in Cincinnati.

  2. Tom

    Give me
    Morton 2/32
    Donaldson 3/58
    Happ 3/45
    Gonzalez 3/36

    Drop Hamilton and Scooter via trade. Payroll 150 m. Low risk, short term deals.

    Peraza CF/SS
    Winker LF
    Votto 1b
    Suarez SS/3b
    Donaldson 3b/1b
    Senzel 2b/LF
    Schebler RF/LF
    Tucker C


    endless bullpen arms

    • redlegs4ever

      That’s a lot of money for the worst defense I’ve ever seen in my entire life…

    • Redsvol

      I like the ideas on pitchers – we need at least 2 free agent pitchers to compete for a wild card. Many of them are better than the garbage we’ve put on the mound the last 3 years. Donaldson is too much an injury risk for me. Happ and Morton would look great in Red!

  3. redlegs4ever

    It’s a shame to not see Eovaldi on this list, he has always been target #1 for me and unfortunately I think his postseason has kinda scared some teams off because of what it’s going to do to his price tag. There’s a lot of talk of teams using him as a super reliever so hopefully a desire to start, which the Reds can clearly offer, drives him to take a reasonable deal in Cincinnati.

    Neither Corbin or Keuchel will be worth what they are going to get, and you would assume it’s going to take more money for them to come to Cincinnati than go anywhere, those are both passes to me.

    JA Happ is certainly intriguing on preferably a 1 year deal, but I could be amenable to 2 years.

    Harvey is a strict 1 year deal for me, and I think he would prefer a 1 year deal and see if he can continue to build on his turn around and maybe land a nice 3-4 year deal in 2019 offseason.

    I really don’t want anything to do with the remaining free agent starters outside of low money 1 year deals…

  4. Jasonp

    What I wrote the first time I saw this article doesn’t seem to be here anymore. I won’t wright it up again but did have a question from it I want to ask.

    I saw that Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel received a qualifying offer from their teams. I wasn’t sure what the new rules now said about loosing draft picks when you sign one. It use to be your first round pick but it isn’t that anymore I think.

    • Scott C

      Someone over on RLN is saying that because we are revenue sharing team we cannot lose our top 2 draft picks. For the Reds that would be the Round 1 pick and the Competitive Balance pick. Which would mean the Reds would have to give up their second round pick.
      I am not speaking authoritatively, just what I read.

    • Doug Gray

      For those who noticed their comments disappear – The site switched to a new host today. Anything that was posted in about a two hour window this morning while the site was downloaded from the old host and uploaded to the new host did not transfer over.

  5. Shawn

    How about Scooter and India to the Yankees for Frazier and Gray?

    • Stock

      Gray is a FA. Frazier stinks. Scooter is proven quality who the Yankees don’t need because they have Didi and Torres. India has much more value than Gray and Frazier combined.

      • Shawn

        Frazier stinks? I’m talking about Clint, not Todd. Gray and Scooter both have one year of control. Gray will probably be 1-2 million cheaper

  6. Grover

    I think they need 2 Starters and if they want to attract a top FA pitcher its going to have be 2 at least because they won’t come unless they see a chance of contending and its going to take 2 or more to do that. Also trade Scooter to Yanks for Gray and a prospect if they want him, install Senzel at second. See how easy it is?

    • Colorado Red

      An FA signing, and a trade for Kluber would be nice.
      Would take a lot to get him, but may be worth it.
      Have to give up value to get value via a trade.

  7. Wes

    Whatever it takes- reds are going to have to be the overwhelming highest bidder for any player and even more so if the player is considering a state for income tax purposes. So that means prob 6 years for Corbin and atleast 5 for kuechel. All at least at 20 per. Crazy to go down that road w homer still on roster. His contract has been killing reds for 5 years and reds are gonna make same mistake again. Smh….

  8. DHud

    Zero percent chance the reds land Corbin or Keuchel. Maybe 4% chance for Happ

    Just reality of the market available for all three. If you were any of them would you choose to come play in Cincinnati over virtually any other team?

    • Wes

      If reds offer an extra year at same per they can get any guy they want that has a brain in their head. Would you pass up on making 18-20 million just bc u got 50 mil in bank ?? Neva! That’s the reality of the market.

  9. MuddyCleats

    Agree, Harvey is a 3 @ best, but never see Reds willing 2 spend enough 4 someone better? In his 24 GS w/Reds, 15 games were 3 Runs or less. % wise he ranked right alongside Disco & Castillo n terms of QStarts. Problem was when he was bad – he was very bad! Then again, he did improve as season went on. My concern w/ him is arm health & work ethic. Is he someone our young guys should look up to?

    • MuddyCleats

      Reds r never going 2 compete via FA. Vets they do bring n should b good performers, but also good roll models 4 young guys & willing & able to help their development

      • Shamrock

        Those first few words are the most honest I’ve seen in years:


    • AllTheHype

      Reds spent $100M on Bailey hoping he’d be better than a 3. But he’s not even a 5. How quickly people forget both that the Reds DID spend big money on pitching AND that big money pitching is a dangerous game.

      • Doug Gray

        Not spending money on pitching is also a dangerous game. We’ve seen that where the Reds have basically spent nothing on starting pitching other than Homer Bailey for three years running and been the worst starting staff in baseball each year.

  10. A.B.

    Reds: “We are interested in Corbin, Keuchel and Happ.”

    ** Sees price tags **

    Reds: “Tyson Ross, come on down!”

  11. kevinz

    I still believe Defense and Pitching go hand to hand. Once field a team who plays defense the Pitching will improve.

    • Doug Gray

      The pitching WON’T improve. The results overall do. Pitchers can’t make a guy hit it to where the fielder is standing. The run prevention will be better because the defense is better. But that doesn’t mean the pitching is better.

      • kevinz

        True but a Great OF can dive to make a catch to steal outs. That is what Boston’s OF did all year. Launch Angle with players hitting the ball in Air more than ever. Outfield Defense is huge more in today’s game than ever before.

      • Doug Gray

        You aren’t wrong, but that’s not pitching. That’s defense. To improve the pitching you need better pitchers, not better defense. Better defense is improving the defense.

  12. GM/Manager Nep O'Tism

    This interest in Corbin/Keuchel smells an awful lot like their interest in pursuing Shohei Ohtani. Wasn’t going to ever come to anything positive and in the end they added Gosselin and Pennington to the roster instead.

    “The bad news is, those names are now out there. And if the Reds wind up missing out on all of them and have to settle for, say, Matt Harvey and the likes of his lower-mid-tier free agent pick ups, it’s going to be a pretty bad look on the organization who talked a big game heading into the offseason.”

    Really feels like the most likely outcome. Would love to be surprised, though.

    • Doug Gray

      I don’t think it’s anything like that. Landing Ohtani was not going to cost ANYTHING. They didn’t have to compete with money. They had to compete with salesmanship.

      With Corbin and Keuchel they have to compete with dollars, and a whole lot of them.

    • GM/Manager Nep O'Tism

      Sorry, I should have been more clear. I didn’t think it was similar from a monetary standpoint so much as an effort standpoint.

      The Reds FO are not multitaskers in the least. They focus on one task and tend to let others fall by the wayside. I think we have two straight trade deadlines now where a team said the Reds were too busy trying to trade someone else. If I remember correctly, the Mariners said nobody was picking up the phone to talk about Cozart when the Reds were trading Bruce to the Mets.

      I just worry that if they focus on Corbin/Kuechel, who they aren’t going to get, they are going to miss out while slightly more realistic (yet still big improvements) like Gio Gonzales sign with another team.

      Then we will end up with third tier FA starters. Or Harvey/Marquis types.