The Cincinnati Reds have been bad at winning baseball games lately. In fact, they’ve been really, really bad at it. They have failed to win 70 games in each of the last four seasons. In 2014 they finished 10 games under .500. It’s been a long time since the team was good, much less contending.

The offseason has been interesting for the Reds thus far. They’ve hired a new manager, a new pitching coach, and a new hitting coach. All of those things are good signs that the front office and ownership wants and is seeking change. But another big thing is that it seems ownership seems to at least be saying that the money will be there to spend.

First, it was Bob Castellini telling C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic, unsolicited, that they “would get the pitching” multiple times. Then there was Castellini saying that the team would have their highest payroll ever. Earlier this week it was leaked that the Reds had interest in pitchers Dallas Keuchel, Patrick Corbin, and J.A. Happ among others. The first two on that list are estimated to land large contracts. Players like that were not, and never have been on the Reds radar in the past. They simply cost too much money for the teams set budget.

On Wednesday Paul Daugherty of the Cincinnati Enquirer noted that he had heard the Reds would have about $30M to spend this offseason. That would put the budget for payroll at, roughly, $130M given what the current roster looks like, including arbitration raises. The plan seems to be to spend that money on pitching. And that makes sense. For the most part, the position players are solid or better for 2019. You could argue that the team could upgrade in center field (and I would argue that). But by-and-large, the everyday eight is strong.

The Reds, in theory, could make big improvements in their roster with $30M. While we could sit around and try to figure out how they could do that, debating the specific players isn’t necessary. Let’s take a look at the additions we should be expecting. Nick Senzel is going to be on the roster this season, and if there’s anything right with the world, it’ll be for the entire season. The team should, hopefully, get a full season out of Jesse Winker, too. Both of those things should drastically improve the offense if they are capable of staying on the field.

Before spending ANY money in 2018/2019 the Reds should improve. That improvement won’t be large, but the improvement should happen. While anything could happen, if the Reds are going to go out and spend $30M on pitching in the offseason, then the improvements should be quite large compared to what happened in 2018. How large isn’t know without knowing who comes in. Or how it changes the rest of the performance. It should, however, put them in the area of being a solid baseball team. A lot of things would have to go right for them to jump from 67 wins to being full-on competitive for a playoff spot. Jumping 20 wins in one season is a rare thing. It’s not impossible, but it shouldn’t be expected, either.

But it’s not the 2019 season that really is what gets me thinking the Reds could be on the verge of competing. I do believe it’s the first real step, but it’s the following offseason that could be the real difference. After 2019 the Cincinnati Reds will have another $34M coming off of the books via free agency with Homer Bailey, Billy Hamilton, and Scooter Gennett no longer being with the team. Some of that money will go towards raises in arbitration. But that shouldn’t eat up too much of it because only Anthony DeSclafani and Michael Lorenzen will be in their 3rd year of arbitration. Only Jose Peraza will be in year two. Eugenio Suarez will be in line for a $2.5M raise, and Tucker Barnhart will get an extra million. All told, even if the payroll stays the same as it was in 2019, the Reds should have at least $25M to spend next offseason, too.

Not everything is going to go perfectly. It rarely does. Some guys will get hurt and miss some time. Some players may not perform up to expectations. But over the next two years the Cincinnati Reds are positions, monetarily, to be able to spend plenty to acquire talent and good, difference making talent.

But it’s also more than just the money that they can spend. While Nick Senzel seems like the only “for sure” guy that can step in for 2019, things could be different for 2020. Obviously no one is “for sure” for that year because those guys are still further back in development and haven’t shown they can do it at Triple-A. But it’s also not outside of expectations to think that Taylor Trammell, Shed Long, Tony Santillan, Jose Siri, or maybe even a guy like Jonathan India could be ready to step up during the year.

The Cincinnati Reds are in a very tough division. The Cardinals and Cubs are perennial winners. Milwaukee just won the division and while there are some reasons to think they may take a step back in 2019 (looking at you, pitching), they are still going to be a quality team. But the Reds are positioned well right now. It’s not likely going to be immediate, but it could be quick over the next 14-15 months.

Improving the pitching will be vital. The team brought in one of the better pitching coaches in baseball to try and help fix things. They’ve targeted high end pitchers this offseason. They will need to go out and “get the pitching”. But if they do some of that this offseason, they can also do the same thing next offseason.

The upside here is that there’s a whole lot of potential when looking at how things could play out for the Reds in the next 15 months. But it’s got some downside, too. Simply having some money to spend doesn’t mean you can just get who you want. The players have to also choose to come to your team. And given where the Reds are, and the ballpark that they play in, that may not be easy. And the team may have to overpay in free agency to make that happen.

There’s also the 500-pound gorilla in the room. That gorilla is the fact that Father Time is undefeated. Joey Votto isn’t getting younger. While I do believe the decline will come gradually rather than just a fall off of the cliff, by the time 2020 arrives, Joey Votto is going to be 36-years-old. The good news is, there are some recent 36-or-older hitters to perform well. David Ortiz and Nelson Cruz each had multiple seasons of a 130+ wRC+. Unlike Joey Votto, though, neither of those guys had a down year in terms of power at any point.

If Joey Votto can find some of the power he showed from 2015-2017 and have a more natural decline from there, he should still be performing at a rather high level in 2020. And if the Reds can spend the money that they seem to have available in the next two offseasons, you don’t have to squint very hard to see a team that could truly compete. It won’t be easy. And there are some hurdles they may need to overcome, too. But the blueprint is there for everyone to see. It’s time to make things happen.


75 Responses

    • Tommac

      I want to see how the new pitching coach does with Castillo and Mahle… improvement with those two, along with Sal might do wonders alone with the 2019 reds…

      • Jim

        To make last years pitchers most of them save 3 or 4 counting starting with 2 starters and 3 pen pitchers the new pitching coach better be close friends with Jesus.the infielders could go would be bottoming and Pearson getting rid of Jose would take a lot of money or a top of the line starter.the out field the go would be sheb.the others would have to bring a pretty good prize.the 1 I would keep and I could get arguments all day would be billy Hamilton it the new hitting coach is as good as they say.he should raise billy’s Ba quite a bit that would make him very saveable.winker it depends on the surgery he had done.i would not want to put big money on many innings sitting out with injuries.any of the other outfielders could be replaced with farm players.just thinking out loutloud

    • Bkc

      Another year in last place but ownership is still raking in the big money

  1. DocProc

    I’m okay with Joey’s decline in power as long as he gives us .300/.400 every year. And I think he can. Just make sure he’s batting second, not third.

    • Doug Gray

      You can be ok with it, but the less power he hits for, the worse the offense is, and the more the team needs to make up.

      • MuddyCleats

        Votto’s approach is geared toward protecting his BA & OBP. That ‘d b ok if Reds had power studs everywhere else and or if he had some speed but they don’t & he don’t! Likewise, his 20+ M could b better spent. – A team losing 90 games a yr cant afford a no RBI / HR guy @ a power position. Swing the bat Joey – even if helps TEAM w/ a productive out!

      • Doug Gray

        Productive outs aren’t actually productive all that often. And that doesn’t count the time you try to create a “productive out” and it’s a complete failure and does nothing but create an out entirely.

      • MuddyCleats

        If it drives n a run or moves a guy over – it’s productive! Most JV walks end w him @ 1st making small talk w/ opponents. There is value putting pitcher in stretch position, but not that much vs ML pitching

      • Doug Gray

        A ground out to second base that moves a runner over isn’t productive. It’s a failure that just happened to not be the worst possible outcome.

        A walk is far more valuable than ANY “productive” out. That productive out leads to fewer runs scored. Even if that “out” happened to be a sac fly that brought in a run. A walk, instead of that fly out, tends to lead to MORE runs being scored by the team. That’s an indisputable fact.

      • Muddycleats

        Likewise, it wouldn’t b called a productive out if it wasn’t productive! Votto takes too many good pitches especially w/ runners n scoring position. I don’t want a 20M + player who only wants a walk. Lot of RBI guys take walks, but most of them go to bat ready to rip…Joey ain’t one of them! That’s just not the attitude I want 2 spend 20M on – especially on losing team.

      • Doug Gray

        The idea that Joey Votto only wants to walk is about as backwards as possible. The reason Joey, and a lot of other great hitters walk, is that they don’t swing at non-strikes. It’s what tends to make them great hitters. No one hits non-strikes well. What makes the best hitters the best is that they don’t try to hit those pitches nearly as often. In the strikezone, big leaguers all tend to hit well. The separator is the best guys swing at pitches out of the zone far less often, thus limit crappy or no-contact at all.

      • MuddyCleats

        No doubt, u have 2 get on 2 score & LO walks have tendency 2 score more than others. Still, it takes someone 2 knock them n; ML is not Little League. And most fans that watch Reds know they have struggled hitting w/ RISP over last several yrs. Scooter is a free swinger, Suarez is more disciplined, but both attempt to do damage whereas JV APPEARS satisfied 2 get on. IMHO, Reds could spend a lot less than 23M a yr 4 that type of hitter – that’s entirely my pt – it’s not 2 hate on a very good ML hitter n JV!!

      • Doug Gray

        Your point misses the problem, though. If the rest of the hitters took the approach that Joey Votto did, the team would score a lot more runs and hit a lot better with RISP. Instead, they take a crappy “put it in play no matter what” approach, and don’t hit with RISP because they aren’t trying to hit as many quality pitches. Now, I certainly understand that it’s easier to say “don’t swing at non-strikes” than doing it. Guys aren’t generally expanding the zone a bunch because they actively choose to. They do so because they identified the pitch too late and didn’t realize it would be where it wound up being. Joey “appears” to be willing to take a walk, because he is willing to take a walk. He understands that his taking a walk is better than hitting a weak ground ball to second base because he swung at a pitch he couldn’t actually do damage on.

  2. jbonireland

    The other two players talked about are designated hitters in the American League, not everyday players. An aging first basemen with what will be declining defensive skills and less power could become a problem. Not dumping on Joey, it is just father time catching up.

  3. kevinz

    The Votto money on the books along with decline will hurt the reds. The steep decline has started for Votto. The team as it stands now not even close to contending. Mayb 2020 is the time like Doug mentioned. That is when some over paid players come off the books.

    • Pokey Reese's Red Hot Bat

      Steep as he’s got further to fall than almost anyone in Reds’ 150 year history.

      • kevinz

        The fall still hurts regardless. The reds were 9th in runs scored. The Pitching was even worse. Both sides need work. Suarez scooter Peraza had good to great Years but still finished 9th in runs scored.

  4. Jim

    30 mil in salaries lol. Save the money Bob for another season.
    2 SP might get us to .500. Prefer we get there and then compliment our nucleus.
    Work on trading Scooter and Hamilton.

  5. Optimist

    Joey is not quite Ichiro, but close – he stays almost as long as he wants. Got to believe you can always find a place for a .400 OBP. Also think the 2020 focus is important – with luck they could keep Harvey on an incentive loaded 2 yr. option, while adding at least 2 experienced arms. Hope the new staff can resurrect/repair/upgrade at least 2 existing former prospects – i.e. Finnegan/Stephenson/Sal/Amir/Mahle, and find creative 2-way use for Lorenzen.

  6. Brad

    1) Votto has been worth every penny of his contract.

    2) I believe trading Raisel Iglesias is the key to success in 2019 and beyond. Teams like the Braves, Phillies, etc all need bullpen help and have a plethora of SP in their upper minors. I believe in Castillo, Descalfani and Mahle. Go sign 1or 2 SP to short 1-3 year deals, trade Iglesias, sign 1-2 bullpen guys more in the Hughes/Hernandez mold.

    Iglesias to Braves for RHSP Wright, CF Pache, LHSP Wentz and C Contreras

    • AirborneJayJay

      Timing may be off to trade Raisel Iglesias this winter. Several closers on the free agent market and there are new teams entering the rebuild phase looking to dump closers for prospects.
      I do like the idea of getting Wright from the Braves though. The Reds should have drafted him to begin with. If they could get Wright, then trading Hunter Greene and the hype is more palatable. But the Braves probably spend money and save prospects on a free agent closer like Kimbrel, since they know him. Once the dust settles on closer free agent signings, maybe Iglesias could be traded to a team that missed out on Kimbrel, Britton, Familia, Allen, and K. Herrera.
      The Reds might want to do what SD did last year in trading their closer and added in another reliever. Maybe Iglesias and David Hernandez.

  7. Jasonp

    I think we are still several years away from competing but it looks like we are finally on the path towards it.

    The year we just had is the year I hoped that we would have had last year. Young players were finally ready and having a chance to play. You always hear now what a prospect is going to be and to often we think that is what the player is going to be in their first year. They all need experience and time to adjust to really see what kind of players they will become. I have thought that we have delayed this process to much with coaches who stuck playing players who were not going to be around in a year or two over those that will be around for a long time.

    I have seen a ton of posts about people thinking that adding 2-3 older starting pitchers fixes the team and suddenly we are competing for a playoff spot. It is not going to be enough. We still need younger players to develop into solid starters to be better and stay at that level for more then a year or two.

    You needed 97 wins to win our division last year. You needed 91 or 92 wins to get the last wild card spot. It is to much of a leap from 67 wins to get to that next year.

    If you sign 2 or 2+ older starters we will be better right away but the window we have to win will be small. We need to find someone that is better then a #5 pitcher from among Reed, Mahle, Romano, Stevenson, Sims, Lorenzen, Mella. Hopefully more then one. If not the window to win will stay small. To do that you need room in the rotation. I am for signing one vet starter this year and then look at things next year to see if you need to sign another.

    I do think we will see a lot of improvement next year. A full year of Winker and at some point playing time for Senzel somewhere will help the offense. Health for Schebler, a repeat performance of Peraza and a better bench will help as well.

    Pitching should be better with more experience from our young players and free agency.

    I think we will be in that 75-82 win range. We have a strong top half of prospects in the miners that I believe will continue to push our win total up over the next 3+ years. I am much more hopeful about our future that I was 2 years ago. I can finally see how we can be good again.

  8. MK

    Of that $30 million how much of that is going to be spent at second base on Scooter? Second base is a position where the free agent market is so stacked they wouldn’t be able to move him for any kind of return, with the contract he will receive. Would it not be better to non-tender him and add his 2018 $6 million to the 30 instead of taking it away?

    • Doug Gray

      That $30M is after everyone on the current team is already paid (using assumptions on arbitration). Maybe the guesses on arbitration add up to $2M not being there, but yeah – the $30M should be for new additions to the team.

  9. victor vollhardt

    Here is a thought–Homer Bailey becomes a problem the minute spring training starts. Can he pitch at an MLB level?–based on last year the answer is no. Send him to the minors so he can “find himself”? Even if he would go–he brings an attitude that might be a problem that could affect the other (younger) players. Make him into a relief pitcher? He says he can’t change into that type of player. If he refuses any of these solutions–file a team grievance and take to arbitration? Could be an “iffy” chance and would be bad publicly all around. Bailey is owed 23 million for 2019 and a 5 million buy out for 2020–28 million in all. Call in his agent and offer to buy out his contract at a lower price—why would they do that? Everything is on their side. Lets try this instead—the Reds ADD 2 million to the whole deal –making the total owed Bailey 30 million—the trade off? Bailey has to receive 30 mil in six(6) equal payments of 5 million over 6 years one each year. This could also be 5 payments of 6 mil over a five year period. If Bailey wanted to -he could just go home
    (retire)or sign with another team (deducting the MLB minimum from each Reds payment and we wish him well. For the Reds this would eliminate the “right now” roster problem and spread the money owed over time and yes cost an extra 2 million in the deal, but depending which option the Bailey camp took in the above example it would give the Reds and for an extra 15 or 16 million for the 2019 budget (remember the 2 million has to be funded) and for 2020 and beyond their cost would be either 5 or 6 million per year .They would have to pay the 5 mil buy out in 2020 anyway. Now with this as a starting point idea the Reds could negotiate some other version of the above example–no matter how it is worked out it would free up extra payroll money for 2019 and take Bailey’s presence out of the team’s picture. Maybe nobody would agree , but it couldn’t hurt to ask.

    • MK

      Still don’t think they would do it as a good investor could make more than $2 million on investments over 5 years with the money up front as the contract calls for today. Were it me I wouldn’t take that deal. If I were Reds I would offer it as they can make more investing it as well. Not 100% sure but I think the Reds would have to purchase an annuity that would guarantee those annual payment which would make the initial savings much smaller. All that being said I think the Reds are stuck with it.

    • RedFuture

      The team and fans have invested so much in Bailey, not just financially but emotionally, that we owe it to ourselves and Homer to take a wait-and-see attitude into next year. Hopefully he’s driven to train hard and sensibly in order to come in and “show them” what he’s all about. If that plays out and he get’s back the splitter he may force himself into the rotation. However if he can’t go through the lineup multiple times, at least use him to be your “opener” for one of the less reliable starters.

    • Colorado Red

      If he refused to go to the minors, you owe him all the money now.
      That is the way the contracts work.
      He has all the cards, and could sue the Reds.
      Also, other players would decide never to sign with the Reds.

  10. RedFuture

    It will be very interesting to see how the hitting dynamic between Turner Ward and Votto works out. Ward had the Dodger LH power hitters Bellinger, Muncy and Pederson going for broke on nearly every swing. I’m sure Ward will appreciate Joey’s approach but it will still ber very interesting to watch.

  11. Shawn

    Would scooter and India for Gray and Clint Frazier make sense for us and the Yankees? Had about trading Iglesias to the Braves for a couple of their young stud pitchers?

    • MK

      I have had the Gennett for Gray thought before as Didi will be out until at least mid-season with Torres moving to short. The rest could work as well. They might want Billy too and Reds would have to get a good prospect back too.

    • Norwood Nate

      I think there could be something to the Scooter for Gray swap. I don’t think India needs to be included, even with Frazier coming back. Their value is probably somewhat similar, but I’d reckon India may have a little more prospect shine at the moment. Scooter, in my opinion, is worth more than Gray though. He’s coming off two very good seasons, while Gray is coming off a poor season overall. The Yanks would need to sweeten what they sent back with Gray if they wanted Scooter. At the same time Scooter is not worth Gray + Frazier by himself. But adding India would still mean the Reds are giving up more value than getting back in this deal. Swap out India for Long, Siri, Downs, or Gutierrez and it’s closer to balancing the value both ways.

  12. SteveLV

    I think the Reds are building around a core group of Senzel, Trammell, Greene, Santillan – and Castillo, Winker, Suarez. That group, in about 2021 or 22 could be very good, and very inexpensive, leaving them with a lot of money to play with. There seems to be a reasonable chance that 1 or 2 of Siri, India, T Stephenson, Long, Downs, Garcia, maybe Peraza, Mahle jump into that core group, with some talent lower in the organization that could be in the discussion by then.
    I hope the decisions the Reds make are designed to strengthen the team for that time-frame. Competing for a playoff spot is good, but I want them to be able to win in the playoffs for an extended period.
    To me, that means using the additional payroll commitment to get better now, but, this year, not locking in too much payroll for 2021 and beyond. I wouldn’t be in any hurry to trade Suarez. They can wait until the trade deadline in 2020 before his play/contract start to lose value. Either sign Iglesias to a Suarez type contract or trade him to build the core. Get whatever they can for Hamilton and Gennett by the 2020 trade deadline, although sooner is better. Keep enough financial flexibility to plug the necessary holes in 2021.

  13. AirborneJayJay

    The Reds played the weak AL Central in interleague games in 2018. In 2019, the Reds will be playing a much better AL West division. Houston won 103 games, Oakland 97, Seattle 89, and LA Angels 80. Texas won 67 and will be rebuilding. We can only hope that Seattle and LA Angels decide that rebuilding is the way for them to go in 2019. If not, the road to 81 wins (.500) in 2019 for the Reds is going to be very bumpy and difficult and doubtful that the destination is reached.
    So, what type of pitching are the Reds front office going to actually get? The likes of Harvey, Derek Holland, Hellickson, Hutchinson, Pomeranz, Garcia, Buchholz, and Estrada are not going to beat those teams, or the teams in their own division.
    If the Reds cannot sign one of Corbin, Keuchel, Morton, or Eovaldi, then they should go the trade route. Signing one of Lynn, Happ, Miley, or Ryu is a fall back that might possibly work out in Cincinnati, and then trade for a more superior starter.

  14. Alex Reds

    $30M doesn’t go far in free agency. That is not remotely close to enough to make the Reds on the verge of competing. That buys about 3-4 WAR. The Reds need 20 or more additional WAR. Votto declined 3 WAR in ’18. Hopefully it’s a fluke and he gets his power back.
    The reality is this team is so bad compared to the competition, that they are forced to spend money on just about anything to get some excitement back and the fans back. It will be interesting to see what they try to sell us. The Reds are not ready to be competitive in 2019 unless they trade off a lot of their top prospects for a quicker fix. But, that would only last a brief number of years in most likely scenarios. The Reds only chance of being competitive and winning a WS, is to be patient, develop top talent – and lots of it. Then when your talent earns the right to compete like the Braves did, then you add around it through trades and free agency. You would be much better tanking another year, or not spending and trading away players who won’t be here in several years, since there isn’t a chance this team hits .500 next year (unless they spend about $120M extra).

    Take the $30M from 2019 and use it in 2021. Then you would have $60M or $90M by combining years of funds, and underfunding an earlier year. It’s not great for the fans, but the $30M they are spending won’t make much of a difference. They could have a really good bullpen for that, though!

    It’s quite possible the Reds don’t have an additional $34M extra even in 2020 because they may have already factored Homer coming off the books in 2020 into their 2019 decision to add $30M to payroll. In this case it was only a one year of extra out of pocket funding, and is not a long term operational funding. There’s already record low attendance, they are basically forced to do something.

    If the Reds do become good, it will be because of the prospects or a group of players already on the team over performing. A lot of the past prospects like an Amir Garrett, Reed, or Stephenson – that many have given up on, all the sudden becoming a solid starting pitchers.

    If you get in a long term contract now with a free agent or two, especially one who is not a #1/#2 starter with limited upside who is just an innings eater (which would still be much better than what the Reds have had as starters), then you are saddled with an aging or possibly injured player in 2021-2022 when you could be resigning and keeping your top talent that finally broke through.

    At some point you have to go all in, the Reds haven’t been able to set up a situation to go all in at this point. They haven’t been able to shed enough payroll to save any money to go all in later year. Since, they were saddled with bad contracts (other than Votto). They are finally about to lose one of their horrible contracts in Bailey, only to sign quite most likely another mistake. The Reds aren’t brave enough to tell the fans the truth, that they will suck next year too, so they should save their money for a future year. If we have any hope then, it is that the Reds sign a 1-2 year deal in length with their $30M a year so we don’t get saddled down long term again.

    I don’t think it makes any sense to try to accelerate the rebuild, when it’s not working on it’s own. That perpetuates never winning and extends or doubles the years without competing. A rebuild takes about 5 years. If it isn’t going well and you spend your farm system capital and spend $30-50M extra, that gives you a one or two year window of .500 ball then back to the basement for another 5 years.

    With any realistic possibility, the Reds are looking at 2021/22 to compete at .500 and possibly more. Every fund and move they make to win in 2019/20 is very likely counter productive to getting to success in 2021/22. There are moves that could be made to get players that are good in 19/20 and 21/22, but they would have to be MLB ready and either very young in their career or signed to a long term contract. You really limit your options in doing that.
    What should the Reds be doing? Identifying which of their own players and their prospects can really help them make a difference in 2021/22. Identifying which players on other teams are going to be the best players in 2021/22 and finding a way to acquire them during that time frame or before.
    Reducing salary now, as much as possible would greatly reduce their risk and increase flexibility when the time to go all in comes. Spending $90M extra in 2021 is very realistic scenario to winning, not just competing, with a near $200M payroll, and it’s realistic for even the Reds to do if wisely spending your money in 2019 and 2020. The Reds prospects they’ve had will have had years of extra time to develop. If you’re not going to do that, then spend your own billion to make it happen, or sell the team to someone who will.

    • Tom

      The truth in this is that it took the Braves, Cubs and Astros 7 or 8 years of losing to acquire the systems they have had recently.

      The scary part is San Diego has been unable to break through after over a decade of losing and several top 50 prospect busts.

      • Doug Gray

        And one of those teams was clearly cheating along the way, too. I still can’t believe how light the Braves got off for what they were doing.

    • Tom

      If a player like Suarez or Iglesias can net you 2 top 50 players, it’s like cutting a year off a rebuild. It takes a year of losing to get a shot at a high caliber player or 2.

      By the logic above, the Reds could take their 5 years of losing, amass 2 more years worth of losing’s prospects, and potentially be in a better place.

      It’s interesting, but I don’t think it’s a fit.

      This year the pitching in FA is budget friendly enough. Find a few healthy vets to lead the rotation. See what develops from some consistency and leadership.

      You can’t put a price on fan appreciation (but I bet Phil Castillini can).

      The Reds have some interesting young players and a HOF talent. They have to push off and go sailing the next 2 years. You just can’t shrink from the challenge if you’re the Reds. The opportunity cost is very high.

      While I would be pretty geeked out to see Suarez and Iglesias and Scooter and Hamilton and Disco and Lorenzen and Winker flipped for some grand design in 2020, pulling that off would be just as risky, and challenging, as signing 2 healthy arms and fulfilling your current vision.

  15. Oldtimer

    Different world in 2018 but Reds are probably three years away from being above .500 again. (Hopefully in 2021) That’s IF the minor league prospects stay healthy and pan out as expected.

    Trades are more difficult these days but key trades made the 1960 Reds in to 1961 NL champions. Made the 1971 Reds into 1972 NL champions. Made the 1989 Reds into 1990 WS champions. Each of those teams (1960, 1971, and 1989) had a nucleus of talent and promising young players. All they needed were key pieces added by trades and development of younger players.

    I was born in 1951. The Reds sucked the first 10 years (except 1956) I was alive. But for most of the next four decades (1960s through 1990s) the Reds were good most years and great some years (1970s).

    The Reds have never been very successful with signing free agents. Dave Parker probably the best in mid 1980s. Trades were more commonly used to improve the team back then. It remains to be seen if the Reds can sign the quality FA pitchers needed.

    • Doug Gray

      The Reds have never been very successful signing free agents because they’ve never actually tried to sign anyone from the top tier of free agents. When you constantly dumpster dive you constantly wind up with stuff that isn’t good.

      • Oldtimer

        Aroldis Chapman was free agent signed in 2010. Pretty good dumpster dive. Jeff Brantley in mid 1990s another.

      • Oldtimer

        (Besides Parker)

        Jeff Brantley: Originally signed for one year before the 1994 season before re-signing as a free agent during the ’94 strike for two more years at $2.5 million, Brantley remained in Cincinnati through ’97. He had a 2.64 ERA and 88 saves, including a club-record 44 saves in 1996.

        Pete Harnisch: The starter battled back from depression issues the previous year and signed a one-year, $300,000 deal with the Reds before the 1998 season. During his 14-win season, when he had a 3.14 ERA, he extended for two more years at $7 million. He went 16-10 with a 3.68 ERA in ’99.

        Francisco Cordero: When signed to a four-year, $46 million contract in November 2007, it was the largest contract ever for a reliever at the time. Cordero stayed all four years and had a 2.96 ERA and 150 saves over 283 appearances.

        Aroldis Chapman: Not a traditional free agent, Chapman was signed out of Cuba in 2010 for a $30 million deal. A curiosity when he arrived, he brought immediate electricity and a velocity that once reached a record 105 mph. The left-hander had a 2.17 ERA, 146 saves and a 15.4 strikeouts-per-nine-innings ratio in six seasons with Cincinnati.

      • Oldtimer

        I forgot Francisco Cordero in 2007. $46 M contract. Largest every by reliever at the time. 150 saves in 4 years as a Red.

      • Doug Gray

        So four players, one of which doesn’t even count, in the 50 years of free agency? Yeah, I stand by what I said. The Reds have never really played in the top of the free agent market. Two relievers and Pete Harnisch coming off of depression issues isn’t the same as going out and signing a top tier free agent.

      • Oldtimer

        Yep. FA don’t want to play for Reds. Wonder why. Been that way since FA started in 1970s. Trades and MiLB play development worked instead.

      • Muddycleats

        Agree Doug, which is exactly why it’s difficult 2 b excited about anything Reds say – Show me/us something!

  16. GM/Manager Nep O'Tism

    I feel like this offseason, plus how the Reds handle Iglesias/Hughes/Hernandez + Gennett at and right before the trade deadline is going to determine if the Reds are ready to be a winning team in 2020, or if we’ll have to wait until 2025+.

    You sign 1 good and 1 above average starter this offseason and flip Iglesias/Hughes/Hernandez + Gennett at the deadline for some real quality returns, and we could be looking at some winning baseball for a half-decade.

  17. Kong

    Reds about ready to compete? Lol, sorry just had to make sure I read that right. The only time anyone should ever write anything about the Reds competing is when Dick Williams is gone along with the stench of nepotism that has sunk this awful organization for years.

  18. Simon Cowell

    Odds are not in our favor of being above .500. It will come down to our rotation and well with $30 million to spend what are we going to get. 1 bandaid and leftovers from the top 5 teams in baseball.

  19. Shawn

    I think we would be a .500 team next year without making a move. We were close to that last year after a horrible start. And that was with Winker missing the last half of the year and Schebler missing time. If Senzel can play CF and we add 2 good SP we can be a playoff team

    • Alex

      It’s always if if if. Guys get hurt. That’s what happens. I don’t see how they are closer. They have an alright, semi solid starting 8 if everyone is healthy, which everyone won’t be. Its an offense that can look good for a week or two at a time. But don’t forget schebler absolutely tanked in the 2nd half, as did barnhart. We can say that’s cause they were tired and that’s sort of the point, they are so thin, there is just no one else outside the first 8. Theyve been actually pretty lucky with gennett, given his balky shoulder, I bet that luck runs out this year. Winker tore his labrum so assuming anything about him is a mistake. While peraza and Hamilton are below average players.

      Someone also made the point that playing the AL Central was vital to the reds few wins and they will not have that either.

      Assuming disco is going to be both healthy and good seems dubious, same can be said for the inevitable signing of Harvey.

      Unless senzel plays SS or cf he will just be taking at bats from one of the other few productive players. Mismatched talent that there isn’t enough of. All the while the division and the NL in general is stacked with talented young teams that we know for a fact are run well and are only going to get better.

      I’d say if by verge you meant 3 or 4 seasons, I’d agree.

      • Shawn

        It’s “if” for practically everyone. Most teams can’t overcome a star player getting hurt. Reports from the AFL were that the Reds believed Senzel could play CF. Why all the negativity?

  20. Cguy

    The Reds need to save that $30M until late June or early July. That’s when they can sign the top international prospects. More so than with free agents, this is where the Reds can get value for their money. If the Reds want to make a big splash this winter, I say go all in on Kikuchi. I don’t know how good he will be but $43.5M ,6year deal for a 27 year old pitcher is about what the Reds can afford. I agree the Reds need to allow their new pitching coach some time to see what he can do with current young pitching before acquiring veteran starters. I expect the Reds to put 3 or 4 new players in their top 10 prospect list this season -that’s job #1. The reasons 2019 probably won’t be a competitive season for the Reds occurred in 2015 & 2016, not the 2018 off season.

    • Doug Gray

      They can only spend $5-6M then…. so saving $30M for then just means keeping almost all of it for nothing.

      • Cguy

        It won’t disappear- they’ll still have it to spend. They could trade a prospect or to for some additional spending cap. My point is the Reds have a better chance competing for international prospects than FAs.

      • Doug Gray

        Even if they could trade for as much as possible, that still leaves $25M sitting there doing absolutely nothing (because they’ve already got money set aside for this). And the guys they’d be signing would, in the best case scenarios, not help the Reds out until 2022. And that’s if a guy showed up as a 19/20-year-old.

        Don’t have a defeatist attitude. The “we can’t compete for free agents” mindset makes it a reality. Instead, go out and actually compete for them. Offer them real amounts of money.

      • RedFuture

        When I hear they have 30M to increase the budget, I take that to mean 30M per year over at least 4-5 years. I think that will be more than enough to get one of the top 5 pitchers out there.

      • Oldtimer

        Technically Aroldis Chapman was signed as FA in 2010.

        And Ryan Madson was big FA signing in 2012 but got injured in ST.

        Then Francisco Cordero in 2007 signed 46 M contract in 2007 (biggest $ amount for reliever at that time).

        The Reds HAVE signed some FA pitchers. Just no starters of note this century.

        Trades have been a better way to acquire starters. All-Star SS Roy McMillan for SP Joey Jay in 1960. All-Star Dave Parker for SP Jose Rijo in late 1980s. Two examples of many.

      • Doug Gray

        The fact that you keep bringing up relievers is all we need to know. The Reds do not spend in free agency.

      • Oldtimer

        Ryan Ludwick and Jonny Gomes. Both FA signed by Reds. Both OF in starting lineup in 2010-11-12-13 timeframe.

        Next question?

      • Doug Gray

        Cliff Pennington. Yovani Gallardo. Eric Milton. A million other guys.

        The Cincinnati Reds don’t play in real free agency. They play in “lower mid-tier and worse” free agency. It’s why by-and-large, they don’t have a good track record of free agents. Finding some examples doesn’t change that.

      • Cguy

        I can’t see anywhere in my comments expressing a defeatists attitude. I did say they have a better chance of competing for international prospects than free agents. Yanks, Red Sox, Dodgers, Cubs, etc. will always be able to outbid the Reds for the very best FA-especially sp. In 2015 , the Reds signed international prospects: Gutierrez (#1), A. Rodriguez (#4), & Olivio (also in the top 30). That’s competing. By the way, July 2 of that year the Nationals signed Juan Soto for $1.5M. He not only made it to the ML in 3 years, but appears to be an impact player(.292avg,.406 obp, 22 hr). I’d love to see the Reds sign say Gio Gonzales to a 3year contract @ $10-12M a year. I’d also like to see them Trade (or nontender) BH, plus take in trade what they can get for Scooter at the trading deadline. Those 2 moves would recoup most of Gonzales salary for 2019 & leave the Reds in a position to increase payroll about $40-50M a year in 2020 &2021 when they actually may just a player or 2 away from expecting to win the division.

      • Oldtimer

        Correction. 5 acquired by trade. 4 FA. Blended with existing talent and development by MiLB prospects.

  21. James Phillips

    If they are really willing to go to a 130 mil payroll they’ll have money to spend again next year when Homer’s contract is no longer sucking up 20 mil. 30 mil this year and 20 mil next year, with contract increases offset by trading Hamilton and Scooter, and this team could be very good very soon.

  22. Kong

    Even the slightest consideration that the Reds will be competitive under Dick Williams is laughable. Not as bad as the don’t play Nick Senzel in the outfield because of the walls laughable but still very solid humor.

    • LeftyR32

      Williams isn’t the problem. He’s the one spearheading the dragging of this organization into the new era of baseball. Is he the best in MLB at his job? No, but he’s far from the worst. I have liked his spending on infrastructure the last few years instead of spending in free agency to maybe finish 4th in NL Central. It seems he’s been given a little more free reign this offseason and the coaching/mgr hiring look promising.

      • Kong

        No business being in baseball. The ONLY reason he is in baseball at all is because uncle Bozo is so infatuated with nepotism.

  23. Solomon

    small market teams can’t absorb injuries like big market deep pocket franchises. We rely of young inexperienced talented players blended with pay friendly vets that either over achieve or hit their peak late. But Any time you add to (2) average to above average SPs to any major league team; and also this doesn’t have a problem scoring runs.
    Can be put them on the verge of contending. It’s all about staying healthy. Especially for us, especially on that Starting Rotation. It’s a most!

  24. Scottya

    Based on ryu accepting the QO and the probability we won’t sign Keuchal or Corbin. This staff yields an era of 3.98, with all innings being equal among starters and all innings being equal among relievers, using the Fangraphs Depth Charts era projections:

    Starters: average era with all innings being equal 4.02x.59 (this is the % of starter innings for the brewers in 18′)

    1. Charlie Morton 3.51 era (free agent) 2 yrs 33 million
    2. Luis Castillo 3.98
    3. Brett Anderson 4.13 (free agent) 2 yrs 11 million
    4. Sonny Gray 4.16 (for michael lorenzen and Billy Hamilton??) 1 yr 9 million
    5. Anthony Desclafani 4.31 era

    Bullpen: average era with all innings being equal 3.92 x .41 (this is the % of relief innings for the brewers in 18′)

    1. Iglesias 3.63 era
    2. Joakim Soria 3.58 (free agent) 2 yrs 16 million
    3. Tony Barnette 3.87 (free agent) 2 yrs 5.5 million
    4. Amir Garrett 3.89
    5. Matt Bowman 3.90
    6. Jared Hughes 4.09
    7. Matt Wisler 4.13
    8. David Hernandez 4.23

    With an overall pitching staff era of 3.98: We would give up approximately 690 runs. Pirates gave up 692 runs with a 4.00 era in 18′. Nats had a 4.04 era and gave up 682 runs. Mets had a 4.07 era and gave up 707 runs. That is spending a net 30.5 million extra to 19′ payroll.