“We are going to get the pitching.” Those are the words of Cincinnati Reds CEO and majority stake owner Bob Castellini to The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans. He made that statement over and over at the press conference introducing new manager David Bell to Rosecrans. The starting pitching is clearly the weakness of the Reds heading into the offseason. But USA Today writer Gabe Lacques has a radical, and different idea to improve the Cincinnati Reds: Sign Bryce Harper.

As Lacques says in his article, “given who they are and where they play, the quickest path to glory likely lies in run explosion, not run prevention.” It could be an interesting idea. Bryce Harper would certainly be a big boost for the offense. There aren’t many projections out yet for the 2019 season, but the one that is and easily available to anyone, has Bryce Harper as the the 3rd best hitter baseball next year.

The Steamer Projections have Bryce Harper with a .267/.399/.527 line for the 2019 season. How would that look in Great American Ballpark and the way the ball flies in right field? How would he look in the middle of a lineup with Scooter Gennett, Jesse Winker, Joey Votto, Eugenio Suarez, and at some point, Nick Senzel? It’s not the 1927 Yankees or the 1976 Reds, but it would be one of the best offenses in the National League.

Of course, the question is could that offense do enough damage to mitigate the fact that the team would be relying entirely on internal improvement from the pitching staff in this scenario? Assuming the Reds did this wild and crazy thing and somehow Bryce Harper agreed to come to Cincinnati, there would be no money remaining in 2019 to bring anyone else in. That would be their sole move, short of maybe adding a league minimum kind of player or two in a non-important role.

For the 2019 season, no, that’s probably not going to be nearly enough. There’s the hope-and-dream situation that the combination of a new manager, new pitching coach, and all of the mid-20-something arms that have had some struggles over the last 2-3 years can work some magic and become a quality pitching staff. It certainly isn’t the most wild thing in this article. But it’s also not something that anyone should count on happening, either.

As I wrote three weeks ago, though, it’s that 2020 season that could get awfully interesting for the Cincinnati Reds. After the 2019 season the team could have $34M coming off of the books between Homer Bailey, Scooter Gennett, and Billy Hamilton all becoming free agents. There will be a few small raises in arbitration and money due in contracts. Still, that would leave the Reds with about $25M to spend if their payroll remains what it’s expected to be. And there’s a chance there could be more money if the team actually shows something in 2019 and ticket sales increase.

The plan could be to see how the young pitchers develop with the new coaches and manager in place, and adjust if needed after 2019. The money will be there to go get help in free agency, and the farm system should still be healthy enough to make trades if that’s the route they choose to take. At the end of the day, the odds of Bryce Harper signing in Cincinnati are only slightly better than the odds that I’m bringing Anna Kendrick to Redsfest on my arm this weekend. But both scenarios are fun to think and talk about.

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25 Responses

  1. jim t

    Love to have him but was listening to sports radio at lunch and it appears he is leaning towards staying in Washington

  2. 44Reds

    Although this is about as likely as the Reds signing me, I like the thinking behind it. IMO our internal pitching options are about as likely to be successful as any second tier guys we will end up acquiring (Grey, Lynn, etc.). For this reason I have been wondering if the money would be better spent on a much more dependable offensive upgrade?The game is about outscoring the other team no matter how you do it. Still not opposed to gambling on a higher upside but affordable pitcher in a short contract if that guy exists.

  3. jim t

    Doug with 34 mil coming off the books in 2019 I sit tight with our current staff. Find out what we have with Senzel and see where Winker is after surgery. See if Perraza can build off last year. We will also have a better idea about Siri and Trammell and we will see how Hunter Greene has healed. Santilian could also be ready. Fans won’t want to hear this but I spend another year sorting through the pitchers on the staff. I may sign Harvey if the price is right but dealing our top end prospects at this time with most being injured (Winker Senzel and Greene) would be undervaluing them at this time.

    • cinvenfan

      This. Unfortunately all this losing will force the FO to go after an aging middle-of-the-rotation starter overpaying just to calm down the noise. I really want to be wrong, though.

  4. Ryan S

    Bryce does like his Ohio State Buckeyes. Maybe a deal could be worked out in his contract to special privileges at all Buckeyes games? Lol

    • Joe Bishop

      Urban Meyer is a HUGE Reds fan too, Harper was at tOSU last weekend for the beatdown, I’d guarantee Urban tried to plant a seed for the Reds

  5. Cguy

    If you’re going about improving the Reds by signing a position player, it’s AJ Pollack- hands down. If you want to make a deal for a corner outfielder, I’d suggest a Mets- Reds salary dump involving Homer Bailey for Jay Bruce. Reds add Scooter Gennett, Mets throw in Zack Wheeler and a prospect (Ronny Mauricio). Signing Harper just puts a top tier performer on a 3rd class stage.

    • Oldtimer

      There is no way in Hades that Mets or anybody else would take Homer Bailey in a trade.

    • MK

      Why would the Mets do that? They have a pretty good young second baseman Jeff McNeil who hits well with below average defense just like Gennett, and rumor has it they are getting Robinson Cano and Diaz from Seattle.They don’t want Bailey anymore than the Reds do.

      • Cguy

        Maybe they wouldn’t . They’d like to get rid of the $26MM they owe Jay Bruce over the next 2 years. Scooter would be an upgrade over McNeil, if only for a year. Of course I imagine they’d rather have Cano- but he’s still owed $120MM over the next 5 years plus it’d take a couple of the Mets best prospects to get Cano & Diaz. You did catch the part of my comment about a “salary dump” deal didn’t you? Anyway it’s a much more practical deal than the Reds signing Bryce Harper, wouldn’t you agree? Signing Harper uses up most of the money for signing FA sp over the next few years.

  6. SultanofSwaff

    Harper scares me for two reasons—-cost and defense. For what we’d pay him, we could replace 80% of his production for 1/3 the money. More importantly, the guy is terrible on defense. Well, not terrible, but terribly indifferent. He gives away some overall value which is why he would be better suited for the AL.

    Something tells me that teams are a bit more wise to these blockbuster contracts. Personally, I’ll be surprised if he or Machado top $380mil.

  7. Amarillo

    I was thinking about this a few days ago. It would be an insane cost, but some of it could be recouped by some extra ticket sales, and a slight bump in TV money offered by having him on the team. Bailey’s money will be coming off the books, and Bryce would only be 10 M more than what Bailey was making. The fact is that starting Pitchers only play 1 out of every five games. Even replacing Bailey with Verlander would only improve the Reds by 10-15 wins. That is obviously a lot, but it would only get us to around .500. That extra run support every day might be more valuable to this team.

  8. Andy

    Trade older players and keep young ones. That’s what I would do. Gennett has been great, but he can be “replaced.” Hamilton, is a fan favorite. So was Todd Frazier. These guys are helping the team win, so you have to change course. They aren’t going to miraculously get better either. There’s no reason to sign either of them long term. Point being I would be for a move like this. But it’s fantasy. A player like Harper is not going to go to Cincinnati.

  9. AirborneJayJay

    That USA Today writer must be inhaling crazy pills. It is a nice idea and thought out too. But realistically, we are talking about the Reds front office who still employ an “adviser to the owner” that loves player shopping at the local MLB player dumpster. Twelve years at $420M is as ludicrous as it gets. No player alive is worth that. And certainly not in Cincinnati.
    Go get the pitching!!!! Eovaldi on the free agent market and Syndergaard on the trade market. Then we’ll talk offensive upgrade, one that doesn’t cost $420M.

    • Doug Gray

      There are absolutely players worth that. Don’t buy what the owners are trying to sell you.

  10. another bob in nc

    “At the end of the day, the odds of Bryce Harper signing in Cincinnati are only slightly better than the odds that I’m bringing Anna Kendrick to Redsfest on my arm this weekend. But both scenarios are fun to think and talk about.”

    You mean we have a chance?

  11. B-town Fan

    A definite plus to a Harper signing would be that we wouldn’t have to hear everybody complain about Votto’s contract anymore. :)

  12. kevinz

    No thanks rather have Cutch and Jones on shorter cheaper deals . They could be placeholders mentors to our Younger players .

  13. Patrick

    Harper is more of a name than what he produces as a player. He had I one monster year but the rest have been good but not great years.
    His fwar has been 4.4, 4.1, 1.6, 9.3 ,3.0 ,4.8 , 3.5 in his career
    Based on his career he looks like a 4 fwar player which is good but he is no where near what Votto has been.

    The money he is expecting is not in-line with his production. Reds need players that provide excess value.

  14. Reds fans believe anything

    Lol . Bryce Harper. Only reds fans believe that.