“We are going to get the pitching,” – those were the famous, much repeated words of Cincinnati Reds CEO Bob Castellini to The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans after the team’s press conference introducing new manager David Bell. And the team has had some success in that area, too. They’ve acquired starting pitchers Alex Wood and Tanner Roark via trade. But they also still seem to be out there looking for a third pitcher. The Reds have been linked to Corey Kluber and Sonny Gray since they acquired both of the previously two mentioned starters.

But just how much money do the Reds have left in their “budget”? That’s a bit unknown. The Cincinnati Enquirer’s Paul Daugherty noted earlier in the offseason that he had heard the team had about $30M to spend over last years payroll. That would mean the team could spend about $130M total on payroll this season, if those numbers are true.

At the time that came out the team hadn’t really made a slash in the trade market yet. And they also hadn’t dealt with many of their arbitration eligible players. That left a forecast for what they had committed towards current players for the 2019 season a bit blurry. Today, though, we have a very different view. The team has much of the roster set. They’ve dealt with all of their arbitration eligible players except for Alex Wood. Let’s take a look at how the current payroll stacks up.

The difference between whether the Reds win or lose their arbitration case with Alex Wood isn’t much. If we assume that what Paul Daugherty had heard was correct on the payroll numbers, then the team would still have somewhere between $17-18M remaining to spend this season.

That money could go a long way. Only Dallas Keuchel seems to be asking for more than that per year on the free agent market. And he’s not asking for more by much. Of course, it’s not as easy as just offering money to free agents. They are making their decisions based on things more than just contract money. And even in some cases, the same offer from multiple teams is worth more in some places due to how local and state taxes work out.

Dick Williams has repeatedly said that the team is not done yet since they completed their trade with the Dodgers. As noted above, the team has been active in trying to add another starting pitcher via trade, and at least in the case of Dallas Keuchel, in free agency (they continue to be linked to him).

It’s not just starting pitching that has seemingly been a focus for the Reds, though. They’ve been linked to several outfielders. And they’ve noted publicly that they could be looking to add a true center fielder. While the team has said that they feel comfortable with multiple players on the rosters ability to play there – but their actions of still searching for a center fielder despite five outfielders already – not even accounting for Nick Senzel –  may suggest that they aren’t really all that comfortable.

It could be an interesting next month as the team approaches the start of spring training. The Reds have money to spend. They also still have plenty of depth in their farm system if they wanted to make a splash on the trade market.

52 Responses

  1. Shawn

    I look for the Reds to trade Kemp, especially if they sign a CFer. We would have to eat most of his salary but it would probably give us a few more million to spend. What would Miley and Adam Jones cost?

    • RedsKoolAidDrinker

      What range of prospect(s) would it take to attach to Kemp for a salary dump? He obviously would be more useful for an AL team.

    • AllTheHype

      What would the Reds do with Adam Jones? Defensively he hasn’t been a capable CFer for 4 years, even though the Orioles, the worst run organization in baseball, played him there.

      • pog

        Hay, the O’s signed Don Long as their hitting coach. They are obviously on the way back /s

  2. Phil R

    They have plenty of room in the budget to give me $2.5 million and then immediately release me and still Get the Pitching!

    • Muddycleats

      Excellent; it wouldn’t b the worse move they’ve made LOL.

  3. Hoyce

    Doug- aren’t the reds still paying a couple old players? Arroyo and Griffey jr? That’s like another 5-6M /yr

      • Ant

        On kemps contract!! Per spotrac padres are paying 2.5 mill out of the 21.5 mill and dodgers send 7 mill to pay him out of the 18 mill left, so we’re are on the hook for 11 mil

      • Doug Gray

        I’m not sure that’s correct. As I understood it, though I could certainly be wrong, the Dodgers just passed along that money as a part of the $7M they sent in the deal.

      • Norwood Nate

        I would be nice to get some clarification and confirmation as to how much the Reds are actually paying Kemp. Before Kemp came to the Reds there was $6m already committed between the Dodgers (first time they traded Kemp) and the Padres ($3.5m and $2.5m respectively) that was set aside for his 2019 salary. The Dodgers sent $7m but no one has ever come out and said whether that covers the $6m plus an additional $1m, or if it covers the Dodgers previously committed $3.5m. I’ve seen comments, but never any links to anything concrete.

  4. Norwood Nate

    I have a hard time seeing Keuchel coming here. He also seems to be waiting out the Haper/Machado market, which is the smart move on his part. That would indicate he’s not enamored by the offers he has, and is hoping a team with payroll space will miss out and then decide to spend that money on him. It’s hard to see the Reds coming out on top in this instance, and if they do, what will it cost them?

    The trade routes rumored don’t seem that feasible either. The Indians seem content to hang onto their guys unless there’s an overpay, which the Reds shouldn’t do. The Yankees asking price on Gray has leaned toward too high in most instances I’ve read. The Reds would likely be better off keeping any prospects and just signing someone like Gonzalez, Holland, or Miley for around what they’d pay Gray for one year.

    Pollock may be the Reds best chance to make a real splash in FA but, how much money and how many years would the Reds commit to a guy who hasn’t been able to stay healthy consistently? It’s certainly risky, and it’s a spot where the Reds do have options and good prospects on the way to fill that spot.

    I mentioned on RLN, that Marcus Stroman may be the one trade candidate that makes sense. The Jays seem to be heading toward a full rebuild. They just traded Russell Martin to the Dodgers yesterday and earlier ate all of Tulo’s salary. I wonder if the Reds could work something out with them for Stroman and Pillar and call it an offseason.

    • pog

      Dallas Keuchel also is “rumored” to want 5-6 years. I don’t see the Reds getting anywhere near that kind of deal.

      • Earmbrister

        I always “wanted” a pony when I was a kid. Never got one, and I don’t see ANYONE giving Keuchel a six year deal.

        The NYYs seem to be showing unusual budget restraint this offseason. If they don’t pull the trigger on Machado or Harper, the Phillies will. Which puts further downward pressure on Keuchel’s demands, cause I don’t see Philadelphia signing one of those 2 big bats AND Keuchel.

        At 4 years, the Reds should be all over that. 5 years might be a calendar too far, but worthy of consideration.

      • The Duke

        Honestly, I could see the Reds signing Keuchel for something like 4/$72 mil, and that being his best offer by a good margin.

    • Wes

      I think the reds are in the driver seat w kuechel. He’s waiting and hoping Phillies don’t get either hitter and offer him what he wants i assume or waiting for a contender to come in late but most teams don’t have a need for a 17 mil+ pitcher w deminshing skills. Reds do though and I think they get him at end of day.

      I prefer pollock and then sign 2 starters with bounce back potential to compete w current crop and let the best 5 start.

      From what I see the asking price for Stroman is too high

      • Norwood Nate

        If Keuchel is waiting to see what the Phillies do, I don’t know how that puts the Reds in the driver’s seat. It would seem the Phils are in the driver seat. They will either sign Machado or Harper and then figure out if they can still make a competitive offer to Keuchel. Which, if it’s close to what the Reds are offering he’ll likely take it to play for a contender. Or they will sign neither and then turn and sign Keuchel as their big free agent splash. The Reds have to hope that after the dust settles from the big two guys, that the Phillies decide they don’t have enough money to sign Keuchel as well. Of course their owner has come out and said that money won’t get in the way, and that they could spend stupid money.

        As far as asking price for Stroman, the last I saw was in discussions with the Padres. The talks seemed to center around the Padres #7 Alan or #8 Baez. Those guys would roughly represent about the range of India and Santillan. I’d rather hang onto pitching that’s close, but I don’t think India would be too steep a price to pay for two years of Stroman.

      • Bill

        I agree Nate. If the Reds were in the driver’s seat and Keuchel was their top target, he’d be signed. I don’t think Keuchel is enough of a difference maker to overpay to sign. I think patience on the part of the Reds could result in them gaining leverage in negotiations if the Phillies can ink either Harper, Machado or both. I would not be surprised to see the Phillies end up with two of the three of Harper, Machado and Keuchel.

  5. Norther Ky Reds

    Although I’ve been down on the reds for good reason, I’m happy they did the big trade. I always maintained however that all that talk about “we’re gonna spend money” was just that, talk. Dallas K what he wants regardless of him declining. If browning can pitch decent here, he can too. It’s just good morale wise. The team would start to believe in itself. The good thing though, the reds have probably stumbled into being one of mlb’s most feared lineups. Especially if everybody is hitting. Every hitter is well protected. That’s rare. I predict the reds will be top 5 scoring team. This could be 1990 esq. I’m getting that feeling.


  6. Bernie

    My answer would be that they have enough to make an impact signing or trade if they are willing to do so. I also think they have several players they could trade to add big dollars back to the budget; Scooter, Votto and Kemp come to mind but probably almost no chance they trade Votto and would have to pay most of his salary to get a taker on Kemp.

  7. LK Fojtik

    Love the Stroman idea. Saw him pitch Lights Out at WBC. If that guy is supported, look the heck out! Go REDS! #puigyourfriend

  8. Cguy

    I personally don’t believe Matt Kemp is dead money. The $7MM the Dodgers gave the Reds applies to his $21.75MM 2019 salary (as I understand it). So if you trade him, it’s like trading a player with a $15MM salary. Pre ASB last year he hit over .300 with 15 HR- he could possibly repeat those stats in the first half of 2019 (especially with the Reds). After the Harper/Machado signings, a market for Kemp could develope.

    • Nep O'Tism

      The Dodgers gave $7m with him, plus from an earlier trade of him they were already paying $3.5m of his salary this coming year, plus from a different earlier trade of him the Padres were paying $2.5m of his salary this coming year.

      So that $21.75m is actually about $7.75m for the Reds. I believe.

      • Cguy

        I like your math, but doubt the Dodgers gave us Kemp for less than $8MM.

    • victor vollhardt

      I believe that part of the story (as told in the LA papers) when Kemp came back to the Dodgers was that BOTH the Padres and the Braves were continuing pay part of his salary. I think those payments brought Kemp’s 2018 cost to the Dodgers to around 13 to 14 million. Now maybe that is the 7 million that the Dodgers sent to the Reds to off set Kemp’s 2019 salary, but if is not then there would be more money to spend. I really have to think that the Dodgers didn’t kick in any cash in the trade, but rather just passed through the Padres/Braves money to the Reds. But it would be nice to find out.

  9. Bill

    The Reds are in a pretty good place right now with about $17M to spend and a passable, but unspectacular roster in place. The primary goal should be to acquire a top of the rotation pitcher with 3 years of control. I think we’re likely down to one possible player that would work, Keuchel, and that only works if we’re in the 4/$80M range or less in my opinion as their pretty solid evidence he’s peaked. Keuchel would likely be our last move, so it makes sense to wait and see on him if this is really the priority and the Reds like him.

    The only other free agent that intrigues me on a 3-4 year contract is Marwin Gonzalez. He can play everywhere, and while he wouldn’t provide a true CF for 2019 that the Reds lack, he would certainly be another option. He’s a true super utility player that would give Bell the option of resting any starter on any day without degrading the lineup. He won’t break the bank and would add a couple of wins this year and in the future.

    Next, I’d look to sign Miley (plug him into the rotation) and Holland (use as a multi-inning reliever). I see them as this year’s Hernandez and Hughes signings, but I think they bring a little more value and will cost a little more.

    I’d also look for an upgrade in CF. This could come through a trade or through FA. If Pollock were willing to sign for similar to what Grandal did, I’d be interested–he could benefit from playing a full season and addressing his health concerns. But with the strength we have at CF in the minors, this is an area where the Reds should not over commit–even if means sharing CF among Schebler, Ervin and Senzel.

    Lastly, remain opportunistic with the players on our roster that are in their last year under contract. Gennett, Kemp, Roark and Hernandez should remain available for any trade that improves the Reds in the long-run. Wood and Puig should also be available, but the return must exceed draft compensation we’d receive from a QO.

  10. bryant

    I don’t think we should overlook Realmuto. I, of course, get the importance of pitching. But, if there is one thing rarer than a top of the rotation starter, its a dual offensive/defensive catcher. If we could extend him for a few years as part of the deal, I’d give up a Trammel, Barnhart, and another pretty significant piece to replace Barnhart in the batting order.

      • Earmbrister

        No. No. No.

        He’s only got 2 years left and there’s NO WAY he’s extending. He will cash in big time as a FA.

  11. Miked D.

    I wonder what jays would want in return for Pillar and Stroman?

    • Norwood Nate

      Personally, I’d wouldn’t want to give up any of Senzel, Trammell, Greene, or Santillan, but I’d be fine with giving up India. I really don’t want to give up Santillan this offseason as he’s getting close to being ready and I believe he has a strong chance to be a mid-rotation type starter in the near future (20-21).

      The Jays don’t seem to really care much about moving salary. They ate over $16m on Russell’s contract. And ate all of Tulo’s. So I don’t think the need to move Stroman or Pillar’s salary is a big motivation. That said, they may end up being a nice partner to take on Kemp to even the salary out a bit. It would mean the Reds would have to pay up in prospects a bit, but the fact that Kemp may be a good deadline candidate to bring back something may hold a little value to the Jays as well.

      Would something like India, Kemp, Long/Siri, Gutierrez make sense for Stroman and Pillar? Would it make sense for the Reds? Both guys are come with two years of control I believe.

    • Doug Gray

      Given that Stroman is still a Blue Jay, the answer is probably “way too much”.

    • Krozley

      I too think this idea should be pursued. I was thinking Winker, Disco, Romano, and change (maybe Long). Or Winker and one of Santillan/India if you have to. Stroman had some bad luck last year with nagging injuries and a poor defense behind him (his ERA was bad, but FIP was above average). I think he is ripe for a rebound and is the best starting option not named Kluber/Bauer. Pillar is BHam with some pop. A lineup of the current infield, Kemp/Schebler in LF to go with Pillar and Puig. Senzel the super sub off the bench. That would be a pretty good team on paper and also leave another $5 million or so to get a bargain bullpen guy as well (Holland?). I would really like that team. Would hate to give up Winker, but Trammel is on the way and you have to give up something.

  12. Oldtimer

    The Reds can spend plenty. Mr. C has enough to spend another $30+ M if he chooses.

    One reason the Reds were pretty successful in the Marge Schott era (mid 1980s through late 1990s) is that their payroll was regularly in the Top 10 of MLB teams.

    • Alex

      Agree with you. I’m tired of the, “how much do they have left to spend crap.” They can spend as much as they choose to spend.

      Many articles about teams spending less and less on payroll. I really think as private equity and hedge fund groups take over more ownership of teams we will continue to see this trend of the “cold stove.” Machado, Harper and Keuchal have gotten the best offer they are going to get. Teams have all the leverage cause I think they have figured it out.

      When private equity takes over it guts all operating expenses to the bone (in this case team payroll) and then finds the most efficient path of production ( i.e. league minimum players)

      After the last CBA players are getting as little slice of the pie as before the 94 strike and teams spend less on payroll each year. There are about four teams that can win the world series and 30 teams making money. Haha

  13. Steven D

    I’m hoping the reds trade Scooter. That will a) make room for Senzel b) give the reds an additional $10 million to pay Keuchel

    • Stock

      If the Nationals resign Harper then I would make two offers:

      Gennett, Kemp, prospect and cash for Eaton


      Gennett, India for Robles

      Then I would sign Holland and Ottavino and trade for Realmuto.

      • Shawn

        Gennett and India wouldn’t be near enough for Robles. And unless the prospect in your Eaton trade is Senzel or Trammell that’s not near enough either and I doubt that would be enough.

      • Bill

        To add a little to Nepotism’s point … the Nats have signed Dozier to play 2B–they no longer have a need to fill. There have been several 2B available this offseason making it really tough to get value in a trade for Gennett. I look forward to seeing him in the lineup in 2019. We can reevaluate around the all-star break.

    • Nep O'Tism

      If the Reds are looking to win this year (as it seems they are what with all the 1-year players they have added) then they need Scooter AND Senzel’s bat both in the lineup.

      The Reds were an average offense in 2018. They were 8th in both runs scored and OPS in the NL. That’s not a playoff offense.

      You can’t improve an average offense by removing a guy who hit .310/.357/.490 last year (.303/.351/.508 over the last two years) from your lineup. Even if Senzel is great, that’s going to be a marginal improvement at best by swapping the two. (For example, Kris Bryant won ROY while hitting .275/.369/.488, which would actually be a downgrade from Scooter’s bat the last two years).

      Replacing Hamilton’s .236/.299/.327 with Senzel’s bat in CF is likely going to be a significant upgrade that can actually push the offense closer towards being a playoff offense. Or moving Peraza to CF and putting Senzel at SS. Trading Scooter makes the whole effort of getting a bunch of 1-year rental players pointless.

      • Steven D

        I hear you. But if by keeping scooter the front office claims we don’t have enough to sign Keuchel I would trade scooter. If the front office claims they don’t have enough $ then we have two options.
        1. Keep Scooter and No Keuchel.
        2. Trade scooter get prospects and Sign Keuchel. We can replace Scooter with Senzel.

  14. scottya

    My new years eve resolutions for the Reds as of today. There should be room in the payroll for Keuchal and Realmuto if, as is rumored the Reds include Barnhart in the deal that would be a little over 130 million depending on the first year of the keuchal deal. They could push it a bit further and do a swap of Winker for a CF’r like Inciarte or K. Hernandez.

    1. Sign Keuchal to a swell opt contract: maximum Reds on the hook for a 4 year deal. (15 mill in 19′) (appx. 127 million payroll)
    2. Trade Barnhart, India and Long or similar for JT Realmuto (130m)
    3. Trade Jesse Winker and D. Hernandez+ for either Ender Inciarte or Kike Hernandez+ R. Stripling. (132m)
    4. Trade Matt Kemp for any payroll savings available; to clear more playing time for Senzel and Schebler. (?)
    5. Play Nick senzel at 2b, CF, LF, 3b. Platoon with Scooter at 2b.

    Score 800 runs and give up 715 (4.20 ish team era) (pythagorean expectation of 90 wins).

    Inciarte or Hernandez

    • Scott Adams

      I went back and tweaked(using % of usage, etc) my team era figures using (fangraphs + Marcels or bref’s) average projections. This yields a 4.05 TEAM ERA projection. Or 700+- runs given up with Keuchal.

      AVG (fangraphs+bref)
      1. Keuchal 3.69 (3.71+3.68) 19% of innings
      2. Wood 3.72 (3.45+3.99)(3.63) 17%
      3. Castillo 3.99 (3.97+4.01)(4.30) 18%
      4. Roark 4.36 (4.56+4.15)(4.34) 14%
      5. Desclafani 4.33 (4.35+4.31)(4.93) 12%
      Other Starters at 20% of innings: 4.48 20% : Reed (4.35+4.35) 4.35, T. Mahle(4.35+4.75) 4.55, Lorenzen (4.76+3.72) 4.24, R Stephenson (4.82+4.73) 4.78.

      with keuchal 4.08 starter era & 4.00 bullpen era = 4.05 TEAM ERA(fgraphs+bref) That would be about 700 runs given up.

      1. Iglesias 3.40 (3.66+3.13) .13
      2. J Hughes 3.61 (4.12+3.09) .13
      3. D Hernandez 3.85(4.26+3.43) .13
      4. M Lorenzen 4.24 (4.76+3.72) .13
      5. A Garrett 4.34 (3.92+4.76) .10
      6. M Bowman 4.08(3.86+4.29) .10
      7. 4.40 Wisler, Stephens, Romano, Peralta, Herget, Reyes .28 (28% of bullpen innings from these pitchers.

      My conclusion. Add to my Reds new years resolution’s: 6. Don’t worry about losing R. Stephenson, M Wisler, W. Peralta, B Finnegan and go sign one or two David Hernandez type of bullpen upgrades (Tony Barnette, Bud Norris, Aaron Loup, Justin Wilson).

    • Northern KY Reds

      You’re trying to do too much, Why would you platoon the guy who lead the team in most offensive cats? I just don’t understand messing scooter. Smh. linep is baffling as well.


      Guaranteed top 10 offense.

      I also don’t believe that realmuto has a future here. Schebler will be the most dangerous 8th hitter in baseball and It should also help him with plate discipline.Kemp will hit well here, but I dont think its senzels time. My boy Perazza is the real deal trust me. He’ll be everything the dodgers thought he would be.

  15. Norther Ky Reds

    Go get Dan Straily and JT realmuto from the fish. For Stephenson,Barnhart,finnegan, and trammel. Straily can net you another decent young pitching prospect like castillo, and realmuto could do the same. We need a high IQ catcher who can call his own game.