2016 Reds

A turbulent offseason

Make sure your seat belts are securely fastened. 

The Reds have taken off on a flight to a new and better day. With the trades of four starting pitchers in the last year, they’ve begun the process of rebuilding the team. We fans need to strap in and prepare for the ups and downs.

Insert the metal fittings one into the other. 

Throughout the Bob Castellini ownership era (2006-2015), the Reds offseason strategy with respect to payroll has been fairly straightforward. The Reds owner would whisper an Opening Day dollar figure in the general manager’s ear and within that constraint, the GM would make the Reds as strong as possible for that upcoming season. Other than an occasional Byrd hitting the windshield, the process has been smooth flying.

Tighten by pulling on the loose end of the strap.

But the Reds strategy this offseason will produce a different budget dynamic and trigger apprehension among the fan base while it plays out.

We suggest that you keep your seat belt fastened throughout the flight, as we may experience turbulence.

The Reds Payroll

This chart shows the Reds payroll from 2006 to 2015 (blue bars) and also the average MLB payroll (red bars) for those seasons, in millions of dollars.

Chart1

Over the first six years of Castellini’s stewardship, the Reds payroll remained substantially unchanged in relation to the rest of the league. Beginning in 2012, the Reds began to catch up. And for two years, 2013-14, the Reds payroll was actually higher than league average. In 2015, while the dollar value rose slightly in absolute terms, the Reds payroll failed to keep up with the surging MLB average – a number that jumped an incredible $17 million per team.

The second chart takes that data and shows the percentage difference between the Reds payroll and the MLB average. For example, in 2010, the Reds payroll was 16 percent below league average. In 2014, it was 9 percent above.

Chart2B

Based on past practice, a reasonable bump in payroll (an average increase of the previous five seasons) would put the 2016 figure in the $120-125 million range. That number depends on several factors, the most important of which are: the expected bump in local television revenues from a new contract that begins in 2017, attendance projections and growing revenues from MLB’s revenue sharing and digital platforms.

Rebuilding or rebooting or retooling is the plan for 2016. That strategy will produce the near certainty of more trades and a less clear budget outcome.

The Baseline Roster

Let’s look at the Reds payroll situation heading into 2016. For this purpose, assume a baseline roster for the Reds on Opening Day of:

  • C – Mesoraco, Barnhart
  • 1B – Votto
  • 2B – Phillips
  • SS – Cozart, Suarez
  • 3B – Frazier, De Jesus
  • LF – TBA, Duvall
  • CF – Hamilton, Bourgeois
  • RF – Bruce
  • SP – Bailey, DeSclafani, Iglesias, Lorenzen, Lamb
  • RP – Chapman, Hoover, Diaz, Finnegan, Cingrani, Sampson, Villarreal

The Reds need to add another outfielder, presumably a starting LF ahead of Duvall. The baseline assumes the club doesn’t pick up the option for Burke Badenhop or Skip Schumaker. It assumes they DFA Brennan Boesch, Ryan Mattheus and Sam LeCure, who are arbitration eligible. Homer Bailey won’t be ready until May. You can swap pitchers between the rotation and bullpen, say Brandon Finnegan for Michael Lorenzen or John Lamb and it doesn’t affect the salary bottom line.

To be clear, this baseline is not a prediction, it’s a device. It presents a non-intervention baseline from which one can evaluate adding and subtracting players.

Next, let’s break down that roster based on contract type. The Reds have seven players under guaranteed contract for 2016. The total salary for those players grows from $56 million in 2015 to $80 million in 2016. [All salary data from Cot’s Baseball Contracts and Baseball Prospectus.]

UnderContract

With the baseline roster, the Reds would have four players eligible for arbitration. Using estimates from MLB Trade Rumors, the four players would earn $17.8 million, an increase in $6.4 million in their salaries compared to 2015.

Arbitration

There are twelve pre-arbitration players on the baseline roster at league minimum salary: Tony Cingrani, Ivan De Jesus, Anthony DeSclafani, Jumbo Diaz, Adam Duvall, Finnegan, Lamb, Lorenzen, Keyvius Sampson, Eugenio Suarez, Pedro Villarreal plus another OF. The total salary for these players is approximately $6.5 million.

These salaries are eliminated from the Reds 2015 Opening Day roster and guaranteed contracts in the minor leagues and disabled list:

CashDumps

The baseline roster costs $104.3 million – $80 million from guaranteed contracts, $17.8 million for arbitration-eligible players, and $6.5 million from pre-arbitration players. The new LF probably won’t be at league minimum unless it is Jesse Winker.

Mid-flight Turbulence

Trading four-fifths of the 2014 starting rotation created anxious moments for Reds fans. Think of that as a bumpy take-off of the flight to rebuild the Reds.

More choppiness awaits this offseason as the Reds trade additional players.

Aroldis Chapman is the most obvious piece to move from the baseline roster. His Reds contract expires after 2016. Trading Chapman should net two excellent prospects and clear $13 million in payroll.

Brandon Phillips is another candidate to trade. While the Reds second baseman has the right to reject any deal, he may be interested in playing for a contender. Phillips’ contract, which runs through 2017, is right around his value. The Reds could move him as a salary dump or cover some of his contract to gain a prospect in return. Given the PR hit the front office will take in moving a fan favorite, the latter course would be more likely. Say the Reds net a good prospect and clear $9 million in 2016 salary.

Beyond Chapman and Phillips, traveling further along the rebuilding path would mean shopping Jay Bruce and Todd Frazier. Both are under Reds control through 2017. Bruce is more likely of the two to go. After all, Todd Frazier is the Home Run Derby champion. Zack Cozart would be on the trade list were his return from serious knee injuries more certain.

Keep in mind these moves will be driven by the imperative to rebuild, not to save money. If the Reds wanted to continue past practices, they could afford to keep all four of Chapman, Phillips, Bruce and Frazier and still have enough cash left to sign one-year contracts with a veteran pitcher and/or a place-keeping left fielder. But that’s not going to happen. Two or three of those four players will be wearing other uniforms in April.

A Rough Landing

The jittery take-off and uneasiness from the changes during the mid-air portion of the trip aren’t the end of the turbulence Reds fans will have to weather. There’s the important matter of the landing. Trading Chapman and Phillips, or Chapman and Bruce, would produce savings of approximately $25 million. Trade Chapman, Phillips and Jay Bruce and you’ve got an extra $35 million with which to play. Add in the difference between the baseline ($104 million) and straight-line estimate ($120-125 million).

Here’s the $40-55 million question: What will the Reds do with the new money at hand to build a better team?

Assuming the Reds are tacitly writing off the 2016 season and are targeting 2017, they could go in several directions spending their windfall:

A. They could pocket the savings to use for 2017 and future seasons;

B. They could acquire an important piece or two that would generate production and create salary commitments in 2017 and beyond. For example, the Reds could sign Justin Upton or Jayson Heyward for five years, trade for Christian Yelich; or

C. The Reds could use up much of the surplus signing a pricey long-term extension with Todd Frazier. (As bad of an idea now as it was a year ago.)

Again, the rebuilding trades aren’t necessary to cut payroll. They actually should create a surplus.

Conclusion

That’s a lot of uncertainty – more than recent off-seasons.

Reds fans must hope the team has a smart flight plan and the front office is able to execute it competently.

For your safety and comfort, please remain seated with your seat belt fastened until the General Manager turns off the Fasten Seat Belt sign. This will indicate that we have parked at the gate and that it is safe for you to move about. On behalf of GABP Airlines and the entire crew, thank you for joining us on this trip and we are looking forward to seeing you on board again in the near future.

Have a nice day.

78 thoughts on “A turbulent offseason

  1. I love the Reds and suffer from the same bias that so many fans do – I often rate the players I know best as better than they really are. With the exception of Chapman, the four big names on the potential trading block are just good major leaguers and nothing more. Trade Frazier, Bruce, Phillips if the return is good and/or if 2016 is just a rebuilding year. Chapman must go, not because his performance is a problem, but because he has never been used well in Cincinnati. Better to bring in talent that will play rather than waste talent that doesn’t play. It’s going to be a very different roster next year. I’m ready. Let’s get started.

  2. Tradng any of the three position players you named would seem strange to me. The one that makes the most sense is BP at least you could plug in Saurez. That is a serious downgrade at 2nd even if Cozart returns playing defense as well as he did and that to me is a big if. I would be all for trading Bruce if we were sure we could sign a replacement or get a younger cheaper replacement in trade but I dont see Burgeois or DeJesus starting in the outfield. I saw some improvement in Frazier in his approach to hitting this year, not enough but an improvement. IMO his value may not be at its peak yet. I will close with this thought I think with the needs this club has it would be a good idea to listen to any and all proposals.

  3. There are 2 things that I think must happen this offseason.
    1. Chapman must be traded. The value we should be able to get in return for trading Chapman is much higher than what he will provide for the Reds in 2016 (his last season under contract.)
    2. An outfielder (or 2) who can play all 3 outfield positions, and provide at least average production at the plate, must be acquired. This player (or players) can hold down LF until Winker is ready, play RF if Bruce is traded, and play some CF if Hamilton continues struggling at the plate or spends more time on the DL.

    There are many other things that should be figured out and done (can Mesoraco catch, can Cozart return healthy, what about Bailey, do we trade Bruce, Frazier, Phillips) but I think everything else is secondary to these two moves.

  4. The next time the Bob/Walt Reds have a plan will be the first time the Bob/Walt Reds have a plan.

  5. I’ll consider the off-season a success if we trade Chapman and get at least 1 good prospect back. Of course he can bring more than 1, but that’s what I’ll be happy about.

    Quite a low bar, eh?

    • If you keep your expectations low, you can never be disappointed.

      Seems to be a good attitude to have about the Reds.

  6. PD makes some good sense here. I think there is a question of whether Mesoraco can play C and I think we will see him go to LF sometimes. I have no problem with Barnhart play some days. I think a better defensive 2b, rather than Suarez, would be DeJesus. I think Suarez could hold down third if Frazier were to be moved or moved to LF. I also agree a decent OF should be traded for or signed for 2 years. It would help if he could hit leadoff or 2nd. As far as starting and relieving, there are enough arms that they should have the ability to find a closer, 5 starters, and a bullpen. I might hold on to Matheus. Though very unconventional, I would consider using two or three arms to start/relieve in some sort of grouping. Sometimes they would start and the rest of the time they could be long relievers. This would work for guys like Lorenzen and Finnegan. This would keep their innings low enough, allow them to work on developing secondary pitches, and make use of one of the best pitching manager, coaching staffs in baseball. As Steve says, this is going to be interesting and very fluid.

    • Why move Frazier to LF?

      Nominated for a GG at 3rd

      Move Suarez to lf

  7. If Dusty gets the job in Washington, Chapman will probably be in a Nationals uniform in April with the Reds getting two high prospects with at least one an outfielder. I hope.

    • Even with the Nationals already having Papelbon? Papelbon is owed $11 million for 2016, so he might not be easy to unload. But, moving Chapman wouldn’t bother me at all.

      • I can not envision Papalbon in a Nats uniform, when spring training starts, under any conditions. I think the Nats may have to eat most of his contract to move him, but he is toxic and the Nats intend to win in 2016.

        Dusty or not, I think the Nats make a big play for Chapman during this off season.

      • The Nats will get rid of Papelbon no matter what, even if they just have to straight up cut him, he tried to choke their best player and presumptive NL MVP in the freaking dugout. They fired the manager, in part because he didn’t do anything about that. So yeah, they’re going to fire Paplebon.

        They also ticked off their previous closer by bringing in Paplebon in the first place, and he’s also likely to be moved, so Chapman to WAS does make some sense.

    • If we are starting to build a surplus… Would there be money to sign Chapman??? Especially with the TV deal coming. If they truly think they will be ready 2017 to compete again or 2018 at the latest. Would we hang onto Chapman and Try to move Frazier, Bruce, and Phillips??

      Just a thought. I am not against trading Chapman but I will sure miss having his game over in the 9th when he walks out. 3 strikeouts lets go home.

      • To be honest, I’ve been missing the “game over in the 9th when he walks out” scenario for 2 years now. If they want to get in a position where they need to worry about a great closer, they need to jettison him and get some players they will actually use more than once a week. Besides, they have a stockpile of arms that they can sort through to be the closer when the time comes.

      • Chapman is no more successful closing than the other top 10 closers, so he isn’t exactly lights out. It just looks more exciting.

        Freaking Cordero was almost as successful, averaging just one more blown save all year, and we all cringed when he was closing because he only threw 90 or so and was prone to putting men on base (like Chapman and his walks).

        Chapman is worth almost nothing to the 2016 Reds and really, not worth much to the Reds beyond that. It won’t be long till his gas starts subsiding and he becomes just an average bullpen pitcher. We see it all the time as pitchers near 30 and their gas drops (usually from mid 90s to 90, but for Chapman from 101 to 95 probably) and suddenly their batting practice machines IF they don’t have great control and a good change up or cutter or splitter.

        Chapman is good, he isn’t great and do you really want to resign him for 5 years and $100 million, which is what he’ll be looking for…at minimum?

        I’d rather take a chance on a another teams elite prospect and another prospect a little further down the pipeline, than hang with an overpaid 60 innings a year fastball pitcher.

  8. The only contracts the Reds hold that have any trade value are those of Chapman, Bruce, Frazier and Mesoraco. And the return they could get for Mes is a bit murky with him missing most of last season. Trading anyone else won’t bring much in return other than reducing expenses.

    • “Trading anyone else won’t bring much in return other than reducing expenses.”

      And what is wrong with that? If they traded Phillips for a rosin bag, I’d be giddy with delight. Not because Phillips sucks, he is a solid player, even for his money, but because he doesn’t move the needle on a rebuilt Reds team when he’ll be well past his prime, no power at all and average speed.

      Personally, any player that will past their prime by 2018 need dealt NOW. There are few veterans (perhaps Frazier and Votto) on this team that is some kind of guiding light for the youngsters. Phillips is too surly when it comes to his salary and too much of a zombie out in the field and at the plate (too many pop ups and weak grounders). Bruce, move him, his hitting and stubbornness are bad, not good, for young kids that might emulate him.

      Frazier, only trade him if a deal is “too good to refuse”. Otherwise he does appear to have some qualities that would be beneficial to younger players still growing.

  9. I wouldn’t be shocked if the Reds traded Votto(maybe to Toronto). It’s fairly clear that Management isn’t fond of him. After he signed the big contract, they haven’t publicly defended him or his approach to hitting – ever. There are plenty of casual fans out there who are anti-Votto, because has that huge contract, and doesn’t drive in enough runs.

    That said, if they trade Votto, it would be one of the stupidest moves the franchise has ever made.

    Discuss.

    • Since when is it Management’s job to defend Votto from mouth breathers?
      They like him just fine as long as he is not hurt. They have no one ready to step in to play 1B and he is the only reliable bat in the offense.

      • Management’s job is to support the players. Given the negative press written about Votto, it’s shocking that Bob hasn’t given JV one ounce of praise.

        Liking Votto just fine? That’s an indictment of management right there.

      • I actually think the Reds gave Joey that boatload of money/years thinking they were going to get a guy who would continue to impress more with the home run/RBI numbers, not necessarily on-base percentage. … I also expected the front office to defend Votto at some level when there was the swirl of ‘Should he be swinging more at close pitches just off the plate.’ Maybe such a defense was offered and I missed it, but I suspect Walt secretly agrees with that ‘criticism.’

        • Which makes it even more likely they’d move him and maybe pay money to do so

    • Too much reading the tea leaves for me. I think the biggest contract in franchise history says ownership and management like Votto just fine. Don’t confuse Marty Brennaman with management.

      In the 4 seasons since he signed the contract, all Votto has done is hit .309/.446/.514 in 493 games at an average of 5.5 WAR per season. This while battling a knee injury and rehabbing from multiple surgeries.

      Other than the idea that the GM should have gone to the press and say that he likes his star player’s approach at the plate, what is it that gives the impression that the Reds aren’t fond of Votto?

      • Perhaps the lack of defense of all the terrible strike calls that have gone against him. Perhaps the unwillingness to give Votto complementary pieces on the team. Perhaps the unspoken dissatisfaction that Votto doesn’t drive in enough runs.

        • You’re really reaching. If you want to believe that they hate him go ahead, but none of that makes a strong case that they do.

          1) Brian Price has said things about Votto getting bad calls in a few circumstances, but why would go any further than that? What proof do you have that Votto is systematically getting singled out by the umps for bad calls? Without that, it’s just complaining, and is pretty pointless.

          2) The Reds got Ludwick and Choo, and lots of pitching. Those were complimentary pieces for Votto and got the Reds to the post-season 3 times in 5 years. That seems like a willingness to me. In 2014 they could have done more, and didn’t. In 2015 they were rebuilding without telling the fans, becuase they traded two of five starting pitchers. So this point doesn’t hold up either.

          3) If the dissatisfaction is unspoken, how do you know it exists? Marty and Thom talk about RBI. They are not decision makers, nor do they work for the Reds. They work for media firms, and media firms like controversy because it gets people to tune in. Rush, Howard Stern, etc etc. I think Marty really believes what he’s saying, but why would a bedia firm tell him to stop, when it clearly riles people up?

          • Maybe I’m reaching. But tell me exactly where the internal support for Joey Votto has been in 2014 and 2015. I think my point holds up just fine. In 2014 and 15, they chose not to improve the offense around Joey.

            … You could look at the pitch tracker data that shows that Votto IS systematically getting hosed on the low and away strike. Then again, so are many other batters.

            Re: Marty, all it would take is either Bob, Walt or Bryan to say that Marty is WRONG, and that would be support enough. None of the three have done this. Maybe they don’t think they need to, based on how Joey ended 2015.

            Am I stirring things up with speculation? Sure. But I get the feeling that Votto isn’t well-regarded by management. I don’t think the best player on the Reds gets his due from the people he works for. Maybe they think the money is enough.

            I think if the Reds could move Votto’s contract, they would in a heartbeat.

        • As I said, you’re entitled to your speculation, even if it doesn’t seem to be informed by much evidence.

          I don’t know where the internal support for Votto has been because it’s INTERNAL. We have no idea what has or has not been said. For all we know the GM and Owner have had Votto over to their homes for dinner every week since the contract was signed. Over 10 course meals they’ve told him over and over how much they appreciate him and his approach, and that they don’t want to get say anything to the media because it would reveal some part of their strategy for valuing players.

          Do I think this has happened? No. But it’s just as likely as any scenario, because we have no idea about what things are said internally.

          If you think many batters are getting the same bad calls Votto is, then that shows there is not a systematic bias against him.

          And as Steve has written before, I do wish that the Reds would step in and tell Marty and his son to stop bashing Reds players so much, but it’s not just about Votto. Clearly ownership isn’t interested in doing that, so that’s where we are. In the last few years I have heard them bash Bruce, Hamilton, Choo, Mesoraco, Bailey, Latos, and on and on. They are negative broadcasters.

          If the Reds move Votto I would be shocked. It could happen because they are rebuilding, but I think they knew what they had when they drafted him, they knew what they had when they signed him to one big extension, they knew what they had when they signed him to a second gigantic extension, they knew what they had when he was winning the MVP and they know what they have now. I’ve never gotten any sense that they were unhappy with the player they had at any time.

    • Votto is not going anywhere especially with his turn around 2015 and he is signed I think through 2024. or something like that.

      • A NTC doesn’t mean anything. It just means that Votto can refuse to go to, say, Milwaukee. I would guess Votto would be giddy to okay a trade to at least 10 other locations, especially if it felt like he wasn’t wanted in Cincinnati. I think he is playing up to his contract just fine, its the REST of the lineup that is letting him down, not Votto letting them down.

        That said, the Reds should be open to ANY offers or negotiations…even involving Votto. If some team was willing to send us a handful of top prospects and take on that deal, which is about to get painfully rich for mid-market Reds team, they have to consider it.

  10. Thanks for pulling all that salary data together Steve, it’s very interesting. 2014 Really has to hurt, paying more than league average for your team and getting those results.

    The problem to me is that when teams run a surplus, I can’t really remember them “saving it for the future.” Mostly it seems like the surplus turns into profit, rather than free agents down the line. While that’s all well and good for the ownership group, it doesn’t really do much for the fans.

    So because of that, I’d like to see the Reds aggressively try to move some of their core players, and by taking on salary and cutting into that surplus, net a nice haul of top tier talent.

    • Yeah, 2014 was the year. Jocketty had it all set up. But they were killed by injuries. Votto out most of the year. Bruce surgery midseason and never recovered. Chapman missed the first six weeks. Mesoraco out twice. Marshall out. Latos out or not right most of the year. Bailey hurt much of the year and out the last several weeks. With all that, they were in it at the AS break. Can blame lack of depth, but no way to replace the people they lost in 2014.

      • Agreed, it was a snakebit and weird season all around. They could have added pieces at the deadline, and it would have made the end of that season more fun, but it really wasn’t lining up to be the Reds year, even if they had emptied the farm system.

      • Sigh – Cardinals replace injuries every single year, and are consistently good. This speaks to a systematic failure of Reds management to develop players, and a consistent “cross the fingers” mentality that plan A works. Not a winning combination.

        • I think we all agree on that Jesse, what they said above doesn’t go against that, just noting the one year the stars were aligned, the season was over almost before it began. The Cards have not had several big injuries in 10 years. They do seem to get one key one every other year (this year, Wainright and Holliday, so two), but are hardly ever missing half their penciled lineup for months at a time like the Reds do 3 of the last 5 years.

          • It’s frustrating to have so many injuries and not be able to reload like your rivals seem to do unconsciously.

            Maybe the question should be: Why are the Reds missing half their penciled lineup for months at a time 3 of the past 5 years?

            It has to be more than bad luck.

  11. I hope they trade Votto, Frazier, Bruce, and Chapman. But I would almost be willing to bet they will trade none of them, except maybe Chapman at the deadline next year. The Reds Mgmt still foolhardily believes this group are winners. They have proven they are not.

    • Why trade Votto? He’s one of the top 5 players in the game, he’s incredibly smart, and knows what skills age well and what skills do not. If the Reds had an extra $20 mil, I doubt they could spend it any better than on Votto.

      • I totally agree with this, Jeremy. But given how the Reds have spent money, I worry that they think that $20 MM on a corner OF who slashes .240/.290/.400, two bullpen arms and a veteran starter would be money better spent.

        Joey Votto should never be traded until his skills start to significantly erode, and maybe not even then.

      • Yes having Votto locked up for a long time still is awesome. He is not going anywhere… Unless its a blockbuster deal but I really don’t see that. at all. Now paying Bailey 18 million is not a good thing at all. I hated the deal from day 1. His total deal should have been for around 85 to 90 million at most.

  12. Per C. Trent Rosecrans via twitter…

    #Reds outright: Nate Adcock Collin Balester Brennen Boesch Jason Bourgeois David Holmberg Kris Negron Josh Smith

    Certainly no more than a baby step prelude to the off season, but those names being outrighted from the 40-man roster look promising.

    • This clears all the 60 day DL players and brings the roster to 40. Now Adcock and Kegron were two of those 60 day DL’s and they may be resigned to minor league contracts while they rehab. I would think the Reds are responsible for their rehab costs and care etc.Bourgeois maybe back as well–this move takes him out of the arbitration picture as he would have been first time eligible for arbitration. Depending on who they add to the outfield from outside sources–Bourgeois may be still a” piece” going forward- As for Boesh-Balester-Holmberg-Smith—they will move on to other organizations.

      • And by other organizations, we mean Japanese organizations. Adcock and Negron could very well be back on minor league contracts but for everyone’s sake, I hope the Reds find better solutions next year. And for God’s sake, Bourgeois better not be back in any capacity.

        • Kris Negron has an option left so I believe the Reds can retain him unless he is claimed off waivers. I believe Holmberg, Bourgeois and Adcock are out of options. With all the available young arms, I can’t see even a minor league fill role for any of the pitchers removed from the 40-man roster. I think Boesch has proven to any reasonable certainty that he is a good AAAA player at best and should not be given any future consideration for a major league roster.

        • I know I’m most likely the only one to have this view. But I’d be just fine if the Reds wanted to bring Boesch back to Spring training for next season to compete for reserve OF/LH PH role. His MLB failures in 173 PA over the last two season are accompanied by BABIPs of .214 and .207. His MLB decline after the 2011 season was due to a right thumb injury that required surgery to repair the UCL in his right thumb which may explain his poor 2012 season in Detroit. He then missed nearly the entire 2013 season dealing with a shoulder injury. He has hit well at AAA, .949 OPS, in 718 PA over his career. I’m not going to completely write him off over what he’s done in his last 173 PA the last two seasons with about a .210 BABIP in a short sample. His bigger sample of work in MLB and at AAA says he can hit a little bit when healthy. So I’m not going complain if they decide to bring him back to compete for a bench spot next season because based on his numbers there could be a little something there depending on what the Reds scouting says about his bat and his character.

        • If you bring Boesch back, why not reacquire Neftali Soto? He’s another AAAA player. Ugh. Let’s try something DIFFERENT.

        • Boesch and Soto, which one of these is not like the other? I’ll leave that riddle up to you. I am up for doing something DIFFERENT. Bring in multiple players like Boesch, (whose history suggests they have a decent chance to produce) to spring training and use you MLB scouts to help you decide which ones to keep for the bench. Hey, you could even stash a couple of them at AAA (That’s something Walt knows nothing of, it’s called depth.) and switch them back and forth as one gets hot at AAA while one gets stale riding the MLB pine. Like I stated, I figured I would be pretty much the only one to see a little hidden potential there.

        • Tom, I would whole-heartedly agree with you except for one glaring issue that you pointed out…WJ. If he would sign such marginal players with the intent of stashing them at AAA and using them at the major league level only when absolutely needed, I could support such signings. Unfortunately when WJ makes such minor league signings, they are designated for significant playing time at the major league level.

        • I’m not sure if we’re on the same page here or not. When I hear significant playing time, I’m thinking 250+ PA or a part time regular. I’m suggesting we sign/acquire a half dozen minor league FA types who appear through analytics like they might still be able produce at about the MLB average and using them as a bench pieces. They’d get a spot start now and then (15 starts maybe at max) to rest a regular and PH for the pitcher 30 or so times a year. That’s only 90 PA over a season. You choose your favorites based on scouting in ST and use a couple on the bench and maybe stash a few at AAA for depth. The only way they’d get significant playing time is in the event of an injury and you decided not to call up a prospect or obtain a new starter elsewhere. Even then, this player (for example Boesch) may have once already put us a full season of 116 OPS+ in the bigs and have a career AAA .900+ OPS so there’s a decent chance he won’t embarrass himself in semi-regular playing time if you’ve scouted and chosen well. So if it’s simply a faulted plan by means of WJ won’t or can’t execute it, so be it. But it’s simply suggesting you supplement your bench and roster depth by digging a little deeper to possibly find a gem that’s not sitting on top of the pile.

        • We are on the same page…

          If the system is used properly, it’s an asset by providing roster depth. If it is handled improperly, we get 200 plate appearances from replacement level players.

    • Here’s the really scary part about these outrights. Except for Holmberg and Negrón, every one of them was booking significant MLB playing time before the Sept 1 roster expansion date.

      • By this I mean, one has to assume the cupboard was even barer behind them. It is just remarkable how poorly this org has performed at developing position players of late.

  13. I couldn’t agree more SHCHI.A very good start I hope there are more to come.

  14. Year-to-Year Payroll Increase:

    2010 => +04% (+$3MM)
    2011 => +18% (+$14MM)
    2012 => +09% (+$7MM)
    2013 => +21% (+$19MM)
    2014 => +08% (+$8MM)
    2015 => +01% (+$1MM)

  15. The 3 teams most closely associated with a Chapman trade (Snakes, Nats & Jays) have some very interesting position prospects (quality and/or quantity) I would love to see the Reds get their hands on…if WJ can pry them loose. I was surprise to find some top quality prospects the Reds could actually covet from those farm systems.

      • Lets hope for a bidding war at the Winter Meetings and some desperate teams’ GM gets a little loopy on legal weed or something and deals several elite prospects for Chapman and Phillips.

    • I agree, but on Frazier, it should be a deal they can’t refuse. He will be on the downside when the Reds are becoming a contender (IF they do), but he is a good influence and could be a Rolen like leader just when they need one.

      I would replace Frazier with Phillips in your statement. Phillips needs moved NOW, not later, as he had a (stat wise) solid year and some team will covet that “veteran presence”, above average fielding and solid average bat. I know the NTC, but I am assuming it would be discussed and worked out with Phillips, who I am sure has a half-dozen other places he’d have no problem waiving the NTC, especially if he liked the city/area and they were a contender.

  16. Yorman Rodriquez will replace Bourgeois on the roster as a center fielder/reserve outfielder. And the Reds need a good centerfielder. The Billy Hamilton experiment is over in my mind. He is not a major league hitter; excellent outfielder, but his offensive skills are minimal.
    Jay Bruce, nice guy that he is, is stuck in a rut with his present hitting approach. Unless he changes and somehow his pitch recognition gets better (unlikely at 30 years old), her will remain what he is. Trade him while there still may be “old school” GM’s out there that look at his home runs and RBI’s.
    Chapman is a hammer, but overpriced and not necessary for a team that will be lucky to win 75 games in 2016.
    The end of the bullpen could be Cingrani, Hoover, Diaz and Finnigan. Mix and match on days and matchups. Villarreal is the long man. Find a Lefty middle innings reliever, and let Lorenzen be a swing man; reliever/starter.
    Homer may be back in May, but will probably not have the arm strength to pitch 5 or more innings until July.
    Desclafani, Iglesias (and cross your fingers on his sturdiness), Lamb, Moscot (2015 was bad luck for him) and either a trade for “veteran presence”, Lorenzen early or Robert Stephenson (soon, sometime in 2016).

    • I do not disagree that YRod will likely replace Bourgeois on the roster; but, sadly, not because he has done much of any thing to earn the spot. Simply, he just happens to be out of options and is next man up because the org has marketed him as the next impact OF.

      Hamilton is one of my candidates for a surprise departure via an off season trade. As long as his legs don’t fail him, he is an outstanding OF and threat to steal a game on the bases. However unfortunately for him it doesn’t look like stealing 1st base is a rule change on the horizon any time soon. I think he has value to an AL team with enough offense to tolerate him as the #9 hitter who will stir the pot even more on the occasions when he reaches base.

      Cingrani also seems like guy who could be in the move. He has had lots of changes and shown flashes but can’t quite cut it as either a starter or high leverage reliever. I see him as sort of a Chris Heisey of pitching. As a leftie who can throw over 95MPH out of the pen, I think there will be takers for him.

      And I agree based on what we saw last year that durability could well be the key to whether Iglesias follows in Cueto’s footsteps.

      • I’m interested to see what Cingrani and Lorenzen do under a different pitching coach. There are organizations that have success teaching pitchers new pitches, especially groundball inducing pitches. The Reds constantly fail at this.

        Cingrani and Lorenzen both have great arms, but they need to learn better secondary pitches to be successful.

    • You just cannot give up on Billy Hamilton. End the switch hitting. Have him work with someone who knows a bit about hitting leadoff. Have him start 2016 in AAA if necessary. But his speed and defense are unique assets that no other team has.

      • I agree that Billy Hamilton is an excellent centerfielder, but from the standpoint of OPS and OBP, he is not much of an offensive threat. I am not advocating getting a fat slow guy to play centerfield for the Reds, though.
        Paul Janish was and is an excellent shortstop, but he doesn’t seem to be able to get a regular Major League job anywhere.

        • I think you try a little harder to fix Billy than you would have infixing Janish.

          Billy’s speed is unparalleled. If they give up on Billy, that’s akin to what they’ve done with Chapman’s 103 MPH speed.

  17. HOLY COW< I am agreeing with Jesse. My big concern there is Billy supposedly did the hit the ball down, bunt and run scenario last winter. Where did that go. The switch hitting thing should be obvious to baseball people. He can't do it.

      • Come on Jesse, the problem is with Hamilton, not the GM or coach. All Hamilton has to do is recognize he stinks at hitting (he doesn’t seem to think so) and drop the right handed hitting. The coach and GM are NOT forcing him or asking him to switch hit, but I wouldn’t be surprised if his agent is holding him to it for the extra $ he might get later claiming Hamilton can switch hit.

        • It’s the job of the Manager, the hitting coach, and the GM to try and improve a player’s performance. Billy can’t switch hit well. He is still switch hitting. This hurts his OBP. Why leave this choice in the player’s hands?

          It’s like Chappy choosing to close. Come on indeed.

        • If my agent told me to keep doing something that I am bad at, in the hopes of me getting paid later because I have that skill – and that skill is not improving… I have a bad agent.

      • I do agree in a way though, that Walt or especially Price could simply stop him from doing it… if that is what you mean.

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