2017 Reds

Learning the wrong lesson, backward

One of the most important decisions facing the Cincinnati Reds front office is whether to use Michael Lorenzen in the starting rotation or assign him to the bullpen.

Issue: Lorenzen pitched for the Reds as a starter in 2015 and as a reliever in 2016. It is beyond debate Lorenzen was more effective in 2016. Behold that sub-3 SIERA:

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Also, by SIERA, Michael Lorenzen was the best pitcher in the organization.

So the decision about next year is easy, right? Lorenzen thrived in the pen and struggled as a starter. Back to relieving he goes.

Except what if the reason Michael Lorenzen was better in 2016 wasn’t his more limited role. Suppose Lorenzen developed in ways that carry over to a starting pitcher. The Reds have to figure that out.

Over the past few months, Nick Carrington (“has the stuff, the mental makeup, and the work ethic”) and Matt Wilkes (“fastballs tail in to right-handers, breaking pitches get late, sharp movement”) have made a compelling, detailed case at Redleg Nation for using Lorenzen as a starter. Let me offer more support for their conclusion.

Typically, when a pitcher has greater success as a reliever than as a starter, it’s attributed to being more effective with a smaller number of pitches. He might have a dominant pitch or two, which works fine in short appearances, but not mastery of the three or four thought to be necessary to succeed as a starter. Those pitchers belong in the bullpen.

Was that the case for Michael Lorenzen?

No. As a starter in 2015, he threw mostly fastballs, a smaller number of sliders and curveballs and a few change-ups. But in 2016, he added two power pitches – a cut fastball and sinker – to go with his 4-seamer.

Here are three different sources (FanGraphs, Pitchf/X and Brooks Baseball) that break down Lorenzen’s pitch portfolio in 2015 and 2016.

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From 2015 to 2016, Michael Lorenzen developed a substantially different pitch composition. Classifying pitches is an inexact project. That’s why the three sources have varying results. But they agree that Lorenzen cut back on his curve and change and threw new variations on his power pitches, whether you call it a cutter or slider.

But that wasn’t the only change in his game. Lorenzen attributes his improved pitching to new confidence and mental toughness.

“Last year, I was a person who was afraid to look bad out there in front of a full stadium, in front of a city, in front of a country on SportsCenter,” Lorenzen said. “I was so afraid to look bad. Now, if you show me someone who’s afraid to look bad, I can show you someone who can be beat every single time.” (Zach Buchanan, Cincinnati Enquirer)

A big jump in Lorenzen’s development as a starting pitcher wouldn’t be surprising. When the Reds selected him out of Cal State Fullerton with the 38th pick in the 2013 amateur draft, he hadn’t started a single game in three seasons at the college level. Lorenzen had been an outfielder at Fullerton. He also pitched an inning of relief to close out games, something he did 42 times. But zero pitching starts.

The Reds wisely moved Lorenzen to a starting role in 2014. He spent the season at AA-Pensacola where he threw 120 innings in 24 starts. The next year, Lorenzen made six starts at AAA-Louisville before he was called up to take Homer Bailey’s place with the Reds.

His first big league starting assignment came at age 23, after only 30 starts the previous five years. Think about that. In total Lorenzen pitched 156 innings for the Reds and Louisville in 2015. Like most young pitchers, he struggled.

The Reds were planning on Lorenzen starting in 2016 until a mild elbow injury and mononucleosis delayed his joining the roster for almost three months. By then, the bullpen’s performance had become unbearable. Lorenzen was assigned the role of reliever, which he held the rest of the season. In it, he dominated major league hitters.

What are the Reds future plans for Michael Lorenzen?

We have hints. A few weeks ago, Nick Krall, assistant general manager, seemed more than comfortable with the notion of leaving Lorenzen in the bullpen. General manager Dick Williams recently talked about discussing roles for Reds pitchers like Michael Lorenzen at upcoming organizational meetings.

But most concerning was manager Bryan Price saying just after the season ended that he wants Lorenzen’s role to be settled before spring training. Price explained he sought to avoid a repeat of how the Reds dealt with Aroldis Chapman, when the organization went into spring training without a set role for the Cuban lefty.

“I don’t want to go into spring training saying, hey, we’re going to do this and go down the (Aroldis) Chapman road. I’d like to avoid that,” Price said.

Price is referring to 2012 and 2013 when Chapman was prepped as a starter in spring training then moved to the bullpen. In 2010 and 2011, Chapman had started 16 games for Reds minor league affiliates.

I must have missed all those regular season games in April when Chapman struggled as a reliever because he’d been used as a starter in spring training.

Reality check: In March/April 2012 and 2013, Chapman gave up one run in 25.2 innings. He struck out 42 out of 95 batters faced.

Yeah, I ‘d sure want to avoid that.

Chapman didn’t want to start. We know Lorenzen does. Of course, the real issue with how the Reds handled Chapman was the substance of the decision, not the timing. The substance? Whether or not you think Chapman would have worked out as a starter, the Reds never tried it, even with the astronomical upside.

The welcome news with Michael Lorenzen is the Reds don’t have to decide right away. 2017 is another year of the Rebuild. The decision to give Bryan Price a one-year extension makes that crystal clear. If the Reds expected to start contending in 2017, they would have signed a manager for multiple years, whether that was Price or someone else.

2017 is a second phase of the Rebuild and that’s OK. But that also means there is no reason to rush a final decision on how to use Michael Lorenzen (or other pitchers).

This is where Bryan Price may face a conflict of interest. It’s in Price’s personal interest for the Reds to be managed in a way that maximizes wins in the short term. That improves his prospects in 2018 and beyond, whether that’s with the Reds or another organization.

But long-term considerations are more important for the organization and its fans. What’s best in the short term and long term may be in conflict. One example is the timing of AAA-promotions. It might be better for Price if the Reds promoted a player like Jesse Winker sooner. But the organization would benefit long term from delay because of service time considerations. Another example of that clash is determining playing time for veterans. Developing young players may come with a cost in the 2017 win column.

The choice of when to make a final decision about Michael Lorenzen’s role falls into that category. The Reds still have five years of team control over Lorenzen. (Loved typing that sentence.) Making a decision before March might be rational if your goal is to get the team off to a fast start in the standings. But it’s irrational if uncertainty can be minimized simply by giving Lorenzen a good look as a starter.

Given the balance of short-term and long-term considerations, it’s senseless to rush a judgment about Lorenzen (or other players). Caveat about health information we don’t know, of course.

Painful as it was to watch the Reds bullpen last April and May, the Reds were right not to expend resources on relievers in a rebuilding season. The return on relief pitching is short-term, at best. If 2017 is another season of rebuilding the case for restraint would be the same.

Important: Any decision predicated on improving the Reds bullpen for 2017 that comes with a significant cost is foolish.

Opportunity costs are costs. Dick Williams, as a former investment banker, understands that. Assigning a pitcher to the bullpen instead of trying him as a starter carries an opportunity cost. In Lorenzen’s case, the pitcher with the lowest SIERA on the team, it may be steep.

But even if the horror of repeating the first-half 2016 bullpen is intolerable for you, relax, the 2017 version won’t be as barren. If we assume the Opening Day rotation begins Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, Dan Straily and Brandon Finnegan, that leaves these names competing for a single starter/reliever slot: Raisel Iglesias, Lorenzen, Amir Garrett, Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, John Lamb, Tony Cingrani and Blake Wood. And that doesn’t include non-roster pitchers who could earn major league debuts. That leaves plenty surplus talent to create a capable bullpen.

Conclusion

Maybe Michael Lorenzen was the best pitcher in the Reds organization last year because he was in the bullpen.

Or maybe he developed as a pitcher in ways that carry over to a starting role. Lorenzen wouldn’t be the first 24-year-old to do so. His age, stronger pitch composition and new mindset point that way. Maybe his vast improvement wasn’t due to pitching one or two innings at a time. Just maybe Michael Lorenzen became a different, better version of his professional self in 2016. At a certain point you trust your eyes.

Fans were sharply divided in their view of the right role for Aroldis Chapman. Disagreement about Michael Lorenzen is likely today. There may not be a clear cut, right answer on his future yet.

Happily, the Reds don’t have to guess or decide now. With so much at stake, they should wait and make the decision after seeing him perform for a while as a starter.

Walt Jocketty no longer has official authority. Dick Williams and his assistants are in charge. They deserve a clean slate as we judge their decision-making going forward. But make no mistake the fresh start has begun.

It’s up to Williams and his front office to assure the long-term is protected from Bryan Price’s understandable focus on the immediate and their own temptation to show impatient fans right away an improved outcome from new management.

How they proceed with Michael Lorenzen will be an early indicator whether the new front office has learned the right lesson from the past.

Or whether they’ve learned the wrong one, backward.

107 thoughts on “Learning the wrong lesson, backward

  1. Great article – thanks! RedLegNation helps ease the pain of the offseason.

    Curious, do you feel the same about Iglesias? He also had success in the bullpen in 2016. How does Iglesias compare to Lorenzen as far as future potential?

    • The only difference I see with Iglesias is he’s already had two shoulder-related DL stints. He was able to avoid surgery both times, but he may not be so lucky the third time. So if the Reds decide to put Iglesias in the pen at the start of the season because of that, I’m OK with it. Other than that, yes, Iglesias is in the same category as Lorenzen and should get a shot at starting before they make a final decision on his role.

      • I tend to agree on Iglesius. Also, he throws too many pitches so I would see him as a 5 inning starter. In this case I prefer 2 inning relievers.

        • Iglesias (15.9) was actually one of the few Reds pitchers this season who was under the MLB league average of 16.5 NP/IP this season. So that would put him at 111 pitches over 7 IP. So not sure if the relieving plays into that number being lower than it might have been otherwise, but that is not the case this year.

  2. In spite of Price’s desire for more certainty (which I hope doesn’t also bleed into “well defined bullpen roles”) I don’t see the downside in grooming Lorenzen to start and giving him an opportunity to thrive in that role. If after half a season he is still struggling or has shown no improvement he can be easily moved to the bullpen. The switch in the other direction is much tougher. Why not give him this chance? You wouldn’t just waste your best pitcher in relief would you? Oh never mind… Free Lorenzen!

    • Can’t agree more. Price should not have been brought back exactly because of this ridiculous logic. Price has time and again eschewed player development for his own personal convenience. It’s like he admits he does not have the brain power to think of a players contributions outside a predetermined role. He must have needed to paint by numbers as a kid. Why not just get a simple computer algorithm to manage this team? Player X enters the game in inning Y when trailing at home, check.

      • It might have been hard to find a manager candidate who didn’t like defined roles, just as it might be hard to find players who don’t.

        • Actually, your point about the players is the part that plays into defined roles the most. Players, like anyone really, prefer knowing what they are going to be expected to do day in and day out.

  3. On a somewhat related note, the Chapman mentions and last night’s Cubs win got me wondering about what might have happened if the Reds didn’t end up selling low last offseason and instead held onto him until the trade deadline. Any interest in doing a hindsight piece and guesstimating what value would have added to the team in 2016? Surely they would have fared better in May and ended up with a lesser draft pick, so even if it’s a shame that the return from the Yankees wasn’t better, perhaps it will still be for the best that he was traded when he was.

    As for Lorenzen, and any gifted arm for that matter, it’s asinine to impose a ceiling. Learn from recent history; don’t repeat it.

    • Huh? No player from the Chapman deal contributed this year, more likely next year. There is no way to say we didn’t blow that trade.

      • Not entirely true.
        Caleb Cotham “contributed” an 0-3 record in 23 G’s, 24.1 IP, 7.40 ERA, 5.32 xFIP, 4.57 SIERA, 21 R, 20 ER, on 32 H, 12 BB, and 21 K’s.

      • Well, you could, if Rookie Davis turns out to be a valuable member of the pitching staff or as a trade piece himself. Not saying he will. Just saying it’s too soon to conclude.

        Now, if you’re arguing that the Reds should have waited to trade Chapman until after the league discipline issues were sorted out, I would agree with you. There’s was no reason to panic and trade him when they did. As far as I could tell, they had no downside and only upside to waiting at that point.

        • You’re last paragraph is spot on. I’ll never understand why they feared the PR with Chapman but were willing to bring back Simon.

        • Sorry if my original comment wasn’t phrased better.

          Obviously the apples-to-apples return on the Chapman trade was disappointing, but if the Reds kept him until the trade deadline, they would have surely performed better during first half when “dumpster fire bullpen” was in full effect. That said, ditching Chapman when they did might have ended up helping the franchise more in the long run via the better draft pick.

        • If you want my honest opinion on that, I think that the money owed to Chapman was a big contributing factor. I think they made the move to save a few million $$.

        • This team was so bad I am not sure Chappy even pitches a meaningful game. However, we need to make that draft pick payoff.

    • The Reds had no leverage in the Chapman trade. They couldnt afford to re-sign him and no rebuilding team is going to devote 10% of its payroll for a 60 inning pitcher who was facing a suspension…..and every team knew they had to move him

      The Yankees had plenty of leverage. They were in the wild card hunt…they could afford tk re-sign him and they knew the Cubs were going absolutely all in. The Yankees could dictate terms…the Reds could not.

      • If the Reds had waited, they’d have had the same leverage. Decided not to. Chapman wasn’t so toxic that the Yankees … and Cubs … wouldn’t take him.

        • Perhaps.

          Though I belive the toxity issue was not that important to the Reds. They did enshrine someone with an inordinate number of character flaws,who also is banned from the game, into their HOF last summer. Had Chapman been charged with the same offense in 2012 it wouldn’t have been an issue.

          The Reds weren’t going to risk a long suspension or injury. A rebuilding team with a 90 million payroll wasnt going to pay 200k per inning for a guy that made them slightly less bad…..and everyone knew that. The Cubs paid handsomely, in large part, because the Yankees didnt need to move him. They could simply just keep him and resign him if the offers werent good enough. The Reds werent in that position.

          • I agree that our understanding of their view of his toxicity is imperfect. I’d add the gratuitous Alfredo Simon signing as further proof they weren’t pure in intentions. I think you’re right they were worried about the length of his suspension. But the leaks at the time were that Chapman might not get any games since his girlfriend wasn’t providing testimony. 30 days was more than I expected. The Reds as pre-season sellers were in the weakest position possible. They could have decided to ride out the suspension like the Yankees did. The Cubs paid a lot because the demand for Chapman was high at the deadline, not because the Yankees could resign him (which they still can and probably will). Everyone knew the Yankees were sellers. They had Chapman and Miller on the market.

        • The thinking, even at the time, was that the suspension wouldn’t be that long. This was the first test of MLB implementing its domestic violence policy and nobody seriously thought they would shoot their wad over an incident where no charges were pressed.

          But let’s say they had. Here’s the other point to remember: Chapman would not have become a free agent if he missed enough time due to the suspension. The Reds (or a team that traded for him) would thus have another year of control.

          As I said, I saw no downside to letting things play out so the Reds could get a better return rather than rush the trade the Yankees. He was one of their most valuable, if not most valuable, trade chips. A rebuilding team with the resources the Reds have can’t afford to squander them away.

        • Lets assume the Reds had kept him.

          The universe of contending teams with the resources to pay 200k per inning for a rental closer is small….Cubs, Red Sox, Nationals and Giants wouldve been the most likely suitors.

          The Cubs don’t want to help the Reds long term so they’re less inclined to offer much. The Giants have nothing of long term value to offer. The Red Sox were the one’s who alledgedly leaked the arrest story. The Nats had just endured the BP fiasco and does Walt really want to help Dusty?

          Meanwhile, you’re 30 games out of contention, your attendance is down 25%, your cable negotiations have stalled and with Chapman you still have an almost 100 million payroll…and you’re likely down to the Nats and Red Sox….both of whom know you are desperate to unload.

          Do they do better than Rookie Davis? Perhaps. Though given the totality of circumstances I don’t believe that is as much a given as we may want to believe.

          • If your (unproven) assumption that the Cubs won’t deal with the Reds because of the division isn’t true, then the Reds get the package the Yankees did. Reds were no more desperate to unload than the Yankees at that time.

        • You may very well be right. We’ll never know.

          I believe the Yankees were
          ” inclined” to move him. They have no financial constraints. The Reds likely would’ve been desperate. We’re hypotheticalizing a hypothetical so who knows.

        • Yes, we are dealing with hypothetical situations and with imperfect information but the universe of potential trade partners was probably larger than you are giving credit for and their leverage was probably more than you think. Chapman is a rare commodity and there are always the Diamondbacks of the world who are willing to trade whether they have a realistic chance of competing or not. Speaking of the D-backs, they were another rumored trade partner for Chapman.

          Point is, they could have and should have done better on their return. But they panicked and there doesn’t seem to be a good reason for it. I come back to this situation as one of the low points in the Red’s management of the rebuild and as an example of ways that they have set themselves back.

      • I’ll point out Chuck, that although I believe that money was a big part of the reason the Reds moved him when they did, the Reds wouldn’t have paid Chapman while he was suspended. Still, I’m fairly convinced that saving a few million $$ played strongly into the decision.

  4. There are two issues in play regarding Lorenzen’s role in 2017. The 1st (and most important) issue is the starter/reliever question. The Old Cossack is squarely in favor of making the commitment as a starter until proven otherwise. The 2nd issue is how to utilize Lorenzen during the 2017 season if whether he is starting ot relieving.

    It looks like Lorenzen finished the 2016 season with 1.087 (plus or minus) days of accumulated major league service time. If Lorenzen and his sub-3 Sierra reflects a possible top-of-the-rotation starting role, should his service time be controlled while making such a determination by letting Lorenzen begin the 2017 season as a starter at AAA?

    The only way to avoid super-2 status for Lorenzen would be to hold him at AAA until the rosters are expanded in September 2017. If Lorenzen is pitching to a sub-3 Sierra as a starter at AAA during 2017, I don’t think keeping him at AAA until roster expansion is good for either Lorenzen or the Reds going into the 2018 season. If the Reds commit to maintaining team control for 5 seasons after the 2017 season, while ignoring super-2 status, then they could promote Lorenzen after the all star break and still maintain that 5th season of team control through arbitration. This would provide Lorenzen almost 3 months of competition against major league hitters again in 2017 to combine with his experience for almost 3 months against major league hitters in 2016, to prepare him for the 2018 season.

    • Cossack. Come on man. This isn’t a Kris Bryant situation where they had a player with no big league experience that they held down for a couple weeks to get an extra year. You are talking about a pitcher with a year and a half of service who was really good last year and you want to send him down to the minors for almost an entire year to get an extra year of control?

      Nobody would want to play for an orginization like that, especially Michael Lorenzen. What’s his reward for working his tail off, learning new pitches, and bettering himself as a player? For keeping his nose to the grindstone even through a personal tragedy in his life? A ticket to the minors to make peanuts so we can get an extra year of cheap service outta ya. But keep working hard kid.

      Ive been a Reds fan all my life and stuck through a lot. But I am not sure I could stomach that.

      • I agree with you. Service time considerations should always be in play but you really can’t hold down a guy coming off a productive season in MLB. In this case, you kind of need to pay him when the time comes.

    • maybe the first time i have disagreed with the old cossack.

      The Reds actually have a chance to win next year if their pitching gets off to a good start

  5. Somehow I can’t let go unnoted the irony of this post appearing the morning after the Giants were eliminated from the playoffs because they didn’t have the pitcher or pitchers to close out a 9th inning they entered with a 3 run lead 😉 Also, the back end of the pen had been a disaster for them the entire 2nd half and was likely a major factor in why they slipped to the wildcard spot.

    But of course at this juncture the Reds and Giants are at vastly different stages of their life cycle arc (to use a favorite term of the Reds new baseball boss). The only reason not to have a long look at Lorenzen as a starter would be the health of his elbow. Public protestations and statements aside, only the Reds higher ups know what Kremchek has actually told them about “mild” or passing nature of the elbow issue and whether it might be due to a situation which predisposes that the rigors of being a starting pitcher will cause it to return and worsen.

    Iglesias seems to be far enough down the same road that it is likely he will be back in pen having had his shoulder fail twice in two years in the starting role; so, it is not like the bullpen cupboard is bare. Unless the Docs say otherwise with a bullet, go on and give Lorenzen a legitimate shot at the rotation.

    • Personally, I think its more who closes out whether you need one. I agree you need a strong back end of bullpen but this team is pencilling in a guy like Finnegan to start, when he will likely be far better as a reliever. It’s a good discussion of WHO is that lights out guy.

      • I think you are getting at the crux of the situation in the real world. A guy who is capable of being one of a team’s top 5 starters may also have the make up and stuff to succeed in the back end of the pen while the #6 or #7 starter who could adequately fill the bottom of the rotation does not profile well for the back end of the pen. Thus if a team does not have anyone else to do the back end bullpen role effectively, what decision do they make? What are the factors in making it? How do they weigh them against each other?

        • Or vice versa. I want my best pitchers getting 200 innings. Young guys like Lorenz and Finnegan have shown how much more effective their stuff is when they have the 3rd pitch working.

          Finnegan in the last 10 starts is a 2017 starter as his change up was dealing. The first half, he was more like Lorenzen in 2015. If both of those pitchers had not developed, I might agree more, but they are both ML starters.

          I am curious how Edelman might do in the pen. He is one that I think could improve in a relief role

    • As far as the elbow issue. That’s certainly something we might not be privy to outside of the organization. Also he came to starting late, much like Strasburg, and might be subject to the same kind of common elbow issues.

      What I do like to see is an added cutter. While there might be some argument over ball movement between slider/cutter….there is DEFINITE difference in elbow health between the torquing slider, and cutter which is essentially grip and finger pressure.

      • Harballtimes.com says Lorenzen’s elbow issue was a “mild tear” of the UCL and was treated with injection(s) of either platelet rich plasma or stem cells.
        As near as I could find, “mild tear” correlates to the diagnosis of stage 1 sprain.
        This would seem to be corroborated by the fact that when Lorezen returned to action, he wore a compression bandage on this throwing arm which extended from mid forearm to well above his elbow.

        http://www.hardballtimes.com/some-staggering-facts-about-tommy-john-surgeries/

        • There you have it. So the honest question is what will allow him to remain healthy in 2016, starting or relieving? Is the mild sprain an indicator of an imminent TJ?

          Hasn’t the team whispered about perhaps altering how the staff is used. Maybe pairing a young starter with a long reliever? Basically get 6 with two pitchers?

          I’m facinated by game usage. Back in the day a young arm would be broken into the league as a long man. Perhaps we could see that shift, at least in the case of a Lorenzen, to starting him, and then using a long man….then gradually stretching him out.

          To me, starting would be optimal with a guy who has a potential ucl. He knows when hes going to be used on a regular schedule.

          Of course, all of this could be gross over analysis. Its just interesting to speculate on.

          • If I understood the articles I read correctly, a “blown” of completely torn UCL is a Stage 3 Sprain. A “Partial Tear” is Stage 2. Surgery typically has happened at Stage 3 or when lesser treatments have not resolved a Stage 2 issue.

  6. I don’t think it is rash to make a decision on Michael Lorenzen this winter. If it is to be a starter, then get him working toward that end this off-season. It gives the Reds front office and Lorenzen a leg up on spring training. If Lorenzen shows he is a starter, and especially if he shows near top of the rotation command & control, there would be a way around worrying about service time considerations and super-2 status. If Lorenzen shows in 2017 that he can rise to the #2 or a solid #3 spot in the rotation, sign him to a long term contract that covers those years and maybe a free agent year or two. The Reds front office should be discussing such a contract with Anthony DeSclafani this winter. It would be wise to lock up 3 of these young pitchers to long term deals and solidify the rotation for the next 5 years. Deals that would be similar to Johnny Cueto and Jay Bruce deals. Iglesias already has one such deal.

    • I agree. I wouldn’t be wringing my hands about Lorenzen’s service clock or super 2 status at this point. If the Reds end up on that situation, it will be the best outcome (hooray!) and there will be options to address it then. Get him going as a starter until he proves he can’t.

  7. Absolutely try him again as a starter. He had a lot of success in the minors as a starter with no prior experience. He’s proven capable of handling a starter’s workload in a short amount of time, as he’s already thrown over 150 innings in a season. With his new pitch arsenal there’s even more reason than before to believe he can succeed as a starter.

    It would be a real disservice to the Reds, Lorenzen, and the fans to not give it another try. As someone else mentioned, it’s easier to go back to relieving than the other way around. This may serve as the first litmus test of the new FO to see if they will go about things differently than their predecessors.

  8. This article is just so well thought out and written. The Reds need to use the 2017 season to answer this question on Lorenzen and other pitchers. Silly to pigeon hole any of their top tier talent at this point.

  9. I can’t stand this sinking feeling that lorenzen will be in the pen surrounded by a new set of scrap heap and cozart/Phillips will be the infield. Lorenzen has a great build, smooth release, solid command and great movement. Plus he can hit. Every effort should be made to make him a starter.

      • I actually agree with this. If it is that close between starter and reliever, then his hitting capability should make him a starter.

        He hits better than Dan Straily….

        • Realistically he’ll never see 4 at bats a game. The Reds offense will see him batting in the 3rd quite a bit….and the next at bat will often see him lifted for a pinch hitter due to usage if nothing else. If they ARE that on the fence about starting or relieving him…they havent done their homework. I just cant see a team making a decision like this based on one guaranteed at bat.

        • Easy on the subtle reds offense knocks. That was a top 5 offense in the 2nd half without Mesoraco or Winker.

          As for Lorenzen: with this new elongated appearances approach the reds are trialing with Raisel and Lorenzen don’t see why they need an answer in March. He needs to get stretched out either way right?

  10. A 2017 starting rotation of DeSclafani, Bailey, Finnegan, Lorenzen, Straily looks good on paper. Not great, but good. This would be a rotation that will have to have Homer Bailey return to past form.
    The bullpen starts with Raisel Iglesias and Tony Cingrani. I would move John Lamb to the bullpen. I would move Robert Stephenson to the bullpen or trade him. I would be open to Blake Wood returning to the bullpen.
    That would take 5 of 7 spots with Iglesias, Cingrani, Lamb, R. Stephenson, and Wood. That only leaves 2 spots to fill out.
    AAA rotation then begins with Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, and Rookie Davis. And maybe Jackson Stephens.
    Make decisions this winter on Lorenzen to the rotation and Iglesias, Stephenson and Lamb to the bullpen. That will also help to clear some of the logjam starting to build up. Keep the pipelines clear of any logjams.

    • I don’t see a reason to transition Stephenson to the bullpen yet. He’s got two more option years and still has the best pure stuff of the three guys who were in AAA last year.

      If the rotation pans out the way you listed, I’d be pretty happy with that to start off. I agree moving Lamb to the bullpen, see if his FB plays up a bit from there, he certainly has the swing and miss stuff to be an effective reliever. Along with Lamb, Iglesias and Cingrani, I’d slot in Wood, Diaz, and Sampson in the pen. Sampson would be the long man. If Weiss is healthy he may compete for the last spot. If Adelman is not needed to start maybe he gets the last spot. Otherwise see how Peralta, De Los Santos, etc are looking during ST.

      I’d let Stephenson, Reed, Garrett, Davis, and Romano take the majority of the starts in AAA until someone is knocking down the door.

    • I think that Cingrani has actually been something of a bust in the bullpen. Perhaps they should try stretching him out to start again in Spring Training. At least look at him.
      I think the Reds first priority has GOT to be a solid 5 man rotation. If the starting rotation is poor, the weaknesses of the bullpen get more exposed.
      I have my doubts that we will be able to count on Homer Bailey next Spring.
      Stretch out Lorenzen and see what happens. The guy has a big heart, and wants to learn and compete. He will do whatever he needs to do, and has a great work ethic to prepare. You can’t teach that, it has to come from within.

      • No way I’d make Cingrani a starter at this point. He’s gone backwards in his development. He’s less deceptive and hasn’t developed even a 2nd pitch. Honestly, I struggle to see him staying in the bullpen and in this organization if and when the Reds move some of these other prospects up to the ML roster. But it’s either bullpen or bust for him at this point.

        • Bust, unless he works on command and secondary pitches more effectively this off-season than in the past.

    • No reason to make many of those decisions, especially on someone as talented as Stephenson. I’m as frustrated with his control/command issues as anyone, but he is so young and has such good stuff that they shouldn’t make any rash decisions. Use 2017 to figure all of this stuff out.

      • I can see your side. If the Reds keep Stephenson, they could give him one more year at AAA. Roll the dice. But if he repeats his 2016 season in 2017, his value as a trade chip will tremendously diminish between now and next off-season. I just don’t see the level of talent in Stephenson as you do. I see potential more than talent. Stephenson has been mediocre at every level of pro baseball he has pitched. As we have painfully witnessed the last two seasons, no matter if you throw 90 or 99 mph, if you can’t effectively locate your pitches, you won’t be a good MLB pitcher.
        Stephenson is 33-41 in his minor league career. Since he was promoted to AA in 2013, Stephenson’s K/9 has steadily declined while not ever having a BB/9 below 4.3. He has had only one stop since 2013 that he had a sub-4.00 ERA and only one sub-4.00 FIP. Stephenson isn’t a horse I want to tie my wagon to. Stephenson is a pony amongst Clydesdales. This guy’s music should actually be “Wild Thing”.

        • Maybe he is a reliever WV. But another year to let him pitch at AAA to see if the lights go on cannot hurt.

          He can always more to reliever, like next September when the Reds are in the playoff hunt

        • The scouts are the ones who say over and over again that on pure stuff, he’s one of the best prospects in the game. It’s not my eyes versus yours.

          Baseball Prospectus: “In terms of pure stuff, there are only a handful of players who can match what Stephenson has.” http://www.baseballprospectus.com/article.php?articleid=28266

          Fangraphs: “his stuff is frontline starter material” http://www.fangraphs.com/blogs/evaluating-the-2016-prospects-cincinnati-reds/

          I have the same issues you do about command, and if it doesn’t improve, he’s a bullpen arm or worse. But if it does and some (many?) 23 year olds improve upon their control.

          I don’t think anyone is tying their wagon to him so to speak. Just suggesting that we may not know enough about him yet to make a determination one way or another. If you feel like the Reds definitely have better options (meaning his control will DEFINITELY not improve) and many more of them and want to trade him, fine. It’s risky though.

    • It’s feasible that they make a pitch to Edinson Volquez this winter to eat some innings. The Royals aren’t likely to QO him.

  11. I want to challenge one assumption in this article: mainly that the Reds see 2017, and should see it, as just another rebuild year.

    You stated that bringing Price back as a lame duck proves that. But then you yourself pointed out the flaw in that logic. That it creates a conflict of interest between short and long term goals. I don’t see why they would have brought Price back if they didn’t want him managing first and foremost to win as much as he can.

    For the record, I don’t think the Reds will contend next year. But they have a problem of timing. Votto is already 33. How much longer can he keep being a top 5 hitter? Billy is already arb eligible. Those 2 could put up 10 wins between them next year and it be wasted.

    The vast majority of the Reds young talent is already in the big leagues or will be at AAA this year. Outside of Senzel, there is very little at the lower levels. They spent most of their international money on older Cubans. Every trade they have made has been for guys already ready or near ready. They were wanting to turn this thing around fast.

    The long term outlook for the Cubs and Pirates is better than the Reds. The Cardinals always find a way to be good and the Brewers now have more talent than the Reds on the farm. I just feel like the Reds need to open a window pretty soon and they should try to maximize wins starting this year. And that includes looking at mid tier free agents to fill holes.

    • “And that includes looking at mid tier free agents to fill holes.”
      I wouldn’t look at it as much to “fill holes” as to upgrade a position, or two. That could be the mid-tier free agent route, or more likely the trade route. I would upgrade the 2B situation or SS situation, and the RF situation. Peraza may end up at 2B, so maybe looking for a very good SS would be in order.
      Dilson Herrera and Robert Stephenson make for the start of a very attractive trade package.

      • I think that whole mid-tier free agent thing is a bad idea. Promote from within. Try out the young guys. I am all for trying any promising Minor League pitcher to fill a bullpen slot. Otherwise we end up with a Burke Badenhop or Kevin Gregg. Or Skip Schumacher on the bench. That stuff has to stop.

        • Skippy, Kevin Gregg, Burke Badenhop were not mid tier. They were bottom of the barrel.

          Im talking about the Matt Wieters, Dexter Fowler’s, type. And I am mainly thinking hitters here as I think you roll with your young pitching but you gotta start putting some of those prospects in the pen. Davis, Romano, Stephens all look better as relievers. Maybe Stephenson and Travieso too.

          Main point is that you can’t win with homegrown talent alone. Nobody does. You just will never have enough good prospects hitting at the same time. You gotta find some talent outside the organization.

        • So two guys who have been offered qualifying offers in the recent past, which is based off an average of the top 125 salaries in baseball are considered mid-level guys in your book? Okay….

        • Fowler got one year 13 mil last year. Granted the Cubs probably got a bit of a discount and the QO hurt his value. Still no one was even offering him 3 years/40 million. I would say that’s mid tier. I mean Leake got 5/80.

          And the fact that Wieters accepted the QO tells you everything you need to know about what he and his agent thought of his value. He is a year older and had an unspectacular year. Should be in the 25-40 million range. Maybe less if his market takes a hit. Definitely mid tier.

          Getting offered a QO doesnt mean that anyone thinks you are one of the top 125 players in baseball. It just means that the team is willing to pay that for one year of your services in exchange for a draft pick if you leave.

        • If you’re being offered the same money as the highest paid 16-17% in all of baseball you’re not midlevel.

        • What in the world?

          “Mid tier free agent.”

          Notice the free agent part. Free agents are higher paid than arbitration guys who are higher paid than pre arbitration guys. Free agents are the highest paid group. Hence a mid tier free agent would make more than the vast majority of the guys who don’t have the service time to be free agents.

          Are you trying to say that a guy who signs a contract worth 15-35 million is a “top tier” free agent? Who is the middle tier then?

      • I would assume that other teams have noted, as have we, that Stephenson has command issues and has been unsuccessful to date–not a trade chip likely to bring in a big haul.

    • Barring another epidemic of pitching injuries, the Reds should be better next year than they were last year. They may even spend money on 2017 (as long is it also helps beyond 2017). But that shouldn’t be on the bullpen for reasons stated in the article. That said, 2017 is going to be a lot more like 2016 than it is 2010-2013. A one-year extension is an *obvious* bridge of convenience to the next manager. Of course the Reds front office prefers winning to losing next year and any other year. The issue is what to do when a course of action would help in the short run but hurt in the long run. The conflicts raised by rehiring Price were the least worst option.

      There’s no doubt the Reds see 2017 as rebuilding – albeit phase two. They’ve said it out loud. You can disagree that they should, but that has little to do with my post. Unless you think their window is so narrow they *should* make a long-term decision about Lorenzen this offseason. Is that what you’re saying? That’s all my post was about.

      • If the Reds were looking to truly maximize wins in 2017 versus evolutionary growth as you suggested (and I agree) seems to be their mindset, they would put Lorenzen and Iglesias in the pen first off and build it out from there. That also fits with the cautionary note you sounded regarding Price’s possible motives in how he would utilize Lorenzen.

        • If Lorenzen (and Finnegan) are in the 2017 rotation, I see the litmus test coming if the team is playing well, like from mid July to late August of 2016, but the pen is starting to flame out. Do they pull one or both of those guys who are known to thrive out of the pen to fill the breach in an attempt to win 85-90 games and perhaps secure a WC?

        • good point Jim,

          Lorenzen may be in the pen by the season end due to innings anyway

        • @ OJim – If both Lorenzen and Iggy start off in the rotation, then the bullpen flameout starts in April…not July

      • Yeah. Im not completely sold on the idea but I am starting to think this window will be pretty short. Its hard to tell with these things cause so much can change so quick. The Brewers had a horrible farm and within one year it was considered elite. The Padres were thought to be really screwed but then they made a few nice trades and the future is looking better.

        But here is what I see in the NL Central. 3 teams with outstanding front offices. One team with a front office on the rise. And the Reds. Brewers and Pirates have better farms than the Reds and the Cardinals have a solid farm and a deal with the devil to turn average minor leaguers into solid MLB players.But when I look at the present there is one juggernaut followed by two teams who are kinda mediocre right now. The Reds can’t win the division any time soon over the Cubs. But the wild card was kinda a race of mediocrity this year. So why not try to go for it using your prospects, a couple free agents, and Joey Votto. Don’t compromise anything long term and if it doesnt work out then maybe your free agents become trade chips if you sign the right free agents.

        Just an idea I have been kicking around. I am not married to it, but it seems like the whole point of all the trades they made was to turn around quickly.

        • We’ve discussed this a bit before. I see their position situation in 2017 as being as good as anybody in the division except the Cubs. This is without Cozart but assuming BP is on the team, but hopefully as a couple a days a week starter and bench player. My chief concern position wise is catcher because I’m among those who will believe Meso has anything left in the tank when I see him doing it. On the pitching side, I think they would have to have Iggy and Lorenzen in the pen and get what they needed from the rotation out of Stephenson, Reed, Garrett, and Bailey to augment (presumably) Disco, Straily, and Finnegan.

    • In the recent rehash of Votto trade talk I’ve been thinking that IF they do trade him…they need a return similar to what the Royals got dealing Greinke to Milwaukee. You’re right about not being able to build soley from the system.

      Where I find the difficulty at present is that there are clearly 3 teams in the division that have displayed they can run top notch front offices. Where are the Reds going in 2017 realistically? They have 3 teams that have outmanaged them in previous seasons. Chicago will be good for a long time. Pittsburgh is about to roll out Bucco 2.0. Im just looking for rust on some armor. If a team DOES have it….it might actually be St. louis because quite a bit of the brain trust went to Houston with Luhnow.

      Reds need to rebuild for the longterm to compete with the other teams in the division that are built that way.

      • Much more likely to be a deal similar to what the Rangers and Tigers did with Prince Fielder.

  12. We found out about some of this staff last year.Some did well and some didn’t do so well so we should continue with that same process this year with Lorenzen and others.Great article Steve.The Reds have a deep and talented group of young pitchers which will serve us well next year and beyond.Go Reds.

  13. Great article! I’m sympathetic (to a point) with the goal of providing players role-related certainty, but this really resonates with me. Love the Chapman “struggles” of early 2012 / 2013.

    One opportunity cost of Lorenzen the Starter: fewer ML starts for other young pitchers. At the margins, would you rather collect data on Lorenzen (best pitcher in the organization) than someone else–Iglesias, Stephenson, Reed, etc.? Does Lorenzen’s previous success in the bullpen factor into this decision at all?

    It’s easy to punt on this one by trying everyone out during Spring Training, but let’s assume they all seem fairly promising.

  14. Good points Steve. I agree Lorenzen should be given a lot of opportunities to be a starter. His stuff was electric last year, and he can throw multiple pitches for strikes. He also has indicated that he would like to start. I agree on Iggy as well. Not only has he had shoulder issues, he has indicated he would like to be in the back end of games as the closer I would also like to see Alderman(spelling?) as the long man, spot starter. Bailey probably won’t be able to make 30 starts next year, and others will to skip a turn now and again. This guy doesn’t throw at 94 or 95 mph, but has made some pretty impressive starts in 2016.

  15. One other argument in favor of Lorenzen to the rotation: the Reds got the worst offensive production out of their pitchers in the NL.

    That’s right. Not only were Reds pitchers the worst at pitching the baseball, they were also the worst at hitting it too. Just an impressive, dual threat level of awfulness.

    You could give Straily’s spot to Lorenzen and sell it as an offensive upgrade. Straily is an impressive argument for the DH when he has a bat in his hand.

    • Straily is the poster child for why the NL needs to suck it up and implement the DH. Guys who are exclusively pitchers are coming through college and the minors with very little hitting experience. This year I checked in on the Reds minor league teams quite a bit using the MiLB version of Gameday. It seemed to me like the pitchers were hitting, at most, in a third of the games. It was not even unusual to see affiliates of NL teams facing each other with the DH being used.

  16. I would like to see us use a 6 man rotation to start the season: 1. Iglesias 2. Lorenzen 3. Bailey 4. Finnegan 5. Desclafani 6. Reed/Stephenson or straily. Injury issues for Iglesias, lorenzen, bailey and desclafani and slowly working up the innings for lorenzen, bailey and maybe Iglesias would be the reason. Plus developing starting pitching I believe should be priority number one in hopefully our last rebuild season. Do you agree?

  17. What about free agent to be 3B Justin Turner for the Reds? He will be a 32 years old next season. Does anyone know what MLBTR has him projected at to sign a free agent contract for this winter? The Reds would only need Turner for 2 years, but they could move him to the OF or trade him if they were to sign him to more than a 2 year deal. It may take a 3 or 4 year deal to land Turner.
    This move enables the Reds to cover 3B until Senzel is ready, move Suarez to 2B, Peraza at SS, and offers a significant increase in defense at 3B. Turner had a +7 DRS at 3B this year. For comparisons, Suarez had a +1 and Todd Frazier had a -2. Suarez can cover 2B. Turner could also bat 4th behind Votto and move Duval down a spot to 5th. Turner has very good OBP skills. All this from one signing without giving up any prospects. With that, the Reds could then bundle some prospects and get another bat from a team entering the re-build/reducing payroll process. I keep thinking the Chicago WhiteSox and OF Adam Eaton. Adding Eaton and Turner would accelerate the Reds Re-Build right into contention. They would just have to wait for the pitching to catch up. Homer Bailey could help out a lot in that regard.
    Sabermatechians hate to give up an out to move a base runner up a base on a sac bunt.
    Joey Votto hates to give up AB’s in any given game.
    Fans hate to give up complete years to a re-build process. The process doesn’t have to be a long and drawn out over a 4 or 5 year period.
    The Cubs had to go out and make 6 big free agent signings to get their re-build in gear, Lester, Heyward, Zobrist, Fowler, Hammel and Lackey. The Reds could easily make 2 moves and suddenly bypass the Cards and Pirates nest year. This off-season marks the Reds entering year 3 of their Re-Build if you go back to the Latos and Simon trades as the beginning.

    • I don’t think the Reds will spend the cash required to get him, besides we still have the BP situation and multiple young middle infielders waiting for 2B to opoen up without putting Suarez in the mix. It would be a welcome addition to the lineup, but I don’t see it happening. Also of interest is we traded him and Freel for Ramon Hernandez

      • To be fair Turner was released 3 times after that trade. He will likely get a 4-65 million deal. That is dumb for this team when they have a guy in Suarez who might produce similar value over that time (not next year but by the last year).

        By the way Ramon Hernandez got us Winker!

        • It is hard to tell what the Dodgers will do with Turner. Do they re-sign him or do they offer him a qualifying offer, which will be about $16M? If the Dodgers offer a QO, will Turner accept it? He made $5.1M in 2016, so a QO would triple his salary. Or would Turner seek a 3 or 4 year deal instead?
          I was hoping the Reds could sneak in early in the free agent process and make a tempting 3 yr. / $40-$45M offer.
          Suarez is a better option at 2B than any player the Reds have with the exception of 2B Shed Long. Suarez would hit free agency about the time Long is ready. Turner would be a big upgrade at 3B and worth the money, until Senzel is ready.

    • The Cubs made most of those signings after they won 97 games and accumulated the best cost controlled talent in the game. They also made a reported 100 million in profits during the 3 rebuild years.

      • Yes, and look at their sheer revenue. Not just profit. They are spending a lot on the non baseball side. Only the Cubs could tank like that.

  18. In 2016, the Reds had 7 players who made more than $1.0M. Five spent time on the DL.
    Joey Votto, $20M————0 DL days—————–0 DL $ lost.
    Homer Bailey, $18M——–117 DL days————-$11.5M DL $ lost.
    BP, $13M——————–0 DL days—————–0 DL $ lost.
    Devin Mesoraco, $5M——-164 DL days————-$4.5M DL $ lost.
    Raisel Iglesias, $3.2M——52 DL days————–$0.91M DL $ lost.
    Zack Cozart, $2.9M———17 DL days————–$0.275M DL $ lost.
    Alfedo Simon, $2.0M——–119 DL days————-$1.3M DL $ lost.

    The Reds were 6th in Most DL Days at 1,489: and 11th in DL $ Lost at $21,570,941. The Reds total salaries paid in 2016 was about $89M. That severely sucks for a re-building, small market team to have almost 25% of their payroll sitting on the DL. The numbers came from Cots.

  19. One thing I have not seen mentioned in the comments….what about the “veteran starter” Dick Williams said the Reds were adding?

    It would seem that there already enough arms to see in action during Rebuild: Phase 2.0 in 2017 without muddying the waters further. The overall free agent class this winter is weak. Is adding Andrew Cashner (as an example) really going to help the Reds in any significant way?

    • No. Doing that is counter-productive. So that is probably what they will do. The Walt Jocketty school of roster band-aids to convince Castelini that “we are going to be competitive!” and save their jobs for another year.

  20. Conclusion: Price was the wrong manager to hire. He is going to want set roles in the bullpen. I believe he even made a late season comment about getting the pitchers back to their regular role after briefly using Lorenzen and Iglesias in multiple inning appearances. Now he doesn’t want to leave open the possibility of experimenting with Lorenzen? What’s next, BP batting cleanup?

  21. The Reds made Lorenzen a starter in 2014, his first full year with the organization. He threw 120 innings at AA. In 2015, he threw 43 innings at AAA and threw another 113 innings for the Reds.
    In 2016, he failed to make it out of spring training with a pitching related elbow injury. His return was complicated by mono. The Reds then brought him back in a relief role, and his bullpen use was very scripted- no doubt under the direction of Tim Kremcheck. He did very well. Not only that, he performed under impossible adversity with the death of his father. What a challenging year for him.

    So why is his role for 2017 in question? The Reds committed to him as a starter in 2014…..and in retrospect….it is clear they drafted him to be a starter.( while every one else said he had to be a reliever). Why are the Reds creating the biggest offseason debate in the organization this side of BP? Clearly, Lorenzen has all the tools to be a starter. He has the physical make up. He is also quickly showing his maturity, commitment, mental toughness and poise that we all wish others possessed (Cingrani and Stephenson…are you taking notes???). He also seems to be developing his command and expanding his pitching repertoire. I surely enjoyed watching him and Iglesias pitch. So why are the Reds seemingly changing his role after they drafted him to be a starter and developed him as a starter? After all, it was only 8 months ago that Lorenzen reported to camp as a starter.

    Its not because Bryan Price said so and is the devil and its not because Bob Castellini said so. Could it be because Dick Williams is the new GM and wants to revisit the decision that the Reds scouting and player development personnel made on draft day and WJ signed off on? Could it be that Dick Williams is gathering Bryan Price and Mack Jenkins and Tim Kremcheck and modern data on pitching injuries and critically evaluating what gives the Reds the best chance to have a healthy Michael Lorenzen for 5 more years helping them win games?

    Could it be because Lorenzen was drafted as an outfielder and while his arm is strong…his elbow hasn’t been developed long enough to pitch 7+ innings every 5th day for 6 months for the first time its been asked to do so? Not only was he not a starting pitcher in college …he was not even a primary relief pitcher…he was a young superstar outfielder who dabbled in pitching. As a college player, that means he did all the stuff the outfielders did…..not the pitchers. He pitched 7 innings a MONTH from March 1 till early June…..twice. That was his pitching experience. I imagine he had lots of 10 pitch inning saves closing out UC Riverside and Long Beach State. The Reds asked him to pitch 7 innings every 5th day.

    Michael Lorenzen appears to be that rare guy that can do most anything he sets his mind too. Perhaps that’s why the Reds scouting department got dreamy eyes about his potential as a starter on draft day. But, sprinters don’t suddenly turn into marathoners. And converted outfielders don’t turn into 30 start 200 innings a year workhorses at the flip of the Reds Draft board switch. Lorenzen did not train to be a dedicated pitcher from the ages of 18-22. He barely pitched at all and that is why the Reds are looking at things. Innings mileage matters. Look at the innings mileage racked up the last 4 years by Disco and Finnegan and Straily….Or for that matter Johnny Cueto and Justin Verlander. I think Dick Williams is gathering all the information to make the best decision for Lorenzen to be a healthy and productive pitcher for the Reds for many years to come. Williams is doing his due diligence.

    • I think you might have hit the nail on the head with the medical issue.

      Whenever something clearly doesnt make sense, I step back and ask if I dont have all the information. Team health modeling is part of the game now…its not as sexy as sabremetrics, but its real.

  22. Can anyone update the status of what the Reds 2017 payroll will look like and the potential of signing a FA/Trade hitter for 2-3 years. Who they may be interested and available. Maybe moving Duvall to 3B & using Suarez as utility player. Also status of cable contract & how much money we could have available in near future.

    • Here are the Reds 2017 payroll obligations:
      1. Joey Votto $22.0M
      2. Homer Bailey $19.0M
      3. Brandon Phillips $14.0M
      4. Devin Mesoraco $7.325M ($13M in 2018)
      5. Raisel Iglesias $4.214M
      6. BHam is 1st year arbitration eligible.
      7. Tony Cingrani is 1st year arbitration eligible.
      Arb-1 players for 2018 are Suarez, DeSclafani, Barnhart, Straily, De Jesus Jr., and Jumbo.
      The Reds have $66.539M committed to 5 players for 2017.
      From Cots.

      • Probably should also include Cozart until they actually divest themselves of that potential obligation. Also Blake Wood is arb eligible and a potential obligation until/ unless divested.

        Here are then MLBTR.com arbitratrion projections for the Reds:

        Zack Cozart (5.084) – $4.7MM
        Blake Wood (4.131) – $2.1MM
        Tony Cingrani (3.088) – $1.9MM
        Billy Hamilton (3.028) – $2.3MM

        And then there is Dan Straily if the Super2 cut line should fall back just a day or two lower than MLBTR’s most recent project of 2.127 (years.days):
        Dan Straily (2.126) – $3.9MM

        http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2016/10/projected-arbitration-salaries-2017.html

        • Thanks for adding in Cozart. He is an arb-3 player. That was an oversight. Wood, I wasn’t sure whether to include or not. That is 10 players we have listed, so that leaves 15 roster spots.
          Suarez, DeSclafani, Barnhart, Lorenzen, Finnegan, Duvall, Schebler, Peraza, and De Jesus Jr., will take 9 more roster spots. All will probably earn between $520,000 and $590,000. That leaves 6 roster spots left, mostly in the bullpen and the bench, which most will be in the same $520,000 to $590,000 neighborhood.

          • One of my concerns is that they will dally around and end up being stuck with Cozart’s contract at the start of the season. That would be a double waste. A guy who’s younger and likely ready to give them more would be blocked; and, they be throwing money down the drain at a ~$5M annual rate in the process.

  23. Let Lorenzen compete for starter, if he doesn’t make it then put him back in the bullpen/long relief. Inglesias’ shoulder concerns me. I’d make him the closer = Chapman 2.0

  24. As long as they don’t make him a 60 inning, one inning at a time reliever then I think its fine. I don’t think his value would be much different as a 100 inning reliever than a 180 inning starter when you consider leverage.

    Thing is though, someone has to pitch out of the pen. Not everybody can start. Some of these prospects are gonna have to be used out of the pen.

    • Jesse Winker must have been #21.
      Stephenson is an entirely different story for most of the wrong reasons. Stephenson would have had a hard time cracking the top-50. Very disappointed in Stephenson. He has had an open door to the rotation the last season and a half and continually shuts the door on himself by lackluster performance after lackluster performance.
      A lot of hype for what will amount to a #5 starter or bullpen piece, if that.

  25. Dusty Baker uses 6 pitchers in an inning to blow the game and Chris Heisey saves him. I cant believe it

  26. Why didnt the list of guys competing for the 5th starter spot include Tim Adleman? I know we had a pretty small sample size (10 starts i think) and he isnt a blue chip prospect who throws 95 plus, but after his strong showing this fall how do we not give him a shot? Especially since Cingrani and blake wood made that list!

  27. I think, assuming that his arm is healthy, the Reds need to see if he can be a starting pitcher. His command was so much better in 2016 and that has nothing to do with being used out of the pen. Even more than the development of the cutter and sinker, his command is what led to better performance in 2016. My only concern with him as a starter is that as a starter, the new sinker and cutter won’t be enough of a repertoire. He’s going to need to throw his curve more as that pitch is enough of a velocity change that it could work as an off-speed pitch. The other option would be to develop a real change-up. As a pen arm, he doesn’t need that change of velocity but as a starter, he needs it that 2nd/3rd time facing hitters.

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