2017 Reds

How the Reds were built (and rebuilt)

I recently came across an article discussing the makeup of the current Arizona Diamondbacks roster in terms of how each player was acquired. It is a curious exercise that provides some insight into the type of transactions that have most impacted a team, as well as the General Managers that have the most fingerprints on the team. The surprise Diamondbacks are certainly a more interesting case than the rebuilding Reds, considering they are currently 17 games above .500 coming off of a not-so-nice 69 win season and also have had three GMs in the past four seasons. The Reds, meanwhile, have improved slightly so far from their 68 win season last year and are in the first official year of Dick Williams after seven-plus years of Walt Jocketty at the helm. Regardless, the topic piqued my interest enough to look further.

As we sit at the All-Star break, the Reds have accumulated 16.9 total WAR with 15.9 coming from position players (5th in MLB) and just 1.0 coming from the pitching staff (last in MLB). The top individual contributors by far have been two of the veterans, Joey Votto and Zack Cozart, with a handful of recent additions filling in behind them. High level, the goal of the rebuild is to bring in new, young players to accent the core, contract players. Let’s see if the rest of the numbers show a promising construction.

2017 WAR

Pct of 2017 WAR

Draft

8.5

50.3%

Bowden

3.8

22.5%

Krivsky

3.7

21.9%

Jocketty

1.1

6.5%

O’Brien

-0.1

-0.6%

Trade

4.6

27.2%

Jocketty

4.5

26.6%

Williams

0.1

0.6%

Free Agents

3.1

18.3%

Jocketty

2.1

12.4%

Williams

1.7

10.1%

Krivsky

-0.7

-4.1%

Waivers

0.7

4.1%

Williams

1.2

7.1%

Jocketty

-0.5

-3.0%

Grand Total

16.9

100.0%

Draft

Over half of the team’s WAR has come from the draft and almost 40% is from the two aforementioned players alone. While it is important to have a strong veteran presence with a few very good players, 40% is a lot for only two roster spots, even if one is Joey Votto. The other contributors this year who are former Reds’ draft picks are Tucker Barnhart, Billy Hamilton, Devin Mesoraco and Michael Lorenzen. This really couldn’t be a more mixed bag of players in terms of who will still be a contributor on the next playoff team and who will leave the team through trades or free agency.

The more intriguing group of drafted players is those who have not positively contributed this year, at least in terms of WAR. Ariel Hernandez (Rule 5 Draft), Jesse Winker, Sal Romano, Homer Bailey, Robert Stephenson and Amir Garrett have struggled in 2017 but will be looking to prove themselves going forward. While not an exhaustive list of potential drafted players the Reds are hoping will make an impact soon (see Senzel, Nick), these players have experienced the big leagues this year and will be in the mix from here on out, barring trades or injuries. Positive contributions in 2018 would go a long way to validating the pipeline of young (except for Homer), homegrown talent and take some of the workload from the veterans.

Trades

Players brought to the team via trades account for 23% of the team’s WAR and this is certainly where we see Jocketty make his most significant impact. Adam Duvall, Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler were acquired in three separate trades made within a 12-month window and have all performed well this year. Trading for young talent is the key component of rebuilding and these three players offer great hope for this current squad. Luis Castillo, who has amassed 0.2 WAR in just four starts so far, could end up being the most important piece and is looking to be a huge win early in Dick Williams’ stint as GM.

There are, however, some players who have some work to do and obstacles to overcome. Brandon Finnegan has significant injury problems he will need to work through to make it back to the pitching staff. Jose Peraza really needs to work on his plate discipline. Cody Reed has struggled with command. Rookie Davis certainly has potential but was not ready for major league competition. Among players who have not dawned the wishbone “C” this year, Anthony DeSclafani, who has his own injuries to put behind him, could be a huge contributor next year if he can regain his form from 2016. Dilson Herrera is another player acquired via trade that is expected to start contributing to the Reds soon.

The bottom line with this group is that while there have been some good returns, there is also still much to be desired, and most likely required in order to transform this team into a legitimate contender. Dick Williams will really be tested in his ability to accurately value players and execute timely trades.

Free Agents and Waivers

The two often overlooked categories have both some extra ammunition to the much improved offense and also helped keep a sinking starting rotation afloat. Scooter Gennett, picked up on waivers from the Brewers this March, has not slowed down since his 4-HR game and has added another name to the already crowded middle infield discussion. Scott Feldman and Tim Adleman, both free agent pickups prior to the year, have helped stop the bleeding of the rotation that has been decimated by injuries and young pitchers with control issues. Raisel Iglesias was an International Free Agent signing who has steadily improved and become a shutdown closer with a lot of value, either on the roster or through a trade. Other notables include Wandy Peralta and Drew Storen, who have done well as free agent signings.

Lack of free agent signings has been a heated topic during the previous playoff runs of 2013 and 2014, especially considering the success the team saw with Shin Soo-Choo in 2012. With a strong farm system providing potential trade bait and Brandon Phillips’ $13MM contract coming off the books next year, this should be the next focus area in the upcoming years once the team shows they are ready to compete for the postseason.

As the team stands right now, there is not quite the mix of contributions that would indicate the rebuild is complete. Anyone who follows the team will know that is the case. There are still a lot of young players, both homegrown and brought in from trades, who need to develop in order for this team to turn the corner. There is also a ton of opportunity for Dick Williams to leverage his high value players in the short-term and provide significant long-term value to the franchise. Jim Bowden drafted maybe the greatest Red’s hitter of all-time. Wayne Krivsky provided a solid pool of talent for Walt Jocketty to take over, some of which is still manifesting itself today. As Walt made his way out, he has turned much of the veteran talent over and provided Dick Williams a good base from which to build the next great Reds team.

Below is the detailed table including all players who have appeared for the Reds this season.

Name

2017 WAR Acquired GM

Notes

Joey Votto

3.8 2002 Draft Bowden

Zack Cozart

2.9 2007 Draft Krivsky

Adam Duvall

2.1 Jul 2015 Trade Jocketty

Mike Leake Trade

Eugenio Suarez

1.6 Dec 2014 Trade Jocketty

Alfredo Simon Trade

Scooter Gennett

1.6 Mar 2017 Waivers Williams

Claimed from Brewers

Scott Feldman

1.5 Jan 2017 FA

Williams

Scott Schebler

1.4 Dec 2015 Trade Jocketty

Todd Frazier Trade

Tucker Barnhart

1.4 2009 Draft

Jocketty

Billy Hamilton

1.3 2009 Draft

Jocketty

Raisel Iglesias

1.2 Jun 2014 Int FA

Jocketty

Devin Mesoraco

0.8 2007 Draft

Krivsky

Blake Wood

0.5 Nov 2015 FA

Jocketty

Michael Lorenzen

0.4 2013 Draft

Jocketty

Wandy Peralta

0.4 May 2010 FA

Jocketty

Drew Storen

0.2 Jan 2017 FA

Williams

Luis Castillo

0.2 Jan 2017 Trade Williams

Dan Straily Trade

Brandon Finnegan

0.1 Jul 2015 Trade Jocketty

Johnny Cueto Trade

Jose Peraza

0 Dec 2015 Trade Jocketty

Todd Frazier Trade

Phillip Ervin

0 2013 Draft

Jocketty

Ariel Hernandez

0 2015 Rule 5 Draft

Jocketty

Jackson Stephens

0 2012 Draft

Jocketty

Tim Adleman

0 2017 FA

Williams

Rookie Davis

0 Dec 2015 Trade Jocketty

Aroldis Chapman Trade

Asher Wojciechowski

0 Apr 2017 – FA Williams

Minor League Contract

Jesse Winker

-0.1 2012 Draft

Jocketty

Sal Romano

-0.1 2011 Draft Jocketty

Tony Cingrani

-0.1 2011 Draft

Jocketty

Jake Buchanan

-0.1 May 2017 Waivers Williams

Claimed from Cubs

Kevin Shackelford

-0.1 Aug 2014 Trade Jocketty

Jonathan Broxton Trade

Austin Brice

-0.1 Jan 2017 Trade Williams

Dan Straily Trade

Homer Bailey

-0.1 2004 Draft

O’Brien

Patrick Kivlehan

-0.2 Sep 2016 Waivers Jocketty

Claimed from Padres

Arismendy Alcantara

-0.3 Oct 2016 Waivers Jocketty

Claimed from Athletics

Barrett Astin

-0.3 Aug 2014 Trade Jocketty

Jonathan Broxton Trade

Cody Reed

-0.3 Jul 2015 Trade Jocketty

Johnny Cueto Trade

Lisalverto Bonilla

-0.3 Feb 2017 Waivers Williams

Claimed from Pirates

Stuart Turner

-0.4 2016 Rule 5 Draft

Jocketty

Robert Stephenson

-0.4 2011 Draft

Jocketty

Bronson Arroyo

-0.7 Mar 2006 Trade Krivsky

Wily Mo Pena Trade

Amir Garrett

-0.9 2011 Draft

Jocketty

Information provided by FanGraphs and ProSportsTransactions.com

 

40 thoughts on “How the Reds were built (and rebuilt)

  1. Matt, small issue with Arroyo. He is a free agent signing, you went off his original trade and not his most recent transaction

    • The data accounts for Bronson as a FA, I just entered the note wrong. Apologies for the confusion!

  2. In my opinion, the Reds aren’t “built” yet. Simply bcuz this group has yet to put together a winning season. Yep! My criteria for a “built” team is winning baseball. My reasoning for this is bcuz we’re supposed to be in the “sorting” phase of the rebuild. So, the final pieces of the next winning reds team(s) aren’t really in place yet. To tell you the truth, it almost feels like the reds are still in the “rebuild” phase bcuz people are still talking about trading certain players for more “prospects” as evidenced by the recent trade rumor/talk surrounding Iglesias and to a lesser extent Cozart & Storen just to name a few. No doubt some of you consider the team “built” bcuz it’s your belief that most of the pieces for the next winning team are already in place so therefore it’s just, “a matter of time”. I guess I can understand that. It’s just my opinion that this rebuild won’t be finished until they put together a winning and/or playoff season.

    • I also just wanted to add that it’s beginning to feel like this rebuild will never end. It’s definitely dragging along now and that’s starting to get underneath my skin just a little. The reds brass (I think) said something about being competitive again in 3 yrs when they began this rebuild. Even if you consider the rebuild to have started in 2015…then that would mean that we should be playing winning baseball again next year (2018). Anything’s possible in baseball, so maybe the reds will be playing winning ball next year, no one can predict the future (certainly not me). But with all the things that are still up in the air with this team (mainly the starting rotation and whether some of the injured will be able to regain their form). But this also includes possible trades of whoever and how long it takes to find their replacements who will hopefully be as good (if not better) than whoever’s traded. I’ve not made it a secret that I have no faith in Herrera and Peraza. Yes, they are still young and could get better. And of course there are countless examples of some of baseballs best and legendary players who started their careers playing horribly. Then there’s those examples of players who were late bloomers (Cozart, most recently). But does this mean that I’ve got to have faith in every young Reds player who struggles? No…no it don’t. Simply bcuz some don’t get better. Just bcuz my favorite team believes in a certain young prospect doesn’t mean I have to or that the organization is even right about that particular prospect. You guys know as well as I do that there are also countless examples of an organization believing in a prospect and it just not working out. So, yes, it’s possible for a team’s brass to be wrong about young players.

      • And just for the record it’s my belief that this rebuild started to some degree in 2014. So, it would seem that the 3 year prediction for a return to winning baseball has proven to be wrong. Now, maybe I’m wrong about that 3 year prediction. But I’m sure I heard that number thrown about in the early days of the rebuild. I’m also admitting that it’s possible that they didn’t say for sure that we’d definitely be playing winning baseball again in exactly 3 yrs time. Actually, it’s highly likely that they said that they are “hopefull” about playing winning ball in 3 yrs. Bottom line is that it’s likely that NOBODY was holding Williams to that 3 year prediction except MAYBE me. But I also realize that I could have some minor details wrong.

        • Sandman: I agree with your premise that winning defines the success of the rebuild, but I also think that good teams are constantly rebuilding to some extent, so the rebuild doesn’t ever reach a point where anyone can say that Christmas has come: it’s finished. The Reds will start being more competitive if things go well, and will possibly challenge for the WS, but players will still come and go. They’re actually showing some (to me) good signs this year: Improved offense, excellent defense, generally good relief pitching. With the return of injured starters and ascendance of young guys like Castillo, Mahle and (dare we hope) Stepenson and Reed, I think that the Reds could actually scare some other teams next year, or even the second half of this year, if only as spoilers.

          • Greenmtred, I understand that even good teams are always looking to add talent to their organization. That’s the nature of the business. But I wouldn’t call that rebuilding (even if on a small scale). That’s just baseball being baseball. Rebuilds are what the Reds have been doing the last 3 or 4 yrs and, apparently, the organization and fans are still in rebuild mode with their thinking. But thank you for agreeing with some of my premise.

    • I’m with you on Iglesias. Storen and Cozart however are in the last year of their respective contracts. It makes sense that they probably should be moved and in fact probably should be moved even if the Reds were done rebuilding, unless they were in contention, at which case they’d need them for the stretch run. I still think the Reds may explore a 3-year extension with Cozart. An extension for Storen is more risky as it is with any relief pitcher. I’d be looking to move him.

      I’m pretty much against moving Iglesias unless the return is just overwhelming.

  3. Ouch! I feel like the Riddler in an old Batman cartoon being pummelled with BASHES and BAMS and OUGHS. Matt, your documentation seems to validate what the Old Cossack (and many others) feared and dreaded. The WJ years put this organization in a hole they may not extricate themselves from for a long time. WJ won with players he was not responsible for aquiring and the players he was responsible for aquiring over almost 8 years are noticibly MIA. This team today, right now, should have WJ stamped all over the top of the organization and they are not there. BC personally brought in WJ and supported WJ and his antiquated baseball philosophy long after the writing was on the wall. Shoot, he still employs WJ in some nebulous adviser role. Good Luck DW. I fear you are going to need all you can get and then some.

    • There is no doubt that WJ left a gaping hole and Cossack is right on – the chart shows it. In my estimation, there are a quantity of players to fill the holes, but is the quality there? And did WJ have a plan to develop the quantity into quality?

      This is what makes it difficult to evaluate Price. We can gripe about in-game decisions & relief pitching philosophy, but if a manager isn’t given the talent, then his occasional mistakes will lose a few extra games per year among the 90+ lost due to lack of talent.

      I think about Ned Yost. He was a losing manager as he left Milwaukee and now he’s a genius at KC. Talent can change a manager’s fortunes.

      • Perhaps I misunderstood the chart, but it appeared to me that Jocketty was responsisble for acquiring Duvall, Schebler, Suarez, Lorenzen and Iglesias. Winker, too, and, I recall that he made the trade for DeSclafani. Doesn’t seem that bad to me.

        • Handcuffed the team with Brandon Phillips allowing him to go 5/10

          Acquired any former Cardinal with grit. Spent a decade looking for the next Ricky Henderson.

          Speaking of that decade, once it was up he acquired Marlon Byrd? We were better in LF with TBD.

          You probably do not want to go down this path.

          Replacing Krivsky was a decade long error

          • Not such a bad path. No GM’s acquisitions always work out, and he acquired some impressive talent. I’m not wishing he were still GM, but completely dismissing his accomplishments misses the truth just as much as viewing him through rose-colored glasses does.

    • Leave the late Frank Gorshin out of this please, Shchi. His work as the Riddler was far too good to be compared with the mess Jocketty left. (LOL).

      Your comment about the “nebulous adviser” is dead on and reminded me that, eariler this season, Castellini, Jocketty and Williams were all sitting together at a home game.

      Regardless of the dynamics of the family/families owning the Reds, that would be awkward for any executive to try and do their job, with your old school warhorse of a predecessor hanging around, in the principal owner’s ear. Let alone a MLB GM job.

  4. I believe you will see DW clean house and start hiring some different folks because he has too.As long as WJ is in the house his guys are safe that he hired and his way of doing it still exists.Of course we can continue to struggle and get high almost can’t miss draft picks and go that route but there is so much more work to do.Developing young players has to be the number one priority and everything they do today,next week and every day after that must have that in mind.If you have key folks that don’t get it then find those that do.

  5. The database at the end is really helpful. I wonder if it could be turned into a permanent page on the site and authors could link to it when they reference a name. Maybe it could also be bolstered with information such as current contract value, contract length, other financial info, age, etc. Steve is very good at including some of these pieces of info in his articles, but sometimes I loose track of who came from where and what we’re paying them, and those are more important statistics than number of ABs or RBIs, to me anyway.

  6. I wonder how Tucker Barnhart is viewed as a receiver. I sure appreciate his arm, overall intelligence and steady bat and I’ve heard he has spotted flaws in pitchers along the way. As a HS catcher, I had very little time to watch pitcher’s motions. Maybe Tucker is studying game film.
    And of course these metrics were not in place for JB – wonder how he would’ve fared as a “framer”?

  7. Matthew,

    Nice breakdown. This is the kind of fresh angle that RLN is known for.

    The Diamondbacks analogy could be extended even further to the Reds:

    -Despite the major market size, the DBacks owner runs it with a small market budget.
    -They have offensive firepower, led by their own future Hall of Fame Candidate (Goldschmidt)

    The major reason for their turnaround this season? Starting pitching. In 2016, Arizona’s starters compiled 7.9 WAR. Already this season, the total is 11.1, second only to the Dodgers.

    Zack Greinke has bounced back and established starters, like Robbie Ray, Patrick Corbin and Taijuan Walker have taken a step forwards.

    The Reds are still in the process of determining who the established starters will even be (Robbie Ray would not be getting sent to Reno after 3 or 4 bad starts) and are waiting for their Greinke (DeSclafani or Bailey) to stay healthy and become a rotation anchor.

    Let the sorting continue.

  8. Nice article. The jury is still out on the Cueto trade, but I’m hoping at least one of the remaining 2/3 pieces acquired will figure it out.

    • Jury is out? Finnegan won’t ever be back. He won’t recover from a shoulder injury (See Massett, Nick and Marshall, Sean) Reed is a head case. In hindsight, the Royals got Cueto for nothing.

          • I thought that injury was a lat, not a shoulder? An injury to the lat near the shoulder is definitely something that is different than the structural issues to the shoulder joint that Masset and Marshall sustained. Those are career enders. I don’t have high hopes for Finnegan coming back but was not of the understanding that his injury was like those of Masset or Marshall.

      • I’m not ready to give up on Reed just yet…though he needs to solve his problems down in AAA. Stephenson I have given up on..trade him if anyone wants him.

        • My impression is taht Stephenson has shown quite a bit of improvement in AAA. He’s still young.

          • Unless the mysterious “key bat” was Babe Ruth and he helped enable them to win a staggering 9 more games, they still would’ve wind up in the wild card game and had the same 50/50 shot to advance.

  9. Shooo, Senzel on 14 g hit streak. .383/.442/.553 since promo to AA.

    If I am GM he’s in the bigs by end of season. Suarez is trade bait.

  10. Too many contending teams looking for 3B/pitching help not to seek deal, along with Iglesias, Feldman, et al. Shortstop has not become a need for some contenders.

  11. This team is stocked. Mahle will get his shot, Senzel and Greene will be here in 2-3 years, Castillo is electric, and Romano and Hernandez are likewise exciting players. We’re definitely close. I would think we’re in contention for the division in 19, possibly 18.

    • The single biggest barrier to the Reds winning (> .500 baseball) and then actually contending is the thing on the minds of all the writers and commenters here. Starting pitching.
      Last year the bullpen was terrible, and this year it’s much better. I don’t know if the starting pitching can be turned around in a year, but it appears that the Rockies did it (with some good rookies) and it appears the Diamondbacks did it with some luck and rebound of veterans.

      I think the potential talent is there for the Reds starting pitching to be much better, but the actual potential has to be realized. Pitchers will have to step up and actually do something.
      Dick Williams will be making decisions in the next 60 days which will be indicative of where the Reds will be next year.
      Will he trade off the older pitchers (Storen, Feldman,Woods) and make roster room for more young guys, or will they stand pat, and “hope for something” to happen.
      Hope is not a plan.

        • Hope was the plan in LF before Ludwick

          They hoped they could catch lightning in a bottle with Ryan which they did for 3/4 of a year

  12. Regardless of what’s been going on, the Reds have several different ways they can go. Bottom line, this team won’t be competitive until they shore up the pitching, especially the starting pitching. That means finding better players for our starters than a player we originally signed to be a reliever/spot starter in Feldman as our #1.

    As for the regular starters, it’s pretty obvious. If they trade pieces Cozart/Iglesias/Feldman off, it will show they will extend the rebuilding longer, which I have no problem with, as long as the pieces we get back do strengthen our prospects list. If they don’t, the FO will show they are tired of rebuilding and want to be competitive now. However, if they choose the latter, I believe that will have to be combined with getting stronger starting pitching for next season, either through free agency or other trades they make.

  13. Great article Matt.
    The Reds have made some mistakes but generally have done a good job with trades and drafting. We will have to see the player development part as these young pitchers sort themselves out in navigating the final transition from AAA to the MLB team. many guys simply don’t do it. In order for the Reds to have a chance in 2018- and I doubt they do….they will likely need to acquire a free agent SP or controllable starter pitcher which would be very expensive as the recent Cubs acquisition of Quintana has shown.

    While the Reds can never afford a top FA on the open market, I do believe there is an opportunity to acquire second tier FA’s and extend core players to buy out their first year or two of free agency.

    Free agent examples of great team contracts- Justin Turner 4 years 64 million. Daniel Murphy 3 years 39 million. Mike Leake 5 years 75 million. While Ben Zobrist is clearly declining at age 35/36, he would have been the ideal target at his age 30-33 seasons.

    Great team extensions to young players, years before they hit the FA market – Jose Altuve, Anthony Rizzo, Christian Yelich, Matt Carpenter, Quintana.

    These would be the two areas going forward the Reds should target this offseason.

    Suarez and Gennett would be two players I would target for team friendly extensions in the offseason IF they continue with their current levels of productivity. Suarez has had some struggles, but his defense now makes him a complete player who is part of the future from the right side. Gennett is hitting that late 20’s time frame when some hitters just click. He would be a solid lefty bat who could fill a variety of roles. Billy Hamilton is becoming more and more expensive. A decision on his 3-4 year role for the Reds must happen this offseason. Yes, we need the second half of the season to sort this out.

    There could be some FA targets in starting pitching this offseason depending on the Reds injury situation and AAA pitchers.
    If it appears that Stephenson and Reed and Garret aren’t going to be productive MLB starters next year, and Disco wont be ready for 180 innings( how could he) or Homer takes a step back, there will be some solid options.

    Alex Cobb and Lance Lynn are having solid seasons bouncing back from injury and wont command a Scherzer/Sale deal.
    Gio Gonzalez is only 32 and a solid veteran lefty.

    The Reds have purged the payroll and sit at 85 million several years running, while the elites are at 200 million. This offseason is the time to invest in the 25 man roster and get the payroll to 125-140 million range

  14. Interesting analysis…but we do have to put some of it context, and consider timelines here, when using this to prove WJ has driven the team into a hole. E.g. WJ drafts account for only 1.1 WAR this year, but then many of his drafts are just coming into the majors. One could equally say that only one of Bowden’s and two of Krivisky’s drafts remain on the team (of course some of them have been traded away, and replaced with 4.5 worth of WAR). None of Bowden’s or Krivisky’s trades remain on the team. I think you would need to compare similar 8 year stints between GMs or see this side-by-side with the Diamondbacks, or Astros, or Cubs.

    • I definitely could have been more critical of WJ but since there is a still a lot to be determined from the young talent he acquired.

      Dick William’s talked about this on his AMA on Reddit this past week. The game is so cyclical, especially for small market teams, but even for the big money teams like the Yankees and Dodgers and Cubs. Some teams make it out of the down years faster than others.

  15. Hey, shouldn’t Turner be in Williams’ column? I’m pretty sure that the Rule 5 draft was after Williams took over, no?

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