2017 Reds / 2018 Reds

Finding the Next Ace: Free Agency Edition

Back on August 28th, Reds beat writer Zach Buchanan quoted Reds GM Dick Williams in the Cincinnati Enquirer. Here’s a quick excerpt:

“We’d like to get the most talented player we can get,” said Reds general manager Dick Williams. “We’ll just have to see what that money level is. I think we’d rather concentrate our resources on fewer players that have a chance to be more impactful for us than we do going out and getting a bunch of low-dollar guys.”

This quote is completely devoid of the typical front office speak that most sports fans are used to hearing when managers and GMs speak to the press. Instead, Dick Williams is pretty black and white here: We’re going to try to get the most talented player we can get. This quote, made in the context of starting pitching, means that the Reds are likely in the market for a top-of-the-rotation starter.

It’s one of the clear holes this team has. While it’s true that a few of the younger pitchers in the system took big steps forward, none of them figure to be ace-type pitchers in 2018. Anthony DeSclafani is likely the closest the club has to a sure thing when healthy, but Disco’s health over the past two seasons has to leave even that statement in doubt. Luis Castillo was electric in his rookie season, but to count on a player so young to be the ace of the staff would be irresponsible to say the least. Homer Bailey, while showing signs of good things toward the end of the season, probably isn’t an ace even if he’s 100% healthy. Young guys like Sal Romano, Tyler Mahle and Robert Stephenson certainly took steps forward this season, but are probably better served as depth for an inevitable injury to one of the top four guys in the rotation.

In fact, plugging in a true #1 starter takes this rotation from one of the all-time worst, to potentially playoff caliber. The offense this season was certainly good enough to perform in the postseason – a rotation to match should definitely spark this team to a much better finish to the 2018 season.

So, who should the Reds be targeting? As we all know, the two main ways to acquire players that can have an immediate impact are Free Agency and the trade market. Today, we’ll focus on targets in free agency. Stay tuned for a future installment on potential trade targets.

Thinking about the Reds’ past free agency exploits probably gives most Reds fans flashbacks of less-than-impactful recent signings like Jack Hannahan, Skip Shumaker, Dan Straily (technically a waiver wire pickup), and Scott Feldman. While these players – Straily and Feldman especially – played their role on their respective Reds teams, none of them were particularly impact players. So are the Reds really prepared to buck the trend and spend?

Let’s define exactly what kind of pitcher the Reds should be looking for here:

  • I think if the Reds can get a guy equal to or better than a healthy Anthony DeSclafani, they will have accomplished their mission of getting the best player they possibly can. That means an ERA and xFIP somewhere in the neighborhood of 3.50-4.00 is acceptable, with something lower than that being preferable.
  • Health needs to have been proven, as best as you can for a pitcher. That means something in the neighborhood of 175-200 IP for the majority of the player’s tenure as a starter. Superfluous production can potentially offset this.
  • Age isn’t necessarily a factor in Free Agency, although it’s unlikely the Reds will sign someone much older than 32 or 33.
  • Money, at least for the purposes of this exercise, isn’t an issue. We’ve been told for years that the team’s finances would eventually start being reinvested back into the major league payroll – here’s a good opportunity to prove that.

So, who are our candidates?

* Player is not technically a free agent, but has an opportunity to opt out of his current contract at the end of 2017.
All contract projections are courtesy of spotrac.com

Looking at these names and thinking about the Cincinnati Reds actually going out to sign any of them already feels wrong in so many ways. The team has never really agreed to sign a guy with the stature (or the monetary requests) of most of these guys, perhaps for good reason. Some of the guys on this list have history of medical problems, but that goes for the majority of pitchers in the world. Signing a pitcher to a contract has inherent risk, but adding pitching to this team seems to be not only a need, but inevitable.

Let’s dive into these guys a little more:

Jake Arrieta (Fangraphs Page)
2017 Statistics: 3.53 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 168.1 IP, 8.64 K/9, 2.66 BB/9

After struggling through four seasons in the Orioles organization, Arrieta broke out after being traded to the Cubs. After a fantastic 2.43 ERA showing in 2014, Arrieta showed true ace potential in 2015, pitching 229.0 innings and sporting a 1.77 ERA after the fact. He hasn’t been able to find quite that much success in the years since, but has had respectable seasons ever since.

Arrieta’s agent is the famed Scott Boras, so the projected $133 million contract over five years is likely just a starting point. He’ll likely be the highest paid Free Agent this offseason, and signing him would obviously be rare air for the Reds organization.

 

Yu Darvish (Fangraphs page)
2017 Statistics: 3.86 ERA, 3.83 FIP, 186.2 IP, 10.08 K/9, 2.80 BB/9

Signing Darvish would be a huge gamble for the Reds, but also probably has the most upside of any pitcher in this Free Agent class. His career has been riddled with injury since 2014, but he was able to bounce back in 2017, pitching 186.2 innings between his time with the Rangers and Dodgers.

Yu would likely put Larosa’s out of business if he were to pitch his home games at GABP. His 10.08 K/9 is actually a step down from his career numbers. The last few years have seen his BB/9 numbers decrease as well though, so he seems to be maturing in his 30’s. He’s the only guy on this list with a lower career FIP than ERA, which means he’d likely get even better with a defense like the Reds’ playing behind him.

 

Alex Cobb (Fangraphs Page)
2017 Statistics: 3.66 ERA, 4.16 FIP, 179.1 IP, 6.42 K/9, 2.21 BB/9

Personally, I think Alex Cobb starts the ‘realistic options’ list. Unless Dick Williams proves me wrong, I just don’t think the Reds have it in them to go get a guy like Jake Arrieta or Yu Darvish. Alex Cobb, though, seems like a sneaky fantastic signing for the Reds.

Definitely not the epitome of health, Cobb threw the most innings he ever has in a season with Tampa in 2017. After making 5 appearances in 2016 and none in 2015, it’s easy to write Cobb off as too big an injury risk to seriously be considered here. His peripherals, at least in 2017, also don’t scream out a top-line starter. But if 2013 Alex Cobb were to return, where he pitched 143.1 big league innings to the tune of a 2.76 ERA and 3.36 FIP, the Reds will have struck gold. He’s also sporting a 54% ground ball rate, which would play very well at Great American Ballpark.

 

Lance Lynn (Fangraphs Page)
2017 Statistics: 3.43 ERA, 4.82 FIP, 186.1 IP, 7.39 K/9, 3.77 BB/9

Lance Lynn has had a sneaky successful career thus far. Over six big league seasons with the Cardinals, Lynn has managed a 3.38 ERA and a 3.64 FIP, both on the lower end of the spectrum when comparing these pitchers.

The Reds have been burned when signing former Cardinals in the past, but Lynn is cut from a different cloth than the other retreads we’ve seen in the past. Perhaps his best trait is the reliability. Lynn has pitched 175 or more innings in every season outside of his rookie 2011 season and a lost 2016 season, including 186.1 IP this year. He also sports a 55% ground ball rate, which of course is highly coveted in Cincinnati.

For me, Lynn’s the guy you go after if you’re set on signing a free agent rather than trading for your guy. Dependability is something the current rotation lacks, and even if Lynn isn’t as flashy as some of the other names on this board, you can likely count on him to make a start every fifth day more than most of the other options.

 

Johnny Cueto* (Fangraphs page)
*Cueto is under contract with the Giants through 2022, but has an opt out after 2017
2017 Statistics: 4.52 ERA, 4.49 FIP, 147.1 IP, 8.31 K/9, 3.24 BB/9

Oh, how we can dream. A lot has been written about Johnny Cueto on this website over the years, and for good reason. He’s the best Reds pitcher I’ve seen in my lifetime, as well as one of the more entertaining pitchers I’ve seen as well. His time with the Giants this season isn’t a reflection of his career numbers, as he’s been dealing with blister issues throughout all of 2017.

For this reason, a lot of pundits are expecting Cueto not to exercise his opt out after 2017, as his performance over the course of the season has likely diminished his value. Indeed, Spotrac’s Calculated Market Value for Cueto is just over $19.3 million, a good deal less than the $21 million he stands to earn annually over the next 5 years in San Francisco.

But what if Cueto wants to increase his value? When he’s on, Cueto is likely worth a fair amount more than the $21 million he’ll be making as a Giant. What better way to build value, and potentially cash in another big contract, than playing a few years for a team you know you’re comfortable with? If Cueto opts out of his Giants contract, you have to think the Reds will be gunning for him. Cueto could sign a short 3 year deal worth somewhere between $19 and $22 million annually, and get an opportunity to return to Cincinnati and build his case for an even bigger contract in 2020. He’d be a fantastic role model for the young pitching, not to mention a clear top-line starter should he return to his pre-2017 form.

It’s probably far fetched, but a guy can dream, right?

 

Masahiro Tanaka* (Fangraphs page)
*Tanaka is under contract with the Yankees through 2020, but has an opt out after 2017
2017 Stats: 4.74 ERA, 4.34 FIP, 178.1 IP, 9.79 K/9, 2.07 BB/9

Tanaka is a case very similar to Johnny Cueto, in that he has an opt out in his contract after the 2017 season that he’s unlikely to exercise. Like Cueto, Tanaka did not play up to his expectations in 2017, finishing the year well over his career 3.56 ERA and 3.75 FIP. His K/9 and BB/9 rates are still fantastic, but hardly what agents and teams are fighting over when deciding contract value.

Looking into the numbers, 2017 marks the first time Tanaka finished the year with an above average BABIP, finishing just over league average with a .305 mark. His career pitcher BABIP is well under league average at .279. The belief in whether or not Tanaka can return to that low BABIP either through a return to his normal luck, or through some skill of his own, is likely a deciding factor in whether 2017 was an aberration or the new normal.

As far as Tanaka and the Reds – the $22.5 projected annual value puts him just below Yu Darvish’s projected annual salary. Earlier we decided that the past Reds would never sign a contract of that value with a free agent, so unless something drastic has changed in the front office (and it very well might have), Tanaka is likely out of the Reds’ league.

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Again, free agency is just one avenue the Reds can go down to find their next top-line starter. The trade market is also a very valid way to acquire such a player, but comes with its own hangups as well. With free agency, there’s a straight up monetary price for these players.

Trades are an entirely different monster, and could result in giving up far too much value in the form of prospects than the team is comfortable with. The next piece in this series will focus on finding that balance in the trade market, using historical examples to help us, and target a few additional names you might see wearing the Reds uniform in 2018.

69 thoughts on “Finding the Next Ace: Free Agency Edition

  1. The 3 biggest names I don’t see coming to Cincy. And sick of Cards cast-offs whether a different cloth or not. So, for me, I’d be extremely happy with Cobb or Cueto. SF won’t be competitive again for, hopefully, longer than us. Combine that with Cueto having pitched so well in Cincy that I could see him having interest in returning. But while we’re waiting on him certainly go after Cobb hard to gauge the level of interest.

    • I’ve no opinion about whom the Reds should sign, but the superstition about ex-Cards is just that–a superstition. The Cards usually have a number of good players. That the Reds in the past haven’t signed those guys instead of the retreads is meaningless.

  2. Nice job Jordan. That list of 6 SP’s is not too inspiring. With the money it would take to sign one, there seems to be too much of a risk. The exception, and I agree with you, seems to be Lance Lynn. A $17M a year deal for 4 years is in very reasonable territory for the Reds. A $68M – $70M / 4 year deal is almost what Mike Leake got. Lynn might be looking for more money and 1 more year. Reds shouldn’t go any higher. That should be the ceiling on Williams’s “money level”.
    Free Agents probably don’t solve this problem and the solution is going to come through a big trade. But that is another story.

  3. Those guys are not coming. What’s the rush. We are still rebuilding. Desclafini threw 7 in Arizona. We have a number of young arms that showed improvement and promise.
    Let’s run with them.

    • Not that our rebuild must go like the Cubs’, but they went out and got Lester 2 years before they were supposed to compete and between his performance and their young talent blossoming earlier than projected, they won a WS doing so.

      I say this is the winter to do it.

    • Why? Any of these guys raises that question – why? We heard 2017 was a “sorting” year, a year to improve. We had a month of decent pitching from the rookies and the same record.

      Forget 2018 and stay patient. Don’t blow 20/130-140 million, or 1 of every 7 dollars, on a potential ace who could also possibly make 12 starts. We have 10-plus starting arms. Let’s run them out there and see who can really pitch, long-term, multiple times around the league.

      In 2018, let’s play Winker and Senzel alongside Votto/Suarez/whomever-we-have and our best home-grown rotation. Buying an overpriced injury-in-waiting is really dumb, especially when we have plenty of young, healthy, unproven (partially, not fully), studs waiting. The same is likely true of trades, too. I read this and thought, “Boy, Francisco Cordero would sure get us over the hump!”

      2019 with an older Castillo, maybe Disco, and any 3 of the many potentials looks awfully good, while saving money for an actual 2019 need, not a dream accelerant for 2018.

  4. The Reds are rich in prospects. They are not rich in dollars. Any money allocated to salary should first go for extensions for Suarez, Duvall and Castillo. Barnhart is already in the fold. Forego a free agent for the extensions, and go get a top tier SP with an overwhelming package of prospects and/or current players. It can be done. It must be done.

    • While I agree with an extension for Suarez. They should not even think about signing Duvall to an extension. I believe he has serious reliability concerns that have really shown in the second half of the season 2 years in a row. He also isn’t a free agent until 2020 and ARB eligible until 2019. Castillo also has at least 1 more season to prove before the Reds throw $$ his way.

    • I don’t know why you extend Duvall. By the time he hits free agency, he’ll be well into his decline phase. He’s a perfectly good player now, but not a long term piece of the puzzle. Agree fully on Suarez, though.

      • Not so much an extension for Duvall, but one that takes up 2-3 arb. years. I should have been clearer on that. HR’s and RBI’s cost more at arbitration hearings than they apparently do on the free agent market. Could save some money there. I like Duvall’s XBH’s and think his average and OBP can increase with wiser usage. About 20 fewer starts. His defense is solid in LF and gold glove caliber. I don’t have a problem with locking up Duvall for 2018 and 2 or 3 years of his 3 arb. eligible years. I’d trade Schebler or he becomes the 4th or 5th OF.

        • this makes great sense to me WV.

          I would be fine to keep Duvall, but realize that we need to trade something in the outfield.

          I would prefer to trade Billy at this point. If they are not going to keep him from switch hitting, he needs to go somewhere where is value in the outfield can be maximized:

          Colorado, SF, SD.

          I do see more upside for Duvall than Billy at this point, especially if Price learns how to use him or is not writing out the line up in August and September.

          both have issues with the manager’s use of these players, which if used properly could make them so much more impactful.

          Billy needs to be pinch running, getting fewer at bats, not bunting (EVER) and being a late inning substitution for defense for the next Reds team if he does not give up switch hitting. If Billy does give up switch hitting, I would like to see him for another year. Duvall needs about 125 games as you say.

          • Having Duvall be the DH in the majority of the away inter-league games gives the Reds the opportunity to rest him a little more and keep his bat in the lineup. It wouldn’t be prudent to have Duvall DH all 9 or 10 away IL games, but 6 or 7 games should be a target. That also gives a little more opportunity to get Ervin in the lineup as well and some extra playing time. It could be done depending on how the schedule lays out. It would only be 6 to 10 games, but every little bit helps. Not only do we want Duvall to be a factor, a better factor, in August and September of seasons to come, we want him to be a factor in October too. The Reds can figure out a way to get him there.
            Hamilton being traded is possible, but they have no CF to take his spot for 140 games, let alone even 100. They would have to go acquire a CF. Winker and Ervin are keepers. Schebler is kind of the odd man out. I like Schebler, I really like his hustle, but it is a numbers thing. I can see Schebler becoming somewhat like Paul Konerko. But if trading Schebler in a package helps to bring back a top tier starter, then so be it.
            Something will have to give way this winter in this Duvall/Hamilton/Schebler/Winker/Ervin/ outfield situation. A paradigm shift may be coming.

      • Duvall is already in his decline phase. WAR dropped from 3.2 to 1.8. Defensive WAR dropped from 1.0 to 0.2. The Reds had below-average production from left field in 2017. Expect him to be well below average next year, and by 2019 to barely be above replacement value. He’s a nice story, but you do not invest for the future in players that land their first starting gig at 27. I’d shop him, fully mindful that it’s unlikely they will find a trading partner that views him with the same Reds-colored glasses that we do.

        • His poor second half could probably be explained by the team’s misuse of him. Same for Billy, really.

    • Not only would I not extend Duvall, I would look for an AL team to trade with. Maybe he could hold up for a whole season at DH while making spot starts in the outfield.

    • How the heck are they not rich in dollars? Never have understood this. The Reds CHOOSE not to spend money. And yet they overspent in the international pool. Whatever.

  5. Just seen where John Ferrell was fired by the Red Sox. In five years 3 division titles & 1 World Series title. Looks like to keep your job to Reds management is too have 4 losing seasons in a row.

    • Ferrell lost the Red Sox clubhouse with Big Papi gone. No player leadership from veterans like Pedroia, Price, Ramirez, Moreland, Porcello and Kimbrel. Young players like Bogearts, Bettis, Bradley and Benintendi didn’t provide any leadership. It was a wayward locker room going different directions. It had become a big issue in Boston.
      Bryan Price has never lost the Reds players nor their clubhouse. The players are solidly behind Price. That may be a big reason he is still the manager.

      • Apparently it’s more important not to lose the clubhouse than actually win games. I’ll take Ferrell over Price immediately. Get him hired!

      • You probably have more info then I do so I will go along but to some degree I think Ferrell is paying the price for the performance of David Price and Rick Porcello.They went out and got Sale and expected to run over the rest of the league but it never happened.I mean in all reality you could argue they had 3 number one starters or at least 2 and it never worked out.

  6. I agree with you WV about where the money should go. I’d still like to run with the kids.
    To me… Mahle, Stephenson, Romano, Greene, Lopez, Senzel, Trammell and Herget pretty valuaable down the road.

  7. Great article. Helps put things into perspective

    This all depends on what happen after all the arbitration cases are complete. If the Reds can get somewhere between 15 and 20 million dollars of extra money after that segment is complete, then they can seriously consider these kinds of deals. I just don’t see it to be honest. Doesn’t mean that they won’t explore the Andrew Cashner, Jhoulys Chacin, Jaime Garcia territory though.

    Can’t wait to see the article about trades

    • Thanks for the kind words!

      I think the Reds would be making a pretty big mistake going after the likes of Cashner, Chacin or Garcia. They aren’t bad pitchers, but we’ve got a lot of ‘not bad’ pitching. The point DW was trying to make, at least from what we can gather from the context in Zach Buchanan’s piece, is that we’re going after an ace, something not every organization can come across organically.

      I think it’s clear the front office wants to stick to the 2018-2019 competitive window they set out to hit at the beginning of Dick Williams’ time with the Reds. The offense is almost there, now they just need the pitching. As we’ve seen from the postseason in recent years, having an ace is crucial to advancing in the playoffs.

      • Jordan,

        Perhaps “one ace changes things” for the Reds in 2018.

        However,

        1) Giving a $100+ M contract to Lance Lynn (1.4 WAR last season) or Alex Cobb (never had as much as 3 WAR in any season) and being stuck with them until age 35 or later, is way too much risk for the Reds, as they are currently ran.

        2) Dick Williams appears to be using a tactic taught in MBA programs and the corporate world, where stretching the truth to the upside/telling “white lies” in appearing overoptimistic isn’t viewed as a negative.

        His comments on “sorting” last year vs. what actually happened is a good example.

        Let’s all remember to review what kind of “ace” is actually landed this winter.

        3) Chacin’s 2017 stat line is very similar to Cobb’s. Cobb is a “name”, Chacin has been in West Coast late-night purgatory. Just sayin’.

        • Agree 100%. The top guys are too expensive for the Reds. Most of the others are injury risks, big time. Not that they wouldn’t fit in perfectly with the Reds SP injury history over the last 50 years!

          While Lynn makes a little bit of sense, his 3.77 BBs per 9 scare the poop out of me in GASP.. . .Walks + the 27 HRs he gave up this year tells me “thanks, but no thanks!” That is a 4.75 ERA in the making!

          A clear #1 or 2 pitcher will have to come via trade.

          • I agree about Lynn he wasn’t as good as he pitched if that makes any sense.He knows how to pitch but his stuff isn’t no where near what it was before surgery.Velocity doesn’t scare you so I would pass but I like Carassco but I don’t see anyway the Indians don’t pick up his option at 9 mil.

    • Another guy to consider is Chatwood (1 year 8 mill or so).
      Away from Coors he has pitched well.
      Terrible is Coors.
      If he has a solid year, you could trade him or CQ him.

  8. I’d be into Tyler Chatwood, home and away splits are pretty significant in the last two seasons at Coors Field. His fastball velocity is above average and I enjoy his groundball rates in a time where players are hitting more home runs. Previous injury history is concerning, but he has pitched 150 innings in the last two seasons.

    http://www.fangraphs.com/statss.aspx?playerid=4338&position=P

  9. I actually think we have plenty of good arms in our system so I don’t feel we need to sign a starter for an expensive deal.. look a starting rotation of
    1. Bailey
    2. Castillo
    3. Romano
    4. Stephenson
    5. Mahle

    doesn’t seem too bad. with DISCO, Finnegan, Reed, Garret waiting in the wings if someone gets hurt.

    I still feel our outfield and ss and 2b are our main problems for next year and need upgraded. more thn the pitching.

    • No offense, but that isn’t a playoff rotation. It’s likely not even a rotation that improves on the one the Reds had last year. None of the 5 options you listed there can be counted on to pitch an entire season. Not to mention the injury problems Disco and Finnegan have to prove they’re back from, and the struggles of Reed and Garrett counting them out as viable rotation depth.

      One Ace changes all of that. You suddenly aren’t counting on any of those guys to anchor your rotation. None of them have shown they’re capable of being an ace, even DeSclafani when he was healthy was probably a #2. I think if you want to seriously contend, this team needs an ace.

      • I don’t think the playoffs are the goal for next season. I think 10 wins more next year is a reasonable and I think we have the arms to do that without having to spend a lot of money on a starter.

        2018- 78 wins
        2019- 88 wins and wild card spot is reasonable for me as a fan.

          • just think we need to stick with the plan of being competitive again in 2019. I think 2017 was not an entire waist of a year as at least we have some direction wit the pithing staff. if we didn’t have all the injuries this year we would have surpassed 2016 win total by at least 5 games.

            I think in 2018 we will continue to improve but not compete for a playoff spot.

          • Just a Coach Jim Mora reference. I do think the Reds will be in line for a playoff spot in 2018. A trade or two will need to be made first however.

      • I take your point, Jordan, but 4 of those guys are young and could become aces. Wouldn’t obtaining an established ace via trade seriously deplete the Reds’ strength?

      • That rotation may or may not be playoff one.
        But it is better then last year.
        Bronson and Fledmen come on guy.
        Castillo and Mahle would be significant improvement for Bronson and Feldmen.

  10. Yu Darvish is the only one on the list that I’d be pursuing. Lynn’s fip this season of 4.8, makes him an absolute no go for me with high walk numbers. The only other one I’d consider is Cobb, but Darvish is ++ above others.

    • His walks are definitely higher than you’d like to see, especially from a #1. The FIP is definitely worrying as well, and it’s likely being inflated by his incredible luck in ’17 (.244 BABIP, well under .300 league average). His career FIP is much lower than the ’17 outlier, and is actually exactly equal to Arrieta’s career FIP. But FIP isn’t a be all end all statistic, either.

  11. I’m curious who this list would hold in exactly one year? If you are going to sink $20m p/year on a single player, I would want their contract length to match up with multiple playoff runs and I just don’t see one player pushing the Reds to the playoffs next year. Not to mention the Reds seemingly would be a more attractive FA destination in a year from now. I would first focus on trades to use areas of roster depth/redundancy to cover areas of weaknesses, and then sign the FA’s to push them over the top. As it pertains to starting pitching, I think it’s too early to tell the trade pieces from the keepers at this point. I think we’ll know much better in a year.

    • I think you could have said this same thing last year, and all of the same points would have applied. We’ll always know more ‘next year’. The fact is the team has to make a move like this in order to be relevant, unless the front office is banking on getting lucky, which isn’t smart business.

      Your question about FA aces next season intrigued me though, so I dug around a little bit. If none of these signs an extension, they’ll be available in FA next season (according to MLB Trade Rumors):

      Carlos Carrasco (32) — $9MM club option with a $663K buyout
      Patrick Corbin (29)
      A.J. Griffin (31)
      Cole Hamels (35) — $20MM club/vesting option with a $6MM buyout
      Jason Hammel (36) — $12MM mutual option with a $2MM buyout
      J.A. Happ (36)
      Matt Harvey (30)
      Scott Kazmir (35)
      Clayton Kershaw (31) — can opt out of remaining two years, $65MM
      Dallas Keuchel (31)
      Tom Koehler (33)
      Brandon McCarthy (35)
      Tommy Milone (32)
      Charlie Morton (35)
      Drew Pomeranz (30)
      David Price (33) — can opt out of remaining four years and $127MM
      Garrett Richards (31)
      Hyun-Jin Ryu (32)
      Ervin Santana (36) — $14MM club/vesting option
      James Shields (37) — $16MM club option with a $2MM buyout
      Drew Smyly (30)
      Edinson Volquez (35)
      Adam Wainwright (37)
      Travis Wood (32) — $8MM mutual option with a $1.5MM buyout

      • I do agree that the “wait until next year” mantra is getting tired. I just think with the volume of young (and cheap), as well as hopefully returning uninjured starting pitching options, that this next year will be a more revealing developmentally than most. And, I would want to make sure I had a good read on promising 23-28 year old starters that you’ve already sunk millions drafting/developing than signing an older, high $ free agent now, especially when the odds are against one particular player being the difference in a playoff appearance next year.

        Thanks for the list a few interesting names, but mostly meh. Why would any of the top 5 choose the Reds over bigger market clubs with deeper pockets (and recently more competitive? That is another reason why next year would make more sense, as I’m expecting a much better record……..at least that is how I see it through my Redgoggles.

  12. Posturing. Everyone would like to add a top of the line starter. The Reds will not spend money on such a luxury. If they go free agent they put road blocks in the way of prospects. Better to figure out what to do with Gennett, Ervin, Blandino, Peraza, Herrera, etc.

    • Look at this year’s playoff teams. How many of them are built solely through their own draft picks and international signings? None of them.

      I’d say before Dick Williams was quoted as going after the best available player, I’d have agreed with you. But DW has been pretty transparent so far in his tenure as GM, and we have no reason to believe he’s not being truthful.

      • “…before Dick Williams was quoted as going after the best available player…”

        DW did NOT say the Reds were going after the best available player. What DW did say was “We’d like to get the most talented player we can get.” There’s an enormous difference in the two statements. Every GM on every team would like to get the most talented player they can get. DW’s quoted comment means little to nothing about landing an ‘ace’. In fact, I would argue that the Reds have done exactly that (get the most talented player they can get) every season. It’s just that the bar for ‘the most talented player they could get’ was set very low.

        There’s no question that the Reds need to find a true ‘ace’ to anchor the starting rotation. That ace may be in the organization already or may need to be aquired from outside the organization, but the Reds do not need to obtain that ace for the 2018 season and certainly do not need to shop on the FA market for an aging ace and pay for prior performance while watching him slide into retirement.

        Steve had it correct when he denounce the wasted season for Reds’ pitching. The Reds missed the opportunity to try and identify any internal candidates for a potential staff ace and now they must use another season to sort out the internal candidates. I do think the Reds will sign a FA starter, but not a top shelf starter, although I would disagree with such a move. If the Reds can arrange a trade for a young, controllable, top-of-the-rotation starter that’s another option entirely.

        • I tend to disagree…… DW never really said he was going to get the most talented player he could last year ever…… Unless you have a specific time he said that in the prior off season I don’t quite agree. I believe he probably said things of the sort like we would like to get a veteran presence, or we really would like to find a value add piece, or we are looking to add depth to our pitching staff. Which all of those statements basically are saying we are looking for an older washed up type starter that can soak up innings and get us through the year and if they have a break out season hopefully we can flip them at the deadline. Those two sentiments are totally different and I can almost guarantee they won’t be signing the Feldman’s of the world next this off season it will be a more impactful starter.

  13. Great article Jordan.
    That’s the first time I’ve seen estimates …but I had thought Lynn was in the 60-70 million category. Devin mesoraco makes 13million next year…Billy Hamilton will make 5 million….would you trade Lynn for those 2? Absolutely….
    In a round about sort of way you can…..mesoraco contract goes away in 2019 and trade Hamilton and his 5 million then ~ 8 million in 2019. Don’t sign Cozart. Homer comes off the books after 2019 unless he comes back 100% and you choose to take the 2020 option. There is money if you re-allocate to SP and expand the budget.
    Lynn is from same high school as Barnhart.

    Any idea why Cobb is projected 6 years? At 3-4 years…he’s s a target.

      • Thanks. Great stuff.

        I think Lynn is worth 4 years and 68 million and the Reds can afford him if they allocate payroll back to SP/RP and increase overall payroll by 15-20%. That will mean letting position players contracts expire-Cozart now and Mesoraco next year and maybe Bailey in 2019 with a buyout….and then proactively address arbitration eligible players by extending Suarez and trading Hamilton. Hamilton is not worth 13 million over the next 2 years. I don’t know the offseason value on Gennett so I let that play out. HIs 2017 season is still mind-boggling.

        But, allocate more resources to SP and trust the young position players, namely Suarez and Winker and Senzel to be the players they can be which allows a re-allocation to pitching.

  14. I would be all over Johnny C if he were a free agent. I would trade Hamilton, Duvall and lower pitching to get him now (not any or our untouchables).

    So to sign him as a free agent? You are still going to spent the $’s for his ability. To get him without having to give up any trinkets is a no-brainer.

    And, he is one top of the rotation starters who would be a free agent who would actually consider being a Red. That is huge. We would have to overpay for any free agent, so add one year and an extra $5.0 mil per year to outbid the real baseball teams.

    Think Coco Cordero. Dusty Baker was said to be able to bring in all these free agents because they wanted to play for him. Right….. just not in Cincinnati.

    The other top liners are pipe dreams.

    But if Johnny were to say “I see a better chance of winning in 2018 in Cincy than in San Francisco, I love pitching for Bryan Price and I miss Skyline Chili”

    well then, we might have a chance for the first time in about ever to sign a free agent. His down year in SF might scare off others, and maybe Price being the pitcher whisperer is the difference

  15. If they sign Tanaka then between him and Disco they’d have one healthy UCL.

  16. What we’re talking about isn’t a single player signing that puts the Reds into mid to late October baseball in 2018. That’s just ludicrous.Take the first guy on the list Arrieta, if he changes from a Cubs to a Reds uniform- the balance of power in that division does not change with him. Nor with any other sp on that list. What we’re actually talking about is a trophy signing. A Votto deal, another Bailey contract. Overcompensating by owner/management for a long list of underachieving prospects. In fact, an expensive distraction. The Reds have signed a “top of the rotation” pitcher. His name is Hunter Greene. We’ll find out in a few years if that was a wise choice or not. In the meantime, the Reds need to spend their resources wisely. Make the qualifying offer to Cozart. If he doesn’t accept then the Reds get the compensation pick next draft. Possibly that will be the 2nd most talented player the Reds add to their organization over the next 12 months. Something to think about.

    • I could be wrong but I believe the compensation pick no longer applies if a qualifying offer is rejected. But I agree with you about Hunter Greene.

      • The rules have changed.
        Based on the new rules, if he rejects it, the reds would get a pick between the 2nd and 3rd rounds.
        (IF he signed for 50 or more, it would move up 1 round)

  17. I’m guessing the Red’s will eventually sign Arthur Rhodes or Jamie Moyer. Maybe both?

  18. #&#&$* NO…to that free agent list. That’s an obvious double Bailey and its obviously hard enough for them to improve with 1 horrible contract? They could get a WS winning CF in Lorenzo Cain for less money and be guaranteed to improve the team!

    A blockbuster for Marcus Stroman would be ideal or add some quality depth with a guy like lefty Blake Snell. He had a 3.49 era in the 2nd half w/Tampa while allowing a .219 batting average! Pick up a solid late innings guy to help Iggy. Lorenzen and Peralta are talented, but both faded badly in the 2nd half. Sign a solid guy like Brandon Kintzler for a couple of years and make him the closer. Iggy could be the roving fireman like Andrew Miller!

  19. Read Ctrent/ Zach Buchanan article today.
    Very informative.
    Williams is NOT adding a big SP centerpiece…instead looking at a FA guaranteed contract who will solidify the bullpen but could start if needed.

    A quick scan at MLB traderumors would identify a much different group of candidates.

    2019 here we come.

  20. I would love to see Tanaka in a Reds uniform. Im just afraid we would have to have someone in the dugout stitch him back together between innings.

  21. All these pitchers are way out of the teams price range. He isn’t an ace, but if he doesn’t retire sign R.A. Dickey. He has said he would only play for St. Louis or Cincinnati because they’re close to his family in Nashville. He would cost about 7-8 million. Works great with young pitchers, a great human, and would’ve lead the Reds in Wins, SO, IP, and ERA last year. He did that while pitching in a super hitter friendly stadium in Atlanta, just like GABP. A great defensive catcher like Tucker Barnhart would be able to handle the knuckleball.

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