2018 Reds / 2019 Reds

Getting the 2018 offseason right for 2019

The Astros and Cubs — two teams still wearing their uniforms — did it. So will the Reds.

It’s when we’ll know for sure that the rebuilding is finally over. Or at least when the Reds front office thinks that moment has arrived. We’ll see those final roster moves. Dick Williams will package a group of talented young players for an established star. Something along the lines of the Mat Latos deal with the Padres. Williams will fill out the bench and bullpen with productive veterans. If necessary, the club may even sign an impact free agent. The telltale sign: Bob Castellini’s major league payroll will spike.

The Reds are not there, just yet. But they’re close.

Opening Day, 2019.

Mark it down. That’s when the rebuilt Reds launch into the cosmos of contention. 2018 will be the final season devoted to rebuilding. The Reds took important steps forward during 2017, but too few. The pitching and middle infield didn’t sort out. But all the pieces can be there for 2019.

To reach that deadline, the Reds can’t stand pat this offseason. On the contrary, 2019 liftoff depends on a smart and aggressive pre-2018 hot stove. Certain trade assets have crested at peak value. They have to be cashed before shoulder joints fray, players age out or the clock strikes twelve.

The new Reds front office rightly boasts about the audacious Dan Straily-for-Luis Castillo trade. We’ll learn in the next few months if that was just a one-off Marlins Madness larceny, or if the Reds have the daring to repeat that tactic going forward.

How do the Reds get to “go” in 2019? Here’s a blueprint for the offseason and 2018 roster management:

[By assumption, players remain healthy. Of course they all won’t. Think of this as a topline scenario. Torn muscles and ligaments are Dick Williams’ inevitable, real-world problem.]

Catcher: Devin Mesoraco, whose contract expires at the end of 2018, and Tucker Barnhart should start 2018 sharing time. A RH/LH platoon split could be a starting point, though Mesoraco must  earn enough early playing time for the team to trade him at the mid-season deadline. To do that, he has to prove he’s recovered from his broken foot and is a productive player. Once he’s traded, Stuart Turner gets called up. Tucker Barnhart, new extension in hand, should then get a big majority of the starts.

Going into 2019: Barnhart and Turner are the catching tandem. Outside chance the second catcher is Chris Okey. The club may need to pick up a veteran back-up catcher if Turner doesn’t hit better. Tyler Stephenson’s ETA is 2020.

Infield: Joey Votto and Eugenio Suarez are set at the corners. Suarez is too good at third base to move him again. Absent an outside acquisition through trade, Jose Peraza starts at shortstop. Dilson Herrera is out of options, so he makes the Opening Day roster. He’s the starting second baseman on March 29. Hopefully he can establish trade value. Scooter Gennett is the perfect example of a sell-high candidate. But the main reason to move Gennett isn’t to give Dilson Herrera or Jose Peraza playing time. You trade Gennett to make room for Nick Senzel, who should be called up after the Super Two deadline in 2018 to play second base.

Going into 2019: Votto (1B), Senzel (2B), acquired guy (SS), Suarez (3B); Peraza (bench), veteran 1B/3B (bench)

Outfield: Based on Dick Williams’ interview with Mo Egger last week, it sounds like he’s leaning toward a rotation of the four returning outfielders, including Jesse Winker. Williams says that could keep Adam Duvall fresher for the end of season and take pounding off Billy Hamilton. [Note: That would have been smart in 2017, too.] The odd-man out each night, except when it’s Hamilton, would be a good pinch hitter.

Such a rotation could work in theory, but it’s hard to trust Bryan Price to give Jesse Winker sufficient playing time. It’s also impossible to see the Reds rotating Billy Hamilton out often enough. A biggish bat on the bench in 2018 is a waste relative to possible trade returns. Rotation means too little opportunity for Jesse Winker to develop.

Trade Adam Duvall to Price-proof regular playing time for Winker. Also trade Billy Hamilton. 2019 would be Hamilton’s final season with the Reds, absent a horrifying-to-imagine contract extension. The Reds should move Hamilton now, while his speed and defense retain net value to certain clubs. The 2018 outfield should be Winker, Scott Schebler and a centerfielder to be acquired by trade. Phil Ervin could be the Reds fourth OF or playing every night for Louisville. Patrick Kivlehan makes the 2018 roster as an IF/OF back-up with good pop off the bench.

Going into 2019: Winker (LF), acquired guy (CF), Schebler (RF); Ervin (bench), acquired 5th OF. Taylor Trammel’s ETA is 2020.

Starting Pitchers: Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey and Luis Castillo have earned rotation jobs. It would be awesome, though unfamiliar, to live in a world where all three are making starts. Legitimate skepticism about DeSclafani’s return has to incorporate his recent healthy starts in Arizona, including one of seven innings.

After those three, you have a cluster of pitchers: Robert Stephenson (24), Brandon Finnegan (24), Sal Romano (24), Tyler Mahle (23), Amir Garrett (25), Cody Reed (24) and Michael Lorenzen (25). Thanks to a couple injuries and 67 wasted starts, the hard reality is there simply isn’t enough data from 2016 and 2017 to project which of those young pitchers should be in the rotation.

The Reds should form a 2018 tryout crew of those seven pitchers. The club should guarantee each one at least a dozen major league starts to show what they have and build their trade value. The rest of the season they pitch in the Reds bullpen or start for Louisville.

If the top three guys are healthy, that leaves two slots for the tryout. Lorenzen and Finnegan should start in April and May with the understanding that innings limits will dictate moving them to the bullpen in June. After that, other guys get their turn. Injuries and needed time off will create additional opportunities. Even in the best case, DeSclafani shouldn’t throw an entire season of innings.

Going into 2019: (1) Castillo, (2) big acquisition in 2018-19 offseason, (3) DeSclafani, (4) Bailey, (5) best of the tryout crew. Hunter Greene (!) ETA is 2020.

Bullpen: Default pen is Raisel Iglesias, Kevin Shackleford, Wandy Peralta, the 2018 Feldman and three or four of the tryout starters. Maybe Austin Brice. Maybe Ariel Hernandez (meh).

Whether or not the Reds trade Iglesias this offseason is a momentous decision. He’ll be 28 by Opening Day, is cost controlled on team-friendly terms and under contract through 2021. Iglesias is arguably the heftiest chip the Reds have besides players (Senzel, Castillo) who it doesn’t make sense to trade. On the one hand, he’s an established top-tier closer. But, he’s still just a closer. Always be trading closers, especially ones with a mini-history of shoulder issues.

Going into 2019: No idea. Doesn’t matter now. See below.

Offseason Moves

Trade assets: Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, Scooter Gennett and Raisel Iglesias. Trade Wandy Peralta if you can get a good prospect. At the deadline, trade Devin Mesoraco and Dilson Herrera.

Trade targets: With those assets, the Reds should be able to acquire a few important pieces: (1) a starting centerfielder who is at least average on defense and above average hitting, (2) a young starting shortstop with emphasis on defense, but also upside at the plate, and (3) a young relief pitcher who isn’t a closer but plausibly could become one.

You have questions or comments?

Any specific trade suggestions?

Yep, glad you asked. Here are three.

But … Gennett’s home runs, Duvall’s RBIs, Raisel’s slider and Billy’s stolen bases. We love these things. 

Yes, we do. But those players have large question marks going forward. Remember, we’re working toward 2019, not 2018. The time to trade them is now. Stay focused. We loved Dan Straily, too. Close your eyes and picture Luis Castillo averaging 98 mph with a low walk-rate.

The idea of only giving those young pitchers 12-15 starts is … unusual.

It isn’t ideal. You’d rather give fewer pitchers more opportunity and experience. But who would you leave off that list and say you’re confident he isn’t one of the best remaining pitchers? It’s important to get this right. Even if you took one pitcher off the tryout list (Lorenzen?) you still have six and are in the same weird spot. Blame the 67 wasted starts last year, man, not the messenger.

Well then, what about trading young pitching? The Reds have a lot of it. 

That will happen eventually. But trading pitchers from the tryout list now would be selling low. Every one of them needs another season of development to raise value. Wait for next offseason, or at least the trade deadline, for that. 

What about the idea the Reds should sign an innings-eating starter, like Scott Feldman? 

You’ve got to be kidding. That’s the exact opposite of what the Reds need. Given the enormous log jam for starting opportunities, it makes zero sense to sign a guaranteed-contract starting pitcher. In fact, it’s hard to imagine anything more likely to undermine a productive 2018 season. Sure, the club can wait and see how Bailey, DeSclafani and Castillo look early in spring training. But even in the remote and soul-crushing event that all three of those guys can’t pitch on Opening Day, the Reds have more than enough healthy, in-house arms to fill a rotation.

Who would be the team’s closer if the Reds trade Raisel Iglesias?

I’m not saying “anyone can close,” but you won’t find a mention of Raisel Iglesias as the Reds closer before 2016. Closers are everywhere. The Reds should acquire a promising young reliever through trade. One of the tryout starters (Lorenzen, Romano, others) could close. Rookie Davis. Did you see Kevin Shackelford ‘s numbers? Potential relievers are working through the Reds system (Jimmy Herget, Zack Weiss, Keury Mella, Vlad Gutierrez).

The club has until Opening Day of 2019 to settle on a closer. That’s a long time from now. Until then, it barely matters. The 2018 Opening Day closer is the lowest, of low priorities.

Should the Reds sign Zack Cozart to a new contract?

The proper focus on 2019 makes this an easier decision. The answer, sadly, is no. The odds that Cozart, who would be 33, could still provide above-average defense throughout 2019 are low. And while Zack Cozart with plate discipline was wonderful to watch, it’s an open question if he’ll sustain his production. The aging curve for middle infielders is brutal. The Reds have assets to trade for a good, young, much-less-expensive shortstop.

What about acquiring a front-of-rotation starting pitcher?

Patience. Make this move before 2019, not now. Trading for a star with three seasons left and using one up in 2018 is inefficient. Plus, the starting pitcher tryouts are vital and slots have to be available. Dick Williams has wisely ruled out a top of the rotation signing. We’ll be writing about candidates a year from now.

So another rebuilding year?

Yes, well sort of, and we all wish that wasn’t the case. But 2018 could and should be different than the past two seasons. We could see new young players — important pieces of the final product — at shortstop, left field, center field and second base. Many of the young pitchers should leap forward. We’ll enjoy full seasons of Luis Castillo and Jesse Winker, and a half year of Nick Senzel. The outline of a contending team should emerge.

I notice a bit of hesitation in your voice.

Well, much of that advancement depends on the front office operating with the same nerve and guile as they did with Dan Straily. It is essential that the roster not stagnate this offseason. The club has to evaluate their personnel with clear eyes and march without deviation toward Opening Day, 2019. That includes healthy turnover. If spring training arrives and folks like Scooter Gennett, Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton and Raisel Iglesias are still around, the club will have thrown away its best shot.

71 thoughts on “Getting the 2018 offseason right for 2019

  1. Everything you suggest makes sense, although a few points are open for debate, but none of it means anything as long as Price is managing the team. With Price at the helm for 2018, we will be having the same discussion again going into next off season and I don’t see DW Price-proofing the roster to avoid the problem.

    I sincerely hope I’m wrong, but even debating the efficacy of off-season moves and goals for the 2018 season just seems pointless.

    • I’m becoming more discouraged about Price as time goes on, too. His slagging of Jesse Winker in September was really discouraging, especially with Adam Duvall fading before our eyes.

      If the front office has decided 2019 is the target date (and Williams is clearly saying that 2018 isn’t) then maybe that’s the time he plans to replace Price.

      • Hope you are correct on that.
        Even at the beginning of 2017, I was thinking 2019 as the year to compete.
        In, fact I mentioned this to fans behind me at Coors field.
        (not play the Reds, but LA)

      • What a great article Steve.Please forward to Bob and tell him he is welcome and to send you a check.Unfortunately I have to agree with Cossack about Price. Nobody would say or do what he did this past season unless somebody had his back and that is scary.He showed a level of arrogance and foolishness that words can’t even describe and I don’t see that changing but I hope I am wrong.

      • Steve, I have never been in Price’s corner. He is a pitching coach- not a manager. Keeping him in 2018 is a waste.

    • Boy, 3 straight 90+ losing seasons has taken a toll on the old Cossack. You got too comfy in the new recliner. You should have Mrs. Cossack bring back the old one.
      A couple of blockbuster trades this winter will make you new again.

      • Ya know, it wasn’t the 90+ losses at all. With the status of the major league roster and the minor league system left by WJ, losing big was inevitable and accepted, with the caveat of three solid top 5 draft picks. When the Reds picked up the option on Price, my whoopie cushion simply deflated.

        Oh, the old recliner is sitting in the corner for the little Cossacks and for reading. The Old cossack occasionally migrates over to the Old Recliner just for the nostalgic value.

    • I agree with the Old Cossack. Duvall, Hamilton, Gennett, Iglesias and Peralta should not just be available but aggressively offered, and the best plan with Herrera is to play him to build trade value – the Reds won’t need him when Senzel arrives. But I fear that Duvall/Hamilton and Iglesias/Peralta, and probably Gennett/Herrera are all OR situations, not AND’s. Meaning DW might move one of each pair but is highly unlikely to move both. In my eyes only Iglesias or Peralta has real value for the Reds moving forward. Here’s hoping they’re more AND than OR.

      On a related note, there has to be addition by addition in 2018 (play Winker, promote Senzel, identify long term starters) but there has to be addition by subtraction too. And that starts with Hamilton and Peraza. Of all NL qualified hitters in 2017, Votto led the league in OPS and all similar stats (wRC+, etc). But Peraza and Hamilton were last and second to last in those same categories. Barring injury, last in OPS should mean automatic departure – by trade, designation, non-renewal or whatever it takes. There might be a place for Hamilton as a defensive replacement, spot starter and frequent pinch runner, but it’s hard to imagine that would yield more value than a trade. Find a shortstop or sign Cozart for one year, but addition by subtraction should start with Hamilton and Peraza.

      • Agree with all of that. Peraza, who is still cheap, doesn’t need to be traded to be subtracted. He’s a suitable 2B/SS backup. I get the “he’s only 23” point of view, but he sure has a looong way to go. That’s why I say Senzel at 2B and acquire a new SS.

        • Ugh I have nightmares of Senzel and Herrera in AAA crushing it next year while Peraza struggles in Cincinnati.

          I’ve been the VP of the Peraza Patience Fan Club, but that’s at SS only, with a .310/.360/.xxx line. Anything short of that and he needs to be a bench player.

          Bryan Price is going to screw it up with BHam and Peraza on the roster, I just know it.

  2. Steve,

    I am glad to see the starting line in an article here pushed back to 2019. Plenty of people below the line have advocated/targeted that for a while.

    I would add that it’s not a “do or die” equation if the Reds don’t contend until 2020, other than frustrating some fans. After this amount of losing and a non-standard method of re-building, getting it right is much more important than forcing a set time to start contending.

    That Yelich trade was insufficient when it was published, more so now that Jeter is looking to shed a lot of payroll. He is the right type of guy to be a new CF, but it would take a lot more to get him of Miami. It would take a lot of “nerve and guile” from Dick Williams.

    • I like Yelich. But I’m not part of the crowd willing to throw a long list of top prospects at the Marlins for Yelich. He’s a 4-WAR player, not an infinity-WAR player. There are plenty of other suitable CF who would be upgrades over Hamilton. Plus Hamilton’s days with the Reds are timing out. I do think Hamilton and Iglesias are good fits for the Marlins, aside from the payroll aspect. Maybe Miami will resolve their payroll issues other ways, like trading Stanton. I’d add another player to the deal to make it happen, but not one of the top prospects in the system.

      • I guess I’m the only one that likes Lorenzo Cain? Career high .363 obp and a much safer way to improve the club over another Bailey contract to some starter. He’s a winner and turns 32 next year, so he’s probably got 3 good years left!

        • Cain is going to command a king’s ransom to sign and three years will not cover that contract. Of course, if the market for any of the FA’s collapses, I hope DW is in a position to take advantage of the situation, even if only on a one year contract with the intent to move the player prior to the trade deadline. No one has any idea how the FA market will play out, but i think Cozart may have the best chance of having his opportunity of landing a relatively big contract implode during the off season.

      • Is Trammell too much to add to the deal or is that redundant for the Marlins.
        What about Lopez. I would really like to see Yelich but his contract not a drain on the Marlins. Going to have to give some value in return to be sure

        • I wouldn’t do Trammell and Hamilton. But I’d do Trammell plus Iglesias.

          • I would still hate to give up Iglesias.
            It is not all that easy to find a shutdown closer.
            I would keep him for 2019.

  3. Wait one more year? Preposterous! Too many empty seats this year. Now is the time to strike.

  4. I am a fan of Adam Duvall. Having said that, I think the Reds should trade him so Winker can start everyday in Left field. I was skeptical of Winker, because he showed no power in his last two years in the minors. The number of home runs he has hit in the bigs is good, but he absolutely hammered a couple, so my fears have been vanquished.

    Adam is a great guy, and it is with regret I would trade him. But the Reds DO need a real centerfielder. The Billy Hamilton experiment is over, for me. Whether the Reds keep him (Billy), trade him or do whatever, he isn’t really a good enough offensive player to be there.

    I am not sure of Gennett, but a trade to get something of value would be just like Strailly; getting something for nothing. I doubt his value would ever be any higher than it is right now.

    I am a little troubled by where Senzel fits in in the future. 3rd base, 2nd base? But I like Geno on the team. He is a stand up guy, and genuinely wants to get better. I think his teammates like him too (well, ditto for Gennett, Duvall and Hamilton).

    Zach is a great guy, and has played over pain,etc. But I think his physical decline has begun, and I don’t see him repeating his offensive year next year like this. For one thing, pitchers will approach him with a different pattern of pitches.

    • As much as I like Cozart and think he still has a real chance at three more productive seasons if his playing time was properly managed, with Price managing the team in 2018, signing Cozart would be an epic disaster.

  5. I agree with this article. However a few comments 1) The front office really needs to look at what front end starters will be available next off season because if they pass on Darvish/Arrieta/Lynn/Cobb/Tanaka then there better be someone else who is either equal or better in the next offseason 2) I keep seeing Lorenzen and Reed thrown in the mix with the starting competition….. I would say that those are the last two that should get a shot (Bob showed and big step forward yes he still was walking people but looked good, Sally looked solid and Mahle looked good, Garret was dominate before his demotion and Finnegan I mean I would think if he is healthy would also have a leg up on those two). Lorenzen has regressed from 2016 and the beginning of 2017 is there a reason why we keep talking about him as a starter? What indicates that he would be better as a starter than a reliever?

    • I hope the Reds can figure out a trade for their front line starting pitcher (like they did with Latos) instead of signing an expensive 30-something free agent. I haven’t looked at the free agent market projections, but I have heard people describe the current one as skimpy. Not sure if that’s relative to 2019 though. Hope they can avoid both.

      Lorenzen pitched better (FIP) than Garrett, Mahle, Reed, Romano and Stephenson. He’s developed more pitches. He was a successful starter in his minor league career. So there’s evidence for giving him a try. I’m not saying he’s a sure thing, only that he should be on the tryout list. Again, even with his regression, he was a better pitcher than those others.

      • Was the Latos trade a good one? We gave up quite a bit, including an all-star caliber catcher and more. While I know that it helped put us over the top, a lot of our trades of prospects for more established talent have not worked out so well, in fact I can’t think of any where we were clearly winners. Could we get Justin Turner back?

  6. I liked those three trade suggestions when you proposed them awhile ago. If those end up not being the exact outcomes, they are certainly a very good opening offer, a good perspective on what some of these guys might fetch.

    I share concerns stated above about Price. At the end of the season, when Billy Hamilton got picked off first but ended up scoring as the Red Sox threw the ball around, I winced at thinking that he had just bought himself another season as a ‘disruptor’ at the top of the batting order. I hope Williams already has a short list of possible managers-to-be who would view some things differently.

    • That’s how those three trade suggestions were meant – the work of a hobby blogger to give an idea of what was possible with the chips we have now. I assume that a staff of smart, full-time front office employees with a bunch of inside information can come up with actual better ideas.

  7. There seems to be a real market for power-hitting corner OF this off season. The elite FA corner OF will be VERY expensive and on the wrong side of the aging curve. Even after those elite FA corner OF find a home, there seems to be additional needs for a power-hitting corner OF. The stars seem to be aligning for Duvall’s trade value this off season.

    Don’t rule out signing a top. major-college SS or CF with the 5th pick in the draft and having him major league ready by 2019. Senzel could have been ready for the move to the show in 2017 if the need had been there. As it stands now, there simply any need to promote him until the summer of 2018, possibly as late as the trade deadline when the trades to move any middle IF are completed.

    • Good point on the upcoming draft possibly producing an impact player. I wouldn’t say it’s likely, but should be mentioned.

      I keep hoping that Williams’ elaborate defense of the outfield rotation theory was a way to boost trade leverage. Actually doing that would be such a waste.

      • I’ll add here that I remain convinced that having 4 MLB ready OFers on a team is not only a bad thing, but a *goal* of successful clubs. These guys swing harder and are seemingly more brittle than ever before. We do not have a ‘crowded outfield’ problem. We have a Bryan Price problem, as it relates to his choice for playing outfield.

  8. Nice article Steve and it’s obvious the Reds are not competing in 2018. The only point of contention I would have is trading Iglesias. I don’t see a huge haul coming back for him. He is not being used in the same way as Chapman…so I view him as an elite bullpen piece and critically important as a high leverage 85 -90 inning guy. Chapman averaged around 62-63 innings s year.

    Check out today’s interview with enquirer beat writers and DW. It’s the lengthiest piece I’ve seen and addresses many of these questions. It was reassuring to me.

    • Old-School, thanks for the tip on the Enquirer article.

      It’s reassuring to me, too….in the sense that I think DW isn’t going to rush this thing.

      The Hamilton vs. Winker batting leadoff was interesting. Feels like Price isn’t really DW’s guy long-term.

      DW: “We’re not at the point where the free agents are going to put us over the top.”

      This. Glad to hear it.

      Let the sorting continue.

      • I think you’ll find Williams’ interview on the Mo Egger show (link in post) comforting too. I did.

  9. Nice summation, but I don’t think the Reds should waste another year on the rebuilding road with the offense they displayed in 2017. Now is the time to strike.
    With the NL Central down a little bit this year, next year seems like a year to start contending. The Cubs will need some pitching overhaul both in the rotation and bullpen. The Cards have much work to do with their rotation, bullpen, and starting 8. The Pirates are at another veterans/young star intersection and need some work. The Brewers over-achieved this year, have pitchers that just had surgery and will be on the DL next year. They need some new pitching for 2018. All four teams have major questions to deal with entering this off-season. Not just the Reds. It bunches this group closer together, and the ones who make prudent trades/ FA signings will rise to contend for the division.
    I echo the trade for Yelich and agree with the offering. I can also agree about the SS Ketel Marte idea. After surveying the SS landscape, he could be a legit fit.
    Getting a top of the rotation caliber starting pitcher and a SS accelerates this rebuild to Opening Day 2018. Three straight 90+ loss seasons are enough.
    First up, trade 2B/SS Jose Peraza, OF Scott Schebler, RHP Robert Stephenson, RHP Michael Lorenzen, and OF Jose Siri to Toronto for RHP Marcus Stroman and RHP Dominic Leone.
    Secondly, trade RHP Raisel Iglesias, OF Billy Hamilton, RHP Vladimer Gutierrez, and OF Aristides Aquino for OF Christian Yelich and RHP Brad Zeigler. Take on the final year of Zeigler’s contract ($9M) to help make deal. He had a rebound second half.
    Thirdly, trade LHP Amir Garrett to Arizona for SS Ketel Marte and RHP Jimmie Sherfy.
    Fourthy, sign 2 free agents for the bench, INF Eric Sogard (MIL) and OF Jarrod Dyson.

    Lineup: Winker (RF), Yelich (CF), Votto (1B), Suarez (3B), Duvall (LF), Gennett (2B), Barnhart (C), Marte (SS), P.
    Rotation: Stroman, Castillo, Bailey, DeSclafani, Romano.
    Bullpen: Finnegan, Leone, Zeigler, Peralta, Reed, Sherfy, Shackleford.
    Bench: Mesoraco (C-RH), Kivlehan (1B, 3B, LF-RH), Ervin (OF-RH), Sogard (2B/SS-LH), Dyson (CF/LF-LH).

    Bring on the Cubs, Cards, Dodgers and Nats.

  10. What have you been smokin?

    We lose 85+ again in 2018, attendance continues to drop and Castilini finally fires Price in October. However Price isn’t the root of the problem…..we still have the same lame owner so we can’t climb out of the cellar in 2019…..Oh well. Get used to losing suckers.

  11. Everyone in the division will take a step backwards, especially the Cubs. I see no reason the Reds shouldn’t responsibly accelerate the rebuild to compete.

    C—I can’t see any scenario where Stuart Turner is anything more that AAA roster filler, especially with the emergence of Tyler Stephenson, a guy I’d much rather rush to the bigs and learn on the job as a backup. All this talk about wasted starts, you can’t do that with the position players either.
    1B–VOTTO.
    2B–Gennett/Herrera/Blandino/Long. This is an area of strength for the organization w/o counting Senzel. For that reason, I strongly consider bumping Senzel to LF (and subtract Duvall’s ~100 strikouts in the process).
    SS–I like Steve’s idea of trading for Marte as a first priority, resigning Cozy if trade options fall flat. Under no circumstances does Peraza get promoted to a starter.
    3B—GENO.
    RF–WINKER
    CF–Addition by subtraction. First choice would be to trade Hamilton plus a prospect for a player (Cesar Hernandez from Philly would be an affordable upgrade). Remember, Billy generated a lot of interest last offseason—we can find a a trade partner.
    LF—SENZEL. Remaking the lineup in the mold of Votto. Schebler would be a placeholder for a few weeks and then transition to a 4th OF, covering all 3 spots.

    SP–This is where we could dangle Iglesias and Duvall plus a prospect to find that cost controlled #2-3 the staff needs.
    RP–This should be a no brainer. There are plenty of quality cost controlled relievers on rebuilding teams. The Reds have prospect depth plus cost controlled position players to deal.

    The totality of these moves sets the stage for the roster tweaking that will take place. Remember, the Cubs came together in 2015 much faster than anticipated. It’s possible!

  12. Not that current Reds would try this… but why not play Billy as an elite PR/late defensive replacement every day and try to sell that to a contender at deadline? I’ll bat Winker 1st, Schebler 4th, and Duvall 6th… spread intentionally. If any of those 3 get on base with 0 or 1 out, and “unclogged bases” in 6th inning on, Billy pinch runs and plays centerfield rest of game, hopefully batting never or only once. It seemed he was scoring a run a game when they brought him up that first year and used him exclusively as PR. His soul-crushing hitting stats make his true gifts less valuable… use him where he only excels! He would essentially be the opposite of a designated hitter. Give him a chance to run bases and prowl CF for 2-3 innings per game, just without batting, and he may be a new weapon that teams didn’t realize they needed.

    As for the rest, 1B Votto (duh), agree on catcher, Platoon Scooter/Herrera at 2B, Senzel 3B, Suarez SS. I know, he’s a great 3B, he might regress if switched. Unless we resign Cozart or trade for one, this organization does not have a SS. I refuse to accept Peraza as replacement for Cozart in the lineup, that is a 5.2War dropoff. That would drop reds team non-pitching WAR from 10th to 15th, otherwise known as Contender to Not. I would accept Senzel as Cozart’s replacement, with Suarez shifting. I think Suarez will fit at SS better than Senzel, and I think either of them dwarf Peraza’s offensive output so that nobody will care about the defensive difference. None of those three are matching Cozart’s defense, but 2 of them come closer to replacing the hitting.

    This is the year to try. If it doesn’t work out, we know we need to acquire a new SS. If it does, and I think it can, then the infield is set for years and we can focus money/prospects on Pitching and CF.

    OF: Winker, Duvall, Schebler start with Billy replacing one of them for at least 2 innings per game, possibly more if choice pinch running chance appears. Erving spot starts, not Billy… he’s more valuable in his “closer” role. Look for CF free agent/trade targets. Look for opportunity to trade Billy, unless Reds in contention and my idea works better than I realize.

    SP: 1)Castillo, 2)Trade, 3)Bailey, 4+5 some combination of, off my head rankings, Disco, Mahle, Romano, Finnegan, Stephenson, Garrett, Reed. Sorry if I forgot someone.

    Bullpen: Iglesias, Lorenzen, whoever for the rest. Iglesias can be considered a trade-deadline piece, but I’d like to see if this team contends with Castillo/Trade Guy/Healthy (please please please) Bailey before we consider sending him off this year. Elite Bullpen Guy seems to have high trade value at deadline, lets wait.

    • I think Suarez could do ok at SS. He worked extremely hard at 3B and has good hands. Cozart could barely move and he was still ok defensively. Now the Reds will probably leave Senzel in the minors til the summer but Benintendi skipped AAA and he had no issues at 23. This pitching will take time to sort out, so they’ll need to maximize offense to be able to ever contend? Are they going to find a SS somewhere that can outhit Scooter or Senzel? No…not even close. Tucker is ok but no power. Can’t carry Tucker, BIlly, and a Peraza type hitter in the lineup and contend. Not happening

      • Still hard to imagine our offense with the 3 guys you mentioned plus the pitcher.Yet that’s how we played most of the year but it won’t work next year.We will play close games and with 4 guys with no power and 3 that don’t get on base the other 5 guys can’t make that up.This issue got masked a lot this year primarily because we got down early and sometimes by several runs and were always playing from behind.Hitters get more cookies to hit but won’t happen next year.

      • I here you Indy….but DW essentially said Suarez is our 3b and we don’t want to weaken 2 positions. Right or wrong…Suarez is the 3b and would only play SS on a temporary basis in an emergency. Senzel is moving positions.

        The trade market this winter will be interesting. Williams hinted that Senzel could play many positions…but he is too good a hitter and he will play 1 position every day.
        Stay tuned.

  13. I don’t know people, I still think we are along way aways. and I hate to say that as I am sick of cardinals and cubs fans storming gabp like they own the place.

    as a fan I just don’t see where Hamilton, Duvall, Schebler, Scooter, Cozart, Mesoroco,and Paraza fit in to the future of this club and I really don’t have any interest in seeing these guys play anymore for the Reds. And I don’t think that I am alone.

    This leaves a lot of holes to plug. and although we do have some prospects in the minors it is hard to imagine a strong outfield, shortstop and second basemen developing to be competitive by 2019.

    we have a good base with Votto, Suarez and Barnhart but we have a lot of work to do to build on this base.

    I do feel our pitching is headed in the right direction but we are going to need better position players to be competitive and that unfortunately will take some time I think.

    • Duvall had a .845 ops as of Aug 19. Thats 4.5 months of good baseball. Led the league in assists and gets a good jump on the ball in LF. He’s def flawed but Suarez finished at .828 and everyone loves him. LF got so bad for the Reds over the years that they thought Ryan Ludwick was good? I’m not against trading him, but I think he could be a .830ish type guy too with more rest in the 2nd half.

  14. Hunter Greene’s ETA is 2020? The dude has to learn how to pitch, not just throw 100 mph. The dude has to throw more innings than 20 combined high school and pro innings. Give him time to marinate. He’ll be on pitch limits and inning limits for most of the next two years. Greene some day slotted in between Castillo and Romano, though, will be very nice to see, and Mahle 4th.

  15. The idea of using Hamilton as a PR & defensive replacement is alright. Charlie Finley used Herb Washington exclusively as a pinch runner & then Don Hopkins as a PR & outfield replacement. Hopkins hitting stats were similar to Hamilton 2 walks & 1 hit in 9 PA.

  16. Nice article, but unrealistic in this respect: DW is determined to obtain a quality veteran starter. The FO sees the starting pitching as the culprit to a successful 2017, and thinks with this addition and a little luck on the injury front (that’s more than due for this club) 2018 will be a winning year. I’d love to see the Reds move Hamilton and Duvall to get Yelich, with Scheb and Winker manning the corners and Ervin as the fourth. But they’re not going to move Peraza; they invested too much in him and believe he’s going to be the future ss. Gennett would be one of the pieces in any trade. Bad idea to trade Iglesias. IF the FO is right and the starting pitching solidifies, he’ll be much more important next year. If he’s gone and whoever takes over can’t do the job, we’ll be on here bemoaning his trade.

  17. I’m not sure about being nonchalant about the bullpen. I don’t think a good one is so easy to assemble. Last year (2016) ours blew alot of games. We were able to begin assembling a good one this year, but work remains. I’d be careful of trading those elements away just now.

    I think it would be hard for the Billy to take a step backwards with the Reds…maybe he would be willing to accept a late inning PR/defensive role on another team. We’ll have to trade him. Package him and Gennett (hate to see him go) to get a bona fide SS, either for next year (if Cozart goes) or to step in when he eventually does.

  18. Completely flummoxed that I(we) have to wait ANOTHER year for the rebuild to finish. Reds management are like horrible contractors working(not hard) to remodel a kitchen, and making a family suffer endlessly.

    In an interview with the Enquirer, Dick Williams says that he values OBP at the top of the batting order. Yet Price doesn’t bat anyone with a high OBP there, and he rarely plays Winker. A complete disconnect between GM and manager, yet Price is signed for another year.

    Meanwhile, Joey and I both continue to age. I’m very frustrated. Reds should be further along than this. I’m wondering if the Reds will ever have a winning record again in my lifetime, let alone make the playoffs.

    • DW had Price’s back the whole year and will continue to do so because there is no accountability for performance so therefore the disconnect doesn’t matter.

      • No accountability….YET.
        Williams recent interviews have been reassuring and completely contradict Price.

        Price buried himself by saying in the last week of the season that the current 3 outfielders had not lost a spot and Winker wasn’t guaranteed to make the roster. His boss just blew that up and said Winker has nothing left to prove.

        As for the lead off position, Price said Billy brings havoc. Dick Williams said OBP is most important and he liked Winker in the leadoff role and we need to have an internal discussion on that. He also kept calling Jesse …..Joey….

        Brian Price will have some new talking points at Reds-fest. Write it down.

    • And once again, we’ve collectively identified Billy as the mainl reason, along with Price, for the Reds’ futility. Had nothing to do with the historically bad pitching.

      • Billy’s soft fly balls become hits in SF and he can run down everything hit his way.Great fit vs our park which is small and most everything over a fielders head goes in the seats.We get Aoki and his higher average and maybe he hits a few out in our smaller park.Make the trade today but look at the money first please.

  19. I would like to see the Reds make an offer for Jurickson Profar. Maybe offer up Brandon Finnegan in a one for one swap.

  20. It seems that DW sees 2018 as another year of sorting and that is understandable given how bad our record was this year. I just hope he works his tail off to make some of the trades that have been suggested for a SS, CF and SP. Your thoughts Steve, are spot on regarding this. If the trades are there we have to make the moves, even for a SP.
    I think that 2018 is a year where if the pitching is healthy we will have a shot of hovering around .500 and possibly sneaking into the wild card competition by the trade deadline. I think DW is serious about resigning Cozart to a reasonable extension, I still lean to this being the best for the 2018-2020 seasons. At 10-12 million per season it’s a risk worth taking.

    I see the FO making an unpopular signing like Feldman again, a starting pitcher who is on his last leg (pun intended) that can start or perform in the bullpen.

    I’m looking forward to hopefully seeing, Herrera, Blandino, Senzel, Mahle, Romano and Stephenson, not to mention Castillo continue to develop. I also hope that Lorenzen gets another long look at starting. This is what he wants and that matters… Give him a shot! I think he can be a #3-#4 starter 4.25 – 4.45 era.

    I’m gonna put in one of my proposed trades: after the world series: Hunter Greene, Robert Stephenson & Jose Siri for Marcus Stroman (or some other top end starting pitcher).

    • too much Greene has a chance to be really special. Stroman not so much. plus we gave him y7 million to trade right away.don’t think much of that. JMO

  21. The ‘outfield rotation theory’, that the GM seems to like, bothers me because it’s just an excuse for Price to not insert Winker as a regular outfielder and bat him leadoff where he belongs. Also, regardless of what does or does not happen in the offseason I think Suarez would be able to move over to shortstop and make room for Senzel at third base, and I hope 2018 does not roll around without an established pitcher, other than Bailey, to stabilize the starting staff. I’m not counting on the Reds contending in 2018, but I don’t want our team to finish last again with 90+ losses. It’s time for some action from the FO and not just assign the 2018 season to the rebuild column.

  22. Every year we hear some variation of: “It’s not about next year, it’s about the year after.” And we all go along with it, like Charlie Brown trusting that Lucy will hold the football in place so we can kick it. And every year, the organization yanks the football away from us. And yet we keep trusting.

    Steve has obviously taken the time to write an excellent, well-reasoned piece.

    But I think the Reds, right now, are not at a place where they listen to reason.
    They suffer from Dysfunctional Organization Syndrome. Novice General Manager who talks a good game but used to work in politics (so I trust him about as far as I can throw him). Novice-ish field manager whose reign includes one of the worst three-year stretches in team history. Aging owner who may still be relying on the advice of the aging ex-GM. Provincial, old-fashioned tunnel-vision mindset that hasn’t yet fully embraced analytics. (Note Cingrani’s comments on how aggressive L.A.’s use of analytics is, implying that the Reds’ use of it isn’t very aggressive at all.) A team that seems to be more interested in saving face than saving seasons (retaining the aforementioned field manager). A team that makes decisions based on mawkish sentimentality. (Bronson Arroyo, Billy Hamilton.) A team with declining attendance, that trots out cheerleaders (?!) at its home games. (I’m looking at you “Reds Rally Pack”.)

    I’ll continue to be a fan of the team, but I think the Reds will continue to shoot themselves in the feet until the team is sold to the right owner. Brace for continued ugliness.

    • The ‘right’ owner would have to be local since that’s the way it’s been since the days of Powell Crosley.

  23. Loved the post, Steve! Thanks for always writing such well-thought-out articles that cause us to think! You make reading Redleg Nation one of my favorite things to do each day of the year!

    By the way, did everyone see where Joey Votto finished in WAR on the ESPN stat leaders? Yep, 9.6…leading the entire MLB! Question for someone who knows: a day or two before the end of the season, Votto’s WAR was around 7.3 and I thought he wouldn’t beat his career best of 7.6 WAR in 2015. Now I looked again today and he finished at 9.6. I know that WAR is a cumulative stat, and that there are different ways to figure depending whether we use Baseball Reference or Fangraphs, but can someone explain how his WAR jumped from 7.3 to 9.6 over the last day or two of the season? Thanks!

    • Yes – this was a fun post to read. Steve really put some good stuff together,

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