If you think the Reds are alone in making no off-season player acquisitions of any substance, think again.

This has been a very slow hot-stove-league season around the baseball world. In particular, the so-called prizes of this year’s free agent class are all still looking for new teams. The top 10 free agents on the list of veteran baseball writer Jon Heyman are all still unemployed as the calendar year is but a few days from its conclusion.

It’s not only the cream of the crop. As of this writing on Christmas Eve, 177 major league baseball free agents remain unsigned, according to the MLB Free Agent Tracker at MLBTradeRumors.com. If this number of players were to be equally distributed among all 30 teams, it would be 5.9 free agent signings per team.

Clearly that is not going to happen. But what we’re seeing is an obvious effort by teams across the sport to curtail spending. The top 10 players on Heyman’s list aren’t going to receive anywhere near the figures he projected in November. And, there will be a trickle-down effect. All of this year’s free agents are coming to grips with the fact that their paydays won’t be nearly what they were hoping.

Players that we as Reds fans believed would be long gone or out of the team’s price range may come into play at some point. Much of the Redleg Nation audience, including this particular author, has advocated for the addition of at least one starting pitcher with a successful track record. Thirty-two players labeled as starting pitchers are still available, according to the MLBTradeRumors.com free agent tracker.

For the sake of argument, let’s assume that Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta are still out of reach financially. Other names still available include Alex Cobb, Lance Lynn, and Tyson Ross. There are many, many other names out there, but at first glance, only the three names listed have the credentials in their recent past that would lead one to expect non-Arroyo or non-Bonilla numbers.

Look closely at the listing of available relief pitchers. Bringing in Trevor Rosenthal would be similar to last year’s signing of Drew Storen – a relief pitcher with a history of success before more recent struggles. How about lefthander Tony Watson? Or another former Pirate, Jared Hughes? (Note: After this piece was written on Dec. 24, the Reds did in fact sign Hughes to a two-year contract on Dec. 26.) Addison Reed? None of them is projected as a closer. Sign those four, add them to Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Wandy Peralta, and you have one heck of a bullpen, top to bottom.

At the end of the 2017 season, we would never have imagined such scenarios. But on the cusp of 2018, they exist, and possibly at prices that would make sense from the Reds front office standpoint. Instead of impeding a rebuild, a scenario like this would help because:

  • It was clear that last year’s Reds could have competed if they had even decent pitching;
  • It would force young relievers to perform at a very high level in the minors to earn a promotion to the big leagues, instead of getting a promotion because they are the promotee-du-jour;
  • It may not require Dick Williams to go beyond his spending guidelines;
  • It would give the team a chance to experience winning and possible contention a year before the now-stated objective of winning in 2019.

Will all of the above happen? Almost certainly not. But the free-agent market has unexpectedly developed in a way which will likely allow the Reds to compete for some names with value.

Tom Mitsoff is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, Ohio. He lived a teenage life atypical of most his age by prioritizing following the Reds. At one point in the 1970s and early 1980s, Tom kept complete scorecards on more than 1,000 consecutive Reds games. Now that adult life has forced him to move on from his beloved Southwest Ohio, he follows the Reds daily through MLB.TV and other online media sources, including Redleg Nation.

Join the conversation! 160 Comments

  1. With Devin’s contract set to expire after next and Homer’s at the end of the 2019 season as well of money freed up from Bruce’s and Phillips contracts, the Reds could make a play for either Lynn or Cobb for 4 years 50 million. This can prevent them from weakening their farm system to get their front of the rotation pitcher that they want. Although I still can’t see that happening.

    With that said, they do have some money being freed up in the near future and could spend a little. I see them more expending a player such as Suarez as opposed to spending big in free agency

    • Pass on Cards castoffs. If Lynn or Rosenthal were worth the $ they would still be Cards. We keep getting burned by signing their trash, it must stop!

      • Pass on them because they’re Cards? That’s a successful organization, and it follows that some of their “castoffs” could be displaced by cheaper talent from within their system and still khave value for another team.

        • No, you pass on Lynn because his HR and walk rates were huge in StL. Can you even imagine what they would be at GABP. He gave up 27 HR’s last year. MAhe that 35+ in Cincy. No thanks.

      • If they made the qualifying offer to Lynn then he’s hardly a castoff.

        Reds should not invest more than 3 years into any SP unless there is an ace on the cheap.

    • I don’t think 4yrs/$50-million lands Cobb… I think it could be a 5-year deal but would predict 4yrs/$62-million…. He is apparently asking for 5/100 (which he won’t get).

  2. “If you don’t expect to contend, don’t spend.” Fair or not, that is the MBA-style in which most MLB teams are run today.

    (Shame on players’ union leadership for not requiring a minimum team salary floor).

    The Reds are projected to win 72 games in 2018.
    Cobb is expected to produce 1.7 WAR
    Lynn is expected to produce 1.3 WAR

    So, for $30 million per year, (Cobb $20, Lynn $10), the Reds move up to 75 wins and have 3 guys (including Bailey) on the wrong side of age 30, blocking development of young, cost-controlled guys.

    The relievers don’t move the needle much, either (Rosenthal projected at 0.0 WAR).

    If the Reds surprise early, like the Rockies of 2017, upgrade mid-season to stay in race.

    Otherwise, let the kids, pitchers/Senzel/Winker/Ervin/Whoever get “all they can eat” in playing time.

    • I may be wrong, but doesn’t this use of WAR assume that pitchers like Arroyo were at replacement level (0 WAR). I don’t have the stats in front of me, but I think the Reds probably had a few pitchers below 0 WAR.

      However, while it might be worth signing a starter if the price is right, this possible deflation of FA salaries would be interesting in regards to CF. Does this make it more likely that Reds trade Hamilton and sign FA CF to replace him?

      • last year Bronson Arroyo had a WAR of -1.5. Just for reference.

        • So it could be a three win swing. That doesn’t have much impact at 75 but at 85 it’s a potential playoff spot.

  3. It is a very under-whelming list of free agent pitchers. I don’t think the Reds look for a starter. But another reliever isn’t out of the question. However, the list is thin for a fit for the Reds.
    Craig Stammen, who the Reds have been connected with some.
    Tyler Clippard, but he struggled a lot last year. He’s been traded the last 3 years.
    Huston Street, who had numerous injuries last year and had a somewhat for him disappointing 2016.
    Stammen might be the pick, but it is another move that won’t move any needles.

    • general manager Dick Williams tells Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer. Williams feels Hughes adds some needed veteran experience to a Reds bullpen that struggled badly in 2017, and the GM didn’t close the door on his team acquiring another veteran reliever before the winter is over.

      Glad that the GM feels that veteran experience is important, not as analytically minded as hoped

      • Why is experience not important? It is in every other occupation I can think of.

  4. The muddled health status of our starters makes it difficult to see signing a starting pitcher, given we have so many waiting in the wings to be a MLB starter.

    1. Desclafani
    2. Castillo
    3. Bailey
    4. Finnegan
    5. Romano
    6. Mahle
    7. Stephenson
    8. Lorenzen
    9. Reed
    10. Garrett
    11. Stephens

    Signing a starting pitcher could then squeeze the opportunities for Weiss, Shackelford, Reed, Garrett, Stephens to pitch at the MLB level in the bullpen. Interestingly this logjam even effects out AA Starters and may not provide opportunities to advance the the AAA starting rotation.

    • Every single guy on that list has huge question marks, that is the problem. Castillo might be the best of the bunch but can he go deep into games and provide 200 innings without risking an injury? Doubtful. None of the young guys showed a propensity to go deep in the games, thus the pen got exposed and taxed. Homer and Disco, who knows what they will do. Signing a veteran would be a good plan. Why not Arrieta, he has dominated this division.

      • In all fairness, very few pitchers are throwing 200 IP anymore. There were only 15 in all of MLB last year. Sale led MLB with 214-1/3. I think the more modern figure is more 180 IP. That adds another 25 pitchers to the list.

  5. I agree SLIOTAR just let the young guys pitch so we have no more questions as we head into 2019.No more of these inning eaters and vets please.

    • James, I would suggest that if 2018 is a replay of 2017 in the way the young pitchers were rotated through Cincy and the minors continuously, then it’s quite likely that there will be just as many questions at this time next year as there are now. At some point, young players have to earn their places on the major league team through performance, not because they pitched five days ago in Louisville. I don’t think it’s likely that Dick Williams will go much further into free agency, but any of the names in the article above would improve the 2018 Reds, and force a minor leaguer to put himself into a position to move to the majors by performing well at Louisville instead of having a pulse at Louisville.

      I know this position is not that of the majority of the regulars here. And, maybe the forcing young players to the majors was part of the Houston and Cubs plans at some point.

      Any of the pitchers listed in the article above who can be brought in on terms similar to what Hughes signed for would be both a bargain and an asset. It would be daft to believe that a rotation led by three pitchers who missed most of 2017 due to injuries is going to avoid injuries in 2018.

      It seems what is looming is another waste of what appears to be a starting eight capable of competing if the pitching could be upgraded, as was the case in 2017.

      • I’m totally with you, Tom, both your post and your reply. When a free agent pitcher like Hughes is brought in, he’s supposedly mediocre, so why can’t a young pitcher who’s ready compete with him. And pitchers are so injury prone, it’s hard to have too many who can pitch at the major league level.

        I also don’t like the idea of throwing 2018 in the trash before it’s even begun.
        That’s gotten old, and Joey Votto isn’t getting any younger.

        • mikeofnewyork better known here as pinson343. Good job, Tom, a lot of ideas on this thread.

          • You have 2 names! Ok, now I’ll know to look for this one too. I love the pinson343 moniker though.

      • Tom,my point on letting the young guys pitch is and has always been you learn more about if they can or can’t by the more they pitch at the big league level.I agree if all 4 guys you mentioned were signed and based on their career stats our pen would look to be very good.I am just one of those guys who believe we need to find what we have in house before we look outside and last year told us nothing.Sure we anointed a few guys and threw a few guys under the bus and even punished a few guys like Reed and Bob but did we see enough of anybody to move on from them or to say they have it?The answer of course is no and regardless of how Hughes does in the spring he is now in the pen even if other younger or cheaper guys out perform him.The reality in MLB is not how guys perform in a lot of cases its what they get paid and as far as wasting 2018 it will come down to how the starters perform and if we can upgrade offensively in CF and if Peraza can step up at short.

  6. None of the pitchers really do a lot for me, especially if we’re not going to consider Darvish or Arrieta (which I probably wouldn’t regardless). Let the young guys get their shot. Unlike in previous years we shouldn’t have to call guys up before they’re ready just to fill a need.

    If the Reds were to sign a FA, Lorenzo Cain is a guy I’d be interested in as long as the years and money seem to work.

    • You are OK with giving up the Reds second pick in the draft, the Competitive Balance pick at around #35 overall, and their 5th round pick to sign Cain to a multi-year, multi-tens of millions of dollars contract?? Plus they have to give up some IFA bonus pool money out of their bonus pool money. I read that amount would be about $500,000 to $1,000,000 in IFA money they would forfeit or give back to MLB.
      That’s a steep price to pay to then sign a guy to a 5 year $80M deal that he wants. I think it would be safe to say that the Comp. Bal. draft pick would start out in the Reds top-25 prospects when next year’s mid-season rankings come out. Hard to say about 5th round picks.
      With Cain, it wouldn’t be worth sniffing around. He’ll be 32 two weeks after the season starts. That might be a lot to ask. I don’t know if I would go there.

      • Familiarize yourself with the rules and the Reds draft position before spouting off without the facts.

        Here is an excerpt that applies to the Reds from Nov. 6th 2017 off MLB site:

        A team that receives revenue sharing will lose its third-highest selection in the following year’s Draft. If it signs two such players, it will also forfeit its fourth-highest remaining pick.

        Examples: A team with one pick in each round of the 2018 Rule Draft would lose its third-round pick. A team with two first-round picks and one pick in each subsequent round would lose its second-round pick.

        Since the Reds do not fall into the “exceeded the luxury tax” bracket and do receive revenue sharing this is the rule to pay attention to. The Reds do not have a Round A Competitive Balance pick. They did receive a Round B comp pick expected to be in the 70’s after the 2nd round.

        In this scenario the Reds would only lose a pick currently projected to be #73. Yes, I am more than ok with losing that pick to sign Lorenzo Cain.

        • +1

        • My bad H4V. You picked me off second base napping like I was Brandon Phillips. I don’t know where I got that confused with. It might have been one of those articles about the SF-BHam potential trade and it might have been what SF would have to pay/lose to sign Cain as opposed to what it would be for BHam.
          I stand corrected.
          FWIW though, I’d still avoid like the plague a 5 yr./$80M deal on Cain. Two years, sure. Five, no. If the Reds won’t go 3 years on a 32 year old Cozart, no reason to go five years on a 32 year old (in April) Cain.

          • It’s all good man. The rules recently changed and it’s hard to keep track at times. The years and money would have to work, but with the way the market is trending it may get to that point. I wouldn’t want 5, but the right amount of money for 4 years may be intriguing. Cain doesn’t have the injury history Cozart does, and has a longer track record of production. The small OF in Cincinnati would help to hide any decline in speed. It may not work, but I feel it’s worth the risk to pursue.

          • I think 5 yrs for Cain, considering his skill-set, would be daft. That deal isn’t going to look so good in years 4 and 5. I wouldn’t go more than 3 on him and the issue with that is he’ll want a higher AAV to get a shorter deal done.

  7. We have depth in three areas corner outfield, middle infielders who can’t play ss, and starting pitching. While it is true that there is not a lot of experience in the starting pitching there is a chance for quality.

  8. Good call on Hughes, Tom. If rumors are correct, Hamilton and the Giants is still in the works. Maybe a prospect and another arm, ML ready, to the Reds? If not, with such a glut of FA, wait for prices to go down.

  9. Help!!!! Reds fan in the Middle of Cards Country!!!!! I don’t care how they do it. I’m ready for over 500 baseball again and a team to help “shut up” the mouths of my two St. Louis Cardinal fan co-workers who give me a lot!!!!! Reds gave it a pretty good run the first two months and then started to melt away in June. I would love it to start in 2018. So please, if Reds Owner, GM or anyone who gives a flip read this. Please give us a Great surprise and shock the Baseball world!!!!! Go Reds!!!!! Big Red Machine Fan since the early 70’s.!!!!

    • I am with ya there.
      Reds fan in the Middle of Rockies country.
      My friends call them the Deads.
      I do remember the glory days of the 70’s. Now that was fun

  10. I guess the Reds don’t care about there fans, but they sure won’t drop the price per ticket to watch a minor league team. Don’t seem very fair to me or the rest of the Reds fans.

    • I agree here. This is the level a team should be trying to win every game played on the field.

    • I would humbly disagree with you.
      The worst thing you can be is 75 – 82 wins every year.
      Do not get the best of the players in the draft.
      Especially if you are a lower payroll team.
      I do hope to see 500 this year.

  11. Tom, you nailed the single biggest takewaway from the 2017-2018 off season. So much early discussion focussed on the resolution of the Ohtani and Stanton situations as the primary factors in the delayed FA signings. I think the more pointed factor has a much longer-term implication. The MLB management organizations have transformed from relics focused on traditional spend-to-get methodology to a more modern spend efficiently methodology. Even the big pocket teams, who are willing to spend huge amounts of money to win, are spending intelligently rather than throwing wet money wads at the wall and just seeing what might stick.

    While I’m personally excited to see this broader progressive approach, there are two big problems: 1] The Cincinnati Reds are behind the curve in both spending capability and progressive thinking. 2] With virtually all MLB baseball organizations committed to a progressive financial approach, a bigger rift between haves and have nots will evolve unless this rift is addressed to provide more competitive balance to MLB.

    Unfortunately, both of those problems leave the Cincinnati Reds on the outside looking in competitively.

    • If the big-budget teams are figuring out that gigantic long-term contracts are crippling more often than not, then it will cause the gap to widen. On the other hand, the lull in spending this offseason might be due to everyone saving money to bid on Bryce Harper and Manny Machado next offseason. No doubt that a couple of the big $$$ teams are smarter than they used to be (Dodgers, Yankees, maybe Red Sox).

      • He gets it! He really -does- get it!!

        One of the points that I’ve tried to make (implicitly) but haven’t had the time to post (explicitly):

        Everyone points out that, with new TV contract, more top down revenue from the league, etc., etc., the Reds have more money than commonly perceived and can afford to (very selectively) pay up for improvements of quality in trade for established players or via free agency.

        The trouble with this reasoning is that it’s phrased in absolute terms, without context. Everyone’s TV contract rolls over eventually, everybody gets more in top down disbursements from the league, and just about everyone else is in a bigger market.

        Therefore, while in -absolute- terms the Reds have -MORE-, a lot of other bigger fish have -MORE- -MORE-. In -relative terms, the competitive balance hasn’t moved forward for the Reds and may be sliding backward. And I strongly believe that, independent of the Great Bryce Harper Auction, a lot of managements are getting cash-smart and trying to avoid the luxury cap.

        This is -not- a harbinger of doom for the Reds. All it does is emphasize that the Reds must be -smarter-:
        -in identifying young talent through the various draft and scouting mechanisms
        – in investing in keeping them healthy throughout the development process (no more broken Bailey’s because we needed to rush a savior to the big squad – yes, opinion)
        – in investing in better coaching and training staff and methods throughout the minor league organization. I’m -tired- of seeing domestic pitchers with two (maybe) pitches and no guile when we see Latin talent with four pitches, multiple slots and a lot of baseball intelligence. Although bunting is overvalued, I still tire of seeing mature players who can’t lay one down when it’s really needed, etc., etc.

        In comparative terms, the Reds are always going to be somewhat younger than their opponents and frugal in their approach. They have to be. And given how overpriced and, in adjusted terms, a lot of recent free agents have been in MLB, that is not the worst position in the world to be in.

        -SMARTER-, not just -MORE-.

  12. Three way trade idea with the Giants and Marlins. Giants get Hamilton and Duvall. Reds get Yelich and Heliot Ramos (from Giants). Marlins get Alex Blandino, Amir Garrett and two prospects from the Giants.

    • This gives a spot for Winker in the outfield. Winker, Votto, and Yelich are great contact hitters. Yelich has a reasonable contract. Lineup possibility:. Winker, Yelich, Votto, Suarez, Gennett, Schebler, Peraza, Barnhart. Jarod Dyson could be a good fourth outfielder.

    • Probably have to give up more than that, but a good starting point. Trade Hamilton to Giants for Ramos, turn around and trade Ramos, Trammel, and a young arm, say Mahle, for Yelich.

      • Think I am agreeing with you on this on.
        Have to give up a couple of higher prospects (not Nick or Greene)

      • I agree with JB. The Marlins come out far the worst in that scenario, and there’s no reason for them to settle for anything other than the best they can get.

        • Have you seen what the Marlins took for Ozuna and Stanton? Selling for pennies on the dollar. Fleece ’em!

          • With Stantons large contract and no trade rights the Marlins were basically at the mercy of Stanton. Ozuna didn’t bring a huge return so Yelich may be available for less than we think. He does have more years of control and longer history of success than Ozuna while also playing CF so that should drive up the price higher than what the Cardinals paid. In reality the Marlins can probably have a bidding war with anyone who has prospects to trade. The Reds have prospects to trade, but they also have to be careful not to trade away the future when they are not ready to compete yet. Too much is dependent on the health and development of the pitching staff to be competitive. I would hate to see the comments here in a few years if the pitching never develops and the rebuild starts over with a weak farm system

          • Reds have rarely traded away anyone of value – 2013 for Choo was last time. Time to do it again. Yelich is a huge value.

    • If only …

    • Giants get Duvall and Hamilton from Reds – improves their defense in LF and CF. Also improves their offensive output from LF

      Reds get Yelich from Marlins – Open space in LF for Winker and significantly improve at CF.

      Marlins get Trammell from Reds & Heliot Ramos, Tyler Beede & Andrew Suarez – Marlins get 2 high upside outfield prospects in Trammell and Ramos and 2 near ready starting pitchers.

  13. Here’s another 3-way trade idea REDHAZE:
    Reds get: Christian Yelich (Marlins) Hunter Strickland and Andrew Suarez (Giants)
    Giants get: J.T. Realmuto (Marlins) Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall (Reds) Posey goes to first base and Belt platoons with Pence in RF.
    Marlins get: Heliot Ramos, Tyler Beede and Jacob Gonzalez (Giants) Taylor Trammell, Amir Garrett and Tyler Stephenson (Reds)

  14. I love this concept of the Reds, Giants and Marlins in a three-team swap that could bring Yelich for a package including Hamilton. Ron’s scenario above is probably indicative of what the Marlins would have to get out of such a trade. They are not going to settle for anything less than an avalanche of top prospects, because they don’t need to. In Ron’s scenario above, you could argue that each team gets what they are looking for and need. Strickland would be on the Reds staff instantly, and Suarez would be another high-minors starting prospect. And the outfield becomes Winker left, Schebler center and Yelich right. The team’s on-base percentage would make a huge jump.

  15. Lorenzo Cain would look good in Red too. Trade Hamilton to Giants, sign Cain. Dude has power and speed and would most likely flourish at GABP. This team needs to find a way to spend money or else Bob needs to sell the taco stand.

    • Yep. What did Bob mean when he said “No more losing ?” It feels like Williams is the owner again.
      – aka pinson343

    • I wonder if Cain might end up signing for less like Dexter Fowler a few years ago? The Cubs “only” paid him $8 mil for 2016 and he thought he would get $40 mil for 3 years or something. Cain only hit 16 hrs and usually gets a little banged up and ends up with 400 atbats or something. I’d still take him in a heartbeat over Billy

  16. Give the ball to the kids. We have the bats and gloves. Reds fan since 56

  17. Speaking of three team trades, I wouldn’t mind the Reds making themselves available in facilitating a Machado trade as a third team involved. It could be a good opportunity to swap out prospects in which we have surplus (starting pitching, 2B, lower minors OF) to improve an area where we are thin.

    • As long as we do not get Machado.
      He is a FA at the end of the year, and we cannot afford 35 Mil

  18. The move the Reds most need to make is the move they won’t make: firing Price. I dread watching another year of all the Reds’ young, talented assets being mismanaged and things like OBP taking a back seat to speed and grit.

    The Reds are very close to competing. If the pitching continues to develop, they will be right in the hunt this year. But do you honestly trust Price to be the one to develop that pitching?

    • Actually, yes. It’s just about the only thing I think Price could excel at relative to other managers. If DW doesn’t hand him a pile of retreads and forces him to have to rely on the young arms I do think they could develop nicely. But if there are Feldman / Arroyo / Bonilla types on the roster to steal those starts I don’t think Price will be able to resist the “safe” approach. It’s on the offensive side that I think Price is a disaster. Peraza should play a tiny bit more than never, and Hamilton should be spot starting, defensive replacement, and pinch running specialist only. But don’t hold your breath on that.

    • I’m totally with you. FIRE PRICE!!!!!! POR MALO…..

  19. The Yankees offered up OF Clint Frazier in possible deals for Gerritt Cole or Fulmer with Detroit. I wonder if they might take Disco if he was healthy? Frazier put up .816 ops at AAA last year at 22 and played a little bit with NY. He would look good out in the outfield with Winker….lefty/righty thumpers. They also have a bunch of nasty arms in the pen and they traded Castro to Miami. Frazier/Chad Green or Knabel for Disco/Scooter?

  20. Is there any indication at all that the Reds are in on the Yelich discussions? Or is this just all of us hoping they are?

    • Only guessing. Someone asked about Senzel’s availability in a trade during winter meetings… I’d guess this was the marlins for yelich. No way we should give up Senzel for Yelich.

      There’s a lot of teams that will likely offer top prospects for Yelich, so the prospect price will likely be pretty high.

  21. I’d like to look now but every time I do, the Reds are sitting on their hands doing nothing.

  22. September of this year still worries me. we got decent pitching an were 5 games under 500 for the month. a lot of our offensive numbers came in games that were blowouts. non competitive games that we would loose 13-7.

  23. Rockies just signed Wade Davis. Hot Stove starting to heat up..

  24. The Rockies sign closer Wade Davis for 3 years/ $52M. Holy cow, that makes Iglesias’s contract look berry, berry good.
    The hope is it looks berry, berry good to other teams with deep farm systems.

  25. Everyone likes Tucker and he’s great defensively, but the Fish are also waving JT Realmuto around! A .783 ops with 17 HRs in that state park they play in….that’s prob 25 ish in GABP! Plus he plays a lot more then Tucker does.

    • Realmuto is probably top 3-4 catchers in the game. I expect Tucker to play a lot more this year and he may creep up into top 5 range if he can add a bit more power.

    • The Old Cossack was thinking along the same lines. The Reds have Tucker locked up on a nice contract at 4 yrs/$16.0MM with a club option for $7.0MM in 2022. Realmuto has 3 years of team control via arbitration through 2020.

      The Reds only catching prospect in the pipeline is Stephenson who has only played at low A ball and has had trouble staying in the lineup (concussion, wrist and thumb injuries). Without any experience above low A ball and struggles with injuries, I’m a little remiss to trade away 1 or 2 extra years of good catching from Barnhart for an offensive upgrade at catcher with less team control. Realmuto is also going to cost more as he goes through the arbitration process beginning in 2018. I also like Tucker’s LH bat against RH pitching.

      With that said, if creating a blockbuster trade, that includes both Realmuto and Yelich, is the key to getting Yellich in CF for 2018, the Old Cossack is on board.

  26. The Reds have no idea what they will get from the 2018 pitching staff. No one knows what Homer has left or if Disco can come back to that #2/3 potential he showed. Finnegan has lots of potential and lots of questions. They all need to pitch.

    No one knows what Bob Steve will do. He needs to pitch. Mahle earned an opportunity. Romano can’t be blocked if he comes out firing 97 mph and commanding the zone. Those 3 need to pitch.

    I believe Lorenzen will bounce back and he is my ST candidate to be firing on all cylinders in early March. I’m fine with adding a little bullpen depth but I don’t see any 8 figure FA signings.

    The starting 2017 OF is very flawed, which hurts their trade value. Teams will gladly pick up Hamilton’s last 2 arbitration years- but no one is trading a top 3 organizational pick for him. Duvall certainly won’t get a Top 75-100 overall prospect at the AA or AAA levels.

    Iglesias is the only trading chip that could land a cornerstone type impact player/ players. I don’t see that happening this off-season.

  27. Here’s a 3 teamer for the Reds that brings in Cleveland and Miami.

    Indians get OF/1B Adam Duvall, RHP Jose Lopez, and C JT Realmuto.
    Reds get OF Christian Yelich, RHP Brad Ziegler and RHP Triston McKenzie.
    Marlins get C Francisco Mejia, OF Greg Allen, 1B Bobby Bradley, RHP Tyler Mahle, 2B Shed Long, RHP Vladimir Gutierrez, OF Jose Siri and RHP Zack Weiss.

    • Swap either Garrett or Ervin instead of Mahle. He looks like the real deal.

      • I would hate to trade Mahle. But without giving up Senzel, Greene, or Trammell, Mahle I felt had to be included.
        That’s a haul of prospects Miami gets from Cleveland and Cincinnati. Just what they are looking for.
        Cleveland gets re-enforcements for another World Series run. Cleveland has a 1-2 year window left before they experience some big free agent losses before they have to re-load. Duvall has 4 years left of team control and Realmuto 3 years. They won’t be rentals.
        Reds get their man in Yelich, take on Ziegler’s contract and get a good pitching prospect in return for losing Mahle, Lopez and Gutierrez.

        • I wouldn’t want to give up those seven guys for Yelich alone and if they have to take on Ziegler, then no way. I think people over-value Yelich. I wouldn’t trade any of Trammell, Mahle, Green or Senzel in a package for him. If they want Siri, Gutierrez, and Shed Long, then ok. They can have one of Duvall or Hamilton as well, or the Reds can take Ziegler’s contract. Otherwise, I’m a hard pass on Yelich.

          • I can’t imagine that we could get a 4+ war center fielder without giving up at least one top 100 prospect.

          • It is possible. Remember the Reds wanted quantity over quality and near-MLB ready over upside. Maybe the Marlins can be WOW’d by giving up our 7th, 8th, 12th and 15th prospects instead of say #3, #12 and #30?

          • Those are still three of the Reds top 10 prospects and all 3 could jump into the top 100 next year with solid years. Throw in a MLB outfielder as well like Duvall who is controlled and I think it’s a solid offer.

          • Only 100 can be in top 100, so this IF about those lower top 10 maybe all could be top 100 is kinda a major leap. If EVERYTHING went perfectly for them and the team that has them, sure, but we know that won’t happen. It can happen, but you’re thinking absolute worst case scenario (if we trade them).

  28. I love the idea of obtaining value at sale prices, no matter the age of the player.

    I’m a Sabermetrician to the core, but I’ll place a plug for veteran presence here. Why do some prospects make it and others flop? Is it intrinsic to their nature? Could outside forces be at play? If Cueto never met Mario Soto would he have blossomed? A veteran reliever or starter may generate 1.5 WAR on the field, but how much of their value cannot be captured relative to their impact on the rookies. Just because we can’t measure it doesn’t mean it’s not there.

    If you’ve ever traveled and played baseball semi pro or college or pro, you’ll know how much “the vets” teach “the kids” how to act, study, practice, play. If after getting swept the vets are out drinking after the game, the kids see that. If they’re sour, angry and headed home to rest, the kids follow suit.

    My point: of a strong veteran with good years left can be had at a discount on WAR, you take it no matter where you are in a rebuild.

    • I agree in principle, but there’s the rub. You can’t measure “veteran presence” but what threshold of WAR for that veteran are you willing to put up with? And part of the decision equation must also consider the opportunity cost of playing time or perhaps the roster spot for the vet vs. the young player who could benefit from MLB playing experience.

      Using the Reds as an example, it seems that younger pitchers may have benefitted from the tutelage of Bronson Arroyo and Dan Strailey. But Strailey produced positive WAR while Arroyo produced(?) negative WAR. So, while the Reds are within bounds to consider the value of veteran presence, it’s incumbent upon them not to “overpay” for that presence.

      • One way to attempt to measure “veteran presence” is what value did his previous teams see in him? In the case of Jared Hughes, Pittsburgh didn’t want to pay him $1 million last year. The Brewers didn’t want to pay him $2 million this year.

        • True. Maybe he accrued his veteran presence the past several years and is thus worth more, at least to the Reds?*

          *I realize that the contract the Reds gave him was a free agent contract versus the salaries Hughes received from the Pirates and Brewers prior to him being FA eligible, thus making this an apples to oranges comparison.

          It would explain in part why the Reds paid him $2.5 AAV (not including incentives or team option). I guess any experience is good experience.

        • Steve; The Pirates released Hughes from a 2.9 million dollar non guaranteed contract after spring training in 17′ and then the Brewers signed him as a free agent for 1 million for the 17′ season.

          • That’s right about the Pirates. I misread a report I’d read. Projections for Hughes’ arbitration award with the Brewers for 2018 was $2.2 million. Brewers non-tendered.

        • This is pretty sound logic and accordingly Hughes isn’t Derek jeter (the player, not the Marlins roster destroyer), which is not surprising.

          I love the idea of trading Duvall and BHam and bringing in a veteran OFer with FA or trade. If the market is undervaluing over 30 OFers then they could be a steal. 1B Yonder Alonso’s deal was very reasonable…

          • But Stream, wouldn’t keeping Duvall be better than bringing in just a guy who happens to be over 30 and an OFer? Duvey’s playing for pretty cheap, could be considered to have some veteran presence at this point and contributed 1.8 WAR last year. Unless you’re talking about a veteran that could provide substantially more WAR and “veterany” presence, and is being paid less than “market rate”, I just don’t see the case.

        • The value of veteran presence (mentoring and example setting, to be more specific) varies from team to team. The BRM probably didn’t need much. The 2018 Reds, with lots of young and inexperienced players, probably need more. It could be vaguely assessed by talking to the players, but probably can’t be measured. That’s OK; neither can love and happiness.

  29. With Wade Davis signing with the Rockies, I believe that Greg Holland is the only FA closer left. With Britton out with a bum knee it seems to make sense to move Iglesias.

    Potential suitors: Cubs, Indians, Snakes, Rangers, Blue Jays, Nats, Giants, Braves, Orioles, Dodgers, Red Sox. Some of these teams have closers, some are FA’s after 2018; this and the move toward creating a “stacked” bullpen should create demand for Iglesias.

    • Yep, but at this point it makes sense to wait till Holland is signed and THEN start asking for bids for Iglesias for teams suddenly panicked (irrationally so) about not having a real “closer” (worst term in baseball).

  30. Does anybody know around how much money Lorenzo Cain will demand in FA market? I’d just like to know what options the Reds have if they are, in fact, looking to replace Billy with a new face.

    Cain is on the older side of 30, but if I remember right the Reds have a while before any of our heralded OF/CF prospects are ready. Probably too expensive, but if FA’s $ value does see some decrease, maybe the Reds would have a chance if they want him.

    • MLBTR projected Cain at 4 years and $70MM. There was an article out that his agent is looking for 5 years and at least $80MM.
      Dexter Fowler signed a 5 year/$82.5MM deal and that is rumored to be Cain’s goal.

    • Cain also has draft pick compensation tied to him since he got a qualifying offer.

  31. Is now the time to “sell the farm” and go get Yelich? I still say yes. The old saying “while where young” applies; but needs to be changed to “while Votto’s young.”

    A trade for Yelich makes us about an 81-81 team and gives us one of the top offenses in the national league. The unknown is our starting rotation. It seems likely we will not be able to have a healthy Finnegan, Desclafani and good performing Bailey. If all pitchers where healthy I think there is a chance of competing in 18′ and definitely in 19′.

    I believe it would require a top 25 talent like Hunter Green to get Yelich along with a back end top 100 talent and a couple of other highly talented lottery tickets. So something like

    1. Hunter Greene
    2. Heliot Ramos
    3. Cody Reed
    4. Vladimir Gutierrez

    Would you do this? We’d have to give up Hamilton and maybe duvall to get ramos and a couple of other prospects.

    • One other possible way to trade for Yelich, is a three team swap for Iglesias. I think we could get two top 100 prospects maybe for Iglesias and save all of our top prospects.

    • It all depends on what the organization thinks of Greene. If they think he is a future ace and stopper, then you don’t trade that player under any circumstances.

      • While I agree, I have bad feelings about a 17 year old every making the 5 year gauntlet healthy. A TJ injury or something else almost seems more likely than not. The Reds rarely push or play a prospect that has proven himself, so I don’t see him making any real splash till no earlier than 2021 and probably 2022…thats a LONG time for a pitcher to be pitching and playing and keep his health.

        I’d rather trade the upside of Green before the near ready players. I might even want to keep Trammell over Greene due to the pitching being more injury prone.

        I loved that they drafted Greene, but part of me wanted a college pitcher like the one the Braves drafted. Could start at high A and maybe be in AA by year end.

        • I’d keep Greene. I believe that Greene’s skills are indicative of an “Ace,” which is better than many of the available college pitchers in the ’17 draft; and, much better than previous pitchers the Red’s have drafted #1. See Travieso and Howard.

          Why would a team that drafted a pitcher with Greene’s talent want to trade him away before he’s thrown 15 innings for them?

          If the Reds had selected a college pitcher over Greene, would you be inclined to trade him now for Yelich? After all he may be just as injury prone as Greene.

        • College pitchers were 17 once and survived the “5 year gauntlet” healthy. I don’t know what the average age is for a pitcher to need TJ surgery, but I believe they could even need it when they are in their late 20’s or 30’s.

          I believe that Greene is projected to make the big club in 2020.

          • Who made the projection that Greene would make the big club in 2020?

          • 2020 is probably not realistic. There are not many 20 year old starting pitchers and he hasn’t even pitched in A yet. He would either have to skip some levels or progress multiple levels in 18 and 19

          • It was 2021 on his MLB.com prospect card.

          • On when will Hunter Greene make it to the show: “If we are talking a true wild guess, late 2019 would be the ultimate wild guess. That would be an incredibly accelerated path, so it’s quite unlikely – he would be a just-turned 20-year-old at that point (he would celebrate his 20th in early August). A more “wild” guess that’s far more realistic would be late 2020, though if I had to put money down on an actual date, it would be some point in 2021.” ~Doug Gray on RLN.

          • Doofus, yes, but they’ve ALREADY made it through and are much closer to being MLB ready. You shave two or three seasons of risk off. No guarantees on the talent given our misses on both HS and college first rounders past 20 years.

            As I noted, I was glad they drafted Greene because the Reds of old (basically from 1980 through 2005 or so) would have drafted some easy signee that wasn’t considered a top 10 talent.

          • Michael E, what type of risk do you speak about, injury, talent, financial or other when you say: “You shave off 2 or 3 seasons of risk off?”

            Happy New Year!

          • Michael E, I think you’re referring to “talent” risk, where there is more certainty with college pitchers because: they’ve faced tougher competition and pitched more innings; thereby, either demonstrated they may or may not have the talent to pitch in the show.

            If so, I agree and prefer college pitchers, but when a high school pitcher comes along with Greene’s “stuff” you take him.

            Another consideration, is that clubs know what “stuff” a college pitcher like Kyle Wright possessed when he was Greene’s age. If his grades then were less than Greene’s at that point in time, then you most likely would select Greene.

            Nice talk.

  32. I’m onboard with both of the proposed 3-way trades. It seems to be fair for each team.

    This would definitely light up the Red’s fan base…something that hasn’t been done in a loooooooooong while.

  33. I don’t usually propose trades because I’m not all that interested in contract details… but trading Bailey to Texas for Choo is nearly equal money in terms of years left and similar risk. It wouldn’t solve our problem with too many outfielders… but it would probably solve lead-off. Also, I’m no scout, but Winker doesn’t look strong enough to my eyes to do without Duvall or Shebler’s power… I also think Hamilton needs to stay on the roster. Between injuries to Shebler, Hamilton, and Choo… I think you’d have enough playing time there. Lets see which pitchers stick AND give them an offense without holes. I wonder if a guy like winker could be traded for a reliable shortstop in the field.

    • I realize the ball was probably juiced this year but did you see the HR WInker hit against the Pirates to the last row of the right field seats? Obviously only one example but it looked like he had reasonable power potential to me.

      • Several of his HRs were no doubters and would have been out “juiced ball” or not. The kid may not hit 30 HRs a season but he’s got a swing that will get him at least 20 a year. That’ll do combined with his plate discipline and ability to get on base.

  34. The Reds are going to stand pat. Period….i like who we have, I think it is exciting having all the young pitching wondering who will be the next Roger Clemons, and who knows we may just have more than one. The bullpen is fine. The offense will be better, Billy will improve his stats and we have Winker and Senzel. The SS is Peraza so get used to it for now. Home grown is what built the Machine other than Morgan and Geronimo and that is not going to happen again so lets just route for the home team and hope for the best. Personally i think we will finish over 500. Think about this , 75, 76 and 90 and what we had then. 90 came out of nowhere so who is to say 2018 not in the cards.

    • You forgot Foster, he came from the Giants

    • I agree about the Reds standing pat and the pitching will improve but with Billy,Peraza,Tucker and the pitchers spot we will not score.Just can’t hide 4 hitters with no power and 3 of them that don’t get on base.We will play much closer games with the improved pitching so get ready to discuss one run losses and why Billy and Peraza are getting the most at bats

      • Tucker isn’t winning the Silver Slugger, but he isn’t a liability at the plate. Everyone has a pitcher hitting. That really only leaves two positions as a concern at the plate. Hamilton is not going to change and Peraza is probably more of the same, but he at least is young and has a chance to change. My preference would be to move Hamilton to the late inning replacement and acquire a CF

    • Why would you want to wonder if the Red’s have another steroid fueled pitcher?

      • Clemens was (or appeared to be) fairly clean the first half of his career. It was when, much like Bonds he started hitting his late prime that he suddenly started getting beefier and able to pitch even better.

        Bonds numbers were good up till early 30s, then around age 35 he got great…that just does not happen, proof enough for me.

    • From 1985 to 1988, the Reds won 84-89 games each year. There was a lot of talent on those Reds teams that was young and maturing. The Reds dipped to 75 wins in 1989 and rebounded to 91 wins in 1990. That was only 2-7 games better than 4 of their previous 5 seasons. The Reds did not come out of nowhere in 1990. They are not going to come out of nowhere in 2018 unless they make some bold trades while keeping their nucleus together. I say that as a fan for the past 57 years.

  35. I hear ya ppl on the cost of Lorenzo Cain… but this team was already willing to commit 80M for the JAP … they have money to spend… Cain could be a beast in CF he is designed for this ballpark I get goosebumps thinking about it… forget the financial nonesense, thise team hasnt made a splash in ages this one makes sense… then keep hamilton as a dynaomo #4 and deal him when other teams get desperate.

    • With respect, I never read where the Reds were ready to commit $80MM to Ohtani. Please correct me if I’m wrong. The posting fee was $20MM and the money paid directly to him would have been constrained by the “International bonus pool a team had available. I believe the Red’s had $300M or were basically tapped-out.

      • Yea I stand corrected, so this was another attempt at bargain hunting on their part and of course it failed, no chance of luring an Asian superstar to the midwest on a team that spends very little money to compete against their rivals. And sorry for calling Ohtani a JAP, I simply could not remember his name and was too lazy to look it up lol.

      • 300K not 300M

        • Thank you. You are correct ‘K’ signifies thousand, but so does ‘M.’ In addition, ‘MM’ would be million (1,000 times 1,000).

          Happy trails!

          • In my world (software development) M is Meg.
            So that is where I was coming from.
            Happy new year my friend.

    • Cain will be 32 years old in April. Why would the Reds want to commit $50MM to $60MM to a player that would be 35 to 36 years old in a few years?

      • I agree. A signing like that would be appropriate the year they’re ready to go for it and lack that one piece.

      • In a word, NO.
        A signing is not a signing if it is bad.

      • And Votto will 67? Is 2019 the year or not? Torii Hunter was still rolling along thru age 35-36. Who knows?

  36. I think the Reds got plenty of bats. I think they would be closer to winning with another starting pitcher, one that can get some definite innings. I’d like a guy with production like Lance Lynn, but probably not Lance Lynn as from what I understand, he is a fly ball out guy and those pitchers can have it tough playing in GABP.

    I’d like to see them extend Suarez out. That would be probably the most affordable quality player they could get and do. They get a couple extra years of him, I’d say that would be a big success.

    • It’s funny. There are some that think the offense was fine last year (and it was overall) and we need to focus on pitching. There are others that believe we have so much depth on the pitching side that needs to be sorted through first, that adding another starter would just muddy the waters of sorting and potentially delay a young pitcher’s progression.

      Personally, I think both sides could be right, and also could see where we need to add to both sides.

      On offense, we saw career years from Cozart, Gennett, Suarez, and Barnhart. Cozart is gone and we don’t have an in-house replacement that should be counted on to replace that production. It’s unlikely we’ll see a repeat performance from Gennett and it’s much more probable that he’ll regress toward his mean. Suarez and Barnhart should continue to produce and/or improve based on their age and trajectories. We will likely get a boost from Senzel at some point and there’s reason to be optimistic that Schebler can improve and find more consistency if healthy all season. Votto should continue to be Votto, Duvall and Hamilton have likely demonstrated who they are at this point. There are arguments to be made for taking a step forward and backwards at this point. A lot may depend on how much Winker and Senzel will play and produce. Also it will depend on if Peraza and Schebler can take any steps forward. We will still have production holes at SS and CF as far as offense is concerned.

      With pitching, many will cite the progress both Romano and Stephenson made toward the latter half of the season. Along with continued maturation from Castillo those three should make up a young and exciting trio. Add them to Bailey, who continued to find his stride as the season went on and he shook off some rust, and he should finally have a fully healthy offseason. As well as potential returns to health from Disco and/or Finnegan and there’s reason for optimism. Add in Mahle as further depth as he should continue to season in AAA, along with potential bounce back from Garrett (who knows how much the hip issue messed with his performance) and there’s a good amount of legitimate options. Adding a pitcher to that, outside of a legit ace (which I don’t believe Lynn qualifies), could be questionable and expensive when we have other more pressing needs in a season we won’t necessarily look to contend.

      Obviously a lot could go wrong in these scenarios. Injuries have a way of derailing the best laid plans. Maybe some of the young pitchers will experience more bumps along the way. Maybe some of the young position guys remain inconsistent and our offense takes a step back. Maybe Gennett and Duvall don’t repeat recent performances. Who knows?

      But the Reds have a few options to consider moving toward this year on offense and with the rotation, or they could just stand pat and see what we have and then respond accordingly. It’ll be interesting to see which direction, if any, they chose to pursue.

      • Very well said! There are many questions to be answered.
        1 Will the veteran pitchers bounce back?
        2 Will the young pitchers continue to improve?
        3 Will Winker and Senzel get regular playing time?
        4 Can the rotation and bullpen stay consistent for an entire season?

        I think some of these questions could be answered in spring training, while others will carry over into the season. Here’s my best guess at what’s to come.
        1 At least one of the veteran starters have a set-back, creating another opening for one of the young guys. (Mahle, Romano, Garrett or Stephenson)
        2 The Reds will add another outfielder, but probably not the one that most of us want. (Christian Yelich)
        3 Nick Senzel will not be brought up as quickly as he should be.
        4 The rotation will start a little shaky, but become more effective when Castillo and Mahle/Romano, etc. become solid major league pitchers.
        5 The Reds will be more competitive in 2018, but Bryan Price is let go at the completion of the season.

      • Excellent summation.

  37. If a three team trade would bring Yelich to Cincinnati as the anchor of the Reds next winning team, the front office should go for it. The Reds have a loaded farm system plus Hamilton and Duvall to make it happen. This would be similar to the acquisition of Joe Morgan prior to the 1972 season which put the finishing touch on a team that won three more pennants and two WS. The question is will the traditionally conservative Reds management and front office make the big move to get the Reds out of last place and a .500 ball club headed for contention.

    • I wish you were right TR – but this front office ain’t got the intestinal fortitude to do it . Will do nothing but give away bobbleheads and have fireworks night as usual. Pitiful –

  38. Okay…………….still not looking…………..

  39. Let’s finish 2017 looking at 2018 like this; things will get better, get worse or stay about the same.

  40. Here is some very positive news. Castillo is #1 on the MLB front page of young pitchers poised to impress.

    • Yes, really nice.
      Bet Price benches him

      • But we should not forget that Price is a former highly regarded pitching coach, although he has yet to attain the same status as a manager.

  41. Why don’t the owners sell the Reds. They make Cincinnati look bad every time they get a good ball player they get rid of them. I m a big fan and watch as many games as I can but lose interest because they lose. It’s as they are. trying to say I own a team but not interested in winning,just survive. So from my point of view tell owners to sell team to someone who will buy players and try to win

    • The first thing to understand is that this is a business, and the number one goal is to build value for the share holders. I don’t know how profitable the Reds are to Castellini or even how it compares to other teams, but I don’t think there are large numbers of buyers lined up to lose wealth just to make their favorite team win. It is possible that the owners are just in it for profits and don’t care about the on field product, however I would assume winning teams are making a larger profit. Also keep in mind many wanted the Marlins sold because the fans thought the ownership didn’t care about winning, they have been sold and the first thing to happen was trade away all the talent so be careful what you wish for

  42. All this is 100% true. Maybe Cincinnati just isn’t a good market for a team in today’s sports climate? Maybe the Reds simply can’t generate enough revenue to stay even “middle of the pack” as far as payroll for 2-3 years? Maybe any longer than that and they actually start losing money? I don’t know. MLB isn’t very transparent when it comes to figures but Forbes has run stories on it and usually the Reds are running right at the break-even point. I think the last story I saw, they were one of the few teams that lost money. There also may not be any local business owners that could afford to buy a major stake in the team. In other words, Castellini may not be able to sell his stake to a local ownership group because nobody around here has that much surplus wealth. Then, as you said, it’s possible any new ownership group might hate how the prior ownership and front-office have handled this rebuild and decide to start all over again.

  43. Very interesting read on some of the behind-the-scenes circumstances slowing the free agent market: https://sports.yahoo.com/heres-baseballs-economic-system-might-broken-224638354.html

Comments are closed.

About Tom Mitsoff

Tom Mitsoff is a lifelong Reds fan who grew up in the Dayton suburb of Beavercreek, Ohio. He lived a teenage life atypical of most his age by prioritizing following the Reds. At one point in the 1970s and early 1980s, Tom kept complete scorecards on more than 1,000 consecutive Reds games. Now that adult life has forced him to move on from his beloved Southwest Ohio, he follows the Reds daily through MLB.TV and other online media sources, including Redleg Nation.


2017 Reds, 2018 Reds


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