The constant offseason preoccupation for the Reds is, as our deposed leader “Chairman” Chad Dotson says, “hashbrown get the pitching.” (I am still feeling out ways to make fun of Doug, I’ll settle on something soon.) There are – as is widely acknowledged – a variety of ways to approach it, with some even suggesting that the Reds should move away form the traditional model and try openers and tandem pitchers or any variety of other options. The changing role of starting pitching in baseball got me wondering how feasible these ideas were, so I went looking at numbers.

(Note, I tend to view pitchers in groups of 30 or so, since there are 30 teams, so, for instance, the 30 best pitchers are all, in theory, number one starters.)

According to FanGraphs 334 pitchers started at least one game last year. That means, that the average major league team used 11 starting pitchers last year. The Reds used 10 – so they were about average by that one measure. Now, obviously, those 11 pitchers didn’t all carry the same workload. If we look at the 15th and 16th pitchers in each group of 30, we get a ballpark for how many innings each team needed from starters 1-11 (I am ranking pitchers only by innings pitched right now, not by WAR or ERA or any other qualitative stat).

  1. 195 IP
  2. 170
  3. 150
  4. 120
  5. 95
  6. 60
  7. 34
  8. 22
  9. 13
  10. 6
  11. 2

Now, those are some interesting numbers. It’s clear, for instance, that starters 8 or 9 through 11 are of the emergency/failed injury return/not ready yet variety. For the Reds, these innings were taken by Brandon Finnegan, Michael Lorenzen, and Robert Stephenson.

Further, while the Reds lack a 195 inning pitcher, their innings are otherwise distributed fairly normally when we look at the top seven pitchers by IP.

Luis Castillo – 169.2
Sal Romano – 145.2*
Matt Harvey – 128
Tyler Mahle – 112
Anthony DeSclafani – 115
Homer Bailey – 106.1
Cody Reed – 43
*some innings in relief

So, in terms of workload distribution, the Reds are not that far off the rest of the league. It is probably not a surprise to anyone that quality was the overall issue, but it’s important to establish that most teams used starters at more or less the same rate as the Reds.

Now here’s where it gets interesting. According to FanGraphs, starting pitchers generated 329 WAR last season (almost exactly 1 WAR for every one of the 334 pitchers who made a start). However, 43% of that total (141 WAR) was generated by the top-30 pitchers in terms of WAR. That is a HUGE number. And, as you might guess, most (but not all) of those pitchers were near the top of the league in innings pitched. Further, if we use 100 IP as a cutoff, there were about 75 starting pitchers (depending on if you use ERA, FIP, or xFIP) who gave their teams average or better performances (I’m using starter averages here – so relievers are excluded from the sample). That’s about 1.5 pitchers per team.

The Reds had no starters with 100 IP at or above league average in ERA or FIP. They did, however, have three (Castillo, Harvey, and Disco) who were above average according to xFIP, which normalizes HR rate (a valid thing to do for pitchers in GABP, but also a clear indicator that the Reds should go after ground ball pitchers). It is important to note that, despite his struggles, Castillo just missed the cutoff for ERA and FIP, meaning we can feel confident that he really was an “average” pitcher last year.

I’m now going to slide to a slightly different standard. Given the numbers we’ve looked at, it seems reasonable to assume that every major league team needs at least six players capable of handling a significant number of innings as a starting pitcher. Setting the threshold at 50 innings pitched as a starter gives us 179 pitchers, which is just about exactly right.

In that group of 179 pitchers, Luis Castillo ranks 75th in WAR. meaning he was – literally – the exact middle-of-the-road number three starter (aside: Mike Leake – who everyone always calls a 4-5 is really a 2-3 if we look at how starting pitcher value is actually distributed)..

What this has been a long way of saying is this: The Reds NEED an ace. Further, they probably need and ace who is in the top-15 rather than the top-30, but they simply have to have a pitcher in that top group. The top pitcher in terms of innings for each team takes about 22 percent of the workload, but the top pitcher in terms of WAR gets about 43 percent of the value among the starting staff. That is HUGE and it is the place where the Reds are most lacking.

And so, piggybacking off what Steve wrote the other day (ownership can and should spend), I would like to present a plan:

  1. Sign Dallas Keuchel. He is the perfect pitcher for GABP, a clear number one and, given that Corbin just set the market, he should be affordable for the Reds.
  2. Trade for or sign a Mike Leake-type pitcher. I mention Leake because We’re familiar with him and he’s likely undervalued and thus available without decimating the farm system.

That’s it. But it gives you a rotation like this:

Keuchel
Leake
Castillo
Disco
Mahle
Reed/Lorenzen/Romano

Is that a great rotation? No, it’s not. It is a very solid rotation, though and, with an offense that should be comfortably in the top-half of the league, it should be good enough to make the Reds generally competitive and one of those teams that could quickly become a contender if “the young guys figure it out.”

But the Reds absolutely cannot think that mid-rotation pitchers will get the job done because there is such a sharp drop in quality from the first group. In the modern game, the rotation is much more fluid overall, but the top starter on your team is VERY important and there are few players capable of filling that role. You can fudge and experiment at the bottom of your rotation, but not the top. If your team doesn’t have a high-end starter, it becomes very hard to compete.

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.

Join the conversation! 103 Comments

  1. Sold. Nicely explained. Hope the FO is working at it. That would be exactly what you said– a very solid rotation.

    At least they won’t be pitching the a division that carries Joey Votto, Rizzo, and now Goldschmidt. Wait. Well, at least if we sign a guy he won’t have to pitch against Votto.

    Reply
  2. Good article Jason. My favorite mid tier trade target is alex cobb. Sign to a modest contract for the next 3 seasons amd a prime contender for a bounce back type of year, cobb could be acquired without a huge prospect package. Senzel, Greene, or trammell could stay put. May cost them Jonathan india but it would be neccessary.

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  3. I like Dallas, not so much on Mike.
    When I look at this salary, and stats, 50 Mil, and a 4.36 ERA *(not sure of peripherals) seems a bit high.
    Now if Seattle eats a little bit of his salary, I might change my mind.
    Never the less, good analysis.

    Reply
  4. Nice write up
    Doubtful the Reds will get Keuchel based on the Corbin contract

    Reds should trade for Gray and possibly Leake.
    Gray does not fit the Ace criteria that you noted the Reds need, but, he might provide close to the same results.

    Lance Lynn is another option the Reds should consider. Lynn generated 2.1 WAR in the second half with the Yankees. 10K/9 and a 3.0 xFIP.
    Lynn had a 50% ground ball rate compared to 54% of Keuchel

    Castillo
    Gray
    Lynn
    Mahle
    DeSclafani

    Not sure Leake would be worth $16M/year. That SO rate is worrisome.

    Reply
    • Leake’s K-rate has always been like that. He’s a throwback. But he’s also had a long enough career now to know that he is “average” or better, which makes him a 2-3 starter for most teams in the current pitching era.

      Reply
      • It has been low over his career, but, it continues to drop.
        I don’t think Leake would be a bad option, just a big contract for someone that is not overly dominate.
        I would much rather have Leake than Harvey.

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        • It’s more accurate to say it fluctuates. His K-rate was basically the same in 16 and 17 and basically the same in 15 and 18.

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  5. How does Leak compare to Gray?

    Reply
  6. I really would like to see them try for Ray. Although I feel like he isn’t a ground ball pitcher.

    Reply
  7. Seems to be big disagreement in the Reds blogosphere… with Doug’s article at his other site arguing against Keuchel. I tend to agree Reds are best served getting best FA pitcher available rather than trading prospects. It will be risky, but I don’t think targeting mid-level free agents has a chance to make a difference.

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  8. Cobb and lance lynn both tanked thier first halfs…. if i remember correctly cobb even had to get sent to the minors. Leake really would fit in well, we could send a package that did not include the untouchables. Definitely should go after kutchel. Kikuchi should be a target as well. FA signings are dificult as you have to convince the person to come there, but shouldnt be a problem but a trade for Leake is not only viable but with SEA rebuilding they are going to dump him.

    Reply
    • I have been clamoring for Cobb since last off season.

      Cobb missed all of spring training because he signed late.

      His last ten games:
      3.50 ERA and 1.23 WHIP

      That’s in the AL East folks, with an infield defense worst than the Reds.

      Dude can pitch and he’s a different profile that the others.

      I would this the O’s would move him for a 10-20 prospect, and a flier – Finnegan?

      Otherwise Lynn would be our plan B.

      Kuechel – for $80+ million – NO BUENO.

      Reply
      • I am hearing alot of second half argument. Just need to see Cobb sustain, he is their long enough that he could be a mid season pick up. Like to finally see a realistic trade package though.

        Reply
  9. Stay away from Mike Leake. At this point of his career, he’s no better than Romano, Mahle, etc…. If we are looking for 2nd and 3rd tier starters (assuming we sign a Keuchel) Look for a Mike Fiers or Charlie Morton type.

    Reply
    • Again, you have to look at what players actually do. The 31st-60th best starters (essentially, the #2 starers in a 30-team league) were all good for about 2.5 WAR or so. That’s Mike Leake. The Reds don’t HAVE to get him (I was just giving an example), but he is in the 2-3 mold by the standards of the current era.

      Reply
      • Yep…and Romano and Mahle don’t come close to a 2.5 WAR. A guy like Leake is an upgrade.

        Reply
      • I think people lose sight of the fact that offense is back in style and I also think people tend to see an ERA and judge from there. I don’t like Leake at the money he’s due but he’s a #2 or #3 in my book.

        Reply
        • It is back in style, LWBlogger2, but as a contrarian, I wonder if some of that isn’t due to so many pitchers relying on velocity at the expense of craft. It seems to me that baseball goes through cycles: Pitching will be dominant for a while, then the mound gets lowered or hitters adjust, or both. Offense is dominant for awhile, then pitchers adjust. I also think that a really good hitter is a really good hitter regardless of trends, and the same for really good pitchers.

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  10. Good analysis and rundown. Options for an ‘ace’ are limited, so we have to live within those boundaries and not rely on as much ‘maybe he will become the ace’ stuff.

    If the deal is right, I’d welcome Leake back. I agree he’d slot in at #2-3 for us.

    I notice a conspicuous lack of one Homer Bailey on the list. He’s the red elephant in our room. Perhaps he could revitalize his worth to somebody in 2020 if he moves to a Swiss-army-knife bullpen role. Others have done it and, even at his salary cost, I can’t see him contributing to the rotation anymore. Time to let others shine (or fall flat).

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  11. Solid.

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  12. I am still not sold on Keuchel. I think he is a top tier pitcher, but i still think the cost would be prohibitive unless the owner wants to increase salaries by more than the $30 million he has mentioned. I do likeLeake and believe he is undervalued because he lacks a power pitch, but the truth is he knows how to pitch.

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  13. I agree signing or trading for a TOR arm, IMO a #2 or better is the right move this offseason. I wish Morton where available. Keuchal at a certain price is worth it. Same with trade possibilities: Ray, Kluber, Bauer, Wood, others?

    I’d be happy with bounceback candidates like: Gray, Stroman, Buchholz (injury bounceback), Santana.

    And with #4’s: Cahill, Anderson, Lynn and maybe Miley. I suppose Leake could fit here if the price is right.

    My current prediction, based on what’s happened so far (Eovaldi to the Red Sox, Reds’ didn’t want the risk It seems):

    1. Ray
    2. Castillo
    3. Gray
    4. Desclafani
    5. Reed, etc.

    Interesting trade by the Cards for one year of control of Goldschmidt. I wonder what the cost would be to trade for Alex Wood?

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  14. I like the overall idea. Is Keuchel a true “Ace” or number 1, though?

    I’m all for bringing in a solid pitcher via free agency this off season (Keuchel) but I am completely against trading top prospects for quality pitching. The timing just isn’t right.

    Bring in a guy like Keuchel to hold down the rotation and continue using this year to evaluate and see how guys like Disco, Mahle, Castillo, Reed, etc perform. If the Reds take a big step this year then maybe in 2020 we can look at adding another top of the rotation piece. Heck, hopefully they don’t even need it.

    Reply
    • He is one of the 30 best starting pitchers in MLB and probably the best pitcher still on the market. If the Reds can get deGrom, they should, but if wishes were horses…

      Reply
      • It seems with the Cano trade, and the scuttlebutt on realmuto, I doubt that the Mets will trade Thror.
        Kluber, will be pricey, but a nice pickup.
        Sign Dallas and Trade for Kluber. (note, I would not go more then 4/84 on Dallas)

        Reply
  15. Eovaldi to Red Sox. If the Reds want a starter like Keuchel, better step up now. Doubt he will still be FA by the end of weekend.

    Reply
    • Eovaldi gets 4 years / $67.5M. Almost a $17M AAV. Keuchel will fall almost right in the middle of Corbin’s $140M and Eovaldi’s $67.5M. The middle point on that will be $103.7M, almost the same as one Homer Bailey. That seems too ominous.

      Reply
  16. Jason, are you saying that using “openers” and shorter stints (like the Rays did last year) to fill out the back end of a rotation isn’t feasible?

    Reply
    • No. I’m saying that you have to have one or two true, good starters at the front of your rotation if you want to be a competitive team.

      Reply
      • I will go a step farther, The use of openers or a bullpen game, for a Non injured roster, is a clear sign that you cannot compete. The idea of quality Starting Pitching is individuals who can actually pitch against tough competition, not ones that require tricks to get around pitching to individuals. The Farm system is expected to create this. If a pitcher is not able to pitch at that level, and its not because they are boneheaded (Bobby Steve), then they should be in the bullpen. It is only if injuries shred the original Starting Rotation, that one should resort to openers or bullpen games. That is why Kutchel, who is most defiantly a starter, and Leake who can most certainly start, should be targets for the Reds.

        Reply
        • ^^^This times 1000 Matt^^^ Using openers is a fancy way of saying your starter is not good enough to go deep into games.

          Reply
          • Tampa used “Starters”, and although they did not get into playoffs (had RedSox and Yanks ahead of them), still had 90-72 record. Sometimes you figure out how to use what you got.

        • Tampa’s success last season could probably be more attributed to Blake Snell’s absolute dominance of the AL. In fact they had a relatively stable rotation until they shipped Archer to the Pirates ( may he ever suck until they ship him again). In addition, to set themselves up for the long term the Rays, never ones to have money in the first place, artificially lowered their Payroll ( artificially, indicating that they are more interested in lowering payroll rather then fielding a competitive team) and got exceptionally good results. The broken watch is only right twice a day.

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  17. Cards grab Goldy
    The Brewers are being linked to both Bumgardner and Sonny Gray.
    Cubbies being linked to Bryce Harper.

    Perhaps this is not going to be the Reds’ year after all. Pretty impossible to bridge such a huge gap when the teams ahead of you are outperforming you in the off season as well.

    Heck, i would say we have to:
    1. outbid them all for CF Harper
    2. sign C Grandal
    3. sign Keuchel
    4. trade for Leake/Gray
    5. resign Harvey

    AND hope that Goldy and whoever the rest of the division sign completely Bomb

    Honestly, we’ve ranked for so long it this would be the only way to even attempt to make up for it in just a few months time.

    Reply
    • Yep. The rest of the division is leaving the Reds in the dust.

      There is improved decision making, but, the Reds are a ways behind. At least they finally made a decision on Hamilton, for now.

      As you noted, the Reds have not made a move to improve to the level of the other teams in the division. Unfortunately, the other teams in the division are doing everything they can to improve.

      The Reds have one or two decent prospects and have refused to play them to this point.

      Reply
      • “Unfortunately, the other teams in the division are doing everything they can to improve …”

        Are they? If memory serves, the only substantial transaction has been the Cards trading for a year of Goldschmidt. That leaves the Cubs, Brewers, and the Pirates having done what? The Reds shouldn’t be judged on the first few weeks of free agency; for that matter, what have the Yankees done?

        Patience. There are moves that can and will be made in the weeks ahead.

        Keuchel. Harvey. And perhaps another reliever. Unfortunately, I think that Pollock is pushing for top dollar, and will price himself out of the Reds budget. For a guy who can’t stay healthy, that may be a blessing in disguise.

        Reply
  18. Just saw the Eovaldi contract deal (It’s a four-year, $67.5MM contract, according to MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand) … I think this does help set the market for Keuchel and, perhaps, we still have a shot. We’re talking about a younger pitcher signing with a team already pretty stacked to contend for another title. We have to realize there will be an adjustment to compensate for the Reds being the Reds in an equally difficult division.

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  19. I never see Miley in anyones listings. I think with his success with DJ last year he ahould be number one on our list.

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  20. Reds didnt even look into Eovaldi. However it was safe to assume that the soxs had the inside route to that one. I would say kutchel is signed by monday, and the reds have one trade done by next friday.

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  21. If the Reds settle for a Gio Gonzalez, Wade Miley or Lance Lynn as their main pitching moves, it’s going to be a long season. Gio walks way too many batters and that will be his downfall at GABP. As for Wade and Lynn I’ll pass. Pay the money for an ace. Signing projects and #4, #5 starters is not a move in the right direction.

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  22. Great article. I have been a reds fan for 43 years and I have not gained confidence in our new leader, however I like the new manager hire and I am trying to have faith that they will go after a top 15 pitcher and one or two 2nd level pitchers to help us become more competitive. I think this also gives out younger talent more time to develop in the minors or the bullpen. GO REDLEGS…BIG RED MACHINE 2019.

    Reply
  23. An astute analysis with straightforward reasoning and a clear conclusion. Somebody has to pitch every inning, and if you don’t have an ace to cover 200 of those very effectively, you’re just not in playoff contention. If Keuchel is the best available free agent starter AND his ground ball profile fits GABP, the Reds really do need to make that happen. Trade for Sonny Gray or Mike Leake but keep the top five prospects, then sign a Lance Lynn type, and there’s your six pitchers: Keuchel, Gray, Lynn, Castillo, Disco and Reed or Mahle.

    Nice assessment Jason. Here’s hoping the next Reds news is about adding great pitching and not just jettisoning dead offensive weight.

    Reply
  24. Leake has a full no-trade clause.

    On top of that, his father suffered a fall and subsequent serious injury (maybe in a wheelchair?), and was living somewhere on/near West Coast.

    Leake was traded to Seattle after injury. May very well not be in his interest to leave Pacific NW.

    Cardinals are the team I jealously admire/love to hate, but the organization does seem to have compassioni, trading Leake. And, trading Piscotty to A’s so he could be with his mom before she passed away.

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  25. If only Homer could have given us 175 solid innings last season and in the season to come. Not great innings, just solid. It would have made such a difference. On top of everything else, the Reds haven’t had much luck.

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  26. Good article Jason. I agree with you on Kuechel. Go for it! How about Scooter and a prospect of ours between 10 and 15. Seattle to pony up enough cash to make the deal revenue neutral for the first year, as Scooter has only one year left on his contract.

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  27. I’d be interested to see the numbers for only the second half of the year, because Castillo was better than average for more than half the year. I think it is very reasonable that Castillo could be the #1 pitcher that the reds need.

    Spend the money on another outfield bat and 2 of Harvey, Miley, and Gonzalez. 2 guys that you know will keep you in games. Build a bonafide offense and then trade for a rental ace if you need to at the deadline if theyre competitive. If Castillo doesn’t pan out, then look to acquire a #1 next offseason which is when the window really opens anyway.

    Reply
    • I think it’s reasonable to think Castillo can be a #2. I think we need more data before we can open door #1, so to speak.

      Reply
  28. I remain a Dallas fan as i have been.

    My take on Dallas is this: at best he’s an Ace for 2-3 more years then more of #2 thereafter.

    At worst his arm falls off.

    But the real most likely worst case scenario is that he ends up a Bronson Arroyo type. Gets outs, eats innings, steady.

    Now, no one would pay $30 million for the last 4-5 years of Bronson, but they weren’t worth zero. If this worst case scenario played out, we’d all belly moan about Dallas being overpaid, but not excruciatingly so.

    This is why I love Dallas. His ceiling is Ace. His most likely floor (imho) is Bronson in his late prime.

    Say Santillan is the next Cueto. Fine. So our #2 makes 29.5 million more than our Ace. Who cares. Let’s get after it.

    Reply
    • I just went and checked. Bronson generated approximately $100 million (12.5 WAR) of value from his age 31 to age 36 seasons.

      If Dallas does that on a $130 million deal we’ll all be upset. But Bob won’t be living in van down by river because of it either.

      Reply
  29. Jon Heyman tweeted the Reds are pursuing Dallas Kuechel and AJ Pollack.

    Reply
    • Pollock should be affordable because he has been so injury-prone — played more than 113 games only twice in seven seasons. He has a career WAR of 20, or an average of 2.85 per year.

      Reply
      • That’s an upgrade of about 2.85 WAR in center field from 2018 to 2019.

        😉

        Reply
        • Kevin Kiermaier brings averaged 3.18 WAR in CF from 2014-2018.

          Reply
          • Marwin Gonzalez makes a better FA signing to me than Pollock. Capable of playing all OF and IF positions; switch-hitter; 30 y.o.; averaged 129 games played the last 5 years as a super-sub, a player the Reds have never had on their rosters.

            The Reds must stop being dependent upon cheap players to fortify the bench. Quality depth is needed on the bench if they really want to be a contender.

          • Marwin Gonzalez has exactly THREE innings played in CF out of 5,837 innings in his MLB career. He’s NOT capable of manning CF.

            Not a bad player, but not the answer for the Reds in CF.

          • My observation is that signing Marwin Gonzalez is a better use of FA dollars than signing Pollock, not that Gonzalez is the answer in CF. Please see the first sentence in my post.

      • From 2013 to 2018 Pollock played in an average of 101 games per season. That’s less than 2/3rd of his team’s games per year. Given his proven inability to stay on the field and that he will be 31 years old for the 2019 season, I say the Reds should find another centerfielder to begin this season.

        It could be possible that someone like Friedl, Trammell or Siri may be in CF later in the 2019 season.

        The Reds should use the money wisely, not in desperation.

        Why not seek Kevin Kiermaier in trade? He’s signed for 4 more years to 2022 for $10.5MM per year. He’s averaged 110 games played the last 5 years.

        KK is 3 years younger than Pollock. He’s a defensive stud. He makes the most money of any present Ray. I’m confident the Rays will seek to deal him this offseason or in July.

        Why should the Reds not seek trade for him and possibly others? Let’s see a Reds blockbuster. When was the last one: 1995, 1972?

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    • I just saw that…

      The question if the Reds get Kuechel as a free agent then is:

      Do they make a trade for another really good starting pitcher (Kluber) or are they satisfied until 2020?

      Im still in the camp that says get Kuechel and continue to evaluate what you have in 2019 with the young pitchers then make a move in 2020 if you are close.

      Reply
      • Totally agree. Just make sure every move that upgrades 2019…..also upgrades 2020/21 and doesn’t chip away at 22/23.

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    • Reds would lose their 3rd highest drat pick if they sign Pollock. He turned down QO.

      Reply
      • Not if they sign Keuchel. If they sign Keuchel AND Pollock the Reds would lose their third and fourth highest draft picks.

        In for a penny, in for a pound.

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  30. I agree with your thesis … Reds need an ace. However, if you really want to compete I don’t think Keuchel is the right #1 to go after as his 2.6 WAR would be towards the bottom of the top 30 starters. Likewise, Leake earned a 1.5 WAR last year, realistically he’s a solid #3, not a #2.

    This year, I think the top available pitchers are going to be acquired by trade. Greinke will cost dollars and any of the top Cleveland pitchers will cost a top prospect or two. Those pitchers pitchers make a competitive at top of the rotation. Keuchel and Leake make management look like they are trying, but don’t move the needle enough to push the Reds to the top of the very competitive NL Central and they would tie up lots of financial resources.

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  31. I don’t like the Pollock chase. He will want 3 years and is fragile. By then we have to see what we have in our system. If Keuchel is at top of the board make a big run at him. Everyone has some flaws.
    Leake won’t leave the West Coast because of family situation.

    Of course… I am nuts… but think Bailey still has something in the tank. Takes time to come back from what he has gone thru. Am I wrong in thinking his peripherals were better than raw numbers? Think Mr. Mancuso covered that.

    Senzel, Trammell, Greene Santillian and young pitchers with a new voice. That is the key to me. Not going to win the division next year but a great deal of the improvement has to come from within up til one big move puts us in the thick of it.

    If a ground ball pitcher is what you want… time to send Scooter somewhere. He is in the way.

    Reply
    • I beleive you misspelled Peraza. A 4 War player is never in the way of an injury prone prospect, i dont care if scooter had one day remaining on his contract. If you are moving scooter you move him for a contract that is 2/3rds of goldys.
      Senzel needs to be up as soon as the extra year of control is confirmed. Utilize him as a super UT. Allow him to learn different positions. Trade peraza and place him at short.
      If Leake isnt leaving SEA due to his family, thats different and understandable. From a baseball standpoint only…he is not long for seatle and would fit in the Reds rotation. Cleveland having dumped gomes already, probebly is going to only trade one of their pitchers as they are trying to maintain dominance in a division the reds wish they could be in.
      By the end of the season last year castillo was dominent, but in the begining he was SH$#%$ing bricks. Once he has demonstrated that is behind him we can start talking about #1 or 2 status.
      This is one problem money may help fix.

      Reply
    • If the Reds sign Pollack for the OF, what is the plan for Senzel?

      I guess he could be a super utility player, but, is that optimal for a young player?

      Maybe just put Senzel at 2B and have Gennett be the utility player.

      Reply
    • Wizeman. yeah, I’m gonna agree with you that you’re kinda nuts. Bailey hasn’t had anything in the tank for half of a decade. Maybe water.

      Homer’s last 5 years of ERA+: 99, 73, 65, 70, 69. He had an ERA+ of 69 last year, where a rating of 100 is average. Yes, he didn’t pitch much in 2015 and 2016, but he’s years away from his glory years of 2012 and 2013.

      If he can somehow claw his way back to mediocrity this spring, then Bailey might be useful for one last year. However, I’m not counting on it.

      Reply
  32. My biggest thing with Keuchel as our ace is that he was the number 3 on a playoff team. Would he be the ace of the reds, absolutely, but as a fan, that shouldn’t be good enough. Let him be our number 2 and trade for a true ace if we think we can be competitive this year. If not, why not try to let the young guys figure it out? All a Lynn type does is waste money and block somone from maybe finally figuring it out with the new pitching coach. I’d rather have another 70 win season with developing young players than I would a 75 win season watching some retread pitch making millions.

    Reply
  33. I wouldn’t complain if we signed Keuchel but actually, I think we should make a run at one or even two of Cleveland’s starters. I’d have no problem with Leake returning. He knows GABP. Have to make a splash though. It’s time.

    Reply
    • Problem with them is I believe that they only have 1 year left (2 of the 3 I think). I don’t want to move prospects for 1 year of a pitcher. If I’m giving up guys then I want ideally more than 2 years of control and at minimum 2 years of control.

      Reply
  34. “The second day I walked into the room and Donnie Ecker and J.R. House were sitting there on their laptops grilling Michael Shatz, the manager of baseball analytics. These guys are way into all of that. It’s going to be really, really interesting.” ~C. Trent Rosecrans at Redsfest

    Reply
  35. I think the Reds are going to go all in and sign Keuchel.
    My 2nd signing would be Harvey.I liked him all year and see a much higher upside than most,maybe all,the others mentioned.I would hold off making any trades for prospects this off season.Wait til deadline,if were competitive make a move,or hold til next off season and go full speed ahead and move prospects then.
    I am a believer that we are not that far away from a playoff spot. I can see being a genuine contender if we do things right.With bham gone , a blessing in my mind,our 8 man lineup with Senzel in cf or sign a pollack or cutch for center we can certainly hold our own offensively.

    Reply
    • I personally loved Harvey and think he has a couple 2-3 WAR seasons left in that arm.

      I’m even more excited to get Bells and Johnson’s take on it— and it sounded like a demand Bell made when he was hired was he wanted to participate in that stuff. Maybe they don’t see Harvey as a guy they can sprinkle some pixie dust on. I can’t see why not. But more so than last 3 years, if they say “we’ll take Cody Reed instead” — I’ll buy it coming from them.

      Reply
    • JJ, I agree on both pitchers.

      This is a cut and paste from my RML post a couple of days ago:

      I don’t think that Keuchel hit the age wall at 30 years old last year (he’ll be 31 on 1/1). Pitchers tend to age better than many position players. Taking a look at the last 5 years:

      2014: 200.0 IP
      2015: 232.0 IP (led the league)
      2016: 168.0 IP
      2017: 145.2 IP
      2018: 204.2 IP

      Looking at ERA+, where 100 is average:

      2014: 132
      2015: 157
      2016: 86
      2017: 141
      2018: 108

      When was the last time the Reds had an ERA+ of over 130?

      The Reds starting rotation last year:

      Castillo 169.2 IP with a ERA+ of 98
      Romano 145.2, 79
      Harvey (combined ’18 stats) 155, 83
      Disco 115, 85
      Mahle 112, 84
      Homer 106.1, 69 (last 5 years of ERA+: 99, 73, 65, 70, 69)

      You may have to overpay (that is what paying for some of the better players in free agency is all about), but with those 2018 Reds pitching results (as well as 2017, 2016, etc.), how can you not seriously consider it? Keep Senzel, Greene, Trammel etal, sign Dallas (as well as Harvey), and you start to have some semblance of a rotation. Keuchel is a groundball pitcher, who is still fairly young, that doesn’t give up the longball (0.9/9 career HR rate). He’s a very nice fit in GABP and in the Reds rotation.

      Reply
  36. “There’s a collaborative effort between the members of the staff. Ecker, the assistant hitting coach, was so excited about talking to and working with Johnson, just so he can learn more about pitching.” ~ C. Trent

    Reply
  37. Carrasco is out, indians just signed him to an extension.

    Reply
  38. If they are going after AJ Pollock, then it would make sense to trade with the Yankees, with Gennett and Sonny Gray being the centerpieces. The Yankees have made it clear that they are trading Gray, which has driven down his value, and the Reds could use Senzel at second and Pollock in center.

    Gray and Gennett each have one year left, with arbitration pending, and will make similar amounts next year.

    You would think Gray would want a year to work with Derek Johnson.

    Reply
    • Scooter for Gray, a 10-20 prospect and a 20-30 prospect from the yankees. If they arent up for it they need to hang up. If pollack is signed we will need to make up for the loss of QO pick.

      Reply
      • No way the Yankees would give up that much for Gennett.

        The Reds should be making moves to get playing time for one of their top prospects.

        Reply
        • Not at the expense of a top performer. Perazza on the other hand, his defense would be better…..elsewhere. in addition CF is open. The opertunities for Senzel are already avalible.

          Reply
        • The MFYs need a left-handed hitting middle infielder until Gregorius gets back, which may be until August. Gennett (and David Murphy) fit the bill at second, with Torres sliding to shortstop. The salaries of Gray and Gennett would pretty much be a wash.

          Gray has one year of control left, so he doesn’t really command a lot of value, plus everybody knows that Cashman has to trade him.

          Reply
          • Hence the prospects, as gennett is a quality performer at 2B, gray is at his lowest value ever. We say we need the prospects if gray doesnt improve . If the (MF)Y (took me a min to get that, but i like it) dont like it, then dont make the trade. Gray for Gennett straight up is a steal for the Yankees.

  39. Cleveland has locked down Carlos Carrasco through 2022 on very team friendly terms. We may be about to see what they will do with Kluber or Bauer

    Reply
  40. All this talk about rotation slots has me thinking I need to run the SP rotation slot definitions for last season. I haven’t ran them since 2014.

    https://redlegnation.com/2014/10/23/sp-rotation-slot-definitions/

    Based on the distributions and the difference in ERA from that season to last, I’d expect the numbers to come out something like the following:

    ERA Rotation Slot Guess for 2018

    NL #1 < 3.17 NL #2 3.17 3.87 NL #3 3.88 4.12 NL #4 4.13 4.73 NL #5 > 4.73

    Hopefully I can find the time to run the 2018 numbers this weekend and post it up this weekend. I’ve used XERA in the past, maybe I’ll look at using FIP instead if possible.

    Reply
  41. I saw the picture of Keuchel and I read this headline as:
    “Yes, Virginia, the Reds have an Ace”
    After the initial shock — I realized I have misread it.

    The writers are just teasing with all these pictures of Keuchel / Bauer / Kluber etc.
    You should just put up a grey background or a cartoon image of an unidentified pitcher, until we know something. You guys keep getting me all excited — then comes the let down. LOL

    Reply
  42. Trade Rumors is talking about AJ Pollock???

    Reply
  43. AJ Pollock – what was his ERA last year ?

    Reply
  44. If not AJ Pollock, then I really like the idea over at Red Reporter to make LA Dodgers OF/INF Chris Taylor a main trade target. 3 years left and looks to get $3.2 in 1st year of arbitration. Very versatile.
    With Verdugo now in LA’s OF mix, it makes a lot of sense. They don’t really have a spot for him. Most of Taylor’s time in LA has been in CF. In 2018 his offense was down a little from 2017,and his K% went up by 4% to 29%. That gives some pause. He is 28 and Pollock 31. Taylor has played most of the last two seasons with no DL stints. He’d probably also be a better backup SS than Blandino too.

    Reply
  45. How about trying to get Wade Miley? Pollock would be a horrible decision. Always hurt and he can’t pitch. All money should be spent on pitchers. A couple of starters and a couple more relievers.

    Reply
  46. Besides Greene what else would it take to get Kluber? Would Cleveland have interest in Hunter being he is still a few years away from majors. He may never make it up you never know with pitchers.

    Reply
    • From what I’ve read, it appears the Indians need relief help and outfield help. I could see them wanting Iglesias and possibly Winker (if not Senzel).

      Reply
  47. I posted a similar reply on Twitter to a Redleg Nation post last night, but here it is again. The SP free agent market appears that it will be much stronger following the 2019 season. Among the starters available will be: Verlander, Hamels, Porcello, Ryu, Chacin, Bumgarner, Sale, Roark, Cole, Wacha, Wheeler, and Wood. Obviously, some will be signed to extensions by their current teams before next winter or will accept a qualifying offer. If the Reds are serious about spending money to upgrade their rotation, they may want to save some money for a big contract next winter.

    Reply
    • Jvieth1991, good list…. lets go through it.

      TOP Tier- Cinci should go after if still available- Chris Sale – as reasoning- He is Chris Sale- Problem- Price tag way high even for expanding payrolls.
      Verlander- always loved him- Already got his WS though- will be Very Old- may not be elite anymore, just very good. $ also realtivly high.
      Porcello- actually makes the most sense- problem is that he makes sense for boston too and will Probably extend.
      Cole- knows the stadiums from his time with the pirates- problem is he wont see them in the Yankees uniform that he will be wearing.

      Next Tier- Nice but huge ??
      Bumgarner- numbers are already trending in the wrong direction, plus I really don’t like individuals who get injured in non baseball related activities.
      Ryu- Injury risk yes- also at this point may want to go back to Korea

      3rd Tier – kinda no

      Hamels- not that he is coming anyway. dude was left for dead after the move to the Rangers, This years run with the Cubs will tell us if he was legit or if the idea of being on a winning team got his adrenaline up.
      Wood- don’t let the results fool you, his elbow is about to blow.
      Wacha- the former cardinal stalwart signing with the Reds- it wont happen he will just keep pitching against us as he extends to be the wainwright of the 20’s

      Last Teir – Hell no
      Roark- he better sign for next to nothing, will be 34 when he enters FA
      Chacin- why is it that an individual pitches relatively well on a team whose Starting Rotation is garbage suddenly looked at as a future ace.
      Wheeler- Zack Wheeler? the same Zack Wheeler that couldn’t beat Matt Harvey out of a starting spot.

      point is that, extensions aside, it will look a lot like this year- Alot of big names, that will spend the last weeks of November and the first weeks of December kind of replicating what we have this year. The problem is if we dont make a move/ or 3 this year then we will be truly up against the wall.

      Reply
  48. “Chacin- why is it that an individual pitches relatively well on a team whose Starting Rotation is garbage suddenly looked at as a future ace.”

    Keuchel
    2017 – 146 IP, 7.72 K/9, .93 HR/9, xFIP 3.32 WAR 2.4
    2018 – 205 IP, 6.73 K/9, .79 HR/9, xFIP 3.84 WAR 3.6

    Chacin
    2017 – 180 IP, 7.64 K/9, .95 HR/9, xFIP 4.54 WAR 2.4
    2018 – 193 IP, 7.29 K/9, .84 HR/9, xFIP 4.47 WAR 2.6

    Chacin went from San Diego (extreme pitcher park) in 2017 to Milwaukee in 2018 (extreme hitter park)

    Both Age 31 seasons in 2019. Keuchel getting 20M+ likely, Chacin making 6M

    “NO, Virginia…overpaying old projected 3-win pitchers for 4-5 years, and trying to trade for guys with a full no-trade clause (Leake) are probably not the best course of action.”

    Actually, feels very lazy and very hot-take like as an overall concept, even if those guys want to play in Cincinnati.

    Reply
  49. The reds should sign john jay for centerfield

    Reply

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About Jason Linden

Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.

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