Some prefer cake. I’m a pie guy. You can have your chocolate layer, cheese, even fruit cake. Give me pie every time.

Lately, I’ve been thinking about our rebuilding preferences. And I’ve been thinking about how we arrive at them. Everyone from the national media on down weighs in on what is going on at the offices of the ballpark sitting snug against the Ohio River. I’m not talking here about the Nick Senzel service time conundrum—I’m contemplating more far-reaching matters.

I’m ruminating on the near miss of J.T. Realmuto and what that tells us about how the new regime values such things as youth, upside and future cost-control. We don’t hear much lately about long-range plans because of the urgency to get better right now. Yet, everything the Reds do now will have impact years down the road. And ultimately on how long the next window remains open.

Are they searching for mediocrity? To get to that .500 level. I think if you’re a Cincinnati Reds fan at this point, I’ll take that.”

That comment by a national TV guy sums up where many outside area code 513 think the Reds are heading—down to a cul de sac on Mediocrity Place, thrust yet again into the shadow of Cub and Cardinal mansions up the street. Then, there was this from Scott Braun at MLB Network:

Are they [the Reds] disrupting the process, though. Because other teams have had this model, the Washington Nationals, Chicago Cubs, Houston Astros and it takes six-ish years and they’re not there yet. Is that a problem?

Make no mistake, the cost has already been real. Yes, Jeter Downs was blocked. And yes, Josiah Gray was a long way from a major league ballpark. Yes, if Alex Wood and Yasiel Puig play well enough to earn and turn down the qualifying offers the Reds would offer, those prospects might be replenished. Still, depth was surrendered. And if Senzel were to somehow stick in centerfield and Scooter Gennett were to be traded or let go at the end of the season, suddenly Downs isn’t so blocked. But these moves were necessary to push this rebuild forward.

I get it. For those of you who are tired of the losing, who want relevancy, some good old Charlie Sheen “winning,” making another big move would have been icing on this cake. The Reds have been bleeding season ticket sales. They’ve been watching the walk-up window dwindle. All of us at the Twitter water cooler falling back on Big Red Machine reminisces in lieu of future dreaming. With the infusion of talent from Chavez Ravine and a reborn Sonny Gray, the hope is that those ticket lines turn into something resembling Black Friday at Best Buy and the dreaming is all sugar plums and Wild Card in August.

Up until recently, the clamoring came in the form of Dallas Keuchel or Corey Kluber. One requires only money. The other—only the Reds’ future. As a charter member of the You Can’t Have Too Much Pitching Club, a part of me would love to see the bearded Keuchel swapping one throwback uniform for another every home start, a lion king atop the infield hill. As of today, Keuchel and his agent remain at sea. They’re still waiting for a tugboat of an offer to pull them to shore. With the acquisition and extension of Sonny Gray, rumors of suspect medical records and the dearth of available center fielders, the Reds pivoted in a surprising direction; and as a GM’s eyes are made to look, the collective gaze of the front office turned to Jacob Tyler Realmuto.

.  .  .

Like an egg slipping off a plate, conjecture sits precariously on rumor’s tongue, ready to drop as truth into the conversation with all the stealth of the evening sun surreptitiously dropping over the horizon. So, it was no surprise to me a rival executive would plant seeds of discontent into a trade discussion involving Jonathan India. As Ken Rosenthal reported in The Athletic:

“A rival executive notes India was a bit of a disappointment in his professional debut, adding the Reds have been quietly shopping him all offseason.

When asked what ‘quietly shopping’ meant, the exec said the Reds started the offseason saying they were willing to move prospects. When rival clubs inquired, the Reds would steer the conversation to India… A top-five college selection normally is expected to dominate Low A, but India batted a mere .229 with a .735 OPS in 112 plate appearances in the Midwest League, perhaps giving the Reds pause.

‘For him to be available all winter is telling,’ the rival exec said.”

The only thing that is “telling” about Jonathan India is that he was the Reds’ No. 1 pick in the 2018 draft. The Reds surely wouldn’t have drafted him if they could so easily be soured by 112 plate appearances. While a possible trade of the Reds’ newest first round pick and then some for the new, shiny catcher filled some with excitement, it filled me with angst.

.  .  .

The ringing in Derek Jeter’s ears, once solely the echoes of adoring fans reflected off the concrete edifice of Yankee Stadium, were replaced by the kind of jeers unaccustomed to the beloved Numbah Two. You only need to rewind back to December of 2017 to hear the sound of writers accusing the Marlins of ripping up their team “by the roots to trade Stanton,” while receiving “only two underwhelming prospects in return.” After Jeter shipped Christian Yelich to the Milwaukee Brewers for Lewis Brinson and some backup singers, the word most closely associated with Jeter was the word “fleeced.”

All of which must have made things tough for Dick Williams and company. The Marlin’s CEO, who surely had the words of an iconic Who song rattling around in his head, could not afford to appear to be taken to the woodshed a third time, not with his catcher representing the last pearl on a once coveted strand, hence the reason Realmuto languished in Miami so late in the off-season:  they won’t get fooled again.

Dick Williams, unwilling to have the word “fleeced” stuck to him like some humid August Ohio valley afternoon, stood fast. And now, according to Michael Baumann at The Ringer, the word “fleeced” has taken up residence inside the GM’s office in Citizens Bank Park.

Seeing a trade like this, in which a fringe contender pays through the nose for a marginal upgrade, in which one side so entirely fleeces the other, sends a tingle of nostalgia down my spine.”

You don’t have to be Branch Rickey to understand why the Reds had their fingers in every pie since the winter meetings commenced. But Nick Senzel and Taylor Trammell were off the table. That left Jonathan India’s name on everyone’s lips. We can now see what Philadelphia gave up and guess what “the ask” was for the Reds. With Sixto Sanchez coming in ranked at #23 by Baseball Prospectus, the closest available Red was India at #35. Adding Tony Santillan or worse, Hunter Greene, would have given Miami the high-ceiling pitching prospect they so obviously coveted in Sanchez. Everyday catcher Barnhart and one-time top 100 prospect Jorge Alfaro matching up reasonably well on that side of the deal. That Philadelphia offered more in the form of another marginal left-handed pitching prospect, plus $250,000 in international bonus dollar bills, explains why the Reds held off taking the hook long enough for the Phillies to swim away with Realmuto.

.  .  .

With Buster Posey 32-years old and Yadier Molina a tough old bird approaching 37, Realmuto has become a darling of major league baseball, his value inflated by the dearth of receivers. Steamer projects Realmuto for 3.9 WAR in 2019. ZiPS is in the same ballpark. Steamer and ZiPS have Barnhart at 2.0 and 2.4, respectively. Talk in some circles elevating Realmuto to possible MVP candidate based on the move away from Marlins Park to Citizens Bank is emblematic of the hype, warranted or not. Ask Giancarlo Stanton what the move to Yankee Stadium did for his home run total at home in 2018.

Despite the hype, you could understand the excitement if Realmuto had the kind of team control fellow Marlin Yelich did when he was whisked away to safe harbor by the Brewers. But the Marlins catcher offers no such thing.

Two years away from free agency, Realmuto was never going to sign the kind of extension that would have left the Reds with the kind of financial flexibility to do the kinds of things that may lie on the horizon. That could include extending Alex Wood and/or tucking Nick Senzel away firmly into the fold. The Cubs would love to sign Javier Báez and Kris Bryant to extensions. Mookie Betts won a $20M arbitration award not because the Red Sox don’t want to extend him, but because he’s betting on himself. And when you’re already making millions in arbitration, the risk/reward tilts decisively in favor of the player. Have your cake and eat it, too. It’s as American as apple pie. Pitchers on the other hand — particularly ones like Gray and recently Aaron Nola and Luis Severino, see the value in eliminating injury risk and/or protecting against future lost value. Position players? Eh, not so much.

.  .  .

Looking back at those years when the Reds were beginning to flex their muscle on the National League Central, you could see how strong the farm was at the top, but how quickly the talent fell away as you went down the list. Jay Bruce, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Johnny Cueto, and Homer Bailey gave the Reds their winning core and a handful of players would come along to push the Reds into contention: Mike Leake, Todd Frazier, Arolid Chapman, Zack Cozart. Some of the remaining quality depth in the form of Yonder Alonso, Brad Boxberger, and Yasmani Grandal would leave to acquire more frontline pitching. What we discovered was that the competitive window is a fragile thing. That 2010 – 2014 opening, crippled by injuries at inopportune times and a lack of organizational depth, reduced seasons of hard developmental work to a heartbreaking week in October 2012 and a horror of a night in Pittsburgh in 2013.

Two games in San Francisco. Three more in Cincinnati. One in Pittsburgh. The Reds last window was effectively six games long.

Six. Who wants to do that again?

Take a hard look at the list of players who never made an impact on the big league club, leaving the Reds relying on the scrappiest of scraps in Skip Schumaker:

Yorman Rodriguez. Juan Francisco. Neftali Soto. Kyle Lotzkar. Ismael Guillon. Juan Duran. Junior Arias. Ryan LaMarre. Chris Valaika. Daniel Dorn. Matt Maloney. Jared Burton. Josh Roenicke.

Prospects fail. Most of them do. That’s why quantity is so important. It’s why you don’t dismiss Robert Stephenson with a wave of the hand because you don’t like his attitude and out-of-options status. Arms like his don’t grow on … well, most pitching prospects. And some just need longer in the oven before they come out all hot and fresh. Think Orioles fans wish they hadn’t given up on Jake Arrieta? Think the Mets are glad they’ve stuck with Zack Wheeler when other teams came dangling their wares?

None of this means you hang on to prospects forever, only that you trade them when the time is right and you can reasonably be sure you have reinforcements to fill in the holes created.

.  .  .

I mean, seriously. What has this remarkable remaking of the organization from top to bottom been about, if not to do things in a radically different manner? In Jeff Pickler, you have something brand new, a game planning/outfield coach. In former Red Caleb Cotham they have added sophisticated analytics, development, and training to their toolkit. You may soon be discussing equipment you never heard of before. The Reds now use things like Edgertronic, FlightScope and Rapsodo. There are new minor league wellness and nutrition coordinators. And, of course, everyone is aware of Derek Johnson and Turner Ward. Both are highly regarded. And both stolen from their previous gigs as pitching and hitting coaches with the very two teams who met in the 2018 National League Championship Series.

Finally, there is David Bell himself. He joined the Giants last offseason as the club’s vice president of player development and took on the task of revamping the franchise’s farm system. With talk that he could have replaced Bobby Evans as the Giants head of baseball operations. Bell’s future with an organization that has won 3 world championships in the last decade wasn’t just bright, it was incandescent. And yet he left all that to come to the Reds. Surely, he didn’t leave just to oversee another small market window followed by another protracted rebuild? Surely he and all the others he lobbied hard with over the phone and in person came to build a much bigger and invigorating future than that. Right?

Take a long look at the chart above. Who could have foreseen the list above back in 2010?

The Reds must now trust in their new wonders.  Just as the Cubs followed their first wave of position player stars like Kris Bryant, Anthony Rizzo and Addison Russell with a second wave of Javier Baez, Kyle Schwarber and Willson Contreras, Cincinnati must do the same. Trading away Jonathan India and Tony Santillan for two pie-in-the-sky years of J.T. Realmuto is not part of the new analytical thinking the Reds have already toiled so hard to assemble.

The prevailing wisdom is that the owner has taken a back seat lately and let the young guys steer. Still, just as the 2015 All Star Game drove disastrous roster decisions, Mr. Castellini and his staff cannot afford to have the ghost of Harry Wright looming over their collective shoulder whispering about the horrors of another losing season on the 150th anniversary of baseball’s oldest professional franchise. Stay the course.

As Sam Grossman said, “we like our young pitchers a lot.” The front office needs to proceed that way. As success drains the farm system as it inevitably does, they will need to be creative. When the time comes, that will mean resisting the urge to fall in love with players like like they once did. Trading Eugenio Suarez when he has two or even three years left of control for valuable prospects will be tough. But waiting to say goodbye to Jay Bruce until he had almost no value turned out to be much tougher in the end. It will mean turning the roster. It will mean tilling the soil between harvests. And it will mean staying very young. Not under-30 young, but 23, 24 and 25-year old young. None of this will be a piece of cake. That’s why these smart, young guys were brought here in the first place, right? Please tell me it was.

The acquisition of J.T. Realmuto—and the future it would have cost—would have signaled the Reds were pushing the window open now. That certainly would have been a breath of fresh air for all of us weary travelers. Those who have trod a five-year muddy and losing path from parking lot to our moon deck seats. But the price might be a precarious window. A window that seems wide open for the moment, only to descend like the curtain on a Broadway show that doesn’t survive a few bad reviews.

Reds fans don’t need another slice of that kind of humble pie. It’s time for something new, not just on the field, but everywhere from training room to training table. From Billings, Montana to Joe Nuxhall Way and everywhere in-between.

74 Responses

  1. Redsfan47

    “Like an egg slipping off a plate, conjecture sits precariously on rumor’s tongue, ready to drop as truth into the conversation with all the stealth of the evening sun surreptitiously dropping over the horizon.”

    Dude, this is poetry.

    • Mike Adams

      This is a pretty good phrase there, Mr. Fitch.
      I would guess writers aim to come up with a gem like this.
      It is so applicable to the political climate these days also.

  2. Klugo

    The Realmuto trade had to hinge on an extension. He’s young and he’s the real deal. Proven.

    • Colorado Red

      The Mullets said, no to any extension talks before the trade takes place.
      The cost was just too high.
      the Reds make the correct decision.

  3. matthew hendley

    I Agree it is a rather elegantly article, I suppose we will never know what the final offer the reds produced for Realmuto but considering the Marlins did get a good haul for him, it must of been a hardy ask. The India situation needs to develop a little more, I wasn’t happy either but it is a very small sample size. Philly has already lost half of the MM/BH sweepstakes, and it may look that they have set themselves up for a disappointment if the other half doesn’t come though.
    Well Written Piece though

  4. David Moore

    Wow.. this may be the best, most well-written article I’ve read on this site. No offense to all the other writers, but this was astounding. Thank you for this.

    I agree with the poster above about this being poetry.

    And I agree with everything you said.

  5. Sliotar

    If the Reds are trading Suarez with 2 or 3 years of control left… this team and its contention window is likely in serious trouble at that point.

    Agree with the premise that if the team had traded key prospect(s) for Realmuto, a 2-year window, “all in”, would have then made sense, opening up trading even more of the future to go as far as possible in October.

    • Shchi Cossack

      Not at all! A trade involving a 31 or 32 year old Suarez, with 2-3 years of team control remaining, for a prospect haul represents the exact type of transition needed to continue a window of competitiveness. Votto, while I believe still producing offensive value, will be nearing the end of his contract. Extensions will hopefully be executed for key core members of the team (Senzel, Castillo, Trammell, India, Greene, Santilla, etc.). The DH will almost certainly have become a fixture in the NL, providing Votto a place to ply his trade if the Reds can pry him away from 1B. The Reds should be constructively active in the foreign opportunities they have missed, avoided or fumbled in the past. There must be a controlled turnover and replacement methodology to avoid a narrow window of competitiveness followed by a deep, extended drought of non-competitiveness.

      • G-Man

        I wholeheartedly agree with your statement:

        “There must be a controlled turnover and replacement methodology to avoid a narrow window of competitiveness followed by a deep, extended drought of non-competitiveness.”

        This should be stenciled on the wall of the front office “war room”!

      • Michael E

        Exactly. Always be trading your past-prime “stars” and near “stars” IF you can get a nice haul back of upper tier, high upside talent that has lots of cost-control.

        Do NOT trade to get back an Aroldis Chapman like return of hot garbage, all because you want “MLB ready” talent that really is just MLB ready without much upside or talent (looking at you Walt, take one stud prospect over three kinda-sortas next time).

      • Michael

        It’s ok to have a player or two play their entire career with one team. Some players don’t have to be traded for a “prospect haul” for teams to succeed year in and year out. Correct me if I am wrong, but isn’t the MLB draft like 30 rounds or more each year? So every year, we draft 30+ players (this number is a lot higher when you count undrafted players, free agents, etc.) and put them in our minor league system. We really can’t get just hit on say 5 players a year with all these new players? Hard to believe that after 5 years of playing as bad as the reds have, we don’t have a decent amount of real prospects in our system to develop and pull from and we are already talking about trading cornerstones like Votto and Suarez.

  6. Matt WI

    Richard… will you be bringing back the writing of baseballs “slipping the surly bonds of the earth” to game recaps this year? That was you correct?

    • Richard Fitch

      I cannot believe you remember that, Matt.

  7. Shchi Cossack

    TY Richard. You eloquently nailed the Old Cossack’s thoughts since the BC/WJ regime failed miserably in the last narrow window of competition and failed more miserably in transitioning from that narrow window to the future. I only wish I could transfer those thoughts to cohesive words as well as you.

  8. Old-school

    Yes. well-written. Nice piece and stay 25-27 nucleus young. But, stay flexible too. Which is why the Reds won the off-season..
    David Bell with some nice lineup construction dialogue today.

    Best on base leadoff hitter…best hitter #2 and good hitter good power 3-4.
    Winker/Votto/ Suarez / Gennett looking like 1-4.

    What happened to speed leading off followed by good bunting and more speed #2?

  9. Gary Clements

    3 winning seasons since 2000 have me sick & tired of this “future” that never comes. This isn’t a rebuild. To use the term rebuild, it would mean we were once built. That last extremely small window of decent play hardly qualifies as a “build”. We put up a temporary tent for a brief family gathering at the farm. 16 seasons out of the last 19 have been losing seasons. it’s the worst 19-season spread in the history of the oldest franchise in Major league baseball. I’m tired of talking about the future.

    • Vottomatic125

      You missed the point of the article. Your disgust is exactly the point he making. They did it wrong in the past. Now they are trying to fix those wrongs the right way. Sustained winning requires proper planning.

      • Gary Clements

        They have spent the last 20 years rolling out the exact same lines about “new approach to player development” & “the future” & “planning” & “insert Reds ownership platitude here”. This ownership group bought this franchise for 400 million & have sat by as the value has swelled to 1.1 billion & had well below median payroll numbers. The Reds have reaped what they’ve sowed. Now their willing to spend a little, but only because they beat their fans down so far that they had to let us up to recover just enough so we can withstand the next beating that will be administered when this next “window” closes after all this “planning” for the “future” produces another bottom rung of playoff caliber performance. Everything that the town has scewered Mike Brown for, the Reds get a pass on. The Reds dream is 85-77 every 3rd year.

  10. Curtis

    Excellent!! Very well written and spot on.

  11. Eric Wormus

    I’ve felt the same way this entire offseason. What’s the point of 4 horrendous seasons if all we’re going to get is maybe 2 shots at 85 wins.

    One thing I take exception with is the comment from Scott Braun about the process generally taking 6 years, That’s simply false.

    In 2009 the Cubs had a winning record. In 2010 finished 75-87 but went into that year trying to win. They didn’t begin a real “rebuild” until 2011. They had 4 straight losing years and then won 97 in year 5.

    The Astros process was similar. Losing seasons from 2011-2014, winning season in 2015, year 5.

    Atlanta Braves, 4 straight losing seasons (but only 3 “rebuild years”) and a winning season year 5 (really year 4).

    The moves the Reds made weren’t trying to “rush the process” but rather an admission that they screwed up and failed at the process. I just hope it doesn’t end up shortening their next window,

  12. Seat101

    First, I agree. This article continues the tradition of great writing for this website. I think I may pick up a pecan pie at the store tomorrow and honor of this article.

    A lot of what we are talking about here is tactics and strategy, or maybe I should say tactics versus strategy. This strategy is to keep a young core together long enough that adding through trades and free agency we have a longer term open window to compete for the big brass ring.

    That strategy will force us to put less emphasis on the draft tactic. Then we will be drafting away from the “can’t miss” or “good bets” that we have been picking out for the last five years.

    Thinking long-term as well, by trading three of our prospects this off-season we have three players farther down the line that can be protected from a rule five draft. Players we may need in four or five years.

    It looks like we will be replacing our draft tactic with a free agent tactic, a lot along the lines of the St. Louis Cardinals.

  13. andybado

    I was glad the Reds were in serious talks to get Realmuto, and didn’t mind a package centered around India and Barnhart. The Phillies trumped the Reds reported offer with a better prospect and a ML-ready catcher with a higher ceiling. They went too high and the Reds didn’t follow — smart move.

    It’s true that the Reds need to rely on prospect depth for sustained success. Having more prospects gives you more rings to throw at the 2-liter. But all of your rings can still clank away. Stocking the minors with young talent doesn’t ensure long-term success. The Reds will most likely need to make savvy trades to acquire game-ready talent and/or spend on big name agents in addition to maintaining a decent farm system in order to have sustained success. They need to win most of their transactions.

    This is why I appreciate the Bailey trade so much. They gave up a couple of good prospects but got much better for 2019 and received good value in the expiring contracts of Wood and Puig. I’d love to see the Reds resign them both, but if the price is unreasonable, then they can hit them both with qualifying offers and most likely receive comp picks when they are signed. There is a path to either stabilize the ML roster or restock the farm.

    • Seat101

      Good point! This illustrates the bigger and different playing field the Reds front office Is starting to play on.

  14. WVRedlegs

    Well, well written. I always gravitate to articles that have Richard Fitch in the byline. You hit this one out of the park. An oppo over the cavernous RF wall in SF…and into McCovey Cove.

    • Doug Gray

      I’m going to need Richard to chime in here and confirm he’s a right-handed hitter.

  15. Hotto4Votto

    Good stuff, well written. Thanks for your insights.

    As far as I’m concerned JTR would have been nice to have for the right price. I could have lived with an India/Barnhart/prospect in the teens package for him, but am also fine to stand pat at this point.

    Senzel, Greene, Trammell, Santillan, T. Stephenson, and Siri we’re guys I really didn’t want to see the Reds give up this offseason. They held onto all of them as well as India. That’s a very good core that could be part of the next championship level Reds team.

    • Reaganspad

      I agree with that price point Hotto. I could have done that deal.

      Not with more though.

      Loved Richard’s article. Eggs off the plate are good but it was the back up singer line that got me. I always wanted to be a Pip, but I can’t sing, have no rhythm and am termally white. But to be that close to Gladys Knight, I’d sacrifice

  16. Nick

    Thorough and excellent piece. What seems to set this team apart from the 2010-14 window is the organizational depth at all levels and aspects. It finally feels like there is a plan, and one that’s more sophisticated than what I or any other dedicated fan could have come up with in our spare time. Go reds baby

  17. Eric the Red

    1) This contention thing is easy. You need 12-15 outstanding ML pitchers year after year. The rest will take care of itself. Our window didn’t clang shut because Jay Bruce got old; it’s because our entire starting rotation disappeared at the same time.

    2) I hope the front office maintains their discipline if we’re actually in contention during the summer. If we’re 3 games out of the wildcard or something–or 3 games up–I worry that pennant fever will take over and we’ll trade the future for a mess of pottage.

  18. Stock

    Good insight but I disagree.

    First I think the Marlins will regret this trade. I think Sixto is hurt. If not he is the 2nd best pitching prospect in baseball and no way they trade him.

    2nd you say most prospects don’t make it but then say India and Santillan for a proven catcher is a bad deal.

    My thoughts are that the the Reds will win 85-88 games this year as is. Votto will be better. Senzel is an upgrade in CF. Castillo and Gray make a pretty solid top 2. They will compete with the Reds for 2nd place with the Cubs and with several teams in the east for wildcard. With Realmuto in fold they compete for the Cardinals for the division and the loser is a wildcard team.

    I am not sold on Santillan yet. I like Sims and Greene much more and Mahle more.

    Finally there is India. Where will he play? He is not going to bench Votto, Senzel or Suarez. He can’t play SS. OF ahead of him include Winker, Schebler, Siri and Trammell. Some may argue Siri and/or Schebler do not belong on this list but I do and I am the one typing here. I like both more than India.

    The question is when do you trade India. Because there is no room for him with the Reds.

    Also, I think people are under-rating Dietrich. He has far more upside now than Scooter had two years ago.

    Finally between Kemp, Roark, Puig, Wood and Gennett the Reds have $55 million coming off the books next fall.

    2020 – 2022 looks even better than 2019: Garrit Cole, Castillo, Gray, DeSclafani/Greene and Sims looks very good to me with the lineup above. Plus they have another $10-$15 million to upgrade the bullpen. The offense would need no 2020 – 2022 upgrades (C – Realmuto/Stephenson, 1B – Votto, 2B – Senzel, 3B – Suarez, SS – Peraza, LF – Winker, CF – Siri/Trammell, RF – Schebler).

    So if the Reds make this trade they are division favorites from 2019 – 2022. And from my perspective neither India nor Santillan are good enough to crack the starting line-up.

    • bmblue

      How do you know India cant play short? Its too early to tell. Everyone is down on India- the guy played a million games last year, went all the way through the College WS and straight to rookie ball and then to Dayton. He was understandably worn out. Jonathon India can hit. I think it will serve the reds well to see what they have in him.

      • Stock

        I don’t know that India can play SS I guess. I just don’t think he can. But I don’t really see him sending Peraza to the pine either. After a rough start Peraza’s WAR was 8th among SS. He is 23 and just getting better. I don’t think India will put Peraza on the bench either.

      • VaRedsFan

        India was drafted last year, he is a minimum of 2 years away from arriving in Cincy…he’s not pushing anybody out of a position for a while.

    • Nelson Cobb

      You say the Phillies don’t trade Sixto if he’s healthy. Why would the Marlins take him if he wasn’t healthy?? You think they didn’t do a full and thorough examination on him, particularly his elbow, before making the deal?? There’s no way they didn’t, and no way they take back an injured prospect.

      And Gerrit Cole won’t be coming to Cincy next year. There’s ZERO chance of that happening. He’s probably a major reason the Yankees passed on Manny n Harper.

      • Matt Hendley

        Trading injured players and concealing thier injury is not only a big nono, its outright illegal and can lead to the trade being revoked. A situation between SD and MIA actually ended up that way causing the future reds ace to be returned to Miami. Sixto is healthy.

  19. bmblue

    This is why I come to RedLegNation every day for every-so-often articles like this. Can’t find it anywhere else. Bravo.

    The window is not here yet. Senzel and Winker are the first pieces of the window. Its a roster full of those guys plus Greene-Trammel-Santillan-India-Stephenson that should make up the next core. All of those guys should be arriving in 2020-2021. Votto and Suarez should be here for the part of the winning, but not necessarily all of it. Stay the course. We’re a year (maybe 2) early. Enjoy the season but the real window starts in summer of 2021. Realmuto would be here and gone before it starts.

    • Gary Clements

      Uhhhhg. Windows. This organization has been a closed “window” for 20 years. 16 losing seasons out of the last 19 seasons & we use terms like “rebuild”. It was never “built”. They competed at the lowest rung of playoff caliber like a fart in the wind & the Reds & Reds fans talk about “rebuild” & “windows”. Worst 19 year “window” in the entire history of the first professional team & fans are talking “rebuild” and “windows”.

      Reds ownership has beaten us down so bad that were essentially a bunch of beat dogs that are desperate for even the slightest sign of humanity from it’s abusive owner.

      • Jerry

        I partly agree with you. Sick of terms like “rebuild” and “window”. This is what MLB analysts have turned baseball into. Rebuilding gives owners an excuse not to compete and to dupe fans into dishing out bucks to see subpar baseball being played. Watching prospects struggle in hope’s they will blossom into the future studs we keep dreaming about. I also understand that its a league of 26 teams swapping chances year to year to contend with the 4 big dogs (the NYs, LAs, and Bostons out there). Small market teams especially do have to be creative. I just think we the fans give our FOs a pass on the rebuild way too often. Shouldn’t ever take 6+ years to put a team into contention. Manage your talent, keep the farm stocked, and don’t try to get rid of every good player just cause that’s what ESPN says you should do. Maybe im oversimpifiying it, but it has been a dismal 20 years of futility. Its no longer a rebuild it’s just a fundamentally flawed FO that keeps passing the buck. I move to strike the word rebuild and window from the vocabulary of the MLB and its fans. How about we just go back to good old competing no matter what you have on the field every year? Casual fans will not wait for another 2 years.

      • greenmtred

        Sustained excellence is difficult to achieve in baseball. Players get old, players get hurt, players become free agents. If you hate the word “rebuild,” than a synonym will have to do, because rebuilding is what teams do when they begin to age out of their windows (another synonym needed). We all get your frustration, and if the front office and philosophy of the team were unchanged, we’d all be discouraged. But there have been changes–probably transformative ones–so there’s reason to hope. I’m sick of being mad/discouraged.

      • Jerry

        I get it, but when I think rebuild something long term comes to mind. Maybe it’s just the bad decisions our FO has made since 2012. I just don’t think teams should have to rebuild. Basically that means you let things fall through the cracks to the point where you now have to turn over half your roster. I get it may take a year or maybe two if your team catches an injury bug or acquisitions just dont pan out, but it’s up to management to catch these things and not take 5 years to realize mistakes were made. I wouldn’t be so annoyed if people weren’t saying Reds will compete by 2021. Just a few years ago we were expecting to compete by 2019. People keep adding years onto this process. I just think it’s a cop out, or at least call it what it is, mismanagement. To be sure imam just as happy FO has gotten their heads out of there behinds. Tell me what reasonable person likes to hear that their teams have 3 or 4 year windows followed by 6 year “rebuilds”. You can’t keep fans in the seats with that kind of plan.

    • bmblue

      India is also about the same age as trammel. Its not unrealistic to think he could contribute at the ML level in 2020 as a #5 overall pick.

  20. WVRedlegs

    Jonathan India had a good stick. He has plate discipline and a good eye at the plate. If the INF doesn’t have room for him, he has the arm and athleticism to be an all star in RF.
    I Don’t think SS is the answer for him. If 3B and 2B continue to be blocked, it would be a no brainer for a move to RF. There isn’t much organizational depth in RF that India can’t quickly surpass.

  21. Streamer88

    Let’s use hindsight as 20/20 and manipulate some dates and times to make a fake argument.

    Would you trade 2015 Bob Steve, Phil Ervin and recently signed 4/28 Mesoraco for current JTR?.. mind you I’m giving you the benefit of hindsight.

    Of course you would!! What an absolute steal that is.

    No one has a crystal ball, but my point is we are currently in an era IMHO where teams are overvaluing prospects. Thus the market inefficiency lies in exploiting that fact.

    I commend the Reds for their strategy and would be just fine trading a few more prospects if needed. My $0.02.

    • Amarillo

      Here is a hindsight is 20/20 trade proposal..

      Do you trade 2008 Votto, Cueto, and Bailey for Joe Blanton?

      • Streamer88

        Wait, but I have hindsight right? — of course not.

        I think you’re missing my point. My point isn’t that ALL prospects become busts. It’s that some of them do. But mostly many of them just become serviceable MLB players. If everyone became a star then there wouldn’t be stars…

        My point is i commend the Reds for trading some prospects. Teams are currently so afraid of the exact scenario you soft tossed back that it paralyzes them to make solid baseball moves. But not the Reds this off season. That’s my point.

      • Amarillo

        Ahh Streamer88 then yes, I admit I did miss your point. I have just seen too many posts where people say “trade all the prospects because they are just prospects and might not work out” and assumed yours was another. My bad. My take is that it’s about timing more than anything. I think you make this trade now because Senzel is hitting the majors this year, and a few others will get here next year. Now that our impact prospects from the 90 loss seasons are starting arrive, this is the opportune time to augment the team.

    • greenmtred

      It isn’t just about over-valuing prospects, though. Realmuto would have been here for two years, almost certainly no more, and for those years to be plausible as championship years, more players–particularly really good starting pitchers–would have to be added, too. Probably.

  22. Jreis

    Why do the reds have a tiny major league field and a huge monstrosity of a field with their single A team? It makes no sense. It should be the opposite. Nobody puts up good numbers in Dayton hence hurting trade value.

  23. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I doubt JT was in our long term plans.

    However, what I heard on Lance one night was making sense to me. He was giving figures that the Cubs were favored in our division at 87 wins, I believe, and we were in third at 81 wins. And, JT’s WAR was like 4+, which would have put us even closer. So, then, I could understand going after him.

    However, I still believe, then and now, that we ought to be going for the top tier pitcher.

  24. TurboBuckeye

    Terrific article and much, much better than others that have been posted here lately. Kudos!

    • Doug Gray

      I’d be offended by this comment, except that this article was fantastic.

      • greenmtred

        This is a terrific article, but the quality of writing and insight in nearly every article here is outstanding.

  25. brayan omalley

    My thought exactly! I was wondering if I should Google it to see who he plagiarized, but I am so in agreement with everything he wrote, I’ll give it to him.

  26. JayDubz

    Can someone summarize the article for me as a TL;DR? I’m sorry, but I think that my millennial kicked in. (No offense. Clearly it was well-received by many. Different strokes, different folks though.)

    • Rich H

      I appreciate the TL;DR summaries that the authors here occasionally put in, but if someone puts in the time and effort that Richard clearly put in this piece (loved it!) is it really too much to ask that you spend a matter of minutes reading it?

      Summarizing and bullet pointing does have usefulness, but you’re reading these articles because you enjoy the Reds and want to be informed and involved. Asking others to summarize it defeats the purpose of a thorough, well written article, which only cheats yourself out of it’s real value. It’s also pretty rude, to be honest.

      Maybe somebody else summarizes it, maybe my response is TL;DR, but you’re going to miss out on a lot more than just baseball if you can’t spend even a small amount of time reading worthwhile pieces about things that are enjoyable or important to you. Read the original, it’s worth it.

    • IndyRedsFan

      I agree, article too long. I read it, but it wandered around so much, at the end, I didn’t know whether he thinks we should have traded for Realmuto or not.

      Not posting this to be critical.,…..clearly many of you loved it. Just to point out that different folks see things differently. Sorta like the DH in the NL.

      • scotly50

        That article needed chapters. I finally got through it a day later.

  27. Tom

    Great post!!

    The Reds not only avoided paying too much for Realmuto, they drove a “near” competitive team into overpaying. It sounds like the strategic move a private equity investor would pull – if only we had one of those now leading baseball operations – oh, we do!

  28. Mark Moore

    We made an offer, Phils wanted him more. End of story and on to 2019.

    • VaRedsFan

      So did the Brewers when they got Yelich.

  29. Phil

    Teams have tanked for top-10 picks as part of their rebuild plans because it has worked. The Cubs took Baez, Almora, Bryant, Schwarber and Happ in the top-10 of their respective draft classes between 2011 and 2015 then won a World Series with that core in 2016.

    Always being in contention is going to be difficult for a small-to-mid size market team like the Reds. They are not likely to outbid other teams for many free agents. They are also not likely to get the chance to draft Hunter Greene or Nick Senzel or Jonathan India as they are likely to be taken before the Reds have the opportunity to draft them. (a “contending” teams first round pick is likely in the teens or 20s)

    This makes it all the more important to find guys like Trammell, Santillan and Mahle in the draft (drafted with a competitive-balance pick, 2nd round and 7th round respectively) and to find more talent in the international markets.

    Drafting well when you don’t have the top pick, smart international signings and trading veterans at the right time. These are the things that must be done for the Reds to be consistently competitive.

  30. Scooter Rolen

    J. India is an interesting factor for the Reds, especially now that Senzel is potentially playing CF for at least the short term future. Could a future Reds see Senzel in CF and India at 2B? Also, a future trade of Suarez is more plausible when you think about the possibility of Trammel taking over in CF, then Senzel moving to 2B and India sliding over to 3B. It would be really sad to see him go when or if that happened, but the Reds do have young options for the infield even behind Suarez. Speaking of Suarez, the hypothetical situation of 2 years left on his contract would occur in his age-31 season (2023). Of course, this is all speculation and prospects aren’t any guarantees.

    I do hope that Reds figure out a way to keep the competitive window open more solidly, and that is likely going to come from smart roster turnover and contract extensions to our young players.

  31. TR

    A good overview of Reds Land and a nice lyric writing style in an article not too long for me. I think a trade that includes an established player like Suarez could get the Reds Keuchel or Kluber with Senzel to third base and centerfield covered this year by what the Reds have.

    • greenmtred

      They don’t need to trade for Keukel. He’s a free-agent. They just need, evidently, to get his medical issue resolved and come up with tens of millions of dollars.

      • TR

        My apologies for my poorly prepared comment regarding ‘Keukel.’

      • greenmtred

        My apologies for mis-spelling his name and for sounding (unintentionally) snarky.

  32. LWBlogger2

    Richard, it is always a HUGE PLEASURE to read your stuff. You are a fantastic writer and this is another well thought out and beautifully written piece.

    No, I’m not saying this just because I agree; although, for the record, I do.