A month has come and gone since the Reds put away the balls and bats for the 2019 season. Wasting no time, the Reds front office jump started started their offseason with several moves.

The Reds hired pitching development guru Kyle Boddy to help rebuild the pitching development in the farm system. They also replaced their big league hitting coach Turner Ward when they hired Alan Zinter to take over the role. President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams announced changes in the organization’s developmental structure. He hopes the changes create a centralized top down approach which will result in  more consistent and effective player development. These were attention grabbing moves which could have a significant  impact over time.

However the truly  exciting part of the offseason for most fans, player movement, is now set to begin in earnest starting with free agency.

How Free Agency Works

Beginning the day after the  end of the World Series, eligible players may file for free agency. Players with 6 or more years of MLB service time who are not under contract for 2020 are eligible to file.

Reds left-handed pitcher Alex Wood  and infielder Jose Iglesias were eligible and filed for free agency. Derek Dietrich despite being signed last year as a free agent is not eligible to file at this time since he has less than 6 years of service time.

Courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors, here is a list of players eligible for free agency.

One Last Chance

During the first 5 days of the free agency season, eligible players may only negotiate and sign with their prior team. Following  the 5 day opening period players who have filed for free agency may sign with any team in Major League Baseball.

Contract Options

Player contract options for 2020 must be settled by the end of the 5 day filing period.  Players whose options are not exercised become free agents unless they have less than 6 years of MLB service time.

The most notable Reds player  with an option was Freddy Galvis ($5.5M team option versus $1M buyout). The Reds have announced they are exercising their option to bring Galvis back in 2020

Qualifying Offers

At the end of the 5 day free agent filing period, teams may make a Qualifying Offer to any of their eligible departing free agents. A Qualifying Offer is  a 1 year contract at a salary $17.8M in 2020.

Players who have previously received a qualifying offer from any team are not eligible. Players traded during the 2019 season are also not eligible to receive a qualifying offer.

If a qualifying offer is declined, the team which made the offer gets a compensatory pick in the following June draft. The fine print of exactly where in the draft this pick falls is complicated. Since the Reds don’t figure to be making any qualifying offers’s this year, let’s spare the pain of working through it.  If you must know, read about it here.

Teams signing players who declined a qualifying offer are subject to a penalty of losing one or more draft choices. In the Reds case it would most likely be a third round pick if they signed a single qualifying free agent and an additional fourth rounder if they signed more than one such player. Again, if you want to work through the details, here they are.

What Might the Reds do?

Dick Williams has said the Reds will increase payroll and will be active in the offseason player market.  The feeling is that they need to add offense. Spots on the diamond which jump out as potentially open are catcher and shortstop. However, despite a plethora of candidates, second base is also unsettled. Then again, Nick Senzel, assuming his body cooperates, could be moved to 2B, creating an opening in center field.

Truth be told aside from the infield corners manned by Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto, the Reds could mix, match and move  as needed to accommodate an incoming free agent. Doug Gray has written several articles this week looking at potential free agents among the position players available, and the starting and relief pitcher outlooks are coming soon, too.

And for my money, while they are at it, I’d also like to see the Reds double down on getting the pitching by bringing in a solid middle of the rotation starter.

Buckle up and let the fun begin.

59 Responses

  1. Hanawi

    I hope the Reds throw some money at a top tier reliever as well.

      • Hanawi

        Assuming they wouldn’t bring back Chapman, then Will Smith is the obvious one.

        They could also take a flyer on Betances or Jeffress if they think they can get them healthy and back to form (same for Kenley Jensen). Kintzler might be worth a look with his high GB %.

    • Colorado Red

      That worked so well in COL.
      Relievers are good one year, poor the next .
      Just say no

  2. jessecuster44

    Rumor has it that Gerrit Cole is going further west, but wouldn’t it be prudent for the Reds to make a huge offer for him? It probably wont be accepted, but other FAs might see the offer and realize that the Reds are in it to win it. Rendon should be offered as well.

    • Lockersocks79

      I agree wholeheartedly! Shoot for the stars and ruffle some feathers. I’m all for mid term/high cost contracts:

      Rendon or cole for 240 mil/6 years.

      That would be high cost but the reds can manage the cost and those two would be viable for 6 years. I don’t think many if any other team would match that.

  3. Klugo

    Hope springs eternal. Red’s fan’s these days live for the off-season.

    • Pete

      I expect the Reds to be major players in the off-season market. They have made a commitment after another stinker season. How much fruit it will be bear will be interesting.

      My prediction: expect 2-3 FA signings to high-dollar, long-terms contracts to the second tier of FA’s and at least one major trade. Reds are going to make a splash, I have no doubt. Grandal would be the big get followed by Didi. Not bad but enough to get them over the hump? Time will tell but the team will give it all it has. Should be a very entertaining off season.

  4. CI3J

    My 3 step plan (with step 4 which should be obvious added just in case) for the Reds to compete:

    1. SIGN Yasmani Grandal

    2. TRADE FOR Corey Seager from the Dodgers

    3. TRADE FOR Mookie Betts from the Red Sox

    4. MOVE Nick Senzel to 2nd base.

    Hope springs eternal, indeed. If they are going for it, they need to sell the farm to get the pieces they need. And since both the Dodgers and Sox are purported to be looking to dump both these players, the Reds should swoop in and nab them before other teams even get out of the gate. It might not take as much to get them as some think.

    Get it done.

      • C.J Allen

        I dont think the reds will be able to get any of the top free agents, gonna have to trade some top talent to get top talent back. I’d do whatever it took to get Lindor but that’s not likely to happen. The same goes for Betts. Realistically go after players such as a trade for Charlie Blackmon who still is a good offensive player, ozuna would be nice but Bringing back Puig would be almost as good and well liked in Cincinnati. Blackmon in cf, Puig in rf and Aquino in left with Senzel to second base. Leave catching the way it is, Barnhart and Casali not bad. Spend money on more pitching. If these moves were made this lineup not too bad.
        1. Blackman
        2. Votto
        3. Suarez
        4. Puig
        5. Galvis
        6. Aquino
        7. Senzel
        8. Barnhart/ Casali.
        Could use another lefty bat

    • doofus

      Who would you trade for Seager and Betts?

    • Lockersocks79

      I would be stoked if the Reds did just this….hopefully extend Betts as well

    • Colorado Red

      NO,
      give up the farm for 1 year?
      Then if we do not win, we are stuck in another 8 year rebuild.

      • Lockersocks79

        My hope would be to sign Betts to an extension and use the crazy amount of cash the reds have to get that deal done.

        If there’s an extension I’d trade Greene, next years 1st round draft pick and their choice of Ervin or winker at most. But that’s only with an extension. Other wise I’d trade 2 lesser minor league players and the draft pick.

        Betts is a huge game changer for the Reds…..he’s also a dream killer if the Cards, Brewers or Cubs get him.

      • doofus

        I do not believe that ML clubs can trade their draft picks.

      • Colorado Red

        You can only trade compensation pics. Not the normal ones.

  5. RedNat

    the Galvis signing troubles me. he had 1 good week with the reds ,then couldn’t make contact for a month that got injured. people praise his defense but he didn’t do anything spectacular to me. just seems like the same ole reds. settling for mediocracy.

    • doofus

      n. A social hierarchy in which the mediocre prevails.

      The Reds are a social hierarchy?

    • BigBill

      Agreed but who would you get? Additionally, if you don’t keep him who is the ss? Peraza is t the answer and may not even be a mlb player soon. I think Galvis is an easy prudent pickup at 5.5mm. If they can swing a bigger player into the role he is an excellent backup or utility player with good d and usually solid hitting.

    • KDJ

      Filling deficiencies with mediocre players is a path to a mediocre team.
      I heard John Wooden say, “Nobody wins without talent. Some people don’t win with it, but nobody wins without it.”

    • Jefferson Green

      Look at Galvis last couple of years, not the smaller sample size in a Reds uniform. He will be far better than average defensively and probably 10-20% below average offensively. That’s better than the other internal options and fine for a backup plan.

      • Hanawi

        You mean the guy the Blue Jays gave away for free?

    • Pete

      I blame Galvis tanking to our old friend Turner Ward. Many is the time I’d see Freddie working with Ward on his uppercut swing and worse, at least once Galvis discussing the same with AA.

      I highly doubt in his career FG has anything approaching his 1 for 40 streak near the end of the 2019 season. Turner Ward seemed to have this effect on hitters. I’m not big on Galvis and wouldn’t have keep him but I believe we have already seen the worst of him. If they now sign Jose Iglesias, I’m going to be sick because I’m afraid this duo will make up the regular middle infield. Ugh!

  6. doofus

    I do not think there are any free agents worth going after.

    I would rather see the Reds swing some trades and use the money on-hand to extend players they may receive in a trade; and, to extend present players on the roster.

    • Doc

      John Wooden was a Purdue graduate. Got to listen to him. ChE’71

    • Hotto4Votto

      Overall I agree. Plus the Reds have never really been players in FA.

      Maybe Grandal…but the issue is Tyler Stephenson should be on the doorstep in AAA. How much should be committed to Grandal at age 31 with solid, not great, options in house already and a top prospect close?
      Maybe Didi, if you believe he bounces back. But at what price? How many years? Lots of unknowns and they have just committed $5.5m to Galvis. Would they pay Didi near $15m/year as well as Galvis’ salary for him to back up the middle infield?
      No real interesting CF’ers on the market. Maybe the guy from Japan, but he’s already 31 and reports of declining on defense.

      At the end of the day, FA just isn’t the Reds best bet, and it’s typically not good value for the money committed. Trades are a better route, but how far do they deplete the farm system? I wouldn’t trade Lodolo or Stephenson unless it’s an absolute steal of a deal with many years attached to a real difference maker. I would be hard pressed to want to trade Greene and Garcia as well, but would be okay with it in the right deal.

      How much will some combination of Santillan, India, Siri, Fairchild, Hinds/Callihan, Richardson, or Siani bring back? Because those are our best prospect trade chips after those guys. DW and NK may have to get creative.

      • Scott C

        Of that group I would only hold back on Siani. The rest although I would hate to see go, for the right return I can see it.

    • Colorado Red

      Grandal?, Didi to name two.
      Do not have the prospect capital for a lot of trades.

      • doofus

        Why do they need to make “a lot of trades?”

  7. CFD3000

    I don’t see many big impact options for free agents, much as I wish there were. Cole and Rendon would be fantastic, but seem highly improbable. I do like Grandal and maybe Castellanos if the Reds can lure them. The more I look at it I don’t see Gregorius as a great option at SS, and certainly not enough of an upgrade to spend the money it would take. Anyone else looks a lot like shuffling deck chairs. So I’m rooting hard for Grandal, and have my “holy crap that’s awesome” post ready for a Cole or Rendon miracle. But most of my hot stove wish list looks like trading for blocked but very high upside prospects from teams and places we’d barely considered. Impress me, front office – we’re ready!

  8. Jefferson Green

    There are interesting options on the F.A. market. As always, price is the difference between interest and a signed contract. The market has been unpredictable the last two years, so a player or two may surprise us at some point. Then again, the best players may be crazy expensive.

    As an example – If Grandal would do another one (or even two) year deal, I’d be happy at a 20% raise from what he agreed to last off season. But I highly doubt he will do that, particularly with no QO attached. But I never thought he would sign as he did last year, so we’ll see. Interesting, indeed.

  9. Lockersocks79

    The Reds have no choice but to go after Rendon, Cole and Betts this winter.

    Reasoning: the Cards, Brewers and Cubs are most definitely trying to pick up those players.

    • doofus

      Many other teams outside the NL Central will be chasing those players. I do not see Rendon or Cole wanting to sign with a NL Central team. Brewers and Cubs are short in prospects.

      Perhaps, Betts would be attainable for the Cards.

    • doofus

      Why do the Reds have to allow the Cards, Brewers and Cubs dictate what their offseason strategy should be? Foxtrot Tango!

    • Shchi Cossack

      @Lockersocks79, there’s simply no way the Cardinals, Cubs or Brewers are in a position to obtain those players this off season, unless the FA market completely implodes and the BoSox agree to trade Betts for peanuts rather than an organizational devastating haul of top prospects and cheap major league talent.

      I will treat you to infield box seats to join me for a home game against the Cardinals, Cubs or Brewers in 2020 if Cole or Rendon sign with the Cardinals, Cubs or Brewers or if Betts is traded to the Cardinals, Cubs or Brewers if you agree to treat me to infield box seats to join you for a home game against the Cardinals, Cubs or Brewers in 2020 if they don’t.

  10. Dick Paterson

    I am puzzled that the Reds and many posters here have given up on Peraza. He’s only 25. He had an off-year in 2019, but still has a big up-side. I hope he gets a shot a starting job at SS or 2nd in 2020.

    • Mike

      I am one of those that have completely given up on Peraza. He only hits in the second half of the season when the season is already lost. And…. anyplace you put him on the field, sometime in the game he will mess up big time at the worst possible time. Can’t field, can’t hit and can’t run the bases. I think he can’t handle the pressure.

    • doofus

      Peraza has 182 hits in 2018. In 2019, he is essentially platooned with Dietrich.

      I put Peraza’s 2019 decline on Bell and his incessant platooning mentality (aka analytics). I believe in analytics, but these players are also people. Some guys do not perform well when they are constantly jerked in and out of lineups.

      I still believe this kid will be a good major league middle infielder. Most likely at 2B. I bet there will be teams that have an interest in him. Bet on it.

      • Shchi Cossack

        Not at a $3MM-$4MM contract. Peraza has priced himself out of a MLB contract without producing before or since he entered arbitration as a super-2 player. If the Reds DFA him, Peraza will go unclaimed and signed as a FA, for a fraction of his current arbitration salary, if not a minor league contract.

    • Shchi Cossack

      @DickP, Peraza is in the same position as Billy Hamilton. He never proved he could play in the minor leagues, specifically AAA, before he was promoted to the Show and he has struggled since being promoted.

      I am firmly in the wagon waiting for him to prove the naysayers wrong and actually produce. A career .711 OPS in 858 PA at AAA has only proven that he has yet to prove he is ready to play at the MLB level. Put him at SS in AAA for the entire season and give him a final chance to prove that he is ready offensively and defensively for a shot at the MLB level.

  11. Steve Schoenbaechler

    I believe they will be players. But, how much? To what extent? That’s what I question. With the trades, also. Everyone’s talking about the saberstats, the analytics. There is still also things like you don’t want the perverbial “locker room poisons” either. What kind of contract is there?

    For example, what most have said, Grandal would be a good addition and address the improvement in offense, but at that cost? Didi would be an improvement to the offense, but at that cost? I believe some would be an improvement for the offense, but they are coming off injury. All of these are more direct moves the Reds could do.

    Or, will they get more creative? Like, get a CF and move Senzel to 2nd base? Or, or even to the point of, for example only, get someone like Rendon and move Suarez to SS, eventually moving one of them to 1st when Votto retires?

    Will the Reds get “serviceable” players? Will the Reds get proven, if not “star” players? Or, will they get “reclamation” projects?

    Who’s ready in the minors could play a point, also. For instance, is Tyler Stephenson ready? If he needs one more season down there, do we sign Grandal for one season? That would probably increase his asking price even more.

    Then, even with all of this, this, this is who we or the Reds would want to get. Those players have to want to come here, also. If via trades, those teams have to be willing to trade with us; we have to have what they want in the trade.

    And, lastly, any meaningful actions on our part, I don’t believe they will occur until after the winter meetings. They are still having those, aren’t they? I believe they were around the beginning of December.

    • doofus

      Suarez is NO longer a SS. He has no range to his right. He is a lazy defender.

  12. BK

    Jim, this article is an excellent summary of what is ahead. Thanks so much for putting this together!

  13. TR

    The Reds apparently have money to work with so they’ll be active in the free agent market but not at the top-tier that includes Rendon, Betts & co. The Reds are at a crossroads with many decisions to be made regarding centerfield, 2nd. base, shortstop, catching and strengthening the bullpen. A lot of noise is usually made about being in the free agent hunt, but there will be action this offseason with mid-level players.

    • doofus

      Betts is not a FA this offseason. He can become a FA after next season.

  14. Jon

    I like the idea mentioned yesterday by a writer on the RedReporter blog. The writer suggested the Reds could trade with the Red Sox to acquire Betts to help get the Sox below the luxury tax next year. He also suggested another possible move, this one much more appealing (in my opinion). This one would involve the Reds acquiring Bogaerts by also taking David Price and his large salary obligation. As the author noted, Price previously played under Derek Johnson at Vanderbilt. Making this move would involve a major bump to the Reds’ payroll, but would solve the Reds’ SS problem for years to come (up through 2026). It would also add another major arm to the rotation, especially if Johnson can work his magic. Acquiring both Bogaerts and Price together would likely lower the prospect price the Reds would pay compared to if they only acquired Bogaerts, as Price is likely seen by the Red Sox as overpaid.

      • Justin

        I don’t see why we can’t pay it? If we add Price and Bogaerts (52million) we can trade Garcia and Santillian/Gutierrez to start. Having cash back would be nice but I think we could still add one more piece and be at a reasonable salary cap number.

        I assume you mean that we won’t and based on the past I agree, but it really feels like Bob has seen the light (or been shown the light by the other owners).

      • Justin

        If the Red Sox did they, they could go out and sign DiDi and use a piece from us (even Sims or someone) to fill in their rotation. That would be a huge savings on their end and have Garcia waiting in the wings.

  15. Bill J

    How about checking on MagNum and Will Smith in FA, the the trade route for a CF.

    • Bill J

      MadBum not MagNum, stupid spell correct

  16. burtgummer

    I expect keeping Galvis will be their big move

    • TR

      Not my idea of a successful off-season.

  17. doofus

    Unless you stupidly, overpay, why would Rendon want to come to Cincinnati? Suarez is entrenched at 3B; and, presently the team is not a contender. Him moving to 2B is akin to someone who said the Reds should sign Donaldson to play 2B, not happening. Could they trade Suarez?

    Rendon is most likely going to resign with the Nats or sign with the Astros, Rangers, Dodgers, Angels, Phillies, White Sox or Braves.

    • TR

      If the price is right, I would expect Rendon to sign with his hometown team, the Astros, since he went to H.S. not far from Minute Maid Park and is an alumnus of Rice University.