The Cincinnati Reds pitching was pretty strong in 2019, even though there were some ups-and-downs with the bullpen a few times during the year. But the offense…. well, that was another story. There were a whole heck of a lot more downs than ups during the 2019 season. Addressing some of the problems on the offensive side of things is certainly an area of concentration for the Reds this offseason according to Dick Williams, as reported by Jon Morosi of MLB Network late on Tuesday night.

The Reds have already been linked to several names on the free agent market, and they’re among some of the bigger ones on the market, too. MLB Trade Rumors predicts that Cincinnati will land both catcher Yasmani Grandal and shortstop Didi Gregorius. Other outlets believe that they are going after both as their top targets, too. That would certainly help the offense improve, unless there was something unforeseen. The trade market could be a fall back option if the team is unable to land either of these two.

They’ve also been linked with outfielder Marcell Ozuna. He’s been an above-average hitter for each of the last four seasons. His 2017 campaign saw him hit .312/.376/.548, good for a 149 OPS+, which was easily the best of his career. He’s only been a little above-average at the plate in the other three seasons in that stretch. Mike Petriello of MLB.com took a deep dive look at Ozuna to try and figure out why some of the underlying stats that suggest he should have performed better than he actually has may be a reason to think that he could improve in 2020. Or that maybe there’s a reason he’s performed exactly as he should.

Earlier this week there were rumors that the Reds were interested in infielder Howie Kendrick. After hitting .344 and slugging .572 on the season for the Washington Nationals his services are in demand, even at his age. But it’s now being reported that the Tampa Bay Rays are the front runner according to Bobby Nightengale of The Cincinnati Enquirer. The article from Nightengale has plenty of good tidbits from the General Manager meetings, so be sure to go read the entire thing.

39 Responses

  1. doofus

    If the still young players Senzel and Winker had not gone down with injuries, but remained healthy and productive contributors to the offense, would Dick Williams still be scouring the landscape for hitters this offseason? Is it the prognosis of the medical staff that these two should return healthy to begin 2020?

    As the 2019 season went on the pitching fell off a bit. I contend that the Reds also need more pitching and a better approach to hitting, to learn what situational hitting actually means. For example: players like Suarez need to realize that they need to contribute more to the team. He needs to realize that a simple single to RF will plate the baserunners, instead of striking out swinging at a pitch he had no chance of putting into the seats to pad his HR total.

    Yes, I believe that a C, SS and CF (so Senzel can move to the dirt) need to be found. But, the offseason tinkering should also address the pitching staff.

    You can never have enough pitching.

    • Mike

      Amen brother. I have been preaching the lack of situational for a long time with this club. Especially with Suarez. I shudder to think how many times he struck out with a runner at third and less then two outs. I was hoping Bell would bring a return to fundamentals, but alas, they have gotten worse not better.

      • Stock

        I side with Michael Smith here and feel Mike and Doofus need to do more reserach. Suarez was the consumate team player with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs. I have 5 K’s in 39 PA. I have 19 RBI and 8 BB. I have 6 SF. I have a .240 BA mostly because of a .194 BABIP. These stats tell me Suarez is indeed a team first player. Others should not speak badly about him unless they have the facts to back it up.

      • Eric Wormus

        The bigger problem is getting to a situation where there is a runner on 3rd with less than 2 outs. The Reds in 2019 only had 267 plate appearances all year with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 outs. In 2018, they had 344 such PAs, a pretty drastic 23% decrease year over year.

      • doofus

        Fellas, I watched something like 170 major league games last season. About 140 were Red’s games. I know when a hitter is swinging for the fences, concerned with his HR totals, instead of just slapping a single to RF to plate and or advance a couple of baserunners.

        Why did you cherry-pick Suarez’s hitting with runners at 3B. Did he not come to the plate with runners on 2B or 1B at all last season?

        Why did Suarez increase his K’s in 2020 33% over 2018’s (189 to 142).

        Suarez was a very selfish hitter last season.

    • REDLEGS 4 LIFE

      I agree. Honestly I think if we can swing, Grandal, Gregorious and Ozuna as well as a top level pitcher to round out our top three we would be good. Then we would have some good long relievers as well that could start in a pinch or injury situation to one of our starters.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        If the Reds front office can sign those three, it would be an insanely successful off-season. It would then open many trade possibilities from both the major and minor league rosters. The odds are against it, though it would be great.

    • Doc

      They need a fifth starter who goes beyond potential to performance. Certainly didn’t get that this year as every fifth day was essentially a loss. Maybe that is Mahle, or maybe his career highlights are minor league no hit and perfect games. Time to produce at the big league level; this year could be pivotal for him.

      • Redsvol

        I enjoy your input Doc and respectfully disagree. 2018 I gave Mahle a pass. 2019 was the pivotal year and he failed at it. Too many walks and hits per nine innings with no signs of trending in a better direction as the season wore on. He had his chance, now time for someone else and put him in the bullpen.

  2. JoshG

    do not want Ozuna, a winker/Ervin platoon would put up MUCH better numbers. and why is everyone so eager to move Senzel back to the infield? There are a lot more available second baseman than CF’s. And Senzel looked pretty good in the outfield to me.

    • SultanofSwaff

      Agree on the platoon. If I’m moving Senzel back to the infield, SS is the only position I’m considering because, yes, 2B are easy to find.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      A lot of players are “easy to find”. Are they any good, that’s the question.

    • Davy13

      I live in Miami and have been watching Ozuna’s career since the beginning through his time with the Cardinals. I agree with the underlying fear of Ozuna’s below average defense and “the peak & valleys” of his offense. Yet, I would want the Reds to take him because he is still young and I believe his hitting would thrive in a hitter’s ballpark. His batting numbers were outstanding playing in Marlins Park and solid in Busch Stadium imagine how much better in GABP.

      • Redsvol

        Ozuna scares me. I don’t think he will age well at all. However, because the outfield market is so thin this year, he’s going to get paid and paid well.

    • TR

      Senzel didn’t look too good hitting the wall.

  3. CFD3000

    It’s hard to imagine getting less production from Winker, Senzel, Votto, and whoever plays second base (I’m hoping for JVM) in 2020 than 2019. If the Reds do add Grandal behind the plate that would be a big upgrade for the offense. But if Winker and Senzel can stay healthy (and Senzel gets comfortable at the big league plate), if Votto has a rebound year to even modest Votto levels, and if JVM, Galvis, or even Blandino can provide steady on base skills from second, the Reds could see a big jump in the offense. Yes, Grandal and Gregorius could be a boost for 2020. But I think there’s just as much room for improvement from internal sources. If those two both happen this could be a very good team. Fingers crossed on Grandal. I’m ambivalent on Gregorius. And I’m excited about what 2020 could bring for Winker, Senzel, JVM and Votto. Bring it on!

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      This is sort of why I would like to get some “proven” players in there. We have so many “ifs”. “If” all the “ifs” step up, we don’t need one new player, and watch out NL if not the entire league.

      Also, spinning it a bit differently, I would like to see a degree of “veteranism” (if that is a word) come in those new players. As in, “players with experience”, “players who know how to win”, “players who can set an example, “players who can set the bar”, “players who can show the younger players how things are suppose to be done for winning baseball”, etc.

      Why this? We lost a lot of close games last season. I believe if we had a dose (or an additional dose of this, if you like), a lot of those games go our way.

      I’m talking about what I’ve said before about Michael Jordan. Forget Jordan’s “high profile stats”, Jordan’s almost unnerving “will to win” drove his teammates to seemingly play to an even higher level when he went back onto the court with them.

      • Tim

        Yes , but when new leadership came in , we struck out 2 much and defense su led, fixed dat , den new leadership…I like watching youngsters grow up , and we r SO close . Coach h likes double switching and gets more favorable matchups than any team that way . He wants guys that play numerous positions and I like the scheme. I bet he don’t like Votto LOCKED in at 1st , where u can switch easier. Don’t give up on our youngsters yet , and let Stevenson try starting again please .

  4. Optimist

    Grandal seems to be the key. Adding that bat to the lineup is vital. Didi is much less important, particularly after next year. They’ve got so many platoonable 25-28 year olds they need to identify next year, and always add more starters. Perhaps Wood on another 1-year deal, and a package trade for another 4-5 starter or RP.

  5. AirborneJayJay

    The CF is going to have to come via a trade.
    The Astros and Dodgers are expected to lose top free agent pitchers and may or may not sign a free agent replacements. They seem to seek experienced arms for their rotations and might not get the level of starter they are seeking because of luxury tax issues for 2020.
    This is where I would start to dangle Anthony DeSclafani, who had a nice rebound season in 2019, to bring back a CF. He got his career back on the line and his low cost would be ideal for luxury tax conscious teams. The Dodgers and Astros both have a young CF blocked by a high priced CF and both have luxury tax limitations. The Astros have Kyle Tucker and the Dodgers have Alex Verdugo. Tucker would be my main target, but Verdugo closely behind.
    The Red Sox also have luxury tax issues and could look to part with a CF. Betts is too expensive and JBJ doesn’t hit enough. But they have Andrew Benintendi ready to hit arbitration and can play CF too.
    It would be next to impossible to pry away breakout star CF Ketel Marte from Arizona. But the other Marte, Starling in PIT might become available for trade. Other known CF’s that might be available would be Joc Pederson (LAD), Ramon Laureano (OAK), and Scott Kingery (PHL). Two lesser known CF’s might be John Berti (MIA) and Victor Reyes (DET). Two corner OF who can man CF capably and who had injury filled 2019 seasons could be Brandon Nimmo (NYM) and Mitch Haniger (SEA). The Reds might be able to buy low here because of the injuries in 2019.
    I think I would rank them as 1. Kyle Tucker, 2. Andrew Benintendi, 3. Alex Verdugo, 4. Starling Marte, 5. Scott Kingery (PHI), 6. Ramon Laureano (OAK), and 7. Mitch Haniger (SEA).
    That is a lot of CF’s that could be available by trade. The right trade.

    • NorMichRed

      Dele CF Reyes (DET) from that list. Living up north of the “international border,” have seen enough of Reyes last couple years. Kept as a Rule 5 pick a year ago and was clueless out there, especially at the dish. Slight improvement in 2019, but showed no level of offense capability that would make him a viable OF candidate. He’s quick, plays hard. That’s about all I can say in the positive about him. I would be inclined to agree that Starling Marte is within affordability level and is an interesting candidate, but none of the above look to be a sure thing. Which gets us full circle to the discussion as to whether a healthy Senzel is still a higher outcome choice than any of the outside candidates. (Assuming that Betts is too pricey to be any kind of consideration.)

    • Redsvol

      Jay – I love the effort but no-one is going to give up a young, controllable center fielder who is proven at the major league level for the last arbitration year of a pitcher with major injury history in Desclafani. It would take way more to get the top 4 of your list and probably all 7. I like the idea of a trade from the pitching staff, but it likely require someone like Lorenzen in addition to Desclafani. Would love to see Benintendi in GABP.

    • doctor

      I think you likely should scratch your first 3 names. Regarding Tucker, Houston has all 4 of their top playing OF being FA after 2020: Springer, Reddick, Brantley, Marisnick. Tucker is the heir apperent to either Springer (if Houston not able to keep him) or Reddick.

      Boston is in a similar scenario with Betts and Jackie Bradley as FA after 2020, so Boston will be hanging on Benintendi to be the OF anchor, given the supposed rumors of Boston under payroll pressure and Betts not open to signing an extension before his FA after 2020.

      Dodgers are more likely to move Joc Pederson(also a FA after 2020), and keep the more offensively balanced Verdugo, while lowering payroll to keep that flexibility the Dodgers front office seems to be so keen on.

      Now if the Reds offered Luis Castillo, then yes a trade could work but I don’t believe any Reds fan would be in favor of that. Ha.

  6. Stock

    If the Reds are truly serious about winning they should do the following given that they have $40 million to spend right now.

    1. Sign FA: Didi (3 years/48 million/16 million per year), Grandal (4/70/17.5), Will Smith (3/36/12), Betances (2/18/9) and Scooter (1/4/4) Total (13/176/58.5) (18.5 million over budget)

    2. Trade Galvis/Barnhart/India for Clint Frazier (NYY) (Reduce budget 8.5 million with this trade).

    3. Approach Votto and tell him Reds management want to be all in for 2019 and 2020 and ask if he is willing to defer $10 million a year so the Reds can bring in the above players. I am pretty sure he will say yes.

    LF: Winker/Ervin
    CF: Senzel
    RF: Frazier

    IF: Votto, Gennett, Suarez and Didi
    C: Grandal

    SP: Castillo/Gray/Bauer/DeSclafani/Mahle
    RP: Smith/Betances/Iglesias/Garrett/Stephenson/Lorenzen with 2 of Reed/Sims/Bowman/Alaniz/Herget/Kuhnel

    You suddenly have a really good bullpen and good SP. The offense has a lot of potential too.

    I think Grandal ends up in COL so if he does then replace Grandal with D’Arnaud and Sign Wheeler too. I personally feel Wheeler will add more value/$ than any FA signing this winter. I think his 2020 stats will be similar to Strasburg.

    • Mark

      Stock,
      I like what your proposing here overall!
      My only change would be Aquino in RF, Frazier in LF and Ervin/Siri in CF.
      I’m using Winker as trade bait for Frazier, along with Galvis.
      Senzel to 2B
      I’m also looking to move Casali.
      C position if you sign Grandal he plays 4-5 days a week, and then either T. Stephenson the other 2 days or Farmer the other 2 days until Tyler is deemed ready at AAA to come up to the majors.

  7. Colorado Red

    However, Hope is not a strategy.
    I think we need some improvements.
    Yes, on Grandal, Yes on Didi (a risk worth taking due to recovery time).
    Yes on a BP arm or two.

  8. Goat

    Sign JasonCastro instead of Grandal, Iglesias instead of Gregorius, sign Scooter Gennett, Bumgarner, and a strong middle reliever. Sign Puig, Patterson, or Castellanos.

  9. AirborneJayJay

    The LA Dodgers are reported to be interested in free agent 3B Josh Donaldson. Turner would move to 1B and Muncy to 2B. Then the Dodgers would have a conundrum of not having a place to play top-10 MLB prospect Gavin Lux at 2B or SS.
    Corey Seager would look good in a Reds uniform at SS.
    Dodgers could get real interested in Raisel Iglesias I would think. Dodgers create a spot in their lineup for Lux and strengthen a perceived weakness, their bullpen. Reds get a quality SS.

    • BK

      I think the Reds could match up well with the Dodgers:

      Iglesias (addresses their need in bullpen, less HRs in larger park) and India (replacement for Turner in 2021) to the Dodgers. In return the Reds get Seager (starting SS w/3 years of control), Pollock (aging CF w/3 years of expensive control), Pederson (would play RF in platoon w/Aquino for 1 year or CF if/when Pollock is injured). Pollock and Pederson are expensive and largely redundant to the Dodgers. Due to Pollock’s contract/age, the Reds may want cash, too (perhaps the Dodgers provide ~$5M to cover his buyout in 2023).

      This moves a net of $21.6M in payroll to the Reds and leaves ample dollars to aggressively pursue Grandal via free agency. The Dodgers clear space to bring in Josh Donaldson and LF (Ozuna) and stay out of luxury tax territory. Based on Steamer projections the Dodgers end up with 8.5 fWAR + India. Reds gain 7.3 fWAR w/dollars to allocate to Grandal and/or pitching.

      • doctor

        Seager only has 2 years of control left though it would be awesome to see him as Reds SS. Pollock too injury prone for paying $51M over 3 years(including $5M buyout).

      • BK

        @ Doctor … Thanks … I need to sharpen my arithmetic skills. I was glad the Reds passed on Pollock last year for the reasons you stated. Like last year, the Dodgers will likely look to rebalance their commitments. Pollock is the bad contract that “could” make sense to the Reds. Without a “bad contract” coming back, I don’t see a fit. I just don’t think the Reds want to give up a top pitching prospect along with a player like India to make acquire Seager.

  10. Redsvol

    I tend to think one thing that often gets overlooked is whether a free agent has experience on teams that routinely get to the playoffs. No statistic is going to show whether a player helps his club get to the post-season routinely but its obvious that some do. Yadier Molina is but one example.

    For this reason, I am a big believer in Grandal. Yes he was on teams with amazing talent in L.A. but certain players help bring it together. Didi is another one. Yankees had some barren years early in the decade. Since Didi, they have made the post-season. Of course you have to discount this year because he didn’t play much but 2015-2018 he did. Howie Kendrick is another – he has been in the post-season an incredible number of years. Marcel Ozuna on the other hand scares me to think of Reds paying him 15-20M$/year. However, I’d be very happy with any 2 of these 3 players.

  11. Jason Franklin

    Wouldn’t Castellanos be a better fit for the Reds? He is much better defensively and is a smidge younger to boot. I know Ozuna is coming off a down year and I assume the Reds and everyone else will try to get a discount due to that. Or they will try to sign him to a one year deal (as Ozuna may prefer).

    It may be a fun off season!!

  12. Jimi

    Reds need 2 sign Didi, Grandal, get Roark as 5th starter, pick up Corey Dickerson LF, add a CF, sign Neil Walker as a platoon for Votto, & they can get Scooter cheap to back up Senzel who moves back to 2nd because his arm is not repaired for CF work, plus add some LH pitcher in relief, done