The Cincinnati Reds Caravan kicked off on Thursday morning, but before the different groups left from Great American Ballpark they interacted with the local media. C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic tweeted out that Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations said he expected the team to add to the big league roster before the start of spring training.
The key thing to focus on here is that Williams said big league roster. That means the 40-man. That doesn’t imply simply signing someone and giving them an invitation to spring training – like the organization did earlier this week with reliever Nate Jones – but signing someone to a guaranteed contract (or acquiring someone via trade) for at least the 2020 season.
The ZiPS projections for the Reds suggest that the team is significantly better than their 2019 record of 75-87. It’s a competitive team as it stands now, at least on paper (which is all anyone can go by at this point in time). There’s something to be said about how valuable an extra win or two can be when a team is competing versus when a team is fighting to win 77 games. Going from 86 wins to 88 wins can be massive. That very well could be the difference between making the playoffs and not making the playoffs. For a team like the Reds, who are in that range – adding to the roster, be it additional depth or adding someone they can count on regularly – it’s the kind of move that could tip the scale.
Teams should always being looking to upgrade everywhere. That said, there are some places where upgrading may be easier than others. For Cincinnati, the place that seems to be the one that could be upgraded and have the most significance is shortstop. Freddy Galvis is the current starter there, and among the position groups (I’m using the term groups here because it feels like the outfield is going to see several guys rotating spots rather than having just three starters, and of course there’s almost always some split behind the plate), he seems to be the weakest link. The Reds have been linked to several shortstops on the trade market this offseason, and they’ve been big names like Francisco Lindor and Corey Seager – but those kinds of players don’t get moved on the cheap. And for now at least, it seems the price is too high to get the deal done.
Unlike the shortstop position, where there really only feels like one option on the current roster – Galvis – the bullpen is an area with a lot of options available for the Reds that are already in-house. But it’s also an area where many feel the team could still use an upgrade. The options on the free agent market aren’t exactly still there in terms of certainty. So like shortstop, if a true upgrade is going to come onboard, it’ll likely have to come from the trade market.
Perhaps the Reds front office has something up their sleeve that they are working on. We’re going to have to wait and see, but pitchers and catchers report in less than a month. We might not have to wait long to see what’s next.