There’s a bit of news and notes around the baseball world today, and some of those are pretty specific to the Cincinnati Reds. While we usually toss some news and notes into the Strat-O-Matic game thread each day, we’re going to have some of them on their own today as they warrant a little more than a look-see and a continued scroll.

Hunter Greene is back

When the Cincinnati Reds selected Hunter Greene with the #2 overall pick in the 2017 Major League Baseball draft they were picking one of the more heralded prospects in recent memory. He had been on the cover of Sports Illustrated and had a fastball that routinely hit triple-digits as a 17-year-old. Greene was also a high level prospect as a shortstop, arguably a late 1st round talent in the infield – but it was his right arm that was just a different kind of special.

After a slow start in Dayton in 2018 buoyed by an asinine .663 BABIP through his first five starts, Hunter Greene went on a tear through the Midwest League over his next 13 starts. In the 2.5-month stretch from May 12th through July 26th he posted a 2.91 ERA in 58.2 innings where he walked just 13 batters and struck out 71 of the 233 hitters he faced (that’s a 30.5% strikeout rate for those keeping track at home). But that July 26th start wound up being the last of the season as Greene suffered a tear in his UCL in his right elbow. Rather than go for Tommy John surgery, he opted for rehab similar to what both Michael Lorenzen and Anthony DeSclafani went through to avoid going under the knife.

For a while it seemed to be working. Greene was throwing again in spring training the following year and was progressing nicely until the final session of the spring when he re-injured his elbow. This time he would opt for surgery and it went well on April 9th. In early March of 2020 he was back in Goodyear and had his first bullpen session, unveiling new mechanics. But then the baseball world shut down. Greene, like everyone else, was basically back at home and sort of on their own to get their baseball work in (with the guidance of the organization, of course). Well, he’s now just over 14 months from surgery, and last night he shared a recent bullpen session that saw him hit 102 MPH.

With taxi squad rosters that could expand the “organizational roster” up to 60 players, despite coming off of surgery and only having pitched in Low-A, would the Reds use up one of those potential roster spots for a guy like Hunter Greene, who could be a real weapon later on in the year – even if it were just going to be out of the bullpen?

Universal DH in 2020 and 2021 could be great for Reds & Nick Castellanos

We still don’t have an agreement for the 2020 season, but it feels like we got a bit closer to figuring it out yesterday. One of the things that was offered up was a designated hitter for both the 2020 and 2021 seasons for the National League. Love it, hate it, be indifferent about it – wherever you sit on that one, one thing is pretty clear: This move would be incredibly beneficial for the Cincinnati Reds. With an outfield that already felt a little crowded they still went out and added Nick Castellanos to go along with Aristides Aquino, Shogo Akiyama, Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker, and Phillip Ervin. Nothing wrong with that, Casellanos absolutely rakes.

But finding playing time for everyone seemed to be an issue – and among that group, Castellanos is probably the worse defender of the bunch. He was still going to start most days, though, because he’s also the best hitter of the bunch. Having the designated hitter option on the table, though, could lead to more at-bats for everyone – including Castellanos, during the season.

While the Reds aren’t going to just put Nick Castellanos into the lineup daily as the designated hitter, it’s likely that they will rotate some of their outfielders around to get some playing time for everyone – this could wind up being a very good thing for the Reds to come out of a real crappy situation.

The Reds have signed 10 undrafted free agents

With the 2020 MLB Draft being restricted to just five rounds this year instead of 40, teams are picking up a few more undrafted free agents than they normally would. For the most part they are only college seniors because there’s a $20,000 signing bonus limit and most players are going to go back to school and take their chances that they can do better than that in the future. Cincinnati, though, has been signing more players than most, inking 10 guys to deals thus far. Most of the guys have been pitchers – some showing success in college, and some others not so much. There are things to like with each player, though – and hopefully the Reds developmental crew that’s been reworked and restructured in the last 12-18 months can help these guys get where they need to be.

25 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    I’m fine with the DH everywhere. And I didn’t used to be. Plus I’m thinking that makes it a no-brainer for the next MLBPA agreement and it ensures guys like Castellanos and even our beloved Votto get more opportunities.

    60-70 games is fine if that’s what we can get. Just play ball and let the “cat out of the box” … 🙂

    • TBD

      Mark
      Just like you I previously hated the idea of the DH anywhere. I personally like the game better without a DH. But, now I’m not going to make a big deal out of it. I guess I’ve seen so many changes in my life, and with so many important things that actually affect people’s lives being so much more important, that now I don’t really care if they have it or not.

    • Red

      Hate DH. Lessens strategy. Plays havoc on records. Reduces need for all round players. If happens, make Votto Dh and Senzel to second. Improves up the middle defense which is major need. Mustakus should be a first baseman.

  2. Greenfield Red

    It’s a little weird to me because I have been so dead set against the DH in the NL. But now with Castellanos and an aging Votto, it will be a big benefit to the Reds, so I’m all for it.

  3. Eric the Red

    Would I trade accepting the DH for one or two years for a WS championship? Yes! Would I trade permanent acceptance of the DH for a WS championship? No. It’s an abomination and a strategy-killer. So bring on “Nick Castellanos, DH for the World Champion Cincinnati Reds.” And then go back to real baseball 🙂

    • Colorado Red

      I still hate the DH. Hated it, when it started (yes I am that old).
      But, if we get a WC out of it, I can live with it.

    • Gonzo Reds

      Exactly how I feel about it! Temp only for me, then back to the game the way it was meant to be played with managers actually having to manage and make decisions.

    • RojoBenjy

      Given a choice between baseball with a DH or no baseball at all, though, I’d have to accept the DH.

      If said situation were ever to arise, that is.

  4. Bred

    Right now NL clubs don’t pay a DH salary. The hitters probably like the idea of making the NL DH permanent as it is more jobs. Pitchers, maybe not so much. It will be interesting.

    • Mark Moore

      The pitchers I’ve watched through the years don’t seem to like hitting very much. In fact, the DH could let some of them stay in a game longer at times.

      It’s coming at some point anyway, so I’ve resigned myself to that. Just like the robo strike zone – which I also support if it can be consistent and eliminate the worst of the umps we’ve seen.

    • Doc

      How is the DH more jobs? Rosters have been the same size in both leagues for the forty some years the DH has been in effect. There was not a single additional job added when the DH came into being, nor since. Does not compute.

      • Bred

        I did misspeak. You are correct there are not more openings, but more higher paying opportunities. Older guys who can still hit but not field as well as they had in the past get to extend their careers. This is from 2016:
        https://blogs.fangraphs.com/designated-hitter-is-the-highest-paid-mlb-position/
        Of course huge $$$$, long term contacts have dwindled and but Harper, Machado, and JV will end up as a DH in the NL if it is adopted in 2021.
        This year EE would have made 12 million as a DH.
        Only 5 DHs would make less than 5 million and one of those is Ohtani at $700,000. My poorly made point was I think position players would welcome the DH, but would NL owners like the increased payroll?
        https://www.spotrac.com/mlb/rankings/salary/designated-hitter/

  5. Tom Mitsoff

    How many National League teams signed, in effect, a full-time DH during the offseason? Castellanos as the everyday DH is a great solution. The only reason to put him in the outfield on defense is if there are injuries to other outfielders. Lots of other outfield options who are at least better than him. IMO, season will open with Winker and Ervin platooning in left, Senzel in center and Akiyama in right. We hope that Akiyama is an everyday player in the U.S. as he was in Japan. Aquino and Payton will be close by waiting for their opportunities.

    And, I would LOVE for Greene to be a bullpen factor for a competitive team. I still hope a number one starter is his ceiling.

  6. Colorado Red

    Have seem a lot of other teams, sign the top 5 players, but no rumors of the Reds.
    Are they being cheap, hardball negotiations, are the numbers that bad?
    (I do not know)

  7. James Nave III

    Would it be out the question to DH Votto full time? Give him that job of just focusing on hitting? And maybe move Cast to 1B? Less wear on Votto as he ages, plus if he only has to focus only hitting maybe we gets top notch Votto back? Probably too late to try converting Cast tho I guess

    • Sliotar

      I have always been of the notion that Votto would tell the team, and whoever the manager is at the time, what he wants to do .. about playing time, his career, everything.

      Can’t see him giving up playing in the field just yet in such a (proposed) short season.

  8. Sliotar

    Not a criticism of anyone … just an observation that I have read a lot of “no DH in the NL” comments at RLN over the years.

    Baseball has changed signficantly … in the blink of an eye (assuming a deal is struck)

    -Universal DH
    -16 teams in playoffs
    -Advertisement (or should that have an “s” at the end?) on jerseys

    None of that is getting rolled back in the next CBA, IMO … will hurt bottom line.

  9. MBS

    Green, Lodolo, Naughton, and Santillan all need to be on the Reds taxi squad. With no minor league ball, these 4 arms need to continue to develop. Even if it’s out of the pen for a short season.

    • Doug Gray

      Santillan will be there. There’s no way guys on the 40-man who are healthy aren’t there. I’d imagine that Naughton and Lodolo would also be there. Greene is such a wild card pick. It makes so much sense. But at the same time the organization wanted to take it easy on him this year as he comes back from the surgery – so perhaps that comes into play in letting him continue working “on his own” in high end facilities that he has access to. I’d bring him into the fold if the taxi squad roster were over 50 players for sure.

  10. ClevelandRedsFan

    Does being on the taxi squad credit a player with a year of service time?

    • Doug Gray

      An important question that no one has had any sort of answer for at this point. I can’t imagine they get big league service time, but what kind of service time they do get, how much they get paid, do guys on the non-40-man portion of this use options if called up/sent down – plenty of questions we just don’t have any answers for yet.

  11. Tomn

    I just want baseball back. DH or not. If a summer can be awful, this one is.

  12. Danny

    I hate the DH. I have always hated the DH. I don’t watch American league baseball and if they install the DH in the National league I will not watch it either. Stop telling me that you want to speed up the game and then change the rules to increase scoring and slow it down.