Tha Sports Junkies 101

Cincinnati Reds: New Year, New Team

Cincinnati Reds: New Year, New Team Image via Sportsgraphics36

MLB

Cincinnati Reds

Plenty has changed since the 2012 MLB season. That year the Cincinnati Reds went 97-65 en route to taking first place in the NL Central, but were beaten by the eventual World Series Champion San Francisco Giants in the NLDS. In 2013, they finished with a strong 90-72 record, although it was only good enough for third place and a Wild Card matchup where they would lose to the Pittsburgh Pirates.

The downhill slide continued in the years to come. They finished fourth, last, and last again from 2014 to 2016, with records well below the .500 mark. Other than superstar Joey Votto, they have lacked the performance and consistency across 162 games that is required to compete in what has become one of the toughest divisions in baseball.

So what lies ahead for the Reds? Are they close to fielding a playoff-caliber team? Are they looking at another lost season as they try to rebuild themselves into a competitive ball club? Let’s take a look at some of their off-season moves as we examine the possibilities for Cincinnati’s future.


Off-Season Moves:

Although the Reds have been relatively quiet this off-season, they have made a few moves worth noting. They signed a couple of free agent pitchers to one-year deals. Reliever Drew Storen signed on a one-year, $3 million deal that includes an additional $1.5 million in incentives. Starter/reliever Scott Feldman signed to a $2.3 million deal. Feldman’s contract includes another $2.2 million in incentives. Both pitchers bring a low-risk, high-reward upside and can be traded at the deadline to a contending team if they perform well.

Cincinnati also made a splash in the trade market, dealing starting pitcher Dan Straily to the Miami Marlins in a trade that featured pitching prospects Luis Castillo and Austin Brice. Castillo has been clocked at 97-100 MPH consistently as a starter.

These moves seem to fit what should continue to be a rebuilding process for the Reds, as they find inexpensive options on short-term deals and continue to acquire more young talent. Recently, they have been tied to former Reds starter Bronson Arroyo, another low-risk option that could benefit both sides if the veteran attempts to return.

Also worth noting, is the fact that infielders Zach Cozart and Brandon Phillips are both free agents at year’s end. Combine that with the fact that they appear to be blocking young infield prospects, Dilson Herrera and Jose Peraza, and it would be fair to assume that Reds GM Dick Williams would like to trade one, if not both Cozart and Phillips.

Expectations For 2017:

If you haven’t noticed yet, the Reds are still in rebuild mode. They have an offense that continues to improve, but they still appear to be a year or two away from where they want to be. The starting rotation has some bright spots, but again, they are hoping for some of their young guns to progress and help the team in the coming years.

The starting rotation should look something like this: Anthony DeSclafani, Homer Bailey, Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, and most likely new acquisition Scott Feldman. Some of the key bats for the Reds will include Joey Votto, Billy Hamilton, Adam Duvall, Devin Mesoraco, Zach Cozart, and Brandon Phillips. Keep in mind though that Cozart and Phillips may be traded at some point to make room for some up-and-comers.

Spoiler Alert: The Cincinnati Reds are not going to win the NL Central. With contending teams like the Pittsburgh Pirates, St. Louis Cardinals, and World Champion Chicago Cubs to compete with, even a playoff-caliber team would find it hard to reach the top of this division.

Summary:

As it is, the Cincinnati Reds will continue to rebuild and acquire young talent as they look towards the future. With several players set to hit free agency, I expect GM Dick Williams to work hard on the trade market this season. Hopefully for him, some of these players can perform well enough to warrant some interest. It’s never easy to hear that your team is “rebuilding”, but the future is bright for Cincinnati. Reds fans just need to be patient and enjoy the process as this team continues to improve.