Cincinnati Reds offseason

Cincinnati Reds offseason breakdown

The Cincinnati Reds have been stuck in a period of stagnation, as they have failed to reach a .500 record since 2013 and have three consecutive fifth place finishes in the National League Central.

2017 season

In Bryan Price’s fourth season as the Reds manager, Cincinnati went 68-94 for a second consecutive year. Although the team as a whole was underwhelming, the Reds offense alone was very respectable, finishing 14th in runs scored and RBIs, 13th in home runs and 18th in batting average.

The team was led by Joey Votto, who played in all 162 games, and led the National League in walks, on-base and on-base plus slugging percentage. It is anticipated he will finish within the top three in the National League MVP vote.

Cincinnati Reds offseason

Joey Votto headlines a rebuilding Cincinnati club. (Photo by Al Behrman/AP Photo)

Other impact players included first-time All-Star Zack Cozart, Adam Duvall, Scooter Gennett, Scott Schebler and Eugenio Suarez, who each hit over 24 home runs and drove in at least 60 RBIs. Many baseball fans expected speedsters Billy Hamilton and Jose Peraza to take the next step in 2017, but both saw regression in their batting averages.

 

The main cause for the Reds’ struggles stems from their inconsistent pitching, as Cincinnati ranked 29th in earned run average, walk rate and quality starts. Only the Seattle Mariners used more starting pitchers than the Reds this season. Brandon Finnegan, Anthony DeSclafani and Tony Cingrani, who pitched a total of about 360 innings in 2016, only amassed 36 total innings due to injuries in 2017. This forced young arms like Amir Garrett, Luis Castillo and Sal Romano into action.

Garrett showed promise in his first three starts, pitching a total of 19.2 innings while allowing only four earned runs and striking out 21. Unfortunately for the rookie left hander, right hip inflammation forced him onto the disabled list in May. After returning from the DL, Garrett struggled mightily, finishing the season with a 7.39 ERA and 1.61 WHIP in 70.2 innings pitched.

Romano and Castillo were bright spots for Cincinnati, as they combined to pitched 176.1 innings with a 3.79 ERA. It is clear the Reds will rely on all three of these young arms in 2018.

The best pitcher on the Reds roster is closer Raisel Iglesias, who pitched a total of 76 innings, logging 28 saves with a 2.49 ERA and 10.9 K/9. He pitched more than one inning in 18 of his 63 appearances, showing his longevity in the bullpen. The Reds will rely heavily on Iglesias in 2018, as he is the only reliever on the roster to have two consecutive seasons with a sub-3 ERA.

Prospects to keep an eye on

Nick Senzel, Third Baseman

Cincinnati Reds offseason

In 187 minor league games, Nick Senzel is batting .315 with 21 home runs, 105 RBIs and 32 stolen bases. (Photo by Daytondailynews.com)

Ranked eighth among all MLB prospects by MLB.com, Nick Senzel promises to be a franchise player for Cincinnati. The former second-overall selection in 2016 has been flying through the minor leagues, advancing from rookie ball to Double-A in just two seasons.

In 187 minor league games, Senzel is batting .315 with 21 home runs, 105 RBIs and 32 stolen bases. I absolutely expect to see Senzel at the major league level in 2018, as he will likely replace Suarez or Cozart on the left side of the infield once one is dealt.

Jesse Winker, Outfielder

Winker played 47 games at the major league level this season, batting .298 with seven home runs and 15 RBIs. In 85 minor league games, Winker batted .314 with 24 extra-base hits and 41 RBIs.

The corner outfielder seems more than capable of playing an everyday role with the Reds. However, a log jam in their outfield may force Winker to start the year in Triple-A if they don’t move Schebler or Duvall by the start of 2018.

Dilson Herrera, Second Baseman

Herrera was acquired by Cincinnati in the deal that sent Jay Bruce to the New York Mets. The 23-year-old played in 68 games at the Triple-A level this season, batting .264 with 17 extra-base hits and 42 RBIs.

His season was cut short after season-ending arthroscopic shoulder surgery in July, but he is expected to be a full participant in spring training. There is a major log jam in the Reds infield, and Herrera will further complicate things for Reds management, although this problem of excess is one that all teams would love to have.

Team Needs

Cincinnati Reds offseason

(Photo by Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports)

The Reds certainly could use more pitching, as their rotation lacks an established arm with a proven track record. Only Homer Bailey and Bronson Arroyo have finished a season with double-digit wins and a sub-4 ERA in their career. Unfortunately for Cincinnati, they don’t have much wiggle room in terms of salary cap, as they will need to sign Gennett, Hamilton, DeSclafani, Suarez and Iglesias this offseason. All are arbitration eligible and should be retained though.

Also, the team will have to make a big decision regarding All-Star Zack Cozart, who is a free agent this offseason. The Reds will likely offer him a $17.4 million qualifying offer, which will allow the team to acquire a compensatory first-round pick in 2018 (if he were to sign a deal with another club for north of $50 million).

If Cozart were to accept the qualifying offer, the Reds would be unable to make any significant move in free agency. If they were to lose him, they would be without one of their key contributors from the 2017 season. A decision regarding Cozart will be a likely indication of the team’s direction moving forward.

Potential offseason moves

With the Reds not in a clear contending position, it is likely they sell some of their established players in order to continue developing their farm system. Trading Suarez and Duvall would open up every-day roles for the aforementioned Senzel and Winker, while moving players like Iglesias or Cozart (if signed) could get the Reds a good haul in terms of prospects.

I assume the Reds will be selling this offseason in order to continue bolstering their farm system, which currently ranks eighth in the MLB according to Bleacherreport.com.

Trend

In my opinion, the Reds are a team trending in the wrong direction in terms of winning right now. They had a mediocre 2017 campaign and seem to be looking to continue their rebuilding process.

If I were a Reds fan, I would be disappointed with management for not being able to put a winning team around superstar Joey Votto, as the Reds don’t look like they will contend for a playoff spot until the end of the decade.

However, with a top-10 farm system, the Reds long-term future looks bright.

 

Featured image by WTOP.com

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The Spring Injury Report: Next Man Up

The injury bug is a dreaded topic for teams and fans alike. Managers are settling in on their Opening Day rosters with two short weeks remaining until regular season action. Unfortunately, they must contend with the question of who will bridge the gap while the starters recover.

Today, The Game Haus takes a look at some of the most impactful injuries from around the league. Who are the big names? How will teams have cope with their absence? Who will step into the role in the short term?

 

Jason Kipnis

Injury Update:

Strained Rotator Cuff – Out 4-5 weeks

Analysis:

Kipnis experienced a brief, five-day shutdown early in camp with what was described as shoulder soreness. The injury didn’t appear serious at the time, but it has escalated from what the team originally expected.

Kipnis has no history for this type of injury, which should give fans some comfort this won’t be a reoccurring issue. However, the escalation of “soreness” to now missing over a month does provide cause for concern.

Next Man Up: Jose Ramirez

The extremely versatile Jose Ramirez played the role of ultimate utility man last season. He spent time primarily at third base and left field. Ramirez also has experience at shortstop. The transition over to second base may be challenging, but Ramirez has the skill set to manage.

The Indians don’t have many options in terms of late spring acquisition, and the farm lacks depth at second. The other problem this creates will be backfilling Ramirez at third. Fortunately for the Indians, minor leaguer Giovanny Urshela has some MLB experience and would provide a serviceable stopgap at third.

Kipnis is undoubtedly a critical part of this Indians lineup, but Ramirez has proven more than capable and should be able to carry the load in the meantime.

 

Ian Desmond

Injury Update:

Fractured Left Hand – Expected out until late April

Analysis:

This is an incredibly frustrating injury for both Desmond and the Rockies. Desmond was slated to be the everyday first baseman before being hit by a pitch during a spring training game. The Rockies made a sizeable offseason investment to the tune of five years and $70 million.

It looks as though Desmond is slated to return at the end of April after receiving surgery on his hand. Disappointing as it is, one month out of the entire season shouldn’t give the Rockies much cause for concern.

Next Man Up: Mark ReynoldsThe Spring Injury Report: Next Man Up

With Desmond out and Gerardo Parra taking increasing repetitions in the outfield, first base falls to veteran Mark Reynolds. Reynolds looks likely to win the job, but will compete this spring against younger options Jordan Patterson and Stephen Cardullo.

Reynolds hasn’t traditionally hit for average, but he did bat .282 in 116 games last season. He also brings a decent power threat to the table, which should play well in an already strong Rockies offense.

You can’t replace Desmond’s production in the short term, but if he returns fully healthy at the end of April, the Rockies won’t miss much.

 

Anthony DeSclafani

Injury Update:

Sprained UCL, right elbow – Expected out 1-2 Months

Analysis:

DeSclafani is listed as the ace of this Red’s pitching staff to put this loss in context. The Reds aren’t seen as a highly viable contender this year, but losing starting pitching hurts regardless. The good news is that the injury won’t require Tommy John surgery as is so prevalent in the MLB today. A speedy recovery should see DeSclafani back in a rotation that will undoubtedly be missing him by May.

The Spring Injury Report: Next Man UpNext Man (Men) Up: Tim Adleman, Bronson Arroyo, Rookie Davis, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Sal Romano and Robert Stephenson

Wow, talk about a spring training competition. Adelman is currently listed highest on the depth chart at number four out of all those names. That should be an indication of how many spots were up for grabs before this injury.

With this many rotation spots in flux, the balance of these names will end up in the bullpen. The Reds will need a lot more than one guy to step up if they’re going to successfully bridge the gap until DeSclafani’s return.

The silver lining here is that for a rebuilding team, plenty of young players will have the opportunity to develop. It may feel like an awfully long season for the Reds’ fans and their organization while they wait for that development to happen.

 

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The One Player That Can Save The Reds’ Offseason

Courtesy of, leageez.com

Courtesy of, leageez.com

The Cincinnati Reds have had a terrible offseason so far, and that is probably putting a positive spin on it. There have been failed deals, domestic violence disputes and trades that not many people agree with.

Sadly this is the nature of a rebuilding team. You trade away players that you love and hope that the young players you get in return can someday help your team win a championship.

Where the Reds have gotten extremely young is in their pitching staff. Last year to start the 2014 season the Reds had a starting rotation of Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, and Alfredo Simon. Only one of those 5 remain, Homer Bailey, and he will be recovering from Tommy John surgery until sometime in May or June. That means that there will be 5 relatively inexperienced starters coming out of Spring Training for the Reds if the team stays as is.

I will not be putting my predictions of the rotation for the Reds until they have finished making most of their big moves. As of now the Reds are in full rebuild mode and that means try outs for everyone. This also means that there is a lot of uncertainty for the coming season for the team overall.

Because they are moving most of their veteran players, the Reds lack of experience will put this team in the position to have a lot of growing pains. This will hurt the attendance and excitement of one of the most loyal fanbases in baseball.

With all of the negativity and loss of star players like Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto, and Aroldis Chapman the Reds front office will have problems convincing the fans to come spend their hard earned money to watch young players develop.

There is one player who is on the free agent market who can help bring some fans to the stadium, be another face alongside Joey Votto (assuming that he is not traded), and he can help be a veteran presence for the young Reds pitching staff.

This player is Bronson Arroyo.

Courtesy of, www.sportsworldreport.com

Courtesy of, www.sportsworldreport.com

Rumors have said that Arroyo would be interested in returning to the Reds. While in Cincinnati the man was beloved by the fans and he seemed to love the city back.

The Reds traded for Arroyo in 2006 when they sent their power hitting outfield Willy Mo Pena to the Red Sox. Arroyo had come off of a decent season with the Red Sox, 14-10 with a 4.51 ERA. These number were not stellar but, he had over 200 innings and this would become something that he would be known for in Cincinnati.

The next season he made his first and only All-Star game in a season where he went 14-11 with a 3.29 ERA, 3 complete games and 240.2 innings which was best in the Major Leagues that year. He was known as a work horse who would give you 200 innings and who would start every 5 days.

Bronson did have his struggles. He was known for giving up the long ball. This was especially true in 2011 when he gave up 46 home runs in one season. While this was a down year he still reached 199 innings, which was his only season that he did not reach at least 200 innings.

Bronson was not only known and loved on the field though. He was also always interacting with the fans.

Reds Fest is a giant party the Reds organization throws for their fans in which they get to meet with the players. They are able to get pictures, win prizes and even play games like poker with some of their favorite players. Bronson Arroyo was almost always at these events and he would normally pick up his guitar and sing for the fans.

He became a fan favorite over the years that he was here. He was the work horse on the field and the laid back, guitar playing, long blonde haired bro off it.

The Reds need a player like Arroyo who can come back and fulfill some of the many needs that they have. He can be a veteran presence for the young pitchers on the field. This will be important because it will allow them to develop more quickly. With Arroyo and Bryan Price leading these young pitchers it would not surprise me if they became one of the better rotations in baseball in a couple years.

Bronson can also help to mend many of the broken hearts of Reds fans. They have already watched Todd Frazier, arguably the most beloved player in recent memory get traded. They have also lost the most exciting closer in baseball, Aroldis Chapman, in a trade to the Yankees. Bringing back a fan favorite would start to help the wounds heal.

The Reds could bring him back on a reasonable deal as well. I could see him getting a contract with similar money that Ryan Vogelsong just got. Maybe 2 million or 3 million per year with incentives. I would also expect a 2 year contract with the second year being a team option.

The Reds have said that they wanted to make sure Bronson was healthy before talking with him, and by all accounts he is healthy. I think that they need to sign him and do it soon. The fan base is already starting to lose hope and things are not going to get any easier for the Reds. For them to do a complete rebuild players like Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce will most likely be traded away sooner rather than later.

Bronson Arroyo would benefit in coming back to a team and city he is familiar with. He would be given the opportunity to help rebuild the franchise and in the future potentially come back as a coach or assistant with the Reds.

If you would like to discuss this then please comment below, tweet at me @roberthaness, or go to our new forum page in the menu and post on there!

Stats courtesy of, Espn.com and Baseballreference.com