It appears the Reds are finally serious about being serious. For years the club has stated that they are rebuilding and will be competitive soon. They also have never made a serious move outside of a few bad trades during that span.
The worry was that Reds’ general managers Dick Williams and now Nick Krall did not have control of the teams’ decisions. Reds’ owner Bob Castellini appeared to be too involved in what would happen with the club.
Bye Bye Billy
One of the most evident reasons for this thinking was that Billy Hamilton was not allowed to be touched. Castellini has expressed his love for the center fielder and would not allow the team to explore possible ways to improve at the position.That is no longer the case.
Either Krall marched into his office and demanded that things must change, or Castellini realized that he wanted the team to improve this past week. Hamilton was non-tendered at the deadline, making him a free agent for the first time in his career.
Hamilton had made himself beloved in the city, despite his play on the field not always living up to a quality level. His speed on the bases and his ability to make unbelievable catches will forever be missed, but it was time to move on, which the Reds rightfully did.
Making a bold decision like moving on from Hamilton shows that the team is ready to play now. The question now becomes, who plays center field? Nick Senzel has been getting work in the outfield, but he is not a natural outfielder. Perhaps he has progressed enough that the Reds are seriously considering him as the replacement. He is after all, one of the top hitters the minor leagues. As we know, if you can hit, they will find you a spot, but center field is one of the most demanding defensive positions.
There are several center fielders available on the market, albeit most of them are aging. If the Reds look to free agency for a center fielder, their best bet would be A.J. Pollock, who was recently featured in an article here. If not Pollock, their are still plenty of options.
Even if they sign a replacement that does not work out like the club is hoping for, the move is the positive point to look at. In Cincinnati sports, it feels like the teams are always content at making safe moves that just keep the team spinning in circles. Signing players that have played just well enough to earn a deal, or being incompetent enough to keep players because they already have them under contract and cannot accept that they were wrong, a la Homer Bailey.
Realizing that not trading Hamilton was not the right move and releasing him to make room for another player to step up to the plate is the exact opposite of how this team has been run, which is the best thing possible for the team. In a division as tough as the NL Central, small moves will not give you a chance to be the best. It is moves like releasing a player who has made his mark in the field but not at the plate, that will push your team that much closer.
Who will be the center fielder in 2019 is beyond anyone at this point, but the Reds have flexibility now to do whatever they please. Releasing Hamilton was step one, now they need to capitalize to help field the best possible squad they can for the upcoming season.
“From Our Haus to Yours”