Reds today announced their intentions to compete in 2018 with a trio of big trades aimed at reinforcing their pitching staff.
The Reds offense was competitive in 2017, ranking fourth in the NL in OPS and fifth in runs per game. The Reds also have a few young bats starting to mature, like 24-year-old LF Dan Watson, who was a fifth-round draft pick in 2016 and posted .276/.343/.491 in his rookie MLB year. Their defense is developing excellently – like 26-year-old SS Cristhian Adames, who was in the top five list of short stops in terms of ZR and fielding efficiency in his first year as a MLB starter. It was performances like these – not to mention big years from acquisitions Matt Carpenter and Aaron Hicks – that brought Cincinnati desperately close to a playoff spot: they missed out on a wildcard berth to the Mets in the final game of the season.
But through 2017 the pitching staff ranged from promising to woeful. Off-field issues with big-money starter Homer Bailey, plus a backwards year for emerging talent Matt McGill led to some painful performances both in the pen and the rotation. At 4.01 the Reds’ starters’ ERA was 12th in the NL, and they were in the basement for homers conceded. The staff needs experience and consistency if the Reds are to break through this year.
So as the Winter meeting folded up the Reds executed three deals on the same day. The headline was the return of closer Aroldis Chapman to Great American Ball Park. Two blue-chip prospects (CL Mrnal Shivaprakash and RF Ed Lee) went to the Angels as part of the deal, and Chapman also comes home at a price (nearly $12 million). But, short of bringing back Joey Votto, it’s hard to imagine a move that will prove more popular with the Reds’ core fan base. The Reds needed a genuine closer since they traded young star Jacob Lindgren to the Mariners last week in exchange for Steven Piscotty.
Bolstering the rotation will be SP Michael Pineda. Pineda has shown only flashes of brilliance at the Yankees, with GM Jim Melichar describing him as “lazy”. But Pineda simply said “I want to win. I’m not going to win with these clowns, am I?” as he signed on for the Reds. In return, the Yankees pick up prospects Beltre and Chaevez.
Finally, the corps of middle relievers is reinforced by the acquisition of Hector Rondon from the Blue Jays for LF Jesse Winker. Winker could be dealt owing to the arrival of Piscotty and the emergence of Watson. That deal also saw prospect Tomas Martinez (a draft-class colleague of Watson) go to Toronto and pitching prospect Heath Fillmyer and $3 million come to the Reds.
So, new faces in the Reds clubhouse this winter.
And they’re all going on a bear hunt.