The previous posts in this series have attempted to establish that the Reds need to ignore out-of-date clichés and trade pitching for hitting. Given the constraints they face in terms of payroll and the current roster of position players, the new guy will likely be a left fielder. The posts following this one will look at the left fielder market, both free agents and trade candidates. But to narrow the options, it’s important to identify qualities the Reds should look to acquire in a hitter.

1. OBP above all 

In 2014, the Reds lineup suffered a catastrophic drop in on-base-percentage, both in absolute terms and in relation to the rest of the National League. Table 1 shows the severe change. The Reds went from generally being decent-to-good compared to the rest of the league the previous four seasons to 16 percent below NL average in 2014. (It’s telling to see how closely the third column correlates to the health of Joey Votto’s left leg.)

Table1OBP

Overall, the Reds had 272 fewer base runners this season compared to last. John Fay nailed it recently when he isolated the cause and quantified the dramatic decline. The sharp fall was primarily due to the the strain of Joey Votto’s left distal quad and the loss of Shin-Soo Choo to free agency.

Votto got on base a whopping 316 times in 2013. Compare that to the Reds’ #3 hitters in 2014, who combined to get on base only 219 times. Shin-Soo Choo got on base 302 times in 2013, while Billy Hamilton reached only 176 times. Between the two, that’s 223 fewer base runners.

What was the impact of that deficit of base runners alone on run production?

34 percent of Reds base runners scored in 2014 (compared to 34.5 percent in 2013). If the 272 extra runners had scored at a 34 percent rate it produces 92 more runs. That’s at least 9-10 more wins (maybe more considering the mind-boggling number of 1-run losses the Reds suffered). And that doesn’t factor in the dynamic effects that those extra hits and walks would have had on other players.

If you need more evidence of a link between on-base percentage and productive offense, here’s a cheap, calculated appeal to a happier day: The Big Red Machine led the major leagues in OBP in 1975 and 1976, by a country mile, including the AL teams using a DH.

So the guiding principle for the Reds brass when looking for new hitters this offseason is: Acquire on-base-percentage.

2. Walk-rates and Willy Taveras

Stipulate: Hits are preferable to walks. The run value of a walk was .689 in 2014, while the run value of a single was .892.

But the ability to draw a walk is more consistent throughout a season and from one year to the next than is the ability to get a hit. Hitters slump and experience wild swings in luck with balls put in play. The ability to take a walk can be a powerful hedge against those variances. For example, in 2013, Shin-Soo Choo struggled mightily against left-handed pitching. But his 11 percent walk-rate against lefties elevated his paltry .215 batting average to a well above average .347 OBP.

That brings us inevitably to the cautionary tale of Willy Taveras.

Recall the offseason prior to 2009. The Reds had ditched Corey Patterson and were looking for a lead off hitter. They signed Willy Taveras, who had been released by the Colorado Rockies, for that role. (The club and Taveras inked a … wait for it … yep, a two-year deal.)

The Reds had a pair of obvious data points on Taveras. In 2007, Taveras had hit .320/.367 (AVG/OBP) for the Rockies. In 2008, he slumped to .251/.308. Back then, the league OBP was .335, so Taveras was above average in 2007 and considerably below in 2008.

When announcing the signing of his new center fielder, Walt Jocketty said that the Reds saw value in Taveras, “if he gets back to being an on base guy that hits ground balls, it creates a lot of havoc on the bases.”

Leaving aside the sticky fact that Taveras had identical ground-ball percentages in 2007 and 2008, the real fatal flaw with the Reds thinking was that Taveras rarely walked. His BB% was 5.1 percent in 2007 and 6.7 percent in 2008, several percent below league average (8.9 percent).

In other words, Taveras’ on-base-skill was enormously dependent on his batting average. If Taveras had been a consistent .300 hitter like Pete Rose, the walk rate wouldn’t have mattered much. But Willy Taveras was no Hit King, a surprise to no one outside the Reds front office.

The evidence was obvious that Taveras’ batting average fluctuated wildly. His .320 AVG in 2007 was plainly a product of an inflated BABIP of .370. In 2008, when Taveras’ hits didn’t fall in at such an extreme rate (.296 BABIP), well, his batting average and on base percentage tumbled. Not exactly what you want in a lead off hitter who also has zero power.

Sort of predictably, Taveras cratered for the Reds. In 437 disastrous plate appearances, he batted just .208 and walked a pathetic 4.1 percent of the time. Dusty Baker, of course, batted Willy Taveras first or second all year, except for seven (hitless) pinch hitting appearances.

Painful lesson: In looking for new hitters, the Reds should acquire players with above-average walk-rates. The target rate was 7.9 percent or above in 2014, let’s call it an even 8.

3. Speaking truth about power

Yes, the Reds should look for hitters with high OBP rates that have relatively large walk components. But they can’t stop there.

For any new acquisition, the front office must avoid hitters that scratch out decent on-base percentages but offer little power. The contribution of those hitters tends to be hollow. They are certainly preferable to players with equally empty but lower OBP. But power matters. To reverse the old adage, power is money.

Let’s return to the case Shin-Soo Choo’s 2013 season. If you recall, he got on base 126 more times than Billy Hamilton did this year. Choo also scored 107 runs compared to Hamilton’s 72. Here’s where power comes in: Choo drove himself in 21 times. That’s nearly a fifth of his runs scored. Choo’s 15 home run edge over Hamilton accounts for nearly half the run differential between the two players. Nearly half. Because of power, not walks, not getting hit by pitches, home runs.

Making sure the new hitter has solid power is important especially because there’s a pretty good chance the Reds will continue to bat Hamilton first, even if the new guy has a substantially better OBP. Havoc being what it is. The new left fielder may hit as low as sixth.

A good way to measure a hitter’s power is the statistic ISO, which stands for isolated power. It indicates how often a player hits for extra bases and how many extra bases. Slugging percentage (SLG) is a more traditional statistic, but it rises when a batter hits a single. That means two batters hitting .200 and .300 respectively might each have a SLG of .400, but their power would be considerably different. ISO isn’t complicated or fancy, it simply subtracts AVG from SLG to isolate the effect of extra base hits. In the above example, the first hitter’s ISO would be .200 and the second hitter’s would be .100. Among National League hitters with 400 at bats in 2014, Devin Mesoraco was second, to Giancarlo Stanton, in ISO.

Despite Mesoraco’s great year, the 2014 Reds experienced an ISO collapse, as Table 2 shows.

Table2OBP

One way not to identify power hitters is by looking at their RBI totals. As we’ve come to understand, RBIs are context-driven. They depend largely on opportunity provided by runners being on base. The fact that the best hitters seem to accumulate them only proves that managers generally know who their best hitters are and bat them in the middle of the lineup. Hitters aren’t talented because they get lots of RBIs, they produce lots of RBIs because they are talented.

Modern-thinking GMs don’t bother with RBI totals when evaluating players. For example, Theo Epstein, who led the Boston Red Sox to World Series titles in 2004 (at the age of 30) and in 2007 said, “You guys can talk about RBI if you want. We ignore them in the front office … it simply is not a way that we use to evaluate offensive players.”

4. Hoping the Reds get it  

Over the years, Walt Jocketty has used the phrase “RBI-guy” a scary number of times (2008, 2009, 2011, got sad and quit looking).

If that’s just Jocketty shorthand for power hitter, then fine. But if instead, he’s looking for players whose RBI totals outpace that hitter’s apparent skills, then the Reds could end up on the wrong side of Mesozoic Era market inefficiency. Brandon Phillips knocked in 100+ runs in 2013 in large part because Shin-Soo Choo and Joey Votto got on base about 600 times ahead of him.

There are reasons, however, to be optimistic that Walt Jocketty gets it.

Jocketty did trade for the Platonic ideal, Shin-Soo Choo, last year. On the other hand, Jocketty nearly repeated the Taveras tragedy when he came within a hair’s breadth of trading for Ben Revere instead of Choo. The Twins bailed Jocketty out by sending Revere to the Phillies. In two seasons, Ben Revere has hit a total of two home runs and walked 3.0 percent of the time. Not sure how one GM targets Ben Revere and Shin-Soo Choo for the same job, but whatever.

Happily, in a recent interview with John Fay, Jocketty identified the failure to get on base as the primary deficiency in the Reds lineup. “Offensively, I think you recognize we didn’t get as many guys on base this year,” said the Reds GM. “Fewer guys on base, fewer runs are going to score. We’ve got to take a hard look at that.”

To end this on a positive note, I’ll leave it there and not mention it shouldn’t take a hard look to figure that out.

28 Responses

  1. cfd3000

    It’s a little scary that even though these tenets are relatively self evident we feel compelled to publish them, explain them, assemble them and underscore their significance in the hope that there will follow a tiny uptick in the likelihood that they will be considered when on field personnel decisions are made at Reds central. My fondest wish short of a trade or signing for a high OBP, high walk rate, decent power outfielder would be a post from WJ2MoreYears saying “Thank you Captain Obvious”. This should be obvious but I fear it is not. Nice summary Steve, now I look forward to your posts identifying the target players. Who is out there that fits this bill, that the Reds might pry loose from his current team? Here’s hoping for another George Foster kick start to the left field problem in 2015.

  2. WVRedlegs

    Great job Steve. When you lay it out in black and white like that, it really sinks in. It is pretty obvious as to what has happened to the Reds that Stevie Wonder and Ray Charles could see it. Walt Jocketty, I am not so sure. I am steadfast in my belief that Walt Jocketty is not the right man, today, to be the GM of our Cincinnati Reds.
    Your next article, the targets, I am eagerly awaiting. That should generate a lot of discussion. I am all-in on Miami’s Christian Yelich as a target, but I don’t think he meets those ISO requirements.
    Thanks for helping me move up the baseball education ladder over the last 4 years from “get ’em on, get ’em over, and get ’em in” to understanding these SABR numbers. You, Maffie and the others are to be commended.

  3. zaglamir

    I’ll be happy if they just get someone with 2 of these 3. Given the mediocre free-agent field in the outfield (at least the last I checked, it looked to be a mediocre field), I think hoping for 2/3 might be a bit optimistic.

  4. big5ed

    No, they couldn’t get on base this year. But their slugging was down; they made too many outs on the bases; etc., etc. They were painfully bad.

    Getting the Young Joey Votto back would cure a lot of the offensive issues. But Larry Bird isn’t walking through that door, nor may Young Joey Votto ever come back. Young Joey Votto could consistently hit the ball hard, and the fact that he could do so caused teams to pitch around him. Couple that with his very good eye and patience, Votto walked a lot. Old Joey Votto is going to have to show he can consistently hit the ball hard, because otherwise teams will just pound the strike zone on him, and he won’t draw as many walks, because (1) he can’t foul them all off, and (2) he will be facing a lot of 0-2 counts. He may well turn into a $23 million Dave Magadan.

    In other words, I think Joey Votto has had a high OBP because he hits the ball very hard, and has a very good eye, with the emphasis on hitting the ball hard. The Reds’ viability in large measure depends on Votto having a healthy knee/quad all season next year, and it is hard to be optimistic about that.

    By the way, Choo by my calculation got on base 180 times this year with Texas, so the Reds appear to have gotten his career year, plus a draft pick, out of Choo, without getting crushed by the players they lost on the other side of the deal.

    • ohiojimw

      As I read Steve’s post much of your central theme here also occurred to me. Injury may have been the key which unlocked the door; but, regardless JV was exposed as he had never been prior. There is now a whole new book about how to get him out. No doubt teams are going to pound on him using the lessons of the new book until/ unless he starts making them pay a serious price.

      I also agree Votto is not going to be close to his past OBP unless he hits with some power because the risk/ reward ratio is going to be in favor of forcing him to put the ball in play versus walking him if he is still down on ISO.

      Don’t get the wrong impression, Getting on base and avoiding outs is always good. However if the team is structured for the preinjury Votto, they likely are going to end up short on ISO and also have Votto on base less (than historically) if he is forced to play his singles/ draw a walk game.

  5. ToddAlmighty

    “Offensively, I think you recognize we didn’t get as many guys on base this year,” said the Reds GM. “Fewer guys on base, fewer runs are going to score. We’ve got to take a hard look at that.”

    ….and then go right back to Hamilton leading off, and BP batting 2nd or 3rd.

    Is how I imagine that quote really ending.

    • Steve Mancuso

      LIke I said, trying to stay positive at the end … sigh.

  6. tct

    Liked the article, Steve. The only problem is that high on base guys with power are expensive, either in dollars or talent traded or both. If the reds are willing to trade some of their pitchers then maybe they could get a guy like that. I’m for shopping the pitchers, but what if the reds don’t want to trade Cueto or Chapman. I’m not sure Latos or Leake could get an everyday, proven, high on base with power guy.

    So then what? How do the reds up their team OBP? One way could be addition by subtraction. Cozart, Heisey, Pena and Hamilton made up an OBP black hole this year. Whatever happens with Votto, the reds can’t give at bats at first base to Bryan Pena again. I’m ok with Heisey as the fifth outfielder, but he can’t be getting more than 150 or 200 PA. Cozart and Hamilton are more problematic because they are a huge part of the reds run prevention. The effect could be limited by batting Hamilton farther down in the order until he can start getting on base at least at a league average clip. Cozart is tough because shortstops who are league average hitters are rare and he’s already batting eight. I would be looking around to replace Cozart, but you have to take into account what losing his defense will do if you replace him.

    Everyday players with high OBP are valuable. But guys with severe platoon splits can often be had for cheap. A platoon might be the way to go in leftfield if you can’t find an everyday player to meet your standards. And of course, proven major leaguers may not be available in the spot you need them, so a way to try to get production would be to trade for a prospect who is major league ready. If the reds could get someone like, say, Joc Pederson in a Cueto deal, he could be the answer in left. It’s riskier than a proven player, but one year of Cueto is not going to get you a Stanton type guy. Just some thoughts on how the reds could work the market.

  7. GreatRedLegsFan

    I think front office should be very creative this winter, if it’s not possible to ink a LF then move Frazier to LF and try Negron at 3B or look for a SS and try Yorman in LF. The goal should be to raise the overall OBP.

    • lwblogger2

      Negron isn’t really an answer. Love what he did this year but his age and track record says he’s not an everyday player at the MLB level. There is certainly a slight chance that he’s late bloomer and the very rare case where a guy has a MLB career better than his MiLB career but I wouldn’t be willing to gamble on that with a team that I want to compete for the NL Central in 2015. Rodriguez may have a future but he isn’t ready yet and probably won’t be in 2015. Again, maybe if I was rebuilding I’d consider it but I want a guy in LF that I know can do the job.

      • ohiojimw

        I agree that the Reds should be setting their sights higher than either Cozart or Negron at SS. However Fay pointed out in the positional analysis he is running in the blog that Negron was himself the defensive SS of the year in Southern League when he moved through AA.
        Accordingly, I think people need to put to rest or at least on hold the idea that the SS defense would necessarily take a huge hit if Negron played a number of games at SS or even displaced Cozart as the starter. If both players are on the Reds in 2015, I think they should go with the one who is going to bring them the most offense; and not back away from trying to ride a hot hand if/ when either of them might be on an offensive run.

  8. wvredlegs

    I read a story last night that the Seattle Mariners might be considering trading one or both of their young starting pitchers, Taijuan Walker (RH) and James Paxton (LH) for a more experienced SP that they can match up with King Felix and Iwakuma for their own Big 3. Or for a better hitter. Maybe the Reds could snag one of those 2 and one of their young SS like Chris Taylor. Cueto might bring back all 3. If Latos is healthy, a big if, he might bring back 2 like Paxton and Taylor. Seattle was close to making the post-season, and they look like they may give up a couple of young stars-to-be so they can be more than a contender in 2015. Several teams fell just short this year. And some who did make the post-season have had some unexpected early exits, like both LA teams. I look for a very active market before and at the Winter GM meetings this year.

    • droomac

      I vote for this kind of approach. Get cost-controlled talent in return for Cueto (and Chapman) and then use the extra money for a patchwork approach to the offensive problems.

      I don’t believe the Reds need a leftfielder. They need five four viable outfielders and, at this point, only have two. If they could find a lefty who can play the corners (bonus for CF as well) and hits (high OBP and ISO) RHP well, they will be in much better shape moving forward. If they could couple that with a righty who can play the corners and 1B (Mike Morse kind of guy) who hits LHP well, their outfield should be set.

      The other option (and the one I prefer) is to find an infielder who hits righties well and can play the middle infield as well as 3B. I like Jed Lowrie as a (relatively) low-cost option. He should play SS at least 1/3 of the time, especially against tough RHP. Frazier could play LF from time to time in such a scenario.

      • lwblogger2

        I like Lowrie but he’s a brutal SS. Unless you think Cozart will get even worse with the bat, I don’t see Lowrie as the answer. Now if the plan would be to put Frazier in LF and play Lowrie at 3B, I could perhaps see that. You’d downgrade defense at 3B but not as much as you would be at SS. I also think that Frazier would be an above average LF.

      • droomac

        I like Lowrie as a guy who gets starts in up to 2/3 of games started by RHP. He could start at SS against RHP about 1/3 of the time, at 3B when Frazier plays LF, and at 2B when BP needs a break or is injured. In the games he doesn’t start, Cozart is a natural defensive replacement and Lowrie can PH when he doesn’t start. I think the flexibility added by a player like Lowrie (granted, he has to be used the right way) could provide real and relatively cheap value. I just don’t think a big time bat who can play LF will be available outright via trade and would rather have young talent in any trade. So, the FO needs to be creative.

  9. wkuchad

    “Given the constraints they face in terms of payroll and the current roster of position players, the new guy will likely be a left fielder.”

    If there are no available LF candidates that meet our needs (stated in the article above), would you consider moving Frazier and his above-average 3B glove to LF if the perfect 3B candidate was available?

    Chad

  10. WVRedlegs

    Stop the presses. Reds not inclined to pick up Jack Hannahan’s option at $4M. So 2 years of Jack and $4M ( $1M+$1M+$2M buyout) netted the Reds 109 games, 187 AB, 212 PA, and .188/.269. The Reds didn’t get jack hooey for their $4M and Jack gets $2M to walk off into the sunset. The genius that is Walt Jocketty. On deck, Ryan Ludwick.

  11. ToddAlmighty

    Here’s at least my partial solution to the OBP problem. Cueto and a prospect like Lively for Kemp plus eating a healthy dose of like $27-37m of Kemp’s remaining contract.

    Just like how the Reds almost have to trade a starting pitcher away this off-season, the Dodgers almost have to trade away an outfielder this season (Puig, Pederson, Kemp, Ethier, Van Slyke, Crawford). If they’re as set on not trading Pederson as they sounded at the deadline, that reopens the door for Kemp who looked an awful lot more like the Kemp of old in 2014.

    His defense was atrocious, but he also played all three OF. I’d imagine his defense would be much better if he was just stuck in LF. If the Dodgers ate $27m, it’d be like getting Kemp at 5 years at $16m/yr. If they ate $37m it’d be like $14m/yr. Those are extremely reasonable rates considering they have/are paying Ludwick $15m for two craptastic seasons.

    The Dodgers would get perhaps the best starting rotation in the history of the game, as well as $70-80m off their books. The Reds get a LF, a better-than-average OBP guy, and a #3 hitter. (Frazier/Votto/Kemp/Mesoraco/Bruce/BP/Hamilton/Cozart)

    Also wouldn’t mind them seeing if Van Slyke is available. Would be a great #4 OF to play when the other three need an off day, a guy who can actually be an good choice when the Reds use the DH, as well as giving the Reds an actual backup to first base. Then Heisey can be the #5 OF and primarily a PH where he excels.

    • charlottencredsfan

      I don’t know, Kemp seems like a guy just waiting to slip on a banana peel and we already have the uncertainty of Joey. 2012 – 106 games, 2013 – 76 games; fool’s gold. No more +30 guys for God’s sake. Old and broken down is o ay to organize a baseball team.

      Who is left in 2014 stakes to be WS Champs and what do they share in common? One great manager (Bochy) one near great manager (Showalter) and two very good managers (Methany & Yost). All these guys put their counterparts to shame in the League Division Series. I’m thinking, more and more, that may be the difference maker when it comes to the playoffs. The Tigers, Angels, Dodgers & Nats all looked in various modes of sleepwalking.

      • droomac

        Great point. I’ve been a longtime Showalter fan. The jury is still out on Price, but maybe it’s time for a top notch bench coach if Bell gets the AZ job.

      • ToddAlmighty

        Yeah, Kemp would definitely be a risk, but even more so in the age of pitching, you’re not really going to find any other guys who have 5-9 WAR potential who are not only available through trade, but the team who has him likely NEEDS to trade.

        In the second half of the year he hit .309/.365/.606, he played 150 games in 2014. Then proceeded to hit .353/.353/.529 in the postseason against good pitching. That’s healthy Kemp right there.

        So totally a risk that’d be taken, but if you’re wanting the Reds have a chance for it in 2015, there’s not too many other bats who’ll be more tempting and actually be available through trade since FA isn’t really an option considering the team’s 2015 payroll already committed/projected to be committed.

      • charlottencredsfan

        I understand your point but I doubt Kemp is going anywhere for the very reasons you point out, let alone the Dodgers picking the majority of his contract. Better bets would be LA moving Crawford or Ethier, no thanks there.

        Dodgers need one thing: bullpen! Chapman seems to be a better fit to me.

      • ToddAlmighty

        Not the majority. The number I gave was 25-34.5% of his contract. They’d still save like $70-80m in that deal by getting Kemp off their books… which I assume they’d then spend like $125m on 5 more years of Cueto.

        They’ll have to trade an OF. They have 6. Puig is almost certainly off limits, they didn’t seem to want to part with Pederson, and I think that Ethier and Crawford aren’t valuable for someone else to be willing to take on that contract.

        That leaves Kemp and Van Slyke. I wouldn’t mind the Reds picking up either, though I think Van Slyke’s small sample size is reason for hesitation there, but at least he’s still under team control.

        From the Dodger’s perspective, a Cueto & Lively for Kemp & $27m deal would essentially mean they get 6 years of Cueto (2015’s $10m and then theoretically 5yr/$125m extension) and the Reds #6 prospect for one of their six OF and $82m (Kemp is still owed $107m, if they pay $27m of that, that’s $80m in savings. Subtract that savings from the theoretical Cueto deal and add the $27m they paid in contract relief to the Reds, plus the $10m Cueto makes in 2015.)

        So the Dodgers trade one of their six OF, and in return get 6 years of Cueto at $82m more than their current payroll commitments, and the Reds #6 Prospect as a kicker. That really works out well for both sides.

        Dodgers moving Crawford or Ethier is like the Reds moving BP. Nobody will want them on the contract they’re on. I’m fairly certain either Kemp or Van Slyke will be moved, with Kemp being the more likely since Van Slyke is still under team control and also plays first base, where Adrian Gonzalez is heading into his age 33 year.

        – – – – –

        Don’t think Chapman would get nearly the same in return, but I think he should be shopped as well. No point in paying $8-12m for a 52 IP reliever who’s rarely going to pitch in high leverage situations.

    • redsfan06

      You may be underestimating the value of Cueto’s contract. His 2015 $10 million salary represents a positive value of about $15 million. A team gets two top draft picks if they don’t re-sign him. With the addition of Lively, the Dodgers would get 3 top prospects and a cheap year of Cueto for dumping Kemp’s contract. Not much risk there.

      Kemp certainly demonstrated he can still hit. His injury history, age and length of contract represent a huge risk/reward. He would fill one of the Reds needs by playing LF. But they still don’t have a leadoff hitter.

      It would be more even if the Dodgers included a prospect like Seager. Then the Reds get a good hitting LF with a gamble going forward plus an opportunity to develop a good hitting shortstop. Then the question is how much of Kemp’s future salary do the Dodgers pick up.

      • ToddAlmighty

        Two top draft picks? The latest MLB deal made the qualifying offer just one pick, added on to the end of the first round. So a single #31-36 pick. The two picks was the old way of things in like.. 2010.

        The Dodgers didn’t seem to want to trade Seager, not to mention I think Cueto + Lively for Kemp + Seager + Contract Relief is way unbalanced. It sounds a lot nicer for the Reds, but it’s not something the Dodgers would EVER want to do. Certainly not more even.

        Corey Seager is the 13th prospect in ALL of baseball right now (Stephenson is 17th, Winker is 40th, for reference). No way do the Dodgers trade Kemp, the 13th MLB Prospect, and large sums of money for Cueto and the #6 Reds prospect (who isn’t anywhere in the top 100).

        Would you trade Frazier, Stephenson, and like $27m… for 1 year of Cueto and Lively? Answer is no, and Seager is actually ranked higher than Stephenson, and Kemp had a 140 OPS+ to Frazier’s 123 OPS+.

      • redsfan06

        A team signing a player offered the QEO gives up their 1st round draft pick. I thought they still received a compensation pick also, but may be wrong. The pick will be higher than 31-36.

        I suppose it comes down to the valuation placed upon risk.

        Just as the Reds found out with BP, the Dodgers own a huge deficit with Kemp’s contract. No other team is rushing in to relieve them of this burden.

        If Kemp plays relatively injury free for 5 years AND does not decline much in his mid-30’s, he still has to earn his keep. By comparison, Cueto only has to pitch one year injury free to obtain the excess $15 million his 2015 contract presents. Plus Cueto comes with a draft pick if not re-signed.

        The Reds do not have anyone else who can replace Cueto’s performance of giving up 2 runs or less in 26/33 starts and giving up 4 or more runs only 4 times other than Cueto himself.

        I would rather see the Reds sign a leadoff capable LF like Aoki and keep Cueto.
        Aoki is coming off of a 3 year/$5 million contract and has an OBP around .350 all 3 years he played.

      • ToddAlmighty

        The team that signs the player gives up their first round pick, but the team that made the qualifying offer doesn’t get that pick.

        So say the team with the 20th pick signs someone, they forfeit the 20th pick. Nobody gets that pick. So then the 21st becomes the 20th, the 22nd becomes the 21st, etc.

        Then the team that loses the player they made a qualifying offer to gets a pick added to the end of the first round. So I guess it could be like the 27th pick or something like that, but it’s likely to be in the low 30s.

        – – – – –

        Sure if the Reds keep Cueto, they’ll likely get a pick from the qualifying offer, but that pick would be a 2016 pick. Then that pick would have to go through 3-6 years in the minors IF they even make it to the big leagues at all. That means that pick wouldn’t likely produce any help until like 2020. If at all.

        If you keep Cueto for 2015, you get one year of him, and then maybe a player in 2020 or later. That’s not a good plan for the Reds over the next few years.

  12. GreatRedLegsFan

    If I ever hear from WJ to say again “we’re happy with the roster as it is” I think I’ll file a demand against the front office. Fans have rights.