Major League Baseball’s general managers and their staffs convene in Florida this week, somewhere near Del Boca Vista.  You can find them in the pool, in the clubhouse and all over those shuffleboard courts. With its meetings this morning, the convention kicks off the unofficial start of baseball’s Hot Stove season.

Don’t expect much, it’s early. Organizations use this opportunity for staff strategy sessions. GMs also conduct face-to-face conversations with other clubs to exchange their plans for the offseason and advance discussions started on the phone or by text. Talks can also take place with player agents regarding contract extensions and free agent signings.

What news can we expect from the Reds?

Unlike a year ago, when the Reds’ stove was bitter cold, the front office has signaled a busy offseason.

For the first time in seven years, the Reds have a new general manager. Dick Williams was promoted to that position last week. Walt Jocketty remains as the club’s President of Baseball Operations. By all accounts, decision-making won’t change this season.

What will be new is the Reds strategy. The club has announced it will be rebooting, rebuilding, regrouping in 2016. Expect them to be busy trading away name players, not acquiring them.

“Our approach is to do whatever we can to help the club in the long-term,” said Jocketty. “It’s more realistic that we’ll be competitive in 2017 and ’18. We met with the major league staff and the pro scouts and put together a strategy for that.”

That process has begun. The Reds released Brennan Boesch, Jason Bourgeois, Kristopher Negron, Collin Balester and Josh Smith. Brayan Peña, Sean Marshall and Manny Parra reached the ends of their contracts. The Reds declined options for Skip Schumaker and Burke Badenhop, so they’ve become free agents as well.

The club’s 40-man roster now has only 34 players, which is normal. The Cardinals (34) and Pirates (33) have a similar number of openings. That space is not necessarily for free agents. Spots will be used to protect minor league players from the Rule 5 draft at the Winter Meetings in December.

Who will the Reds trade away?

“I don’t think anyone is off limits,” noted Jocketty.

The five players who could be on the trading block are Jay Bruce, Aroldis Chapman, Todd Frazier, Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto.

Votto (32), still guaranteed $199 million through 2023 and has a full no-trade clause, would be the most difficult to move. Trading players with nine years remaining on a contract is rare. The Reds first baseman had his best season in 2015. Even with normal aging decline, Votto will still be an underpaid, elite player when the Reds hope to compete again.

Brandon Phillips (34) also has no-trade rights, but his contract ($27 million over the next two seasons) is reasonable thanks to his newfound skill as a singles hitter. If the Reds could find the right landing spot for Phillips – Yankees, Angels, Orioles, Royals and White Sox are possibilities – the second baseman may choose to jump to a contending team.

Jay Bruce (28) could have trade value as a power-hitting, good glove outfielder, but his slump the last two months of 2015 hurts his appeal. Bruce’s contract – one more guaranteed year at $12.5 million and team option of $13 million for 2017 – has plenty of upside. Trading Bruce is the most likely move in the category of “change to show we’re changing.”

Todd Frazier (29) would return at least on top-100 prospect. The Reds declared their third baseman off limits at the 2015 All-Star break, but his horrendous slump that started on July 1, should change the equation. Frazier is a good defender and his contract is team friendly. He is signed for just $7.5 million this season and will be under arbitration in 2017. Absent a pricey extension, which the Reds should not pay, Frazier won’t be around for much of the Reds next window. They should have no trouble finding a market for a third baseman that hit 35 home runs. Maybe they could look for a young, major league ready 3B to replace Frazier for the next 4-5 years.

Aroldis Chapman (27) has enormous value on the trade market. He should bring back at least two top prospects. The Reds must, must, must move Chapman this offseason. The Red Sox might be a good fit. Their new President of Baseball Operations, Dave Dombrowski, and Walt Jocketty have a track record of reaching deals. The Red Sox are loaded with position player prospects and are looking for a closer. A reunion between Chapman and Dusty Baker in the nation’s capital is also possible. The Houston Astros and Arizona Diamondbacks were reported to be the most aggressive suitors for Chapman’s services at the 2015 August 1 deadline.

What will the Reds be seeking?

The Reds will be focused on assets for 2017 and beyond. Contrary to what you hear from the dutiful austerity chorus, the Reds will have money to spend if they execute a couple of the above trades. That could include signing a multi-year free agent outfielder still in his 20s like Jason Heyward or Justin Upton. Dozens of other free agent options are available. The Reds could look to trade Chapman for a young (read: cost-controlled), major-league ready OF. A boy can dream, can’t he?

And they may choose not to go for a multi-year OF. Instead the Reds could look for this year’s version of Marlon Byrd, Nori Aoki or Alejandro De Aza (all three of those players are available again this year) to serve as a bridge to Jesse Winker. But a trade of Jay Bruce would ratchet up the need for another OF. Other than OF, it’s hard to see the Reds acquiring long-term players unless it’s part of a big trade involving Frazier or Chapman.

With a roster and prospect list bursting with young starting pitching, adding a quality starter via free agency may not be the most obvious move – especially with the fresh, chilling memories of Jason Marquis. But with Homer Bailey not expected back until May, it might be prudent to add a pitcher at the start of the season to allow the Reds time to unholster their young guns.

The Reds should then borrow Theo Epstein’s favorite move and trade that pitcher to a contender at the mid-season deadline. Presumably Bailey would be back and the newbie pitchers sorted out by then. The Cubs turned Scott Feldman into Jake Arrieta and Pedro Strop in 2013. Jason Hammel was part of the trade to the A’s at the middle of 2014 that brought back Addison Russell and other top prospects.

Finally, the Reds need to build a better bullpen. A few of the candidates to start will end up relieving. One of them can close in 2016. To build the pen, the Reds need to acquire as many young, powerful arms as they can along the way. Relievers come from everywhere. Veteran relievers, as we’ve seen with Badenhop, Kevin Gregg and others, are often not worth the money. Bullpens are important but the vast majority of relievers are inconsistent from year to year. That’s why they aren’t starters.

Here’s the checklist they should be working on in Del Boca Vista:

  • Trade Aroldis Chapman
  • Trade Brandon Phillips
  • Look to Trade Jay Bruce and/or Todd Frazier
  • Acquire a quality free agent starting pitcher to flip mid-season
  • Acquire an outfielder or two
  • Always be collecting power arms for the bullpen

79 Responses

  1. doublenohitter

    Like! Thumbs Up! Favorite! Whatever social media forum you use, I will press the button. Let’s just hope the Reds see it the same way.

  2. Paul

    I don’t agree with the Reds may go after Upton or Heyward. Why pay someone $20 million a year this year and next when you aren’t going to compete? That’s the point of trading Bruce, Fraizer & Phillips, save money & get prospects. So your trading your guys to save $, but you want to spend it on someone that isn’t going to really matter for 2-3 years? Makes no sense. Priority #1 is going hitting prospects, those are the players you’re going to see in the OF. If 2 years from now, if we are poised and are missing a Upton or Heyward, then you have that conversation…Not now. Good take on Chapman to Boston though, valid point. Nationals are obvious option, but your right, Boston fits.

    • jessecuster44

      Can’t see the Reds ponying up for Heyward or Upton. Makes no sense. Then again… not much has made sense the last 3 seasons.

    • Steve Mancuso

      I look at 2017 as the target year. Only one year doesn’t count. If they have the money, is it better to sign a 26-year-old this year or a 30-year-old next year? To be clear, I’m not saying they should sign one of those guys. It depends on the numbers. The point I was making was they shouldn’t rule out doing it because of money. They’ll have the money and will spend it now or next year.

      • Montana

        Look I love the Reds like any other fan. The number one thing I would do is to trade Chapman and get good 3-4 prospects. I would not sign any free agents this winter. Because I would use the money to sign Frazier to a long contract. I personally think this is the number one priority for the Reds in 2016.

    • RedsFaninPitt

      Your point about not paying someone $20 mil. a year now is my point in finding a good trading partner for Votto. He will be well past his prime by the time the Reds are competing again so you might as well find a good trading partner when his value is as high as it is now. It will likely only go down from here. See my post below for ideas on how to maximize Votto/Frazier and Chapman.

    • redmountain

      There are other reasons for not signing Heyward and Upton. They are not good enough to stay with their teams at the present price so why should the Reds spend that money? In addition, Winker, Ervin and others should be ready in the next couple of years and you would end up blocking them by adding OF unless they are big time prospects coming back in a trade.

      • CP

        “They are not good enough to stay with their teams at the present price so why should the Reds spend that money?”

        Really?

  3. UglyStrike

    For all the headaches Bruce has given me over the years, I still cannot see trading him away. Just how many years have we been trying to find 1 good outfielder that now we want to try and find 2.

    The devil you know, sometimes is better than the one you pick up.

  4. Warren

    Positive article on what the Reds need to do this off season. Agree that Reds need to look at either 2017 or 2018 for a target year to contend in the NL Central. Many tough decisions need to be made, be honest with the fan base and communicate your plan. Cincinnati is a good baseball town and the fan base will back this plan.

  5. reaganspad

    You just don’t trade Jay Bruce right now, we will be underwhelmed with the return. We need to add another Jay Bruce where the other team is desperate to unload a good ML player.

    “somewhere near Del Boca Vista…” that is good stuff right there

    • Michael E

      I am already underwhelmed with the return Bruce gives the Reds now…I seriously doubt I will not like a trade. It would have to be us sending a prospect and $5 million with Bruce just to move him…that might upset me.

      Bruce is a lost cause and part of this teams struggles to hit effectively and CONSISTENTLY. Bruce and consistency (and effectively) are not words that get along with each other. SEND HIM PACKING to start the mindset change from streaky (mostly bad) sluggers for solid, consistent hitters.

  6. Larry

    What about Chapman/Yorman and a Travieso for Christian Yelich. Miami might be interested in Chapman because he’s an great talent but also Cuban. Yelich could fill either left or center if Hamilton remains a batting liability. I know they would like to move Ozuna, but some type of combination with Chapman might get it done! They’re seems to be some noise about Miami looking for a closer.

    • lwblogger2

      They are definitely looking to move Ozuna after a rough year. Chapman on his own would probably get it done and may even net another MiLB player from the Marlins. Chapman isn’t going to get us Yelich. I think the package you proposed might do it but Miami would probably want the moon too. It’s good players the Reds would be giving up but you got to give to get. Walt should make the call and find out the asking price for Ozuna and Yelich.

    • WVRedlegs

      You might have to add BHam in a Chapman to Miami package to patrol that spacious OF. Miami can move Ozuna to LF. BHam added to Dee Gordon in Miami’s lineup might be enticing for them. That might get Yelich. Then the Reds can get a CF in one of the other trades, or try YorRod there.
      Trading Travieso just doesn’t compute. That is a no-go.

      • Steve Mancuso

        The Marlins might overpay for SB. They gave up a lot for Dee Gordon.

      • jdx19

        I’d do that deal in a second from a Reds perspective, which means the Marlins probably wouldn’t. BUT, you never know! Like Steve said, they like SBs down there!

      • WVRedlegs

        And BHam is perfect for that spacious CF.

      • Michael E

        Chapman and Travieso for just Yelich? I wouldn’t touch that deal from a Reds perspective. I’d rather have two top hitting prospects from a trade of Chapman and hope.

        I have seen enough to Yelich to know, he is a worm killer (few line drives or fly balls). He OBP should be solid for years to come, but he has little upside outside of that. I would hope for better returns from Chapman alone, much less tossing in Travieso.

      • Michael E

        Yelich would be solid, but he isn’t anything special. I could live with him on the team, but his upside is limited greatly. He doesn’t K much, but most of that turns into easy groundouts, with some seeing-eyed singles and quite a few walks. He’d be solid on the Reds, but Chapman is our top trade asset…should return more than an average, at best, MLB OF.

    • Michael E

      Yikes, HUGE overpay for a hitter that can’t keep from driving balls into the ground in front of home plate. He is a ground ball machine and doesn’t have enough speed to make that work. His ground ball to fly ball ratio is like 2/1 and he can’t get doubles and HRs because of that.

      NO THANKS.

      I wouldn’t trade Stephenson straight up for a skinny weakling that won’t slug .400 often and can’t run fast enough to make up for no power.

  7. PDunc

    I like the idea of signing a young-ish free agent outfielder this off-season. I think signing a combination of cheaper options might make more sense then 1 big splash like Upton or Heyward though.
    Signing both Gerardo Parra and Austin Jackson, I think, would be a good move. They are both only 28, hit on opposite sides of a platoon (Parra 809 OPS v Right and 663 v left, Jackson 657 OPS v right and 770 v lefties) and have played all 3 outfield positions (although Jackson is the natural center-fielder). MLB Trade Rumors projects Parra to get 3 years & $27 Million and Jackson to get 1 year & $12 Million. I’d try to sign them both for 3 years and trade Bruce for prospects. Outfield is Jackson, Parra and Hamilton until Winker is ready. Once Winker is ready, you have options with depth in the outfield to keep or trade.

    • lwblogger2

      Always have really loved Parra but boy he’s terrible against LHP. A platoon of he and Jackson would cost too much $$ I think and I’m not a giant fan of Jackson to begin with. Parra is tricky. He’s kind of a tweener. He’s too expensive to be a 4th OF and doesn’t hit LHP well enough to be a starter. Maybe platooning him with a cheap RH hitter could be a way to go?

      • Steve Mancuso

        The other concern about Parra is his defensive side. He’s gone from massively positive in 2013 to massively negative in 2015. Caveat: defensive metrics being what they are. But that’s still a big flashing light. His hitting platoon split might still make it worth looking at him, but he’ll probably be overpriced if that’s all there is to pay for.

      • lwblogger2

        I think his defense may have been under rated, especially in 2015, although I don’t think he’s really a good option in CF anymore. I like him in a corner. At $9-million AAV over 3 years though, there is a chance that if his defense hasn’t been undergraded and it really has slipped, you aren’t going to get your money’s worth.

  8. CI3J

    I mostly agree with this piece (especially trading Chapman and Bruce), but my main question is: If the Reds trade away the last of their known commodities, what are they chances the team will be ready to compete in 2017? Already, they have questions in LF, CF, SS, and possibly catcher. Trading Frazier/Bruce/Phillips/Votto would lead to the Reds basically having questions at every single offensive position, unless they get some known commodities (not prospects) in return for some of those trades.

    Of course, the Reds would also be swimming in cash if they traded all those pieces away, but they they would be at the mercy of the free agent market to find (and lure) the right pieces.

    I don’t know, on one hand I’m all for blowing it up and starting back at square 1 to get ready for 2017, but on the other hand, actually successfully doing that would be a pretty delicate process with a lot of potential to go off the tracks in a hurry.

    • lwblogger2

      Still have the recurring nightmare of 200x seasons in my mind. Constant rebuilding mode. It was so painful.

      • Michael E

        and awful pitching…which makes considering trading any pitcher outside of Chapman a silly notion. We may want a stud lineup of hitters, but if we roll out the kind of pitching we had most of the 90s and 00s, we’ll cringe with constant 7-5 and 8-6 losses.

      • lwblogger2

        When Jimmy Hayes and Pete Harnish are #1 starters on your staff, you’ve got a weak rotation. Both were solid starters but not top of the rotation guys.

    • Steve Mancuso

      I’m with you 100% about not trading away too much to compete for 2017. They should look to trade Bruce and Frazier to get a sense of what the market is and only trade them if they think the return is good and near-term. I hope they don’t trade Bruce just to “change” the team since they didn’t change the front office or the manager. If they get a good offer for him, fine. And I’m worried about the other extreme with Frazier – that they won’t even consider trading him (and even worse, try to extend him).

      That all said, the rebuilding may come around faster than anyone expects with the young pitching. The offensive core of Votto, Mesoraco, Bruce, Frazier, maybe Suarez with a good offensive LF could be enough hitting right now.

      • Michael E

        Yes, listen and talk about ALL players, but don’t trade just to trade. If some team comes with block-buster offer of two top prospects and a solid MLB player or two for Frazier, you might do that deal regardless. Same for any of them. We could be even better if we trade these guys (if a good deal) than sticking with them.

        Just because a veteran is traded, doesn’t mean we automatically lower our contention status…we might even raise and accelerate it by trading a Frazier, Bruce, Phillips or even Votto.

      • Michael E

        to borrow a phrase “what we had ain’t working”, so don’t be afraid to risk a little downside for more upside…and don’t be afraid to risk setting back a rebuild if it gives a chance at hastening it.

  9. Jeremy Conley

    I think the idea of signing a decent starter is an intriguing one. I’ve been advocating that the Reds should bring back Bronson, because a) he’s awesome, and b ) nobody does as much with so little, so he might be a good teacher for the young pitchers.

    But if they do that, I wouldn’t expect him to have a great year, and I don’t think they’ll get any big prospects in return for him at the deadline. No what the Reds need is a guy, maybe coming off an injury year, that would sign a 1-year deal (maybe with an option for a second) in an effort to build back up his value. It’s a gamble, but if it works, that guy could be a really great trade chip at the deadline.

    The first name that comes up as a possibility to me is Jeff Samardzija. His FIP jumped from 3.20 in 2014 to 4.23 last year. His strikeouts were way down. With so many starting pitchers on the free agent market, there’s no way that he’ll be paid as a top guy this offseason, there are just way too many guys available that were better than him last year.

    So it might be in his interest to sign a 1-year $10M deal, and see if he can’t put together a great season, and hopefully be able to sign a something like a 4 year $70M contract next year. If he decides tries to sign a multi-year deal this year, I have trouble thinking that he could do much better than 3 years, $40M? Something like that?

    • Kyle

      Samardzija is probably out of that price range. I think the estimates are more in line with 5, 90 million this offseason. Can’t see him doing a short deal. Think the idea is good though. Justin masterson has been bad for 2 years and would be cheap (can’t recall if he is healthy). I’m sure there are other candidates (fister).

      • Jeremy Conley

        Yeah, if he can get that, then he should and will do it. I have trouble believing he can, but who knows.

      • lwblogger2

        With the good arms on the market, there’s no way I’d give him 5/$90-million… Doesn’t mean some team won’t. I think the number @Kyle put out there is where MLBTR has him estimated at.

      • lwblogger2

        I’ve always liked Fister but there are some things that scare me away on him. He doesn’t K a lot of batters and doesn’t miss bats in general. He also doesn’t have a particularly impressive GB%. His best seasons have come in Seattle and Detroit, two huge parks. Nationals’ Park depresses HR as well and he struggled to keep it in the yard. His strength and what I’ve always liked about him is that he is a strike-throwing machine. His BB% climbed this off-season though and that alarms me.

        All that said, I think he’d be a stronger option than Arroyo. I think the Reds may need to dig for a better option than Fister too though.

        As for Samardzija, I’ve never liked him and am pretty sure that he’ll be well out of the Reds’ spending range, especially if he decides to sign a 1-year deal.

    • lwblogger2

      I love Arroyo but we don’t know if he can pitch anymore. He’s admitted that he needs to be in the 87-89 mph range on his fastball to keep hitters off his breaking ball. He may be there after the surgery and rehab time but if he isn’t then he probably won’t fare much better than poor Jason Marquis did this year. If he feels he has enough fastball to get by though, and the gun backs him up in that 87-89 range, I’d absolutely love to see him in a Reds uniform.

      • lwblogger2

        Ha! You just may be right.

        Seriously though, I think sometimes just how thin the margins are between success and failure at the MLB level are lost on a lot of fans. Arroyo has always been honest about how he feels and if he thinks he can get guys out. If he says he feels well and he feels he has enough stuff to get guys out, that would be enough for me.

      • Michael E

        Saying Arroyo is likely better than Marquis is not a glowing recommendation for either of them. The better of two pieces of garbage is still garbage. I liked Bronson, but he is done as a useable, acceptable major league pitcher.

  10. Kyle

    Good piece. I agree votto is the longest shot of the players mentioned to trade but the Red Sox seem like they would be a potential fit. Young talent plus their own bad contracts to get off the books. Votto would love Fenway but boston might be a fit for his more reserved personality. Again, very long shot but could see it fit for both teams.

    I don’t see the Reds competing in 2017 although I think that is their goal. Will be fun to watch some of the arms develop though (and votto continue to hit).

    • Kyle

      Boston-bad fit for vottos reserved personality.

    • RedsFaninPitt

      I can see Boston or New York showing interest in Votto if they can unload Texeira and Ramirez’s contracts. What do you think the Reds could get additionally for Votto if they swapped Texeira and Votto or swapped Ramirez for Votto? Ramirez has a longer contract through 2018 and Texeira has one more year on his contract. If the Reds took on some of Votto’s salary in addition to taking on Texeira or just swapping Ramirez’s contract, I wonder if the Reds could ever obtain Bird or Betts? The Reds need a younger superstar to build around since Votto will likely be aging pretty good before they will be able to compete again in 2018 or after.

      I only see Votto and Frazier bringing back potential young superstar talent, and in Votto’s case it would require the Reds to either eat a lot of salary or take on a bad contract for a while. Chapman should bring back some very good prospects, but they aren’t likely to be superstars for one year of an elite closer. If the Reds could combine Votto and Chapman or Frazier and Chapman then I think you could really get some great talent back. Votto/Chapman to Boston for Ramirez/Betts/Travis/Guerra or Margots? Votto/Chapman or Frazier to Houston for Reed/Davis/P.Tucker/Fischer or Kemp? I may be dreaming but this may be the best approach to move this team in the quickest manner to its next playoff window. Votto’s value relative to his LT contract will never be higher. Time to unload him in the right deal to maximize the return. I know it will really hurt in 2016 and 2017, but it could have great payoff in the following years and with additional high draft picks.

  11. lwblogger2

    Drives me crazy that the Reds, in dire need of bullpen help, don’t make a waiver claim like the one the Pirates made on Guido Knudson. Yes, he was terrible in brief MLB action but he’s got a nice track record in the minors and good stuff. Add the fact that all he would cost is a 40-man spot and honestly I don’t see how the Reds can’t look at a guy like that. Annoying.

    • ohiojimw

      I saw the A’s were awarded Andrew Lambo a 27 y.o.LH hitting OF, on waivers from the Pirates last week. He seems to be a potential LH power bat as he had 30+ HR in just over 500 PA at AA and AAA in 2014, . He missed much of 2015 with a foot issue but had slashed .328/.389/.563 in 262 PAs at AAA in 2014 per MLBTR http://www.mlbtraderumors.com/2015/11/athletics-claim-andrew-lambo-off-waivers.html

      Why wouldn’t the Reds have taken a shot on this guy given their situation? They had to have passed on him for the A’s to have won the award on him.

      • lwblogger2

        Right! Just as the Reds passed on Guido (love that name!) and he ended up on the Pirates. Maybe there was no interest in either but you have to wonder why?

      • Michael E

        Reminds me of Boesch and he can’t hack it at the MLB level, so why get all worked up about a AAAA player?

  12. sezwhom

    Here’s the checklist they should be working on in Del Boca Vista:

    Trade Aroldis Chapman
    Trade Brandon Phillips
    Look to Trade Jay Bruce and/or Todd Frazier
    Acquire a quality free agent starting pitcher to flip mid-season
    Acquire an outfielder or two
    Always be collecting power arms for the bullpen

    So Bryan Price is the man to lead us into the abyss then out the other side?

    • lwblogger2

      Yeah, pretty much… I mean, they flat said he isn’t going anywhere, so at least to start the season, he’s the guy.

    • ohiojimw

      B.Price is probably going to turn out like Moses. He will keep on leading them around in circles in then wilderness for the next year or so; but, when they are ready to head on into the promised land, he will not lead them there.

      • reaganspad

        “If he strikes the rock”

        Price could yet grow up under our eyes. He does seem to be a players manager. He will have to learn how to apply that accountability we heard about.

        Everybody loves Bronson Arroyo for the way he played the game. Bronson loved Bryan Price. Maybe we just need a few more gamers, or for our young puppies to grow up.

        One gamer we missed this year, Mesoraco

    • Michael E

      Price wasn’t given much to work with…Maddon wouldn’t have lead this team to any more wins than Price did…the talent, desire and injuries were all bad and Price can’t do much about any of that.

      He made some moves that left me scratching my head like Baker used to, but by and large I could see no difference between the two and some still lust for Dusty to come back and stick the CF and SS at 1 and 2 in the lineup, even if they’re hitting .200 combined.

  13. Shchi Cossack

    Ah-seop Son from the Lotte Giants of the KBO will be posted on Sunday. I think the Reds absolutely MUST make a VERY serious, aggressive bid for negotiation rights for Ah-seop Son. Signing a players from the KBO to a multi-year, major league contract is always risky, but he fits the profile of the player the Reds need, now and for the next 4-5 seasons.

    Ah-seop Son will be a 28 year old OF in 2016 and carries a career (9 seasons) slash of .323/.398/.462. For a player entering his prime production seasons, Ah-seop Son is a player who justifies pushing all the chips into the center of the table, especially since he represents the top-of-the order hitter the Reds so desperately need. That covers one OF spot for the next 4-5 seasons starting in 2016. With Winker coming up late in 2016, that covers another OF spot for the next 5-6 seasons.

    • lwblogger2

      I saw that and agree. The Pirates look like they stole Kang.

      • Shchi Cossack

        Taking that one step further, after signing Son for 2016+, signing Jae-gyun Hwang next off season as a straight up FA could really set the Reds up without having to give up the farm in trades. The Reds could then get very selective and look for that too-good-to-turn-down opportunity on the trade market. Those two moves would free up both Bruce and Frazier for trades. The Reds could bring in a couple of low-priced FA (Aoki, Gomes, Pearce, etc.) to fill an OF position until Winker (and the Reds) are ready to be competitive.

  14. james garrett

    Steve,I like your checklist especially collecting power arms.Can’t have enough guys who hit the mid 90’s in the pen.Another point about bullpen arms that I also like is that they rarely have repeated success year after year outside of the closers who are a different breed of reliever.I also like Yelich or Ozuna and would trade almost anybody to get one of them.One last comment on Walt.It appears he now has backed off of the we will compete in 2016 dream he had and is looking beyond that.

  15. ohiojimw

    I’m going to mix apples and oranges by talking about the top 10 prospects list here. I think the lack of position players on it shows that Dick Williams needs to make it a point of emphasis to greatly enhance the org’s ability to identify and develop MLB position talent.

    We can only hope they guess correctly; and, the pitching prospects they end up having to trade for a bat or two don’t come back to haunt them as top of the rotation starters.

    • Jeremy Conley

      The Reds had a terrible pitching staff last year. Isn’t the fact that we have some pitching talent coming up a good thing?

      If you saw the Reds last year and thought “the problem here is simple, not enough offense,” I don’t think we were watching the same Reds.

      • ohiojimw

        Yes the pitching was bad in2015; and for that matter, a bad pen doomed them as much as any other single factor in 2014.

        Yes. it is good that the solutions to the pitching woes are probably already in the org.

        The bad part is they haven’t brought a legitimate position player from the org to the MLB team since Mesoraco which was 4 years ago (5 at the start of then 2016 season).

        Its been 4 years since Alonso and Grandal were traded, 3 years since Gregorius was dealt. There has been nobody since them except Hamilton who is a one trick specialty player who almost certainly would not be a starter anywhere else or even on other teams except for some AL teams who could afford to spend the 25th spot on a pinch runner/ late inning defensive OF sub.

        Now these latest BA prospect ratings have a guy drafted 5 months ago out of high school as their top position prospect and only one other position guy in the top 10. That’s the issue; and, they are likely going to have to make premature judgements on some of the pitching talent in deciding who they will deal to fill the positional gaps.

      • Michael E

        I would like to see them draft better hitters, but more importantly develop them faster and better. I don’t want to see what appears to be a surplus of pitching prospects traded for a hitting prospect, unless they’re a top 10 hitting prospect (not happening). What appears to be a surplus is merely enough to get the job done.

      • Michael E

        Jeremy, YES. WE may need some more hitting prospects, but NOT at the expense of sending out our promising pitching prospects. I full agree with you.

        I think the erroneous notion that good hitting is harder to find than good pitching is still popping up on every post on RLN. A fallacy I keep explaining away, but keeps getting repeated.

        If we want better hitting, focus on comeback players, diamonds in the rough, lower visibility trades and mix in one serious FA signing every now and then. Keep the good young pitching because having 10 good young SP candidates means we’ll likely find four or five that MLB quality and CHEAP for years to come, freeing up money for better hitting when we’re ready to contend.

  16. Mike McSorley

    In looking for that bridge to Jesse Winker or a Jay Bruce replacement, how about a tandem of Dominic Brown (outrighted by the Phillies) and Travis Snider lately of the Pirates. Both were once regarded as the “next big thing” and both have underperformed to this point. But maybe a platoon of these two might keep them being exposed. Money-wise it certainly makes sense … getting two guys seeking to re-establish themselves for less than the price of one (Bruce).
    How ’bout Eugenio Suarez as your next 3Bman? Settles that pesky SS problem.
    One final thought … if you’re going to trade Joey Votto, send him to Toronto … he becomes the “face” of Canada’s team and you might be able to get a serviceable pitcher in return. Toronto has the cash to absorb most if not all of the remaining contract.

    After reading your column and all the comments I feel like I’m back in grade school in the middle of a “Reds flip” of baseball cards during recess. I darn near lost my Frank Robinson AND Ted Kluzewski in one pot!!!!

    • Michael E

      At the price points, I would love for the Reds to take a chance on Domonic Brown…and less excited, but still okay with Snider. Brown just needs a change of scenery…Snider has had a half-dozen chances and can’t turn the corner…I don’t think he’ll ever be able to, but still, if signed cheaply for one year, why not?

  17. Chuck Schick

    The opening day payroll last year was about 115 million and the end of season payroll was around 100 million (pro-rata). The season ticket base increased between 1,500-2,000 last year to over 16,000 due to the ASG (Business Courier 4/1/15) and its likely that a fair amount of attrition will occur. Forbes estimates that 1 fan is worth $30 in revenue, so if attendance is off 300k, thats a 9 million revenue decrease from attendance.

    The Reds payroll budget is largely predicated on internal attendance estimates, so its difficult to believe that the payroll will be any higher than 100 million. Almost 85 million is tied up in 7 guys (Votto, Bailey, Chapman, Meso, Frazier, Phillips, Cozart) so any FA signings would require an almost dollar for dollar offset with trades. That wouldn’t necessarily be a bad thing, but I don’t see any flexibility.

    Signing a quality FA pitcher to flip would be awesome, but I find a couple of issues that make that highly unlikely:
    1. Any quality FA pitcher is going to command a multi year deal, with the possibility of a no-trade clause, making a trade 3 months into the deal difficult to pull off. Let alone the risk of alienating future free agents and angering agents.
    2. If the Reds were smart enough to know which “reclamation” pitcher to sign, who would be immediately successful and flippable, then why did they sign Jason Marquiss and Kevin Gregg last year? Have they become that much smarter since last year?
    3. Lastly, if the objective is to sign a guy to trade him, what happens if he sucks? or gets hurt? You’ve now locked yourself into an even worse situation. The risk/reward for the flip scenario isn’t worth it

    Obviously, I don’t work for the Reds and they don’y ask for my opinion….but outside of trading expensive players for prospects I don’t see them doing anything.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Your calculation doesn’t take into account increasing revenues in other areas, like MLB revenue sharing and expected increases in the local broadcast contract. The Reds payroll number has never declined under Bob Castellini. While it may decrease this year because they’ll be trading high payroll players, that doesn’t mean the trades were dictated by payroll. They’ll occur because of rebuilding. You say that FA signings will have to come from traded players. Well, the Reds are going to trade Chapman and probably other large contracts. So they will have free agent flexibility, by your own reasoning, even assuming payroll cuts.

      The Reds should sign the best pitcher they can who will work for a one year contract. That minimizes the risk. Their strategy was opposite last year – they were looking for cheap signings. That’s not what I’m advocating this year. Yes, the pitcher could get hurt or not pitch well. Or he could bring Addison Russell or Jake Arrieta. Not sure how you go from “could get hurt” to “not worth it.”

      • Michael E

        Yes, look for quality pitcher on one year deal…and not trying to spread $6 or $10 million between three or four crappy players.

  18. Dan

    Not sure I see the Reds competing in 2017 either. I guess iis really going to come down to our starting 5. If the Reds starting rotation struggles as bad as it did in 2015 we are going to be in for a much longer time of turning around.

    Any player that is going to be entering declining years come mid-season 2017 should be traded away, no exceptions.

    Not that I think it would ever happen but I wonder if Joey Votto would approve a trade to Toronto?

    • lwblogger2

      It wouldn’t surprise me if Votto would be willing to accept a trade to most teams. I think the no-trade clause is mostly there because he was hoping to be part of a winning Reds team for a long time to come and to give him some protection against going to a team that he really, really doesn’t want to go to. It may not be a particular city, but more likely a team that may not have a chance at winning for a few years.

    • jdx19

      Over the last few months, the question of Votto to TOR has been asked on numerous FanGraphs chats and the FG writer conducting the chat has always said they think “it makes sense” and “it would be fun” and stuff like that. For whatever that is worth!

      I’d be conflicted if this happened. I’d want to root for Votto to do well, but I really don’t like Jose Bautista, and I want him to do poorly. So, I couldn’t really be a closet TOR faN!

    • ohiojimw

      Toronto could be difficult for tax and currency exchange reasons. I don’t follow the US$ v. the Can$ that closely. I have no idea what Votto’s tax status is in Canada. As far as I’ve ever read he is still a Canadian citizen in this country on a green card. I am not specifically informed on Votto’s situation but I know there have been times in the past when exchange rates and tax issues have caused problems with athletes that might have been traded or looking to sign. Also remember most of the Latino guys are neither Canadian or US citizens so things are different for them.

    • Michael E

      Good lord, just because Votto is from Canada doesn’t mean Toronto should be the focus of a trade. We are free to trade him anywhwere and for all we know he might hate Ontario or Toronto. I live in the U.S. and was born here, but doesn’t mean I like this city or that city. Canada is a large country and Votto might prefer a dozen U.S. cities to Toronto and the cold weather.

  19. Steve Schoenbaechler

    The biggest thing if we trade anyone off, though, is, “What’s plan B?” For instance, I could understand every move listed. But, then, what if you trade both Frazier and BP? Suarez could cover one but not both places. And, some were even looking at Suarez playing LF. What if Bruce gets traded? Suarez goes to RF? Can Suarez even play OF? He was playing SS this year. Do we trade Suarez for a 2nd baseman or 3rd baseman, allowing us to trade our player, respectively?

    To compete in 2016, I believe we need 2 hitters and 2 starting pitchers. Now, one of those hitters could come with Devin. But, we need hitters with OBP, to be driven in by the others. If we make no moves, then the improvement will need to come from within, obviously.

    Even in 2017, it might be more realistic then for the young pitching studs to start performing. But, what about the hitters? There’s little if any down in the minors.

    As a side note, I still don’t trust Homer will be ready by the start of the season, as in, ready, raring, and fully prepared to pitch full games from day 1. But, with this medical/training staff, I wouldn’t be surprised if he isn’t ready by then. I’m still considering taking bets on this. This is why I believe we need 2 starting pitchers for 2016. I just don’t believe Homer will be ready.

    • Matt WI

      I don’t think there is an honest intention to be competitive in 2016. They don’t need a plan “B” so much because they are recognizing (finally) that some retooling is in order, and that means sucking it up for a bit. Not all the dominoes have to be played this off season, it may look incomplete for awhile. All of this is based on the assumption of getting value back from the trades.

      They can either stink expensively and terminally with the current roster, or stink more economically with hopes a better upside down the rode

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        Also, I will include that I said in 2014 that they should be concentrating on more like what they may be doing now, rebuilding the minors, doing some retooling, etc.

    • Michael E

      You don’t need a plan B Steve, unless you’re a short-sighted fan only caring about today and not tomorrow. You rebuild by moving high paid veterans, lowering payroll, bringing in cheap, youthful talent and adding in some bits n pieces.

      Anyone that thinks if we trade a RF or 3B or CL and must have one almost as good to backfill before making the trade would never make a trade and probably never have a good team.

  20. jdx19

    Seinfeld references make the world go round! Love love love it.

  21. cleveredsguy

    Completely agree with your step by step strategy. 2016 is going to be long and full of losses but the rebuilding effort will be better for us in 2017 and beyond.