The Cincinnati Reds have made some trades since my last post here, and I don’t want to rehash the trades or break them down too much. If you’re interested in my thoughts on the trade with the Dodgers or the trade with the Yankees, you can read about them here (Dodgers/White Sox) or here (Yankees). What I do want to talk about with the trades is what it appears that the Reds are trying to do and that appears to be acquire offense.
The Reds system had been considered light on offensive prospects as of two weeks ago. There was Jesse Winker and then a whole bunch of guys with some tools, but a lot of question marks that needed to be answered on their resume. The organization wasn’t barren, but short of Winker there wasn’t anyone remotely close to a “sure thing” hitting prospect in the system. In the last two weeks the Reds have acquired the following players:
- 2B Jose Peraza
- OF Scott Schebler
- 3B Brandon Dixon
- 3B Eric Jagielo
- 2B Tony Renda
- RHP Rookie Davis
- RHP Caleb Cotham
Five hitters and two pitchers have been added to the organization. The mix of hitters is interesting here. Brandon Dixon stands out as the one guy with tons of work to do in order to be taken seriously as a future big leaguer, but the other four hitters all seem to have something in their offensive game that looks like it could be useful at the big league level.
Both Jose Peraza and Tony Renda play second base. That sort of comes into play in terms of where to play everyone, but having too many guys is never a problem. The two are both very high rate of contact hitters with very, very low strikeout rates. Both also lack any home run pop in their bats. The Reds also have some guy named Brandon Phillips that is still on their team, who like those two, makes a lot of contact and doesn’t have much home run power (though he still has plenty more than either of the two young guys).
The team also acquired outfielder Scott Schebler. His main calling card is power, something that the farm system really lacked in 2015 (the organization was led in home runs by two players who each hit 14). Then there was the acquisition yesterday of third baseman Eric Jagielo, another player who has power as their main calling card.
The outfield situation is pretty much wide open right now with a possible trade of Jay Bruce and left field currently being open, as well as the thing that the Reds don’t want to talk about that is the abysmal hitting of Billy Hamilton. While Schebler is only viable in left field, some others could play center or right field. The Reds seem to be sold on playing Eugenio Suarez at third base in favor of Zack Cozart at shortstop, at least for the time being.
Cincinnati has acquired a bunch of hitting prospects over the last two weeks via trade and realistically, only have a spot for one of them to play in the near term despite all of them being at the Double-A level or higher. They obviously believed they could move Phillips and open up another spot, but they had to know there was a chance it wouldn’t happen and of course, it didn’t.
What I like here is that the Reds are going after bats right now, regardless of where they can see them playing at. We can talk about how we feel about these particular bats, but the Reds have identified that they needed to add bats and they’ve done that. They’ve added two guys who put the bat on the ball at rates that would rank among the best in the Major Leagues if they are remotely close to as successful at doing that in the Majors as they have been in the minors with Peraza and Renda. They went out and added two legit power hitters to the system, an area that was in need of fixing.
For a team that struggled mightily on offense in the 2015 season, the Reds have seemingly been going after players that help improve the offense moving forward, if not immediately, sooner rather than later. The team seems to have a plan. Maybe it’s not the exact plan that you or I would be following to a T, but there does seem to be a plan in place and the Reds are executing it. They’ve been adding offensive pieces to the upper levels of the system, most of which seem to be ready to help the big league club in the next year. Before the two trades in December went down, the Reds farm system was inside the Top 10 in all of baseball according to JJ Cooper at Baseball America. They’ve since added more than a few quality prospects, not only strengthening the system overall, but adding to a clear deficiency that it did have on the offensive side of the ball.