With the winter meetings in the rear view mirror, it’s time to take a look at everything Cincinnati accomplished. I hereby present a detailed accounting, with in-depth analysis, of all of the moves made by GM Dick Williams last week:























Okay, that’s not quite true. The Reds did participate in the Rule 5 draft, and traded away one of the players selected in said draft. Otherwise, it was pretty quiet. And that’s just fine by me. As Williams said last week:

“We definitely don’t [feel pressure] to do something,” Williams said on Wednesday evening. “We’re working on it. We’ll hopefully get something done. Between now and [Thursday] morning, we may very well not have anything happen.”

Williams believes the dialogue he’s had has been fruitful.

“I’m learning something from every interaction with another team,” he said. “Not always getting closer to a completed deal, but I’m learning something every time we talk.”

The Reds weren’t going to get Chris Sale. They listened to offers on Anthony DeSclafani, Billy Hamilton, Dan Straily, and others. Maybe something will happen there, maybe not. But short of finding a trade partner for Brandon Phillips or Zack Cozart, I’m not sure what else we could have expected.

2017 is a transitional year. A lot of the pieces of the next competitive Reds team may already be in place. It’s time to find out what we have. If a move comes along that will improve the club for 2018 and beyond, I expect the Reds will pull the trigger. But all along, I’ve expected that next year — the 2017 offseason — would be the time we should expect a flurry of moves. If, in fact, the Reds are serious about competing in 2018, and trying to fill whatever holes remain unfilled by that point.

Plus, it could have been worse:

71 Responses

  1. David

    We don’t need second or third rate older bullpen pitchers or starters. Commit to the rebuild and get the young guys in there.
    Thus it is written, and thus is shall be so.

  2. Tom Mitsoff

    We did learn which members of the Reds roster the other teams see as valuable. It seems clear that Cozart and Phillips will be on the team unless some other team loses a starting second baseman or shortstop to serious injury. Williams apparently is not of a mind to simply give them away.

  3. Steve Schoenbaechler

    It’s difficult, times like these. The bullpen, in my opinion, is almost a crapshoot. What I don’t want is for the Reds to be spending $20+ million on 3 bullpen arms again (Broxton, Marshall, and Chapman), especially when only one of those were effective.

    • gaffer

      That was probably worth the money when we were 1 game from the pennant but not 20 games out of the playoffs.

      By the way, 20 million would get you only 1 bullpen guy now!

  4. Daytonian

    The Reds still need a backup catchers, despite the Rule 5 draft. The Rays have DFA’s minor league catcher Justin O’Connerl.

    As MLBTradeRumors.com reports (all paraphrased), O’Conner was the No. 31 overall pick by the Rays in 2010 and one of the top 30 prospects (per Baseball America) each year since. Prior to the 2015 season, BA rated as No. 3 on Tampa Bay’s top 30, with MLB.com ranking him 61st overall among MLB prospects. Back surgeries, though, limited him to just 20 games in 2016. BA vies him 80 grades on his throwing arm, that he has halted 46 percent of stolen bases attempts. — and has above-average raw power.

    Worth a shot??

    • larry

      The article also indicated O’Conner needs a lenthy recovery period in 2017, maybe ready sometime in the second half…don’t think the reds will bite on this one.

    • ohiojimw

      O’Connor aside, they’ve got Graterol, Turner, and the two AAA types they signed to MilB deals and invited to ST. Thus they are likely well on the way to having as much sunken costs for 2nd or 3rd catcher as they would have if they had just gone out and signed a proven MLB journeyman.

      Whoever makes the MLB team is going to cost them at least the minimum salary ($535K per the new CBA) and MLB fringes. As of opening day that becomes a sunken cost assignable to one person. If it is not Graterol, he’ll make ~82K a year as an optioned guy on a 40 man roster. They probably have more flexibility with the two guys on MilB contracts; but is reasonable to figure that MilB FAs the salaries are at least what Graterol would get and that some significant portion if their deals are sunken costs in the form of a signing bonus or partial guarantee.

  5. Hotto4Votto

    Dick Williams has on job to do, and the Reds themselves have stated this as their primary objective of the offseason. He must open playing time at 2B and SS. If he’s able to move one, that would be acceptable. He he can move both then he’s off to a great start. If both are on the roster by opening day, he’s failed his first offseason. It’s pretty simple.

    • MrRed

      Would a release of one or both of those players be acceptable to you to accomplish this end? Or should DW at least wait until the season starts to see if a trade could be worked out for a team in sudden need of a 2B or SS? If the latter, I wouldn’t see this as a failure.

      • Bob Foist

        When you mention releasing both Cozart and Phillips I’m assuming Peraza goes to SS and Dilson Herrera goes to 2nd base.I’m good with Peraza at SS and good with his offense and good with Herrera at 2nd (career RF=4.64 and FLD% .975) but not sure about Dilson’s offense,he may need more time at Louisville before he’s MLB ready….or may need some time at AAA to prove to Red’s Org he is ready to make that jump.In any case….unless an offer just fell into Red’s lap they couldn’t refuse (and it was OK’d by BP) I’m thinking Red’s ride out last year of Brandon’s contract…it would be good PR,saying bye to the Human Web Gem…

      • Tom Mitsoff

        Herrera has an option remaining. If Cozart and Phillips are both with the team at the end of spring training, Herrera will go to Louisville until one or both of them is traded or injured.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Yes. Releasing them if no other options would achieve their objective .

      • Tom Mitsoff

        If they had any idea of releasing Cozart outright, they would have non-tendered him a couple of weeks ago. Williams views him and Phillips as assets who can bring some return value at some point. I am just guessing at this, but I suspect Williams’ mindset is that part of the rebuild is to bring as much new, young talent into the organization as possible, and releasing two assets outright who can bring talent back would be counter to that idea. It would also be eating nearly $20 million in salary with no return whatsoever.

      • Bob Foist

        Money gone in any event Tom….whether BP plays second or not.And even if DW finds that trade for more young talent,if it doesn’t suit Brandon he has that right to nix it.Maybe Reds can get planets to line up and trade BP but seems like a tall order to me…I don’t really think releasing BP is too far fetched…just one of those judgement calls clubs have to make.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        I’m with you, Bob. My comment above was just outlining what it appears Williams’ thinking is, not what it should be.

      • Bob Foist

        I have heard this argued on WLW Sports Talk…seems crazy at first that a team (one of the poorer cousins in MLB) would just toss away $14,000,000 but after you get over the shock….there is some logic to it.Especially if Dilson Herrera makes a name for himself at Louisville,then you seriously have to think about moving BP on down the line….

      • Hotto4Votto

        If nobody wants them they aren’t assets regardless of what Williams believes. I think every possible trade should be explored, but if it gets to Spring Training and no takers, the offseason objectives remain the same. One way or another both can’t be on the roster because Peraza needs to play every day, and not in left field. If both are still around the FO didn’t do their job and the rebuild is delayed.

      • lwblogger2

        This is where I diverge with many. I don’t think releasing BP is in the best interest of the team. It sends a bad message to players and fans when you release a former star who is still a productive MLB ballplayer in the name of ‘rebuilding’. Even benching him would be difficult. It isn’t the end of the world if they need to deal with him one more year.

        Maybe OhioJimW was right about non-tendering Cozart, although I still think he will be moved before the start of the season. I don’t expect the return to be much though. The big thing really is that he be moved. I don’t think releasing him is a good idea either. I mean, why tender him and then let him go for nothing?

  6. RedsFanForLife

    DW must commit $5-6M to sign Ruiz. 2.5-3M in both signing bonus and penalties. Minor league contract with signing bonus like the Astros did with Perez. We will be subjected to signing players at a max of 300k after this year because of the new CBA, so please pull the string on this one DW. Would’ve been a much easier decision if so much wasn’t spent on AlfRod.

  7. Preach

    “We definitely don’t [feel pressure] to do something”

    2014, 2015, 2016….

    • jessecuster44

      No pressure to do something because there’s no pressure to win.

      • gaffer

        I don’t care that they are not doing anything in 2014, 2015, 2016. But man they needed to do more in 2013 and didn’t.

      • Streamer88

        I think this point should be bolded and highlighted, gaffer. Had they added in those years when they were 1 or 2 guys away, or aggressively moved into rebuild with an effective lucrative garage sale (see white sox this year) then the radio silence this winter would be much better tolerated by me.

        DW (imho) had one singular task this winter. It wasnt to rebuild the bullpen, and it wasn’t to find a 35 year old journeyman 6th starter to give the young pitchers “a veteran presence”, it was to make room for peraza and Herrera to play 145 games together in our middle infield. That’s it. Imho, it wasn’t to “get good value” for them, it was to Make Room.

        If I see peraza play anywhere but SS, I’m gonna scream. He provides minimal value at pretty much every other position.

        Summary: sometimes radio silence is a blessing. The diamondbacks last year and the padres the year before are proof that motion is not the same as action. But it’s not a blessing when your singular task is to dump salary, dump players, make room.

      • jessecuster44

        Agreed. And in 2014 as well. But there has to be pressure to win at some point, right? Otherwise its a virtually endless cycle like 2001-2009.

      • MrRed

        The thinking may very well be that they will dump Cozart and/or Phillips. Just not in December. But if they are still plugging the middle of the infield come opening day, then I’ll join your dismay.

      • greenmtred

        I think the lack of pressure stems from their belief that they have most of the pieces in place and need to see how those pieces work out.

      • jessecuster44

        They are delusional if they think most of their pieces are in place. Catcher? Bullpen? Right Field?

  8. Bob Foist

    The old saying….’sometimes the best trades are the ones you didn’t make’ hopefully applies here.And even though Reds cut their payroll in 2016….started the season with 7 players on DL including Homer Bailey…..Mesoraco soon goes on DL…Hamilton goes on DL toward end of season….Jay Bruce was traded….Suarez struggled a bit at 3rd…starters struggled with innings limits toward end of season and a truly poor bullpen for much of the season,this team played .500 ball after ASG.And still developing talent at AAA and in lower levels of Farm System…. IMHO Reds are in a good position to sit and wait…

  9. jim t

    The risk is if you release BP and he moves on and has a good year and Herrera flops. the backlash would be huge. Your not getting a good prospect for BP in any event and chances are if you move him we still eat a bunch of his last years salary. I think if we move him it will be at the deadline to a team who has suffered injury and has a need to fill. Either way he will need to be showcased by playing him if you intend to move him.

    I truly believe they will trade Cozart either before the season starts or at the deadline. He will be the easiest to move. We also have already seen Peraza at SS.

    • sixpacktwo

      Herrera has an option left and if Phillips is still on the team, they use it. Also if Cozart is still on the team Peraza will play second.

    • MrRed

      In the Red’s circumstance, you take that risk, Jim. BP isn’t a part of the Reds rebuild plans, whether he plays well this year or not. And there isn’t any reason to think he’s going to find the fountain of youth this season. The Reds have identified the middle infielders they want for the next competitive run (we hope?). Those guys don’t have anything more to prove at AAA now. It’s time to move forward with the plan.

  10. CTRedsFan

    Another way to look at this is Votto had an historical 2nd half and the Reds were still below .500. So if the goal is to be near, but just below, .500 then by all means the FO should sit on their hands and do nothing.

    Reality is the Reds have one above average hitter and he is rapidly approaching his mid 30’s.

    The only players above average defensively in 2016 were Hamilton and Duval.

    The only starter who can be counted on to be above average is Disco, all the rest are a crap shoot.

    And then there is the bullpen, what a mess, two above average pitchers Iggy and Lorenzen and they can’t pitch everyday.

    The farm system, no prospect rated in the top 60.

    Yes, waiting and doing nothing appears to be the winning strategy. Reds front office is a joke.

    End of rant.

    • gaffer

      I disagree on the prospects: Senzel and Garrett are definitely top 60.

      • CTRedsFan

        Apologies, MLB.com has Senzel at #44 and Winker and Stephenson in the mid 50’s.
        Still, it certainly is not a position of strength for the organization.

  11. gaffer

    I think this article could have been much shorter. Recap: NOTHING.

  12. David

    Senzel perhaps at 3rd base in 2018. If Dilson Herrera doesn’t pan out, Eugenio Suarez could probably play 2nd (he played SS OK). Suarez OPS would be pretty nice at 2nd base.
    The next promising prospect in the OF is Aristides Aquino, who will play at AA ball next spring, 2017. He could move up fast now and be ML ready in 2018.

    Okey is the next catching prospect, followed by the kid they drafter in 2015, but who has been injured, Tyler Stephenson.

    Several really good pitching prospects, including Vladimir Guitierez just signed. Keury Mella, Tyler Mahle will be emerging.

    The Top 100 prospect list is just that: Prospects. When young players actually emerge is up to their ability and dedication to get better.

    • Gaffer

      We are several players away even in 2018 but I bet there are plenty of teams who would love to start a lineup with Winker, Votto and Senzel. The problem is the holes left. To me the likelihood is we will need a big FA signing at either outfielder or starting pitcher, and also in the bullpen. That is going to be tough for this team to swallow based on the rates so it’s going to be rough.

    • jazzmanbbfan

      While not arguing with the gist of your post, I completely disagree that Suarez played shortstop “OK”. He was awful as SS and I think I’m being kind. He made significant improvement at 3B over the course of the season, which both surprised and pleased me however.

    • greenmtred

      He played SS ok? I must have missed that game.

  13. Scott Carter

    I think if Phillips is still on team by end of spring training then he needs released. No good reason for him to block development. Mozart I am not so sure, even if they can’t find a trade partner now, they might before trade Deadline in July.

  14. Scott Carter

    Cosart I don’t think we have an infielder who is also a composer.

    • TR

      Cincy has a world-class symphony orchestra and an opera company that deals with Mozart.

  15. Old-school

    I really don’t see much change coming until the all star break. Winker and Herrera will stay in Louisville…Brandon Phillips will start at second base…cozart still here is the one that has me surprised…Flash poll….what is the likelihood of cozart/bp as opening day starters. I’m saying 75% and increasingly of the belief Williams won’t transition to the new core team until after the All star break.

    • TR

      If that’s the case, it doesn’t give me much incentive to be too exited about the Reds after opening day comes and goes.

    • MrRed

      I think your odds are pretty fair, Old-School, especially if we’re talking just opening day starters. I think that’s the sense of pending dread that many of us are experiencing based on the recent history of roster management.

  16. StillRed

    Going out on a limb here, but, as he has shown last couple of years, BP still has something left in his tank. Not what it was, but he can contribute something. Don’t just give him away. Cozart, however, doesn’t have a full season in him, at least at the plate. If you can’t move either Cozart or BP, then you start Peraza at SS and him spell BP at 2nd, with Cozart back filling at SS. Don’t give Cozart away either…if Peraza should get injured, or Billy, you’ll need them to fill in. Let Herrera prove himself in AAA.

    • Gaffer

      BP is basically a replacement level player nowadays so no matter what we are paying him the 14 million. Even if we trade him, they won’t take on the money.

      • lwblogger2

        I’m sure that idea has at least been kicked around by the front-office.

    • Tom Diesman

      “Let Herrera prove himself in AAA.”

      Not too sure what it is you think he has left there to accomplish. Herrera has far outplayed Peraza at the AAA level. For that matter, so has Alcantara. Consider the following:

      Dilson Herrera RH 23 2B

      AAA 21-22

      833 .297 .356 .480 .836

      Jose Peraza RH 23 SS/2B/OF

      AAA 21-22

      843 .289 .322 .377 .699

      Arismendy Alcantara Both 25 2B/SS/OF

      AAA 22-24

      1298 .268 .317 .457 .775

  17. ohiojimw

    It is popping on Twitter that the Mariners have been in contact with the Reds about starting pitching. If they do a deal, the Reds need to attach Cozart on the back end of it. Take a little less in return if need be to move the contract the Reds need to move.

    • jessecuster44

      Ms do not need or want Cozart because they acquired Segura two weeks ago.

      • ohiojimw

        But they want starting pitching; and trades are two sided. Sometimes a team has to take somebody they don’t really want to get something they really want a lot.

      • MrRed

        So what your suggesting in this hypothetical is that the Reds be willing to lower their trade return just to move Cozart? Because that’s what they would have to do. I’m not sure that’s in the best interest of the organization given that Cozart isn’t really owed that much.

      • ohiojimw

        Yes, this is essentially the decision the Reds have to make where Cozart is concerned; are they better off moving him than keeping him.

        Aside from the out of pocket monetary cost, likely about $5M, there is also the (lost) opportunity cost of keeping him around since his presence is going to contribute to the logjam in the middle infield eventually costing Peraza and/ or Herrera playing time.

        What does seem clear is that nobody is willing to ante up a return close to what the Reds perceive to be Cozart’s remaining value. Based on this, the most frugal action for the Reds would have been reevaluate Cozart’s worth and trade him for what was on the table or to cut their losses on him by not tendering am contract to him. However that ship has sailed.

        Since one year deals granted or agreed to during the arbitration process are typically not guaranteed, they will still have a chance to get out from under most of the contract by releasing him early in spring training and paying the prorated amount specified by the CBA.

        What is most likely to happen is that they will either basically dump him for a low to middling prospect or be stuck with him for the season. My thinking is that they might as well bury their losses by making him part of another trade and be done with it.

  18. WVRedlegs

    The solution to this BP quandary is to aggressively shop him until the end of the year. If there are no takers, then so be it and release BP. Hold onto Cozart if no takers at this point for the bench.
    Then sign free agent INF/OF Brock Holt to play 2B, a bridge to Herrera at 2B or a bridge to Senzel at 3B and allow for Suarez to move to 2B. Also as a super-utility player. Holt is only 28, 7 years younger than BP. You get position flexibility as opposed to a one-trick pony in BP. A Holt type of player along with Irabarren on the bench will allow for the Reds to carry 3 C’s early in the season. Both Holt and less so Irabarren can backup CF when needed.

    • I-71_Exile

      But who will bat clean up?

      I kid. I kid.

      • WVRedlegs

        That’s a good one. A sad but true one, though.
        In the Reds bargain bin shopping dept., Dick Williams is looking at former Reds OF Drew Stubbs as the RH hitter off of the bench that he has mentioned being interested in. Stubbs as a Pinch-hitter in ’16 .000, 0 for 9; in ’15 .500, 8 for 16, and in ’14 .391, 9 for 23. He is a good defender as we know and he plays all 3 OF spots. Thus the interest. The down side is his 40% K% and he has been on 4 different teams over the last 2 years. Jocketty taught Williams well in this department.
        Ivan De Jesus, Jr. is now a Brewer.

      • David

        Drew Stubbs as a pinch hitter? That’s kinda dumb. He has trouble making contact.

    • ohiojimw

      Cozart needs to go for his own good as well as the team’s. He’s not had his big pay day yet and no doubt wants to be somewhere he will play everyday in order to build his market value as a FA following the season. If he is struck in Cincy, he will be a 5th wheel and likely very unhappy. Do him a favor and move him for what he will bring.

      • big5ed

        I find it very hard to believe that Zack Cozart will become a clubhouse problem. He is a smart, stand-up guy, and he knows full well what the situation is.

        Cozart has made a total of over $5 million the last two years; with taxes, etc., he is probably worth at least $2 million, which is pretty good for a 31-year-old. He is not going to get a mega contract, but if he almost certainly will want to stay in MLB long enough to max out on his pension with 10 years of service. As I understand it, a player with 10 years of time would get about $210,000/year for life at age 62, or about $90,000/year at age 50.

        Ryan Hanigan now has 8 years of service in, and even though he can’t really hit anymore, he might fit for the Reds at a low price for this year. The Red Sox declined a $3.75mm option on him. Hanigan would be excellent with young pitchers, plus he is a manager in the making.

      • ohiojimw

        I didn’t say and did not mean to infer that Cozart would overtly become a clubhouse problem. But despite the stiff upper lip and all he wouldn’t be a happy camper; and, that comes through in lots of ways that can color a clubhouse.

        I believe the $210K per year is the pension ceiling amount. It ties in with some IRS regulation. Most guys, even with 10 years service get considerably less as it is based on aggregate income+ service time just like most pensions.

        I agree somebody like Hannigan is where they should be looking versus all these AAA catchers they seem intent on auditioning for the job.

      • Carl Sayre

        The move Cozart regardless of the return right now puzzles me I don’t see the upside unless they do package him in a deal that has to be done before ST. The chance of injuries to a middle infielder during ST is always hovering. Cozart can be a fall back position in case one of the kids gets hurt or it is apparent in ST they need more time at AAA. There is always the chance Cozart is injured but it wouldn’t make any difference if they were going to give him away other than his rather small contract!

      • ohiojimw

        On a team not contending for anything there are any number of people such Hernan Iribarren or Tony Renda (both invited to Reds ST) who can fill the role of back up or fall back for literally about 10% of the cost of Cozart. Suarez could even be moved over from 3B for a look which might be an insightful thing to do with Senzel looming large on the future horizon; and again, there are all sorts of available cheap options to cover that move..

  19. Carl Sayre

    There is the history of this FO overvaluing our players is the only thing that has me a little concerned. I would not break camp with Cozart in a Reds uniform unless Perazza is injured. I like Cozart probably better than I do BP but that is just an irrational position on my part. BP has used up all of my warm and fuzzies for him after last year he had earned that right and I will respect that but I da……ng sure don’t like it. BP on the roster coming out of ST is lost money regardless I would give up the roster spot for him to sit on the bench. He will eventually retire he has to much pride to sit. The Reds were so far out of it so early last season had I been making the line up he would have had splinters after turning down the second deal.

    • lwblogger2

      That’s the thing though. You really can’t bench a guy for turning down a trade. You bench a guy for non-performance. There was a stretch where they may have had a case for benching him for performance reasons but then he got red hot and that chance went by the wayside. You don’t get players who want to play for your team when you bench productive players for exercising a right they are given by the CBA. Maybe, if he’s still on the team and gets off to a bad start, you start building a case to bench him or even release him but last year or going into this year that goes over like a turd in a punch-bowl.

      @WVRedlegs – That last analogy was for you 😉

      • WVRedlegs

        Iiiiiiii-eeeeeeeeee. Thank you. Will Ferrell thanks you.
        You mean the Reds just can’t release a player that has slashed .294/.328/.395 and .291/.320/.416 over the last 2 seasons? The MLBPA probably doesn’t care as long as the Reds pay the man the money they are contractually obligated to him. BP hasn’t done anything that warrants a release, but the Reds have a right to move in another direction if they so desired. Just pay the man, open a roster spot and move on to the future. BP becomes a free agent to sign anywhere, but Cincinnati, his heart desires.

      • lwblogger2

        MLBPA would be fine with it. Certainly within the team’s rights to do so if they want. I’m trying to think how a prospective player might think however. Pluses for prospective hitters would be hitting at GABP is good for the numbers. Minuses however are they are small market, not quite ready to win yet, the climate, and being in ‘fly-over’ country. Another plus is cost of living is low. Still, the minuses weigh pretty heavily and giving the impression that the team treats their players well is another tick for the positive side of the ledger. I fear that simply releasing BP, who is a just below league-average hitter, still perceived as at least a fair fielder, plays through injuries, and plays in the middle IF; adds to the negative side of the ledger. As a prospective player, I don’t know if I want to play for a team that releases a former star player, still liked by the fans, and still is productive; in the name of rebuilding. To play a guy like Herrera who could easily be a worse 2B on both sides of the ball? A guy who had a shoulder issue last year? A guy who still has options? It’s not like BP is blocking Seagar or something here.

  20. doofus

    Bold and decisive? Naw, more like slow and inept. That’s the Red’s front office.