The Cincinnati Reds have money to spend. President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams says that the team isn’t done and is looking to make more moves. While we don’t know exactly how much money the team has left to spend, there have been some hints.

It’s clear that the Reds want to acquire a pitcher to put in the front of their rotation. They’ve been linked to Cleveland Indians starter Corey Kluber, who is a bonafide ace. They’ve been linked in free agency all winter to Dallas Keuchel. And it’s the Keuchel situation that seems like it could be why the Reds may be waiting on both Bryce Harper and Manny Machado to sign.

Jon Morosi was on MLB Network talking about the left-handed starter and noted that the Reds and Phillies were the two teams that were in on Dallas Keuchel. But he noted that the Phillies are also in on both Manny Machado and Bryce Harper. Depending on if they can land one of them could change how they approach Keuchel.

If you are Dallas Keuchel and know that the Phillies and Reds are both interested, it makes sense to wait. If the Phillies land one of the two premiere free agents of the last decade, and they can also offer you a similar deal to Cincinnati, you are probably going to choose to go to Pennsylvania and play baseball. However if Philadelphia no longer has the money to come close to what the Reds can offer because they do land one of those players, that changes things up quite a bit.

That leaves the Cincinnati Reds sitting around and waiting. At least when it comes to Dallas Keuchel. They could make it all a moot point by acquiring someone else in free agency or in a trade. But when it comes to the Keuchel sweepstakes, it seems that things are in wait-and-see mode. And none of that has to do with what Cincinnati or Dallas Keuchel can control, currently.

With how slow the offseason has gone when it comes to free agents, the Reds may still be able to wait. But that may not last much longer. While trades may always be out there, free agents won’t. Gio Gonzalez, Wade Miley, and others, aren’t going to be there forever. Continuing to wait on Dallas Keuchel, who certainly is an upgrade over any other free agent pitcher out there, is worth it if you can land him. But if you wait him out, and he goes elsewhere, but in the meantime the other solid free agent options sign with other teams, it leaves the Reds with few options.

And really, those few options are to hit the trade market. There’s nothing inherently wrong with the trade market. As mentioned earlier, Corey Kluber is out there in that market. He’s one of the four or five best pitchers alive right now. The Reds have also expressed interest in several others in trade, including Blue Jays starter Marcus Stroman. The biggest issue with trades is that you have to give up players and spend money to pay the newly acquired player. On the flip side, they usually don’t cost as much money. That wouldn’t be the case for Kluber. He is owed $17M, $17.5M (team option), and $18M (team option) for 2019-2021. There’s also a $1M buyout on either of the team options.

Depending on how the Reds feel about where they are with trade negotiations/talks, they may still be comfortable waiting. But as the options potentially dry up in both markets it could require them being more aggressive in order to get what they feel they need.

Photo of Bryce Harper used under a Creative Commons license, which can be found here. Original photo was slightly altered.

27 Responses

  1. James H.

    If I were GM, I’d pass on Dallas. Price is too high, and too many years awaiting regression. Wait for someone better…

  2. Doug Gray

    I think that, generally, it’s because Miley has time with Derek Johnson and had success with him last year in Milwaukee (small sample size alert), and Gio Gonzalez for similar reasons.

  3. Brandon Taylor

    I couldn’t agree more Doug. My best guess is option 1 for the Reds is Keuchal and waiting on the big 2 is exactly what he is waiting on. I think the Reds would love to have Kluber and I’m sure prefer him but the asking price is such that Keuchal is option 1.

    If that is the case and the Reds don’t land Keuchal and still decide the price is too much on Kluber, I’m kind of hoping they just stand pat with the rotation. The one exception might be if you could roll the dice cheaply with Buckholtz. Perhaps they could use the money not spent for an in season upgrade of someone with some team control beyond 2019.

    I wish option 1 was Kluber because I think Kluber would make them a preseason wild card contender. I’d be willing to pay a steep price for that but alas we really don’t know how steep the price is unless he ends up traded somewhere.

    • Rob

      I don’t know why we haven’t traded for Kluber. Wouldn’t the Indians accept winker/trammel/Mahle ? Is that too much to offer?

      • scottya

        That seems to be what the Indians are looking for. A “at least one Major League Outfielder”: Winker likely or Schebler maybe, A “young starting pitcher with major league experience”: likely Mahle, Reed or Romano and a top prospect.

        Winker, Mahle, India or Greene and another prospect for Kluber might do it. If we had signed Grandal or Keuchal instead of Roark, I’d be all for this as we would be contender’s for the playoffs from here on for the foreseeable future.

      • JoshG

        if the Indians would do that .. I’d take it

    • jon

      I think it’s way to early for the reds to be trading top prospects. Go the free agent route please!

  4. Jbrat22

    I think at this point I would save the money, hang onto the prospects and roll the dice with the rotation we have.

    According to mlbtraderumors, free agent SP class next year includes the following:

    Top of rotation guys available:
    Bumgarner (30)
    Cole (29)
    Mikolas (31)
    Sale (31)
    Verlander (37)

    Middle rotation guys:
    Gray (30)
    Hamels (36)
    Moore (31)
    Odorizzi (30)
    Porcello (31)
    Ryu (33)
    Wacha (28)
    Wheeler (30)
    Alex Wood (29)

    • Jbrat22

      honestly I just don’t think Keuchel is worth spending $20 million for 4 years, and I don’t see a significant upgrade left on the free agent market. I’d love for them to spend money, but I still want them to be smart smart about it. Paying premium prices for aging talent isn’t really a good long-term plan, and I’d like to see what they have in Mahle and Reed, who are both still young and more than capable. If they won 80 games last year then I’d say go spend the money, but I’d like to see what they do this year, then be more aggressive in that free agent pitching market next year.

      Unless I’m mistaken, the only statement made about money came from Castellini about having a record payroll. The exact payroll estimate of $130 came from the media. Williams has talked about making more moves, but has never said what kind of moves. I love what they’ve done so far, I just think they’re one year away from being a major player in the free agent market

  5. Ron Payne

    I think the Reds have a legitimate shot at signing Dallas Keuchel regardless of what the Phillies do.
    It’s just a matter of how deep they want to dig in their pockets. I would like to have Keuchel, but I wouldn’t be upset if the Reds decide to pass on him.
    The problem with waiting for next year’s free agent class is that you’ll have the same scenario. There will be big name pitchers, in their 30’s, that want big contracts.
    Hopefully, the Reds can come up with a package of players (excluding Senzel and Trammell) that can land either Kluber or Bauer.
    I just think guys like Gray, Stroman, Gonzalez or Miley aren’t much of a step up from what they have in-house.
    I still think there is going to be one more major move coming. (Signing Keuchel, trading for another big name pitcher, acquiring Realmuto, another center fielder?)
    Guess we’ll have to wait and see.

  6. Optimist

    The issue with Keuchel is probably the mismatch – he’s at the top of the Reds list, and the Reds are likely at the bottom of his list. Sure, money can bridge the gap, which adds to the waiting. Best course may be to go with Miley/Gio or the trade route – much more controllable and less $ risk. Also, next year is better to extend the budget into contention territory – this year remains get to .500 and/or trades at deadline.

  7. Adam

    Personally I would I think there best option is to sign Pollack that would allow them to trade Trammel I see no value in Kuechel. I think Pollack is a greater value Kuechel is going to be cheaper and would give them a surplus of outfielders……….Kluber but I personally like Micheal Fulmer

    • Amarillo

      Pollock hasn’t had a season of 500 at bats in the last 3 years and has only done that once. He is only somewhat above league average with the bat. I honestly think we would get a lot more production out of a Senzel/Puig platoon in Center then Pollock would give us.

  8. Mcfly0913

    I’m guessing the Reds are thinking they can flip either of Puig, Kemp, Wood or Gennett at the trade deadline if things aren’t looking good. So if they miss out on an ace this offseason there’s not a lot of incentive in signing a mid-tier starter at this point.

  9. scottya

    I like it. That team could surprise to the upside and surpass 90 wins.

  10. scottya

    Now that Grandal is off the board. I’ve changed my mind and I’m hoping for a trade for JT Realmuto and a signing of Dallas Keuchal or a trade for Corey Kluber.

    Realmuto + Kluber makes us a central division contender immediately. Realmuto + Keuchal makes us a wildcard contender immediately.

    For Realmuto it sounds like it would be Barnhart, India & Long type of haul. We would have the top offense in the NL. I hope this happens, it may require Trammell instead of india, I’m torn on that trade.

    • Not Corky Miller

      Totally agree. Realmuto in this lineup is scary.
      Winker LF
      Realmuto C
      Votto 1B
      Suarez 3B
      Gennett 2B
      Puig RF/CF
      Schebler CF/RF
      Peraza SS

  11. scottya

    Phillies are confident they will get either Machado or Harper. The prevailing thought has been what else can they afford if either signs there, but it would seem like a time to add more “crazy money” and go ahead and sign keuchal.

    My guess; if the Phillies drop out that Keuchal is the Reds for the taking and that may be one of these new swellopt contracts. 3 years 60 million, player can OPT OUT AFTER THE 3RD YEAR, or the Team is obligated for the 4th year (probably 4 yrs 80 million). If the team elects they can add year 4 and 5 at similar price, which would be a 5 year 100 million. So the Reds are for sure on the hook for 3 and 60, but likely 4 and 80. Let’s do this! And lets add Realmuto.

    • Chris Miller

      Agree Adam. I think Kuechel is a huge cost that isn’t worth it. I’m warm on signing Pollack, because I think the guy is awesome if healthy. Personally though, I’d rather sign Scooter, keep him at 2nd, and use Senzel in CF. Does anyone think that he’s not at least better out there than Choo was? The guy on the hill that I want the MOST is Kluber. I’d offer Schebler, Trammel, and one of our AAAA pitchers, not named Mahle. I think Mahle is going to be a solid #3. I’d like to think that this gets it done. Mahle and Winker are two players that I would not deal.

      • Chris Miller

        Not sure what happened. I was responding to Adam, but somehow everything got shuffled, and my post ended up down here.

  12. scottya

    This is why I’m fired up about 2019. The b-ref numbers project the Reds a bit better than the fangraphs. Fangraphs has us at 4.32 era, bref is closer to 4.20 The Rockies gave up 745 runs last season at 4.33 with an average defense. I can’t imagine the offense as currently constructed doesn’t score more than 745 runs, By my figuring the Reds score 750-780 runs as currently constructed.

    If we add keuchal the Reds staff projection will drop into the 4.2’s with fangraphs and 4.1’s with bref.

    Add JT Realmuto and the offense improves a lot.

  13. Mason Red

    Wouldn’t it be great if the Reds were in the conversation to sign Harper? But being that type of franchise is light years away.

    • David

      I actually think it is more likely that Harper ends up in LA (Dodgers). They didn’t just clear out a lot of payroll space with the Reds to sign some nobodies.

  14. JoshG

    I like Pollack, just at no where near the rumored price

  15. B-town Fan

    Another free agent starting pitcher is off the board, Holland has resigned with the Giants for about 7mil for one year with an option, he looked like a good choice with some upside the Reds could have signed, and not given up any prospects and he seemed to want to come here. There aren’t many options left. I’m not to hip on Miley or Gio Gonzalez. Gray is going to cost too much in prospects for a 1 year player, since the Yankees want pitching, Mella and a lower level prospect maybe but giving up Santillan would be stupid for Gray. It’s looking more and more like Keuchel or nobody and Keuchel seems like a low probability.

  16. scottya

    Fangraphs updated Wood when he was traded from a 3.65 ish to a 4.00 presently (GABP). Marcels doesn’t update upon trades.

    I would think that Keuchal’s fangraphs projection as a Red wouldn’t rise nearly as much with the DH in the American League. I hope we find out.