A month has come and gone since the Reds put away the balls and bats for the 2019 season. Wasting no time, the Reds front office jump started started their offseason with several moves.
The Reds hired pitching development guru Kyle Boddy to help rebuild the pitching development in the farm system. They also replaced their big league hitting coach Turner Ward when they hired Alan Zinter to take over the role. President of Baseball Operations Dick Williams announced changes in the organization’s developmental structure. He hopes the changes create a centralized top down approach which will result in more consistent and effective player development. These were attention grabbing moves which could have a significant impact over time.
However the truly exciting part of the offseason for most fans, player movement, is now set to begin in earnest starting with free agency.
How Free Agency Works
Beginning the day after the end of the World Series, eligible players may file for free agency. Players with 6 or more years of MLB service time who are not under contract for 2020 are eligible to file.
Reds left-handed pitcher Alex Wood and infielder Jose Iglesias were eligible and filed for free agency. Derek Dietrich despite being signed last year as a free agent is not eligible to file at this time since he has less than 6 years of service time.
Courtesy of MLB Trade Rumors, here is a list of players eligible for free agency.
One Last Chance
During the first 5 days of the free agency season, eligible players may only negotiate and sign with their prior team. Following the 5 day opening period players who have filed for free agency may sign with any team in Major League Baseball.
Player contract options for 2020 must be settled by the end of the 5 day filing period. Players whose options are not exercised become free agents unless they have less than 6 years of MLB service time.
The most notable Reds player with an option was Freddy Galvis ($5.5M team option versus $1M buyout). The Reds have announced they are exercising their option to bring Galvis back in 2020
At the end of the 5 day free agent filing period, teams may make a Qualifying Offer to any of their eligible departing free agents. A Qualifying Offer is a 1 year contract at a salary $17.8M in 2020.
Players who have previously received a qualifying offer from any team are not eligible. Players traded during the 2019 season are also not eligible to receive a qualifying offer.
If a qualifying offer is declined, the team which made the offer gets a compensatory pick in the following June draft. The fine print of exactly where in the draft this pick falls is complicated. Since the Reds don’t figure to be making any qualifying offers’s this year, let’s spare the pain of working through it. If you must know, read about it here.
Teams signing players who declined a qualifying offer are subject to a penalty of losing one or more draft choices. In the Reds case it would most likely be a third round pick if they signed a single qualifying free agent and an additional fourth rounder if they signed more than one such player. Again, if you want to work through the details, here they are.
What Might the Reds do?
Dick Williams has said the Reds will increase payroll and will be active in the offseason player market. The feeling is that they need to add offense. Spots on the diamond which jump out as potentially open are catcher and shortstop. However, despite a plethora of candidates, second base is also unsettled. Then again, Nick Senzel, assuming his body cooperates, could be moved to 2B, creating an opening in center field.
Truth be told aside from the infield corners manned by Eugenio Suarez and Joey Votto, the Reds could mix, match and move as needed to accommodate an incoming free agent. Doug Gray has written several articles this week looking at potential free agents among the position players available, and the starting and relief pitcher outlooks are coming soon, too.
And for my money, while they are at it, I’d also like to see the Reds double down on getting the pitching by bringing in a solid middle of the rotation starter.
Buckle up and let the fun begin.