Christmas is over. And that means that teams and agents are back on the phones and trying to get things done. When it comes to big league deals, the Cincinnati Reds have only made two moves. Early this month they agreed to a 4-year deal with Mike Moustakas in the largest free agent deal in franchise history. Two weeks later the organization signed left-handed starting pitcher Wade Miley to a 2-year deal. Both deals include an option year.
While anything can happen, as things sit right now, it feels like the Reds are out of the market when it comes to true starting pitchers. Their rotation, assuming that everyone is healthy, is set. And then there’s Tyler Mahle beyond that, too. So let’s work with the idea that when it comes to free agency, Cincinnati isn’t going to be looking at starting pitchers and will be focusing elsewhere.
When looking at the Top 50 players in free agency this offseason according to MLB Trade Rumors that remain unsigned, and are also non-starting pitchers, there are only 14 players left on the list. The outfielders are a group that largely the Reds have been linked to. Nicholas Castellanos has been on the teams radar, Japanese export Shogo Akiyama, as have both Marcell Ozuna and Corey Dickerson. We’ve covered all of those guys in the past and why they could help the Cincinnati offense.
When looking at other offensive players, let’s look at the outfielders that haven’t been talked much about. There is only one player on the list that fit the description here – Yasiel Puig. If you’re reading words here at Redleg Nation, then you are probably familiar with former Reds outfielder Yasiel Puig. In Cincinnati he was a little below-average on offense, posting a 95 OPS+. After being traded to Cleveland his walk rate nearly doubled and he was an above-average hitter, posting a 109 OPS+.
Puig for his career, except his stint with the Reds, would provide an offensive upgrade. For some reason, though, there just hasn’t been much talk about his services. In the last 48 hours the White Sox have sort of been mentioned as having some interest in bringing him in, but other than the rumor that the Marlins met with Puig earlier in December – that’s it. Not a lot of talk swirling around Puig.
In terms of a utility guy who can play the outfielder (as well as some spots on the infield), is Brock Holt. He’s coming off of a season in which he hit .297/.369/.402 for the Red Sox. He’s a platoon guy, who hits right-handed pitching well, but has historically struggled against lefties (at least recent history).
Behind the plate is another area where we’ve heard the Reds have been interested. They reportedly were heavy on Yasmani Grandal, but came up short in negotiations for one reason or another. There are only two catchers remaining that were in the top 50 who are still unsigned. The Reds have been linked to one, Robinson Chirinos, and not so much to the other – Jason Castro. It’s been about a month since there was much talk about Cincinnati and Chirinos. We discussed how he brings a bit of good and also has a few question marks with his game at the end of November.
Jason Castro doesn’t really bring much of an upgrade behind the plate. He hit .232/.332/.435 last season with Minnesota. That was a 101 OPS+, essentially league average. That’s a lot better than the 32-year-old has done since his All-Star season in 2013. From 2014-2018 he posted a .667 OPS and an 84 OPS+. The Marcel projection system projects him to provide the exact same OPS as Tucker Barnhart in 2020. Curt Casali projects to outhit them both.
The only other position player in the top 50 is a third baseman. And while Josh Donaldson projects well, it’s tough to see where he fits on Cincinnati’s roster as it’s currently constructed.
That brings us to the relievers. Among that top 50 list there are only five of them remaining. Some of them are better than others. At the top of the list is Will Harris. He’s not young – he’s 35-years-old – but he’s really good, too. Last season with Houston he posted a 1.50 ERA in 60.0 innings. His ERA+ was an absurd 309. Over the last five seasons he’s posted a 2.36 ERA in 297.0 innings with just 72 walks and he has struck out 315 batters. At a projected 2-years and $18M, he’s got the largest projected contract among all of the relievers that are left on the market.
Daniel Hudson is the next guy on the list. He split his 2019 with Toronto and Washington, helping the Nationals win the World Series last year. During the regular season he posted a 3.00 ERA while in Toronto in the first half. After joining Washington his ERA dropped to 1.44 in 25.0 innings. Overall he’s coming off of a 2.47 ERA campaign in which he threw 73.0 innings with 71 strikeouts and 27 walks.
The Reds have been linked to showing some interest in Craig Stammen, which we wrote about two weeks ago here. The 35-year-old is coming off of a season where he had a 3.29 ERA in 82.0 innings with 15 walks and 73 strikeouts for the Padres.
Behind Stammen on the list is Steve Cishek. The right-handed reliever has been dominant over the last four seasons. In that span his ERA has never been higher than the 2.95 mark that he posted last season with the Cubs. MLB Trade Rumors predicts both Cisehk and Stammen to go with 2-year, $10M deals this offseason.
The last guy on the list is Pedro Strop, who like Cishek, spent the year with the Cubs. From 2014-2018 he posted a 2.61 ERA in 296.1 innings with Chicago, striking out 334 batters. But in 2019 his ERA jumped up to 4.97 in just 41.2 innings and his control took a turn for the worst as he walked 20 batters with 49 strikeouts. He’ll turn 35 next season.
The Predicted Contracts
Everyone mentioned above is listed in the chart below showing what MLB Trade Rumors predicts that they will get in free agency.
|Player||Position||Est. Years||Est. Price|
Who Fits the Best for the Cincinnati Reds?
It’s not my money, so it’s a lot easier to spend. But if we assume that the prices above are correct, with what the team seems to need the most, I’d look at Castellanos for the outfield, where his bat would be a difference maker in a lineup that needs another one. And then I’d look at some of the bullpen arms and see what makes the most sense. Where do you sit? There are some good options still there if Cincinnati can get the deals done.
Photo of Nicholas Castellanos by Keith Allison and was edited. The license can be found here.
I’d be very happy signing any of the OF listed above, signing some bullpen help, and resigning Iglesias to play at shortstop along with Galvis.
No trades before the season. Keep all your trade chips and see what names pop up on trade block near the deadline where they can be gotten much cheaper than the asking price for Lindor.
Just not Strop.
And have a great and winning new year, Doug and Reds fans everywhere.
I like Castellanos too. He would be a great right handed bat in the middle of the lineup and would provide consistency . Put him in Left Field , replace him with defense in late innings as needed and DH him vs AL teams . He is in his prime and there is no compensation pick involved . Its not our money right ?
I haven’t looked it up and maybe my memory is fuzzy, but IIRC, the Reds were sitting around $114m after signing Moustakas. Add in $7.5m for Miley, we’ll call it $122m for payroll. I think we can safely assume the payroll will be between $135-$150m, probably (hopefully) closer to the top end.
If all these moves could be made:
Sign Akiyama 2yr/$10m with an option(s)
Trade Senzel, Galvis, (probably prospects) for Lindor. With Senzel’s league minimum salary combined with Galvis $5.5m swapped out means Lindor add about $11m to payroll (at approx $17m in 2020).
Sign Dickerson for 2yrs/$16m
If any funds left sign a reliever. Stammen, Hudson, Cishek.
Roll out with a lineup of:
Barnhart/Casali, Votto, Moustakas, Lindor, Suarez, Winker/Aquino, Akyima, Dickerson.
Bench of: (Catcher), (Winker/Aquino), Ervin, Farmer, either JVM or Blandino.
“If I recall correctly”
I love this suggestion. I hope it works out. 🙂
I’ve looked at a similar configuration as you have laid out. It creates a couple of concerns: With Akiyama and Dickerson it creates an overwhelming LH batting order. If Akiyama signs, I’d look to trade for Trey Mancini. If he doesn’t sign, then add Dickerson.
The Reds should look at a 1 yr contract with Alex Wood, if he’s healthy, as a LHRP.
You’re correct in that it creates a lineup that leans heavily left handed. But, if I had to pick which way to lean, I’d lean left because the majority of starting pitchers are still RH. Having Aquino and Ervin available to play against LH starters is a pretty good option and helps balance the roster as a whole. In fact, if Blandino were on the team he add another RH bat to the bench. In that instance, you’d have almost perfect balance 6 RH hitters and 6 LH hitters while Lindor is a switch hitter (although one who was only average against LHP last season). It’s just that outside of Suarez, the projected everyday guys are all LH, which may or may not be an issue. Mileage may vary and all…
I wish. I love the idea.
“If I recall correctly”
I actually do not think we will get Lindor. I think we will be OK with Galvis as long as we get a guy like Castellanos for LF. I still contend we sign Dickerson and Castellanos. I would try and trade Winker, Senzel, Santillan Galvis for Lindor or some combination of those for either Lindor or Story but again I think we can live with Galvis for a year and hope SS Jose Garcia takes off this year and is our starter going into 2021. I believe Dickerson is better than Winker so at a minimum let’s at least get Dickerson as a fallback to Aquino or possible starter in LF with Senzel in CF and Aquino in RF with Ervin and Jankowski as backups. If you sign Dickerson I would try and move Winker in a deal for a starting pitcher prospect AAA/Big league cusp type of pitcher to replace probably either Bauer or Desclafani since both are free agents after 2020.
If it were me, I’d sign Castellanos and go cheap at SS with defense-first, meaning bring back Iglesias. Forget Lindor. Castellanos had about the same cumulative OPS+ the last two years as Lindor, so there’s your answer.
Acquiring Castellanos only costs $$, not Senzel. It’s a no brainer for me to NOT trade Senzel for Lindor.
If the Reds only want to do one more move to get the hitting…. sign Castellanos then just go with some sort of outfield rotation of Castellanos, Senzel, AA, Winker and Ervin. Castellanos should absolutely put up monster numbers you would think with 81 home games at GABP. I actually think Galvis will be good enough at SS to just go with him there until Garcia time hopefully in 2021.
If it’s me I’d sign Stammen, Puig, and Akiyama. Then I would give either Houston, or Cleveland whatever prospect package they wanted that didn’t involve any current major leaguers (Winker/Senzel) but Greene, Lodolo, India, Garcia, Santillan ect are all on the table for Correa or lindor.
6. Winker- Lf
7. Puig- rf
Senzel- super utility
Galvis- backup ss
Aquino- lf platoon
I will go out on a limb here…..Senzel will not be coming off the bench…
If Akiyama could come anywhere close to his batting average and OBP record in Japan, he’s the choice hands-down. But other than Ichiro, few who played in Japan have done that in MLB. Unfortunately, we have no MLB track record on which to judge Akiyama.
Presuming his contract would be the reported $5 million per year, that would leave the Reds approximately $15 million to spend, based on the majority of estimations of what the team’s payroll budget for 2020 will be. Then bring in Dickerson and Stammen at approximately a combined $13 million.
You would have an outfield populated by Senzel, Aquino, Ervin, Winker, Akiyama and Dickerson (three righthanded bats and three lefthanded bats) with which David Bell could play mix and match to his heart’s content. That would also leave a very potent bench among the outfielders who don’t start any given day. It’s questionable whether Dickerson would sign with a team for which he knew he was likely to be platooned, but we’ll see.
Crowded outfield? Sure. Never be afraid to gather as much talent as you can. Injuries and trades can and will happen.
I like your outfield configuration a lot.
No one has yet addressed the elephant in the room, maybe not wanting to jinx it. What if we don’t get Lindor Nick Krall said it, the other team has to want to trade the players. The Indians don’t want to trade Lindor. (I wouldn’t either!) If that’s true do we trade for Correa or Seager? Or go with Galvis?
According to everything we are reading, the Indians ARE making Lindor available, but the only question is will any team make the kind of trade offer they are looking for? My guess is that at present, it’s less than a 50-50 chance that the Reds wind up with him. Other teams have more prospect capital to offer if that is what Cleveland is seeking.
Just a hunch, but it’s possible that these Lindor talks are creating a logjam for several teams that have other moves pending. For example, maybe the Reds and Akiyama. Maybe they want to see if they get Lindor, if they end up getting Seager and-or others so they know how much those players will take up of their budgets. That would then affect who they sign as free agents and for how much.
If Cincinnati was to end up with the six outfielders listed above, almost certainly there would be a trade involving Ervin to break up the logjam a bit.
I think that everything seems to indicate that the Reds are out of the race for Castellanos and there would only be a little contact with Ozuna. Akiyama really sounds like the strong candidate for the third movement of the offseason … The trade market would remain the only alternative to acquire a renowned player
If the Reds can upgrade the OF enough, not sure if Shogo is enough, I think it will take more proven production. I believe the Reds can carry Galvis at SS and Casali/Barnhart at C. Those two need to be 7th and 8th in the lineup,everyday, without fail, anywhere else will be, IMO, considered a colossal failure.
Sign Iglesias, Hudson, ShoGo, and Ozuna. DO NOT trade for Lindor. Make Mahle an arm in the bullpen, along with Cody Reed they should be fine with Daniel Hudson. Aquino and Ervin, along with Van Meter and Galvis will be a strong bench.
I like Romano, Reed, and Mahle just fine as depth. But if I imagine a scenario where two important starters go down or are delayed in the spring, I want to still start the season off with a bang. I cannot subscribe to the premise in the article that the Reds are fine with starting pitching… they are probably fine. I would make sure… Sign Alex Wood. At least Alex Wood has the potential to wow you enough in Spring Training to theoretically knock out a current starter from the rotation if they are pitching poorly. If the Reds have too many fantastic starters by the time rosters need trimmed, I have no doubt they will be able to trade one to fill a need. I hope the Reds actually get this Shogo Akiyama guy. Besides buying his baseball card on ebay just now in the hopes of getting him on the winter caravan, I think his potential to get on base and fill in at center field gives the Reds important options. I wouldn’t mess with signing any relievers, I don’t trust them. The Donaldson thing is very intriguing… not as an outfield option… but as bench depth. I’m imagining a fresh legged Votto, Suarez, Donaldson or Moustakas coming off the bench to hit… every dang day. I just can’t see the Reds paying for that. You know… if Blandino could somehow turn himself into a defensively stronger shortstop…this season could get really interesting even without Lindor.
It’s your first comment, so we are just editing this one. But we don’t allow cursing on the site.
Lets change our course, and stay with what works historically in baseball. I will assume ( I know, I know) and consider our offense last year an aberration. I believe we will be better with another year of experience with Winker, Sensel, Masher and our addition of Moose. Lets go all in with pitching. Sign Harris and Hudson, combine with our starting rotation, and adding them with Lorenzen, Iglesias, Garret, Stephenson, and I believe Reed, our pitching staff might be the best in the National League.
Reds need at least one more bullpen arm. That should be priority number 1. Not sure any of the OFs available move the needle all that much.
Francisco Liriano looks like a nice piece the Reds can add.
Unless I have been on the planet Mars the last several years it seems baseball is gearing more towards having vital bullpen arms more than anything else. Starters to day over the course of 162 games go what 5 innings/100 pitches on a good day? What happens after that can make the difference in winning and losing alot of games. No longer is it starter to just closer. What is the average number of pitchers a team uses now per nine innings? It sure isn’t one or two. I don’t even think it is four but that is closer than three or even two. Relievers tend to pitch much more often then starters also. Something to consider rather than just looking for mop up help or using guys that can’t make the rotation.
I do hope the Reds sign Akiyama. OBP is a huge need on offense. I also hope the pay resign Iglesias as insurance at SS, assuming they don’t trade for Lindor, Correa or Seager (no Trevor Story please). Castellanos or Dickerson could be a nice outfield upgrade, but that seems unlikely at this stage. I’d also be fine to bring Puig back but I’m a big no on Ozuna, and there’s no need to be talking to any of the remaining catchers. Finally, there are several relievers who could bolster the pen, in addition to Mahle and Reed who should both make the bullpen stronger, but I’d be fine talking to any of the remaining free agent relievers not named Pedro. There’s still roster room, time and resources to improve the 2020 team without mortgaging the future. I’ll be shocked if Williams and Krall are done dealing this offseason.
Story and Lindor both had concerning xwOBA numbers last year at .339 and .330, respectively. Those numbers aren’t the end all be all, but it’d give me great pause to trade a haul for either of them.
Doofus, like a lot of players that come through Colorado I’m concerned about his home / road splits. Playing 81 games in Denver can really skew a season’s stats. So I don’t think he’s nearly as good an offensive player as Lindor (duh), Seager or Correa. And probably not enough of an upgrade over Galvis or Iglesias to justify losing any high level prospects or major leaguers with several years of control.
Of you trade Suarez th the Braves for Pache, CF, Anderson, RHP, and Muller, L HP. Then try a deal with the Marlins for Chisholm, SS.
Anyone up on Iglesius? I haven’t heard him mentioned one time by anyone. It’s like everyone has forgotten a good year with the bat. I’m surprised Dickerson has not been targeted by the Reds as I hated seeing him come to the plate. If Lindor is acquired, does that make a big bat outfielder as important because he is the big bat they need. Every outfielder they currently have has question marks and that includes Akiyama if signed. I would be pleased with Puig and Dickerson on the corners. Puig erased every concern I had about him as I just do not expect power hitters to hit for average and his hustle and defense was a plus. I haven’t brought up anything new but just sharing my thoughts as the front office comments have given us all something to think about such as is the pursuit of Akiyama the result of Senzel being included in a trade? Does the organization have a sense of urgency to do something really big due to their comments?
I actually advocated for resigning Iglesias just before you posted. I think he would be good depth at a reasonable price. I don’t mind Blandino as a backup SS, and if his OBP skills continue to improve a little with experience then he will matter a lot this season. But it makes me nervous to have only two real major league capable shortstops available. Remember that stretch in 2019 when about 9 catchers were all hurt or on paternity leave all at the same time? Like catcher, you can’t slide just anyone over to play shortstop well. I like Iglesias for depth with a great glove and a not horrible bat. And if Galvis goes down he can start every day if needed without creating an automatic out in the lineup.
I like the possibility of seeing what Suarez could fetch
I think the Reds will sign Akiyama to play CF. Then they should go hard after Castellanos to play LF. If Castellanos is signed, I would move Senzel to shortstop (unless he’s traded). If they can’t sign Castellanos, I would go with Senzel in left.
I would only go after Dickerson if Winker is involved in a trade.
Sign castellanos, can play left or right, can play first and right handed power bat, no draft picks attached. Sign Akiyama for depth, if he is getting a 2 yr 6 million dollar deal that’s a good deal for a 4th outfielder especially seeing nobody knows how he translates to MLB. Aquino is still a wild card, 1 month was great the other was below average. I don’t think the reds get Lindor as the dodgers have better prospects but the reds could work a 3 team deal where they get seager. Could move winker, india, santillian, galvis, Romano, stephenson etc. bullpen I’d go after Hudson 1st as he is a back end guy who could close if Iglesias isn’t up to form or is traded. Stammen also as a 6th 7th inning guy who is a ground ball guy and gives veteran presence.
Iglesias sign cheap or galvis if not traded
Mahle or Stephenson if not traded
Why don’t we sign Eric Thames? Great backup and sub at first base when Votto is hurt or needs a break. A left handed bat who RAKES at GABP, and he probably won’t cost much?????