It’s been a whirlwind last 48 hours in Cincinnati Reds land. It started late on Sunday night when word came out that the Reds were getting close to signing free agent outfielder Nick Castellanos. Then on Monday morning Cincinnati got things done and agreed to terms with the outfielder on a potential 4-year deal. On Tuesday morning the team introduced Castellanos to the local media and stories came out of there as everyone speculated about who would wind up playing where, as the team took a crowded outfield and added a big bat to it. Then it was merely a few hours later that the Reds said that third baseman Eugenio Suarez injured his shoulder and had to get shoulder surgery, and that he may miss the start of the season.
Somewhere in the middle of all of that, Ken Rosenthal wrote about what was next for the Reds after signing Nick Castellanos. He speculates that based on the payroll, which is now just over $140,000,000, that the Reds couldn’t handle the salary of landing Francisco Lindor in trade, because he will make about $17,000,000 in 2020 and another $25,000,000 or so in 2021 before reaching free agency. He notes that the Reds tried to make a trade involving Lindor heading to Los Angeles, Corey Seager coming to Cincinnati, with Cleveland landing prospects in the deal. It reportedly didn’t get too far.
It’s easy to spend the money of someone else. But worrying about a short term contract situation for Francisco Lindor at $17,000,000 and then perhaps $25,000,000 in 2021 (when you may have guys like Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, and Nick Castellanos all coming off of the book, leaving roughly $40,000,000 off of what you spent during 2020…..) seems strange to me. The franchise is worth over a billion dollars. Find a way to get Lindor, win a billion games, make the playoffs, print that money.
Of course, landing someone like Corey Seager wouldn’t exactly be a negative. He’s a very good player. In both 2016 and 2017 he was an MVP contender. He missed most of 2018, and when he returned in 2019 he hit .272/.335/.483 and was an All-Star caliber player. And he also makes substantially less money than Francisco Lindor does. If you wanted to make the argument that he makes more sense because of the salary and production, it’s probably one that you could make.
It seems as if though both deals are dead right now. Cleveland stated early in January that they expected Francisco Lindor to be on the team on Opening Day. And that came about two weeks after they reportedly asked teams to submit their “best offer” for their shortstop. It’s been over a month since they asked for those “best offers” and Lindor is still in Cleveland.
Unless something changes, it seems that the Reds are going to go to Opening Day with Freddy Galvis as their starting shortstop. There’s nothing wrong with that. While his offense leaves a bit to be desired – he struggles to get on base – overall he’s about a league average player because of his elite defense at one of the most important positions on the field.