The Cincinnati Reds didn’t land every free agent that they seemed to be after this offseason, they landed five of the ones that they were after. The latest being outfielder Nick Castellanos, who will join fellow outfielder Shogo Akiyama, infielder Mike Moustakas, starting pitcher Wade Miley, and reliever Pedro Strop as the newcomers to the Reds roster. While Cincinnati didn’t hand out Gerrit Cole money, given the history of the team and free agency, they may feel like they did. The contracts handed out to both Castellanos and Moustakas were worth $64,000,000 and were the largest ever handed out by the team in free agent history. Let’s take a look at where the current payroll is.

Player  2020 Salary
Joey Votto $25,000,000
Trevor Bauer $17,500,000
Mike Moustakas $12,000,000
Sonny Gray $10,166,666
Nick Castellanos $10,000,000
Eugenio Suarez $9,535,714
Raisel Iglesias $9,000,000
Shogo Akiyama $6,000,000
Wade Miley $6,000,000
Anthony DeSclafani $5,975,000
Freddy Galvis $5,500,000
Tucker Barnhart $3,937,500
Michael Lorenzen $3,725,500
Pedro Strop $1,825,000
Curt Casali $1,462,500
Travis Jankowski $1,050,000
Matt Bowman $865,000
Pre-Arb Players $5,071,500
All Total  $134,614,380

There’s a little bit of funny math at hand here. Nick Castellanos is going to be getting $16,000,000 for the 2020 season, but only $10,000,000 of that is being paid out this year, with the remaining salary being deferred. Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reported earlier in the week that Castellanos would get the remaining money in $2,000,000 installments on January 15th of 2021, February 1st of 2021, and the final one on January 15th of 2022. Pedro Strop’s base salary is also at $1,825,000 but he’s likely to meet at least some performance bonuses that will push that higher.

That is a record high payroll for the Cincinnati Reds. It’s also still below the league average payroll from the 2019 season in Major League Baseball. We don’t know just how much money the Reds have at their disposal. And honestly, it may depend on who is available, too. For the right players, the money could be there, while that same amount may not be in free agency. The implication there would be that maybe if you could land Corey Seager the ownership would find a way to make the $7,000,000 he’s due work, but for two middle relievers in free agency that money isn’t going to be there.

39 Responses

  1. Hotto4Votto

    The Reds have done a lot to improve. They’ve had a very successful offseason. I think they’ve done enough to be right in the mix for the division/wild card. At the same time I don’t think they’ve done enough to paint themselves as clear cut favorites for either playoff spot.

    As I’m looking at the NL there’s a lot of teams in the mix. The East will have the Braves and Nats at the top with both the Phillies and Mets looking to compete. The Central has four contenders in the division, and the West has the Dodgers at top and Arizona making moves to compete. Additionally the Rockies are essentially the same team that won 90 something games in 2018 (though I don’t expect them to repeat that) and San Diego has a lot of young talent and could still swing a deal to add another star player.

    The National League has at least 10 teams with legitimate sights on the playoffs and two more (Rox/Padres) who are somewhere between being competitive and mediocre. Obviously, the games have to be played, and some of these hopes will be dashed by June as injuries and unexpected performances set in.

    The Reds have room to add. Incremental upgrades at this point are more meaningful with such a tight grouping of teams than if we were still a 75 win team. Everyone, around here and in the national media, are seeing an obvious spot to upgrade at SS. Do the Reds have another move up their sleeve? I hope so.

    • Broseph

      Agreed. Right now it looks like the Reds and company have sights on playoffs. What’s disheartening is the bar is set at just that, if they were looking for a championship, I think we’d see some bigger names here.

      I get the Reds didn’t want to rob their system and future talent, and they’ve done a good job building a solid lineup, but it’s hard to see where “all in” for a World Series championship might be for this team. 2021, 2022, 2023? Who knows

  2. Jbrat22

    Cue the commenters complaining about the Votto contract.

    Starting in 2014 (the first year of his 10-year extension), Votto has amassed 26.1 bWAR, for an average of 4.35 bWAR per year. Assuming an average market value of $8 million per WAR (which is conservative, I think?), he’s “earned” $208.8 million of his $225 million extension to date. Votto has 4 years left on his contract, so if he averages 1.5 WAR per season the rest of the way, he’ll amass another $48 million of worth.

    Contract worth it.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      It’s all a matter of how you look at it. For the whole of the contract, we got Votto on a deal. For just last year, that contract is an albatross that many would rather see begone

  3. Tom Reeves

    This must be one one the best constructed for the money.

    • BigBill

      It was still a stupid decision to be this long and now he is on the verge of being an anchor for the team. The only way to really justify the contract would have been to be going for it 4-5 years ago when you had an MVP type player in his prime. Not his fault as anyone would sign the contract but front office wasted all of those dollars by not putting together a contender around him for years.

  4. Bdh

    Use the money they saved on the castellanos deferments to sign Brock Holt and call it an day

    • Bill

      Call it a day for FA signings. Trades are TBD.

  5. Ron Payne

    Carlos Correa (8 mil) 2020
    Trevor Story (8 mil) 2020
    Corey Seager (7.6 mil) 2020

    Any of these three could fit into the budget for this year, but what would it take to get one of them in a trade?

    • JayTheRed

      Story is not going anywhere. Rockies signed him to an extension of I think 2 years.

      • Jefferson Green

        The ‘extension’ was only a deal for this year and next – his arb years that he was already controlled for. I’m not sure he gets moved until the Rockies go into re-build mode, but the cost certainty may actually help a deal get done.

  6. RV

    The obvious move is to include Iggy in a trade for a starting SS along with Galvis and sign Holt. There is also some OF surplus but limited possibilities as Senzel needs to show he’s healthy and Winker would probably only be wanted by an AL team. I think Payton has a good chance to stick as he should put up equal numbers to Winker and is a much better defender. There’s no way I move Aquino.

    • Bill

      I agree on not moving AA, but can see him starting the year in Louisville.

    • earmbrister

      How in the world do you consider a 28 yr old career minor leaguer to be better than Winker?

  7. Vin

    Time to say bye bye to over rated VanMeter and hello to Brock Holt.
    Not sure why a 230 hitter played so much in 2019

    Does anyone have any faith in David Bell and his Earl Weaver Style of waiting for a 3 run homer?

    You want to win? Two phrases…1. Brock Holt, 2. Hot &run

    • centerfield

      I don’t have much faith in David Bell, but in 2019 those 3 run homers usually came in the first inning. I would place Bell at the complete opposite of the Earl Weaver spectrum. Bell tinkers too much, I wish he would take a seat on the bench and let the players “play”.

      • Mike

        So. So. True. Over manages. He wants to be the center of attention

    • jazzmanbbfan

      Pitching, defense and the 3-run homer.

    • Optimist

      And it took HOF level pitching and defense to win 3 WS, with Earl winning the middle of the 3. Still, 3 in 17 years.

  8. MK

    What is the chance that opening day the starting outfield will be Winker-of; Senzel-cf; Aquino-rf in Louisville. I could see a Ervin/Peyton-lf, Shogo-cf, Castellanos-rf with Jankowski as a back-up in Cincinnati.

    • jazzmanbbfan

      MK: in you last sentence above you have Shogo in cf and Senzel not listed. Do you think he’s gone or playing in the infield? If he’s on the team and not injured he’s going to be in the lineup

      • MK

        I have Senzel in Louisille in the first sentance

    • Scott C

      slim and None. And Slim has left the building.

      • MK

        Senzel and Winker both recovering from injury and might not be 100%. Senzel needs to get his batting mechanics straightened out as he changed them multiple times last September and an average in .250’s doesn’t guarantee him anything. The league seemed to have figured out Aquino after the first couple weeks. All three have options and the outfield is crowed. I believe Jankowski and Ervin are out of options and Peyton has to be given back if he doesn’t make it.

  9. Kevin F Patrick

    I’ve seen 2 mentions of Mark Payton in the above comments. What am I missing here? What do folks know about Payton that I’m unaware of? His card says he’s 5’7″. He’s a rule 5 guy and bats lefty… that’s all I know. I know Schebler also bats lefty, was injured last year, and has hit several homers in previous years as a major leaguer. I would think, just looking at the surface, that there would have to be a lot of spring injuries for a guy like Payton to stick. I’m pretty sure Votto would have to go down for a guy like Matt Davidson to stick…and I would think a healthy Schebler playing first might be more useful anyway. I also am having a hard time understanding the overwhelming enthusiasm for Holt when the Reds have a much cheaper Blandino. I can understand, generally speaking, a lack of enthusiasm for Van Meter or Farmer… but even those guys offer worthy specialties. I like Galvis…most controversial thing I’m probably saying… No… I think if there is money to spend or trades to be made AT THIS POINT, then it should be devoted to a Bauer extension or Desclafani extension….or saved for emergency starting pitcher money if they go down like flies. I like Mahle fine, but relying on Reed, Romano etc. to start for too long would have me worried. I’d want to pick up Bartolo Colon or something… lol.

    • Jefferson Green

      Farmer may stick because he can catch, but Blandino has better minor league hitting stats than Farmer. If Blandino can prove he is fully healthy and back to his hitting of a couple years ago, he would make a better backup infielder.

    • Amarillo

      Height is meaningless in baseball. There are 7 Hall of Famers who were 5’6 or shorter. Joe Morgan is 5’7, Ozzie Albies is 5’8, Altuve is 5’6.

      That said, you are right, he is just a rule 5 draftee, who has had one above average year on the juiced AAA ball. Basically a free player to get a look at in spring training. He was never going to come close to the roster unless they failed to add any free agent outfielders and there was a major spring training injury. Since we successfully signed two outfielders, he will get sent back or traded by the end of spring.

  10. Bill

    If the Reds add Brock Holt, they don’t need Josh Van Meter. Holt is an upgrade.

    • GhostRunner

      I’m thinking Holt is waiting to see if Boston can find money to sign him, by trading Betts?

  11. Bill

    One of the more thought provoking and conversation generating commentaries I’ve read for awhile. Some thoughts in response. First, love the thoughts on Schebler. I’d love to see him return to form. For right now he’s an unknown.
    Second, do some homework on Holt. Blandino is not comparable. Holt has successfully played every position except P&C. Lifetime BA of .271.
    Third, I also like Galvis. He will likely be the best defensive player in the lineup and how many HRs did he hit last year? It’s great to add hitting, but when your strength is pitching, it helps to have some fielders.
    Fourth, if Bauer is doing extensions, I agree…extend him. Same for Disco, I think his best pitching is ahead of him. Finally, I believe Mahli is still a season away.

    • Tom Reeves

      I think a 2 year, $10-12m deal for Holt makes a lot of sense. It raises the floor on the team quite a bit. It buys Van Meter and Blandino some more cook time in AAA. It adds depth that’s already needed due to Saurez. And it adds a back up to Galvis, which, to be frank, doesn’t exist right now.

      I have zero issue with Galvis as the starting SS considering the pitching and the rest of the line up.

      • Jefferson Green

        If the Reds sign Holt (which may be a nice pickup), I sure hope it is for a lot less than $5-6 million per year. As a career backup who has averaged 1 WAR per season and who will be 32 this year (decline phase for infielders, sometimes steep), I hope it is less than half of that.

  12. Mark

    I believe Holt is the last player to target. Like some others have stated I’m also fine with Galvis as starting SS. I think you are good at SS with those 2 and hopefully a bridge to Jose Garcia. The catching area I think we are fine with Barnhart Casali and Farmer as they are adequate until hopefully Stevenson is ready by August or so.

  13. RV

    To paraphrase Jerry McGuire, adding Brock Holt would complete this team. As has been said previously, he’s a very good, steady LH bat that can play nearly any position well and the perfect complimentary bench player to Farmer. Galvis has power from both side of the plate and plays great defense but his OBP is not good.

    Aquino needs to play, Castellanos needs to play, Shogo probably needs to play. I see no reason AA can’t play center as well as right. Shogo can play all three OF positions and Cast can play either corner and 1B. Schebler struggled mightily last year and fared no better in Luvul. Payton changed his swing going into last year, much like AA, and absolutely lit up the Pacific Coast league last year. Ervin kills lefties and plays decent defense at any OF spot.

    Winker and Senzel are enigmas IMO. Just good enough to be tantalizing but with HUGE injury question marks. Given the incentives included in the Strop contract, I believe he was signed so they could move Iggy. I really can’t see them staying pat with the team as currently constructed. Moves I expect.

    Add a starting SS.
    Add Brock Holt.
    Move the spare parts to do so.

  14. TR

    A busy off-season leaves the Reds with a lot of potential for 2020. Starting in 7 weeks, game after game will tell the tale.

  15. Hotto4Votto

    Don’t think he’s the missing link, but for the projected payroll space and the fact he could handle some of the load at SS as well as several other positions makes him an ideal fit onto the roster. He’s an upgrade over other bench options like JVM and Blandino.

  16. Amarillo

    He’s not a difference maker, but he would be an upgrade over Blandino who is currently our only backup Shortstop.

  17. citizen54

    Here’s the funny thing. Jose Peraza is also expected to produce .6 WAR but at half the cost of Galvis. Jose Iglesias ($3MM) 1.6 WAR.

    And speaking of projections, Nick Castellanos is only projected to be worth 1.1 WAR, Mike Moustakas 2.1 WAR.