The Cincinnati Reds may be the team affected the most by the COVID-19 pandemic that we’re all facing, or so that is the opinion of Baseball Prospectus writer Nick Shaefer. The crew at Baseball Prospectus is running a series that looks at which teams would be affected the most if the season were to be missed rather than just suspended and shortened.

If the season were to be missed in it’s entirety, it would put the Cincinnati Reds into a spot where they missed out on a lot of what they had tried setting up for 2020. In late July of 2019 they moved a top prospect in Taylor Trammell and another solid prospect in Scott Moss (along with Yasiel Puig) to acquire Trevor Bauer. That move was made for 2020, but Bauer is a free agent following the 2020 season and if it’s not played that move will have been made for nothing. The Reds finally, for the first time in the history of the franchise, went out and used free agency as an actual tool to acquire known talent. The team picked up free agent hitters Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, and Shogo Akiyama. Even if Castellanos doesn’t opt out after the year, which feels unlikely, the team is still missing out on the age 28 season of an All-Star caliber hitter, the age 31 season of another All-Star caliber hitter, and the age 32 season of Shogo Akiyama – which in theory should have been the most productive one of his career in the Major Leagues given how hitters age.

That all, of course, is what could be taken away if the season isn’t played. And even in a shortened season, the team wouldn’t be getting the full seasons from any of those guys. Everyone else would also feel that, too, so it is less impactful against just the Reds in this scenario.

But, if there is baseball played this season – and if there is it’s most certainly going to be a shortened season at this point – there could be some beneficial aspects to things for the Cincinnati Reds that come from it. We don’t have any idea what the plan will be for if baseball comes back. We do know, though, about what the plans that have been discussed all look like and there’s one common theme: The National League and American League aren’t going to exist in 2020 and new divisions and possible leagues will take their places for the year.

What is likely to happen in that case is that there will be a universal designated hitter in 2020. Love it or hate it, that is something that would help out the Cincinnati Reds quite a bit. The outfield that the Reds currently have is crowded, and in some lineups, it’s pretty below-average defensively. It’s tough to find a defensive argument that Jesse Winker or Nick Castellanos are good defenders in the corners. But both of those guys can hit the baseball. Having the option to put one of them in the lineup as the designated hitter, while being able to slide Shogo Akiyama, Nick Senzel, Aristides Aquino, Phillip Ervin, and the other non-DH for the day into the starting three for the outfield does wonders for the defense for David Bell and for the Cincinnati pitching staff. That is where this whole messed up world we live in could giveth to the Cincinnati Reds.

There is still a ton of things that need to be worked out before we can even think about what a 2020 baseball season will actually look like, where it will take place, and how many games we could get. But in a strange, twisted way getting a weird season could be beneficial for the Reds a little bit more than for many other teams around Major League Baseball.

17 Responses

  1. CFD3000

    The lost year of service time could be a huge hit for the Reds. Bauer could choose to sign elsewhere, Castellanos could opt out, DeSclafani could be gone, Votto could get a year older. I’m actually pretty confident about that last one. So it feels like the front office needs to be busy locking those guys down for 2021. Will lots of teams see a “we paid you through the pandemic” home team bonus when it comes to pending free agents? Especially for the Reds, for Bauer, Castellanos and DeSclafani, I really hope so!

    • Colorado Red

      Castellanos will not opt out.
      The FA money is not going to be there this year.
      Plus, he has the option to opt out next year.

  2. SultanofSwaff

    Makes you wonder if a 100 game season or less without fans will squash free agent spending as revenues tank and players will be more inclined to accept qualifying offers and such. This in theory would help the Reds IF they are inclined to maintain the payroll and stay in win now mode, but if the 3 core free agent pieces walk you’d have to soberly reassess whether the team should move other pieces. That’s not a scenario I want to even think about given the futility of the last 7 years.

    • Sliotar

      “you’d have to soberly reassess whether the team should move other pieces.”

      There isn’t that much “movable” talent, IMO.
      If Stephenson and Lodolo are considered virtually untouchable … who’s left?

      Greene? Coming off Tommy John surgery, may not have a minor-league season in 2020.

      India? Doug wrote on minor-league site that he is hitting .254 after 2 pro seasons.

      Winker? I think it’s criminal how badly the Reds have underdeveloped him … less than 200 AB’s vs. left-handed pitching means other teams can claim he is a platoon guy and buy low.
      (I definitely think he should be kept).

  3. Sliotar

    IMO, the Reds bought themselves a short window of contention … to make up for the botched re-build …

    and to bridge things until the fruits of Williams/Bell/Boddy/More Analytics and Development can show up from the minors.

    Running out a positional player team of near age 30 and overs isn’t probably the best strategy in the MLB of 2020 … but it’s the Reds.

    Under those circumstances, a shortened season would appear to help them more than hurt.

  4. Jim Walker

    I said on Twitter recently and will repeat here that if this whole COVID19 mess results in the universal use of the DH not just in 2020 but going forward, that will be at least on point of light in the whole mess.

    And wouldn’t it be great if the DH was again the most weighty thing we had to debate here.

    • Jim Walker

      I feel like I worded the above a bit klutzily. I apologize. To be sure nothing is worth the death and suffering we are a going through now.
      However throughout history, we see that from periods of tragedy , some changes emerge which are steps forward, however miniscule they might be in the overall depth of the situation which gave birth to them..

    • Colorado Red

      I wish the DH would go away.
      It messes with baseball.
      It was a stupid idea by fooie Khun.
      Hated it from day 1.

    • VaRedsFan

      I, for one, would love to see the DH full time. I know that MLB is trying to attract younger fans by offering less boring moment. There is nothing more boring than watching a pitcher take 3 AB’s per game per team.

      No offense to anyone that doesn’t like DH’s….just my opinion.

  5. Jim Walker

    The next several weeks are likely to be decisive as to whether we will have a MLB season and what it will look like if we do.

    The question is can the country’s economy “reopen” and sustain activity at levels which will support sponsors to buy advertising air time at a price which will allow the various networks to pay MLB teams enough to make it worth their while to play games?

    It is as simple yet complex as that.

    • SultanofSwaff

      I think the major sports league will adopt a safety in numbers approach. Meaning, they’ll all agree to restart around the same time to avoid blame if the rollout is problematic. The timeline looks to be late June if I’m reading the tea leaves correctly.

      • Jim Walker

        I don’t think we are going to see big 4 sports played in front of live audiences any time near that soon at either the pro or college level.

        When they play for TV audiences depends when the economy has recovered enough to support the sponsors who pay the bills for advertising so they can pay networks who in turn can pay the teams at a high enough level to make it economically feasible.

        I have avoided saying anything about the virus per se because that situation will determine the economic situation. Nobody, businesses large or small, and individuals, has the reserves anymore to just throw money around as if things are normal unless they have the confidence of continuing sufficient revenue flow.

  6. Hotto4Votto

    I also think that the Reds are set up well to go with a 6 man rotation, if that is something that comes out due to a shortened season. Not many teams will have someone as capable as Mahle filling in their sixth spot.

  7. Jon

    I wrote it in the past and I’ll write it again here. The Reds need to be negotiating contract extensions with Bauer and DeSclafani for 2021, even if the deals are only for one year. I know Bauer said he will only sign for one year at a time, but maybe he’ll agree to a one-year extension before 2020 games (hopefully) get underway due to the uncertainty in this winter’s free agent market with what teams might be able to spend. The Reds spent too much in prospects to acquire him not to get him for a full season.

  8. Redleg Bob

    I’m in the “Hate DH” camp. I was listening to Game 4 of the ’90 World Series today (yes, it was a very good day) and Marty and Joe mentioned on the broadcast that commisioner Fay Vincent was not a fan of the DH and there were plans to phase it out and both Marty and Joe were hopeful that would happen.

    A shame that it hasn’t – less tactical decisions, less strategy, pitchers don’t have to go to the plate after beaning somebody, etc.

    Baseball is meant to hit the ball and to field the ball. With the DH, pitchers don’t have to hit, and the DH doesn’t have to field – that’s idiotic.

  9. Tom Reeves

    I think we’ll see a shorter season with lots of double headers.

    Frankly, I’d have every team play every other team in their League in two 2-game series – one home and one away. That’s a 56 game season. The team with the best record from the NL plays the team with the best record in the AL in the WS. No playoffs (unless two teams tie in their league – then it’s a one game playoff). Also, expand the rosters to 30 to allow for more double headers. Also, it might make sense to have B games. Basically, shorter, AAA level games followed the same MLB schedule. This will allow the minor leaguers stay sharp and ready for a call up if needed – their right there.

  10. Tom Reeves

    Another option would be to divide the country into 3 geographical areas, each having 10 teams – EAST, CENTRAL, WEST. Basically, it’s combining the NL and AL divisions.

    Depending on the time available – play either two 2 or 3 game. Series against each team in your division. Two 3 game series would equate to 54 regular season games. Two 2 game series would equate to only 36 regular season games. Then do a playoff with a wild card. The two final teams play in the WS.

    Keep the NL and AL rules in each park since it’s an equal number of teams and games at home and away.