Dick Williams resigned as the Cincinnati Reds President of Baseball Operations this past week. He had been either the General Manager or President of Baseball Operations since 2016, though he took the full reigns following that year from Walt Jocketty. On Saturday we looked at the best moves made by the Cincinnati Reds in the Dick Williams era (2017-2020). Today we’re going to go in the opposite direction and look at the worst moves.
Just like the list on Saturday, we’re going to list the potential worst moves in chronological order.
In February of 2017 the Reds signed Bronson Arroyo. Earlier in his career, Arroyo probably wasn’t given the credit he deserved by some of the more “sabermetric friendly” internet writers (including yours truly) for what he brought to the team. But this version of Arroyo was not that version. When signed, it had been 2.5 years since he last pitched in the Major Leagues. He came out in spring training throwing in the low-to-mid 80’s with his fastball and everything you would expect to happen to a pitcher who threw in the low-to-mid 80’s happened. He somehow got 14 starts with a 7.35 ERA and gave up 23 home runs in just 71.0 innings pitched. The money and length of the deal wasn’t much. But allowing 14 starts with that performance was tough to see.
If your memories of Dylan Floro as a Cincinnati Reds reliever aren’t exactly there, don’t blame yourself. He pitched in 25 games for the Reds in 2018 before being traded on July 4th. He entered the season with just 15 career games in the Major Leagues and a 5.11 ERA as a 27-year-old. After a strong first half with a 2.72 ERA, he was traded along with Zach Neal to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a move where it seemed that the Reds were trying to flip an older reliever without much track record for some youth, bringing in two prospects in James Marinan and Aneurys Zabala. While there’s still some time for the prospects to make strides, neither is currently a Top 30 prospect in the organization, but since leaving Cincinnati, Floro has thrown 98.2 innings over 2.5 seasons for the Dodgers with a 3.10 ERA.
In December of 2018 the Reds decided that “The Rebuild (TM)” was over and that it was time to move towards “winning now”. The first big move of that new part of the plan was to acquire some outfielders, a quality starting pitcher, and a solid utility man. Cincinnati traded for Alex Wood, Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and Kyle Farmer. On paper, that should have certainly helped improve the Reds quite a bit in 2019. But things don’t go as planned every so often. Wood was injured most of the year, Puig put together his worst offensive season of his life, and Matt Kemp’s bat ceased to exist. If the price of acquisition wasn’t much, you could write that one off a little easier, but it wasn’t a cheap move to make. While the Reds were able to move Homer Bailey in the deal – his salary was offset by that of Kemp – they traded Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray int he deal. While history has yet to be written on their careers, they are both top 100 prospects now and were upside, quality prospects at the time, too. Trading the future for “now” isn’t always a problem, but you need the “now” to work in those cases, and it simply didn’t due to injury and lack of performance.
There wasn’t a lot of “bad” as I rolled through the transactions. On Sunday I reached out to twitter to see what everyone else thought since I wasn’t coming up with much. There were a lot of moves people mentioned – but almost none of them were actually in the Dick Williams era from 2017-2020 when he was the top decision maker.
What there were a few mentions of were moves that weren’t made. And those things certainly can make or break a franchise. Not trading for Christian Yelich was brought up. Having Yelich would be huge, and the Reds were very much rumored to be in those sweepstakes. It’s tough to cite these kinds of things in these articles, though. We’re only dealing with rumors and speculation – we don’t know what was really on the table, if anything ever was.
There were a few mentions of the signings from this offseason, too. For me, all of those are far too early, and in the kind of year that 2020 was, just not possible to put them into a “worst move” list. Your mileage, of course, may vary.