The Cincinnati Reds entered the offseason facing the loss of two starting pitchers to free agency. Cy Young Award winner Trevor Bauer isn’t likely to return to Cincinnati given the likely contract he’s going to get. Anthony DeSclafani joined Bauer in free agency, though he did not finish the season in the rotation for the club. Mark Feinsand of MLB.com reported late on Tuesday night that Cincinnati is among the teams making the biggest push to sign starters along with a handful of other teams.
If the Reds can’t get a deal done, they do seem to have internal options to work with. Assuming everyone is healthy, the rotation is going to include Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Wade Miley. Tyler Mahle likely makes a 4th starter. Cincinnati has spoke about Tejay Antone, Michael Lorenzen, and newcomer Jeff Hoffman also getting an opportunity in the spring to win a job as a starter. If you look towards the minor leagues, you also could see a starter options with Nick Lodolo, the 2019 1st round pick by the Reds or Tony Santillan – both of whom spent the year pitching on the alternate roster at Prasco Park. A little later in the season options could include Vladimir Gutierrez, who looked outstanding in his Dominican Winter League debut on Monday night, or top prospect Hunter Greene.
What Feinsand doesn’t mention in his report is who, or what tier of starting pitcher the Reds are looking at. At the top of the market there are guys like Trevor Bauer and Masahiro Tanaka. If Cincinnati is going to be looking into simply adding some depth to the back of the rotation, that’s where things are a bit wide open, and could get a lot more wide open later tonight as teams non-tender players that will become free agents.
After two offseasons in a row where the Reds seemed to go out and try to make real moves to take steps forward, not making an attempt to improve on a team that topped the .500 mark for the first time in nearly a decade would feel disappointing to many fans out there. Given the roster, the rotation and the shortstop position are the two areas where there’s both a big need and plenty of options available for the organization to explore. The winter meetings start on Monday and is usually when we start to pick up on real rumors and even moves – but things are a bit different this year as they are being held virtually. Whether that will slow things down, both in the rumor mill and in terms of getting things done – we’ll have to wait and see.