On the surface, the amount of non-tenders around baseball yesterday wasn’t that much different from the number of non-tenders in baseball a year ago. There were 59 of them yesterday, and 53 of them a year ago. The big difference was that there were 29 more non-tender day deals agreed to yesterday than a year ago – signaling that players were worried about testing free agency if they could get a guarantee, even if it came at a lower price than they normally would have gotten.

But despite things playing out differently, the additions to the free agent pool is about the same as it was last year. There are some bigger names out there – Kyle Schwarber and Adam Duvall may be the most familiar to most Reds fans given their histories – but the name doesn’t always reflect the value. Schwarber, for example, hit .188/.308/.393 in 2020 for the Cubs and brings negative value with his glove, too. The Reds aren’t likely too interested in either of those players, though, as both are outfielders and the Cincinnati outfield is already crowded as things stand.

Where the Reds could be interested in looking is in areas where they’ve reportedly been the most active in free agent talks up to this point: Shortstop and starting pitching. At the shortstop position the pickings are slim. Only two true shortstops were non-tendered: Jeison Guzman and Daniel Robertson. Guzman has never played above A-ball, so he’s not really even an option. Robertson has played in the big leagues over the last four seasons, although he’s never been a full time player, either. He hit .231/.340/.352 for Tampa Bay in 236 games from 2017-2019 before heading to San Francisco for 2020. He only played in 13 games with the Giants and only had 21 total at-bats during the season. Perhaps he could be viewed as depth, but with the organization bringing Kyle Farmer back, he would seem to be a bit redundant on the roster.

The starting pitcher market looks a little better, though that isn’t saying much. Two starters who were non-tendered stick out among the group. Tyler Anderson posted a 4.37 ERA in 2020 for the Giants. In his career he’s posted a 4.65 ERA, but until 2020 he had pitched for Colorado and that has led to his 4.65 career ERA actually being slightly better than league average when we adjust for the ballparks he’s pitched in (103 ERA+). The left-hander’s velocity was down some in 2020, as was his strikeout rate (a career low 6.2 K/9), but his home run rate also dropped to career low (despite having far and away the lowest ground ball rate of his career).

Another lefty, Carlos Rodon, was non-tendered by the Chicago White Sox. The #3 overall pick in the 2014 draft, Rodon was solid from 2015-2018 for the White Sox. He posted a 4.01 ERA over 494.1 innings with 473 strikeouts. He struggled at times to stay healthy, pitching in just 32 games between 2017 and 2018. Over the last two seasons it’s been both a struggle to stay on the mound as well as perform while on the mound. He made seven starts in 2019 and posted a 5.19 ERA before needing Tommy John surgery. He returned in 2020, but missed nearly all of the season, making four appearances – two in the first week of the season, as a starter, and then two in the final week of the season, as a reliever.

Rodon is interesting because when he’s been healthy, he’s been solid and provides some upside. Coming out of the bullpen over his final two outings in the regular season, and his one game in the playoffs, his velocity jumped up nearly 3 MPH from where it was in his two starts, and more than 2 MPH from where he had been in both 2017 and 2018. Adding him could be something similar to what the team already seems to have in guys like Tejay Antone and Michael Lorenzen – potential starters who could, if needed, provide multiple innings out of the bullpen.

26 Responses

  1. Rut

    Rondon would be a really good addition.

    But come on — the writing is on the wall here. The Reds are not going to spend any money they do not have to, so no free agents above the vet minimum (or if so, just barely).

    No matter what the front office is saying now, we have been around long enough to know the actual time. And for Reds fans, that time is more of the same…

  2. Sliotar

    Justin Anderson and Ryne Stanek.

    RH relievers, Anderson age 29 and Stanek age 30 in 2021.

    High K/9 track record, arm trouble stalled their career, especially Anderson.
    Averaged over 11 K/9 in more than 100 innings with Angels over 2018-19.

    Might even be able to wait and sign them as Non-Roster Invitees, though good chance someone in MLB would take a league-mininum flyer on them, if their arms can heal.

    • Sliotar

      Feels like really high K/9 and/or really high Groundball % is a must to have success in GABP.

      DeSclafani had neither … and at 31 and a free agent … probably best to find someone younger (and likely cheaper) who is better at them.

  3. Sliotar

    Thumbs up. Good post.

    Heard Shreve’s name a couple of times on MLB Radio in 2020 as a guy with true swing-and-miss stuff.

  4. JB

    Not sure what makes sense for the Reds. No matter who they sign or trade for they still wont be good enough to beat the Dodgers or Atlanta. They have home run hitters who cant spray it all over the park and have a decent average. They are either offensive hitters with zero defense or vice versa. Guys who are injury prone every year or on wrong side of 30 or terrible base runners or lacking terribly in baseball fundamentals. Front office who has no clue in what direction they want to go. No clue whatsoever in what is going on inside the managers head. Just mind blowing. Not to mention they are small market with another good chance of having no fans in the stands next year. Off seasons were crazy in the past but this year is a total toss up. It could go in so many different directions.

    • greenmtred

      Unfortunately, JB, I agree completely with your assessment of the Reds. I’ve been a fan for a very long time, and I find this iteration of the team to be nearly unwatchable, with no indication of significant change.

  5. Roger Garrett

    I don’t see this team doing anything and it is understandable.They will just go with what they have and hope that these guys hit.I don’t see how they could possibly be any worse but they have so many that could just fall and hard.Who knows about Joey and Moose and Big Nick and Eugenio.Did they just have a bad year or are they all in a free fall as every day major leaguers.They must hit because well they are a liability on defense and once you throw in Tucker who never has hit you just have to wonder.Again how many could start elsewhere?

  6. jim walker

    With all of the announcements except Goodwin coming late, there’s a probability they were talking to Bradley and Casali in particular right up to the end.

    Really wonder if the situation with Farmer was that they didn’t have his replay back quite in time and had to go on and announce him as a non-tender then reversed fields when they could confirm he was on board at their rate.

  7. John C.

    Just not sure why so many come on here and are so down on everything the front office does. We were in the playoffs this year. I know it was a shortened season and we would not have gotten in during a regular season but the fact remains, we did get in. Last year they opened the checkbook and made some moves that looked good at the time. In retrospect, they did not pan out last year, but that doesn’t mean they won’t in the future. Let’s see what happens over the next few months before we write them off.

    • citizen54

      I can’t speak for others because it seemed that Williams was a man without a plan. He took a team in last place with a good farm system and turned it into an aging team with what is probably a bottom 5 farm system for one 5% shot at winning the World Series this year. He saddled the Reds with the contracts of Moustakas and Castellanos for the next 4 years which is why we need to non-tender all these guys who have more value than vaunted free agent players. The cherry on top was the boneheaded trade that brought in the guys we just non-tendered who played maybe 15 innings combined.

      So ya the Reds are going to be bad for the next 4-5 years while the next GM tries to clean up the mess that Williams left behind. But at least we made the playoffs in a year where half the league did too.

    • LDS

      Half the league made the playoffs. Mediocre is mediocre. I’ll stick to my position that it’s a manager and hitting philosophy problem.

  8. Stock

    I love Rosario but don’t think the Reds will even look at him. I also like Rodon. Five great options at RP in my opinion,

    Best RP options
    Ryan Tepara – 19.5% swinging strike rate in 2020. K% – BB% = 21.3% 3.92 ERA but 3.32 FIP
    Nick Tropeano – 14.9% swinging strike rate in 2020. K% – BB% = 22.7% 1.15 ERA but 2.25 FIP
    Chasen Shreve – 17.1% swinging strike rate in 2020. K% – BB% = 21.6% 3.96 ERA but 3.99 FIP

    Backup RP Plans
    Matt Wisler – 13.9% swinging strike rate in 2020. K% – BB% = 19.6% 1.07 ERA but 3.35 FIP
    Archie Bradley – 9.4% swinging strike rate in 2020. K% – BB% = 20.5% 2.95 ERA but 2.59 FIP

    Like others I expect the Reds to do nothing.

  9. west larry

    Unless they can low ball Bradley, I think the remaining non tenders are gone. They have to get some shortstop to fill in for Garcia until he matures – but it might not be the two or three in the top tier of free agents that we are hoping for. I wish they could resign Bauer, but under the current financial clouds, I don’t think that’s happening. I guess they might dangle Sunny Grey, but I hope not. I fear we will be underwhelmed by the return. Otherwise, I think that they stand pat, hoping some of our hitters bounce back from last year’s awful performances.

  10. Redleg4life

    Definitely go for Rodon. We need a lefty and a guy for the rotation and he fits both. Unfortunately I don’t see the reds spending money this off-season. Non tendering Bradley sent a message. Either we are going into another rebuild with new president or we lost a lot of money. I’m more inclined to believe the second one simply because of how our division looks and how our current roster is around 80ish wins. Point is if we lost money we aren’t spending this off-season. If we are rebuilding again we wouldn’t really go for any interesting free agents. Sad to see.

    • 2020ball

      I actually wonder if them not spending on Bradley signals them freeing up money for a larger splash on a FA.

      • TR

        At this point, acquiring a shortstop should be #1 on the Red’s list.

  11. DaveCT

    There may be better options in the Rule V draft, although with the restrictions involved. Higher upside vs. higher floor.

  12. Bob Purkey

    Well, I f they are not active in FA, this is a pure money grab. Consider the $14M that has been mentioned above in non-tenders and the $18M that goes bye-bye with Bauer. $32M is not-chump change just to stay even with last years’ spending.

    I know I sound like a broken record. . .Go get A Simmons and K Wong for the infield and move Moose to 3B and also trade Suarez, getting OF and P help if you aren’t convinced we have enough OF with Aquino, Shogo and Senzel. Move Castellanos when not playing OF to platoon with Joey and one to DH(if in fact the NL goes that route).

  13. Kevin Patrick

    Perhaps it all can’t simply be reduced to payroll dump… and each player was looked at individually. Casali… maybe the Reds still like having a gold glove catcher in Barnhardt and have faith in Stephenson. Farmer…maybe they knew they could sign him…Goodwin…already have plenty of outfielders…Bradley…maybe the Reds are worried about overuse and don’t trust his arm….Alaniz is the surprising one to me…I think what is happening is that the Reds are starting to trust their player development evaluations of their own talent. We could sit here all day and speculate on the potential of many of the minor leaguers that have been traded for rentals on a year that they were actually trying to go for it, but I will reserve judgement on the trades until I see those players panning out into major league successes. I’m very pleased they brought back Farmer if for no other reason I think it gives them leverage in negotiations with free agent shortstops and other teams by showing them that they already have a player that they aren’t afraid to play at shortstop already. I think the Reds will try to get an affordable shortstop via trade or free agent and save what they have for a mid season trade buffeting the starting pitching if they’re in contention. The Reds’ apparent interest in Strailey tips their hand a bit I think…They are definitely weaker in starting pitching and will need to bring in some sort of live arm starter to have any hope at all of being in contention at the All-Star-Break…but it will probably have to be the standard of pitcher that is the Wendy’s double equivalent of a hamburger… they won’t expect to get a white castle, or McDouble equivalent pitcher and have it pan out…and likewise they won’t step up for the five guys equivalent of quality in pitcher either. Its going to be a slow offseason until Bauer signs regardless.

  14. IndyRedsFan

    With 2 1/2 months to go until the start of Spring Training, Krall certainly has his work cut out for him.

    1) only 30 players on 40 man roster
    2) No starting shortstop
    3) Rotation is weaker without Bauer (and arguably DeSclafani)
    4) Bullpen weaker without Bradley
    5) No Triple A depth at catcher. (if you assume Barnhart and Stephenson are the 2 ML catchers)
    6) Limited flexibility to spend…given the big contracts passed out last winter….and the reduced income from the Covid situation.

    Welcome to “top decision maker” job, Nick!!


    Is the outfield depth still a positive for the Reds? Shogo, the 2 Nicks, and Jesse all capable but then it gets questionable, IMO. Mark Payton, TJ Friedl, and Aquino being totally unproven, the exiting of Ervin, Fairchild, Goodwin, Williams, Jankowski, and Schebler it seems to me the outfield isn’t all that positive- depth wise. Even Crook was let go in AAA and Siani needs more time. I agree with some, if not all of theses players being cut and hopefully new players added but the outfield doesn’t seem that strong.

    • Kevin Patrick

      Youuu…you are absolutely right! The outfielders have completely disappeared. I didn’t know they released Crook. Just saw him on caravan. I wonder if the downsizing of minor league affiliates affects things in ripples. I wonder who’s going to wear a uniform in a couple months.