The Cincinnati Reds seem to be looking to move salary and try to get payroll down. They opted to not pick up the option on their best pitcher in the 2021 season and instead put Wade Miley on waivers so they could save $1,000,000 on buying out his contract. They also opted to trade Tucker Barnhart to the Detroit Tigers after deciding to not pick up his option, saving them another $500,000 on the buyout on his contract. With rumors that the organization was willing to talk trades of just about any player, the Los Angeles Dodgers reportedly called about both Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray.
Bob Nightengale of USA Today first reported the discussions, but didn’t have any details about who or what was involved in the discussion or how far they progressed. Luis Castillo is projected to make $7,800,000 in 2022 according to MLB Trade Rumors arbitration projections. Sonny Gray will be in the final guaranteed year of his contract in 2022, making $10,166,667. There is also a team option for $12,000,000 for the 2023 season for Gray.
But the pitchers weren’t the only players mentioned by Nightengale that the Reds were interested in shopping. Both Mike Moustakas and Eugenio Suárez are on the market, too, according to Nightengale. Moustakas is coming off of a season in which he struggled to stay on the field after suffering a foot injury. He hit just .208/.282/.372 in 62 games played. In 2022 he’s set to make $16,000,000 and that’s followed up by being due $18,000,000 in 2023. In the 2024 season he’s due $20,000,000 if the Reds would like to keep him around, or they can pay him $4,000,000 to buy him out. That leaves $38,000,000 on the table for his contract over the next two seasons.
For Eugenio Suárez, it’s been a struggle over the last two seasons at the plate as his strikeout rate has gone up and his BABIP has cratered, and thus cratered his offensive profile. A deal that once upon a time looked like an absolute steal for the Reds has some real questions about how it’s going to be over the next three seasons after Suárez injured his shoulder prior to the start of the 2020 season and has been a shell of himself at the plate ever since. He’s owed $11,285,714 over each of the next three seasons and has a $15,000,000 team option with a $2,000,000 buyout for the 2025 campaign.
Cincinnati could probably find takers for both Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray without much effort if they were only looking to move the contracts and not maximize a return. But if they plan to try and move Eugenio Suárez or Mike Moustakas, well, that’s probably going to take a lot of creativity to get done. Both players have some red flags on their resume at this point and have struggled to hit of late, too.
Last offseason we heard much of the same kind of stuff coming out of the General Manager and Winter Meetings, and we heard it into January, too. The Reds were shopping Luis Castillo. They were shopping Sonny Gray. Those were the rumors that kept popping up. But low-and-behold, those two guys remained Cincinnati Reds for the entire year. Things do feel a little bit different this time, though, given how they handled the Wade Miley situation. We’ll have to see how things play out this offseason and see if there’s more fire to go with the smoke this year.