The 2022 ZiPS projections are out for the Cincinnati Reds at Fangraphs. Dan Szymborski’s teaser on the front page is simple: The Reds are still contenders, but management might make them not be.
A year after finishing 83-79 and hanging around for the second wild card spot until the final week of the season, the Reds hit the offseason and quickly got rid of both Wade Miley and Tucker Barnhart. They made a qualifying offer to Nick Castellanos, but he turned it down and became a free agent. Michael Lorenzen and Mychal Givens also left the team as free agents. They then went out into free agency and signed no one to a big league deal, instead opting to pick up a few players on minor league deals before the lockout was implemented by ownership, sending the hot stove to a screeching halt.
Right before that took place, though, the rumor mill was heavy on the Reds looking to move a starting pitcher in trade. Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Tyler Mahle were all mentioned as possible options that could have been looking to pack up their stuff and find new lodging in another city. Of course, we heard a lot of the same stuff last offseason, too, and despite a plethora of rumors the team didn’t make any big moves. We’ll see if the Reds are done moving on/letting go of players on the roster or if this is the year in which the Jon Heyman’s of the world are actually hearing real rumors about the Reds engaging in trade talks rather than suggesting they are because Nick Krall answered his phone when another team called.
The ZiPS projections have the Reds starting eight as pretty average. There’s two spots that are above-average, and three that are below-average, with Jonathan India projecting to be far-and-away the best every day player on the team in 2022.
It’s the pitching that sticks out for Cincinnati. Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, and Tyler Mahle – if they are all still around when the year begins, anyways – all project to be borderline All-Star caliber players between 3.5-4.0 WAR next season. The bullpen stands out a bit, too. While after suffering from PTSD at times in 2021, the group as a whole moving forward – even without Tejay Antone in 2022 – projects to be a quality group of relievers.
ZiPS does project a bit of a return for Eugenio Suárez. Not that it believes he will return to 2019 form, but it does project a step up from where he has been the past few years with a .236/.325/.484 line to go along with 34 home runs in 2022. On the flip side, it projects a big drop off for Joey Votto, who is projected for a fine season with an .831 OPS – but that’s a drop of over 100 points from where he was at in 2021.
As for the question that is on the mind of everyone: Kyle Farmer or Jose Barrero? Well, ZiPS believes in Jose Barrero a bit more. The younger of the two has a slight edge on both offense and defense in the projection – but it is close in both categories.
Overall, the 2022 Cincinnati Reds as they stand today have a better ZiPS projection than the 2021 Reds team did when the season began. There were plenty of guys that outperformed their ZiPS in 2021, and a few who really underperformed theirs, too.
The team as it stands today may not be the team that shows up in Cincinnati on opening day. Trades and signings could still happen that alter what the projected roster looks like. But as things stand right now, ZiPS sees a team that is a borderline playoff contender – and that’s not accounting for what could happen if the playoffs are expanded with the new collective bargaining agreement, which is what the ownership side of things want to happen.