An interesting tweet by Enquirer reporter Charlie Goldsmith Wednesday morning:

There are many interesting angles to consider here, not the least of which is that Tommy Pham thinks this team has the potential to be a contender if they just add “a piece or two.”

More importantly, Goldsmith reports that the Reds front office will decide before the upcoming trade deadline whether or not they believe the team can win in 2023.

There is a big caveat to the latter premise. What the true consideration must be is whether or not the Reds can be a .500 team in 2023, because there is almost no way to see a path to a winning record that doesn’t include spending some big money wisely. Based on what we have experienced this year, Redleg Nation would throw a small party (or maybe even a large soiree) if this team could rebound from what might be an all-time worst showing to a .500 record.

The only way for that to happen without spending big money (which is what we must presume is the modus operandi) is through smart trades, shrewd low-tier free agent signings and players graduating from the farm system who can contribute in a big way.

We must start with consideration of the current 40-man roster. Players whose contracts expire after this season are:

  • Ross Detwiler
  • Brandon Drury
  • Aramis Garcia
  • Tyler Naquin
  • Matt Reynolds
  • Donovan Solano
  • Hunter Strickland
  • Justin Wilson

Two additional players have mutual contact options for 2023, meaning that the player and the Reds must both agree to the terms for next year. Pham has a mutual option for $6 million, and my guess is that there is at least a 50 percent chance both will agree. Pham has played with intensity, has recovered after a horrendous start at the plate, and according to Goldsmith, is optimistic about the team’s prospects.

Minor has a mutual option in his contract with pays him $13 million in 2023 if both he and the Reds agree. That ain’t happening. Instead, the Reds will part ways for a $1 million buyout, half of which is being paid by Kansas City.

According to the list above, 30 percent of the current 26-man roster may be gone after this season. Some would say good riddance. Others would point out that five of Reds’ top 10 hitters in OPS are on that list, and that there are not many, if any, position players ready to emerge from Class AAA Louisville as Reds starters.

The trade deadline is August 2. That’s when contending teams will try to shore themselves up for the stretch drive and hoped-for playoff success. All of the players listed above will be available, though only a handful will be of interest to other teams. Drury, Naquin and perhaps Pham will attract interest from teams looking for a productive bat.

Cincinnati’s leading trade chips, though, will be pitchers:

  • Luis Castillo
  • Jeff Hoffman
  • Tyler Mahle

Castillo and Mahle each have one year of contract control remaining after this season, and Hoffman has two. None of them are “rentals.” This is where — if the Reds are to be at least “better” in 2023 — General Manager Nick Krall MUST extract top prospects no more than a year away from arrival at the major league level.

Of course, yesterday’s injured-list-du-jour announcement that Mahle is disabled for a shoulder strain is sure to prompt any teams currently thinking about Mahle to, at the very least, do more due diligence. The latest word is that the injury is not serious and that Mahle will make at least one start after the All-Star break and prior to the trade deadline.

I’m not going to speculate on which top prospects in other organizations should be targeted in trades. Our grand poobah Doug Gray and many of our regular readers are admittedly much better informed on that part of the puzzle than me. Outfielders should be at the top of the wish list. If Pham and Naquin are traded or not re-signed, then your major league outfield roster consists of Nick Senzel and Albert Almora Jr. Then take your pick from Aristides Aquino, Stuart Fairchild, Jake Fraley, T.J. Friedl and Max Schrock. That is not the outfield roster of a .500 major league team. Krall must locate one or two stud outfielders who can play every day and produce with the bat and the glove. Not easy to do.

The next consideration: low-tier free agents. You may not like Krall, but you have to give him credit for adding Drury, Pham, Almora, Solano, Reynolds and Connor Overton. Think about where this current team would be without them. This gives me hope that that same type of player can be signed hopefully as backups, which is what all of the aforementioned players (except Pham) were considered before the season started.

No discussion of the Reds’ plight is complete without a look at the bullpen, the worst in the sport the past two years. We all know injuries have been a big factor for the pitching staff. The front office is going to have to be willing to spend at least some money on a reliever who has a track record. Lucas Sims and Tejay Antone will return after injury-recovery years, but they must be considered as possible depth options. You can’t rely on pitchers with the extensive injury history that these two have.

There are not enough starting rotation spots for all of the pitchers in the Reds farm system considered to be top prospects. Some of them must wind up in the bullpen. That process will become clear probably in the 2024 season.

With all of that being said, a brilliant series of trades and low-tier signings could bring the Reds to the .500 mark in 2023. But counting on this team and this front office to make that happen seems impractical. What absolutely can’t happen is trading off prime assets like Castillo and Mahle for Class A prospects who are several years away. That would signal the second full rebuild within a 10-year period, and I just don’t know if this organization’s remaining fans will put up with that.

Unfortunately, the difficult truth is that this franchise is among the dregs of the sport. Personally, I thought the playoff runs of the last couple of seasons were a sign that the front office’s efforts were paying off. But they blew it all up in the name of the balance sheets. It’s the Castellinis’ right to do that, but whether it’s right for the club’s dwindling fan base remains to be seen. To keep any shred of fan interest alive, this team has to try to win and try now.

If the Reds’ trade assets are swapped for prospects several years away from helping at the big league level, it will be very clear what the front office thinks of the team’s chances of “winning” in 2023.

81 Responses

  1. old-school

    Nice synopsis Tom.

    I think 2023 could be a positive transition year to a new core of players and one to build upon for 2024, but not a winning season. Mahle’s MRI was reportedly normal and he will take a few days rest but is expected to be back in the rotation after the AS break, so potentially not a big setback. There’s also the final seasons of Moose and Votto huge contract still to be paid in 2023 which will limit impact FA signings.
    There are just way too many holes in the OF, bullpen and SP and to a degree the infield as well- as positional transitions at first base, 3b, and SS will be focal points in 2023.

    It will be nice to see India, Stephenson and Senzel all playing together this weekend. The Reds have 6 picks in the upcoming MLB draft in the first 123 picks which will add more prospect capital for a 2024+ core plus the potential prospect return on Castillo and Mahle et. al in a few weeks. Id like to see the Reds continue to focus on roster construction for 2024.

    • Earmbrister

      Careful old school, you are dangerously close to getting slapped by Tommy Pham for doubting his FO prowess …

      At the risk of repeating myself from yesterday, the two main weaknesses positionally going forward are LF (hitting wise) and 1B. It’s very possible that 3B and SS will be nicely filled by some combo of EDLC, McLain, Barrero, and Drury (if he can be re-signed). There’s not a ton of organizational depth in the OF or at 1B. MAYBE the light has turned on for McGarry, but it’s a small sample size and somewhat early in his minors journey.

      If you can get good value in return for Castillo it should be for a stud power hitting OFr (with a side of young reliever). The draft should net another quality OF prospect (as there’s not much in the OF pipeline).

      I agree with Pham, scary thought, that an addition or two could make all the difference in the world. The Reds don’t have much in the way of salary commitments past 2023 if they want to add a FA or 2 as well.

      • Eric

        Keep in mind that some of these middle infield prospects will wind up in the OF. Maybe Farmer winds up in LF. There are not enough spots for Barrero, McLain and Dela Cruz to play natural positions. Callihan and Hinds will be right behind them also.

      • Earmbrister

        Yeah I know. However it would be safe to assume that not all of these guys will land starting jobs in MLB, that’s why I have 4-5 guys vying for 2 infield spots. Could EDLC or Barrero be a starting OFr? Perhaps, but you still only have 1 starting OFr signed past this year (Senzel). Organizationally speaking, the Reds need OFrs.

        Calihan and Hinds are far less likely to produce at the MLB level, though they do have some tools.

  2. Doc

    The BP is a big issue, and it becomes bigger as starters go fewer and fewer innings. More innings have to be covered by relievers, and at one inning or less per reliever a manager is looking at three to five relievers needed every game. That is a formula for failure. Even in the starting rotation there is difficulty finding and keeping three quality starters. If the same 60% ratio of quality is found in a bullpen that is limited to 8 pitchers, assuming 5 starters, the BP is only likely to have 4-5 quality relievers at most. That is not enough when 3-4 are needed every night. So what to do.

    One solution is to look for the ways to build starters to cover more than the roughly 5 innings they currently average. It is not all that long ago that the norm was throwing more than 200 innings a season throughout the rotation, with the top guys regularly exceeding 250 innings. The creme de la creme, like a Nolan Ryan, averaged over 300 innings per season for nearly a decade. Now we throw a party if a guy reaches 170 innings, if he hasn’t been shut down by then to save his arm so that his TJ surgery can be done on a fresher arm. Why not look at a four man rotation with the expectation of 5 innings per start. If guys are throwing far few pitches over far fewer innings, then bump the innings by bumping the number of starts.

    Another route might be to institute a more formal piggy back situation. It appears that in the minors the Reds pitching has had some success with this. Why not at the major league level? With a plethora of good starting pitching prospects, why not pre-program a starting rotation and a reliever rotation, with the relievers actually being starters who will come in to pitch 3-4 innings. They would prepare as though starting a game. Top of the line starters might reach 6-7 innings consistently, and finishing their games would be handled by the short term relievers, the one inning guys. It would take a bit of experience to work out the kinks, but they are doing it in the minors so it appears to have merit.

    If the game is evolving and the excuses for starters going only 5-6 innings are presently insurmountable, then the concept of relief pitching must be re-thought to also evolve with the times.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Regarding piggyback, we’ll get a chance to see if Tampa Bay uses that strategy over the next three days. They are considered among the innovators of it.

    • BK

      The challenge is that players are putting demands on their bodies that prior generation of players did not. Also, as predictive analytics have advanced, managers are more focused than ever on trying to gain matchup advantages. I believe this leads to shorter outings and more times warming up as managers prep for the ideal matchups.

      I’d like to see a team explore using “some” bullpen pitchers longer and on a schedule. Perhaps, 2-3 innings every three days would work. These pitchers could pitch as openers or first out of the bullpen … on a schedule. It would let a team get the most innings from their best relief pitchers and hopefully minimize wear and tear by reducing the number of times they warmup.

  3. Ken

    More than 60 years have passed and never did II have so little faith in my beloved Cincinnati Reds as I have now. Ballgame after ballgame is frittered away. The telecasts try to maintain a shred of positivity from game to game, but “Sell The Team” jerseys abound among those still willing to put their hard-earned cash into dubious entertainment. Bottom line – without a salary cap/floor, the Reds will be relegated to ineptitude and mediocrity for a long time to come.

    • Harold

      The biggest question is can you trust the clowns that run this team to make good decisions… Front Office – No just gut the team for ownership
      Ownership – Tighten the belts
      Manager and Staff Pitiful
      Half the players are rejects from other organizations. More rejects to come. Half our team has been on the injured list. Do we not have fit players?
      I wish I could see more positives, but I can’t.

      The only thing that is positive is the few minor leaguers we have in A and AA, but I sure with this team those mentioned earlier will continue to screw up our young talent when it arrives. The Pirates look to be moving ahead. The Cubs will spend money and build their team in a couple of year. The Cards are one of the best run team in the teams in baseball year in and year out. The Brewers continue to reload every year. I’m tired of the excuses for being a pitiful franchise.


      • Tom Mitsoff

        Just some additional context on how many Reds players have been on the injured list:

        The team website lists 26 pitchers on the 40-man roster. Of them, 12 are currently on the injured list (60-day or 15-day), and three others (Castillo, Minor and Lodolo) have previously been on it.

        Four catchers are listed, and two (Stephenson and Garcia) are currently on the 10-day list.

        Nine infielders listed, five on injured list (I am including Moustakas and Votto for illnesses that kept them out for considerable time)

        10 outfielders on the 40-man roster, 2 currently on IL, three others (Naquin, Schrock, Senzel) previously.

        Quick math: 49 players on the 40-man roster (due to some on the 60-day injured list who don’t officially count toward the 40), 27 placed on inactive lists due to injury or illness at some point during the year.

        That’s 55 percent! I suspect that must be close to some all-time record for number or percentage of players on the injured list in one season for a MLB team, but I can’t confirm that.

    • BK

      @Ken, I agree with you that MLB operates in a manner that favors big-city markets at the expense of the smaller markets. I also believe the latest CBA simply exacerbated the problem. That said, the Reds would be in a much better place if they simply stuck with a strategy. The most troubling aspect of the article that prompted Tom’s analysis is that the team is not sure what they want to do in 3-4 weeks.

  4. Hotto4Votto

    I’m doubtful on the prospects of approaching a .500 season next year. I believe it will be another development year, hopefully more akin to 2009 than say, 2019 where young core players get seasoned and progress in their development rather than older rentals that make us mediocre rather than good.

    The major issue I see is that you’d have to trade your two best, most consistent and established, starters to bring in any near/immediate impact players. That’s a big hit to the rotation, and targeting players that are near-ready vs most talented/touted is not a strategy that worked out at all last time around (under a different GM).

    As much of a believer as I am in Greene, Lodolo, and Ashcroft I don’t think they’re going to be ready to carry the rotation into competitiveness by next season. I think they’ll improve, but that’s a lot to ask of such young pitchers. Then beyond that, the bullpen is a mess and possibly facing it’s best healthy reliever to this point (Hoffman) at the deadline. There’s potential that Sims, Antone, Diaz, and Santillan return and perform put to their talent levels, but that’s counting on a lot both on returning to health and then performing.

    So will the Reds add in FA? Probably around the fringes, but history (especially recent) suggests they won’t go out and spend on bigger, established names.

    I’m hoping that the Reds trade as much as they can for as much as talent as they can this trade deadline. I hope Barrero can figure out (probably still wrist related) what’s holding him back at the plate. He’s struggling right now, after previously dominating AAA last season. If he can come back, and possibly if McClain can be ready then you can start to fill out the roster with young exciting prospects and build toward 2024.

  5. jessecuster44

    It is NOT the Castellinis’ right to gut the team. The Reds are a historic part of Cincinnati and should be protected, just as a historically significant building is protected from being torn down. Obviously a naive thing to assert, but a very true aspiration.

    The franchise in St. Louis shows that you can constantly compete and be profitable at the same time. If the Castellinis can’t/won’t do the same, they have no business running the franchise. None.

    That said, there’s no chance the Reds can compete in 2023, even if Theo Epstein and Jed Hoyer circa 2003 stepped in. The best fans can hope for is that Nick Krall gets high value when he trades Castillo, Drury, Pham and Mahle (if he’s tradeable – but his mismanaged pitch counts may have ruined his trade value)

    One thing is for certain: if the contributors of this site were to run the franchise, the Reds would be in far better shape.

  6. BK

    The Reds may be more competitive in 2023, but that’s a low bar considering how bad the 2022 team is. If the front office is truly trying to figure out if they can turn this poorly performing franchise around in one season, it will just be more of the same. We went for near major league ready talent during the last teardown … we ended up with a bunch of marginal major league players and regressed.

    The strategy should be sustained excellence on the field every season. To get there, the Reds need to add talent in every trade. Right now, that means sacrificing short-term wins for long-term sustained success. At the trade deadline, every player who can become a free agent after this season or next season must be made available. If Mahle and Castillo are traded, they must extract elite talent in return (that talent may or may not be major league ready). When trading players like Pham, Naquin, Drury, Hoffman or Minor, the Reds should be willing to take back bad contracts or group them together to get high ceiling prospects/players in return to add talent. As the team improves, use the free agent market to supplement the team’s talent in areas where the farm team produced a deficit.

    Improved talent will make our Manager and coaches better (or at least look better) and most importantly it will make the talent on this team better.

    • Votto4life

      I agree the front office thinking they can win in 2023 is an ominous sign. It just shows they don’t know what they are doing.

  7. Jim Walker

    The Reds should get a look at Fairchild ahead of the trade deadline to insure they don’t spend some of their precious capital on talent that is no better and perhaps not as good as he is.

    In his age 26 season, Fairchild has a AAA composite OPS/wRC of .943/132 (in 340PAs).

    His current composite 2022 OPS/wRC+ at AAA is .942/133 (in 152PAs) which includes a gaudy 1.063/167 (in 67PAs) mark since returning to the Reds organization not quite a month ago.

    Talk about consistency!

    The grass isn’t always greener or taller elsewhere.

    • Doc

      And equal to or better than Barrero last year, eh? Yet Barrero is considered a savior and Fairchild a non-entity. Go figure.

      • Jim Walker

        Guys get type cast by organizations just like they do by we fans.

        Fairchild was picked 11 slots sooner in his draft (#38 overall in 2017) than Jesse Winker was in his (#49 overall in 2012). However, because of differing compensation pick rules between 2012 and 2017, Winker was always hyped as a 1st round choice (technically correct) while Fairchild was just another 2nd round guy (also technically correct; SF missed round 1 by 3 picks).

        Barrero of course was a high profile international signing from the forbidden fruit island of Cuba for a reported signing bonus of $5m. So that put him in the spotlight at the top of the food chain.

        Fairchild doesn’t have a brand maker or fancy nickname like the Punisher working for him

      • Tom Diesman

        Barrero also put up his AAA 200 PA .986 OPS last year (Now AAA total of 366 PA .806 OPS) as a 23 year old SS. Fairchild has a AAA career 334 PA with .946 OPS as a 25-26 year old. Also of note is Fraley who has a AAA career 231 PA with .914 OPS as a 24-27 year old. Once Barerro is back on his feet at AAA, I want to see him, Fairchild, and Fraley all starting for the Reds for all of Aug/Sep to see how they do.

  8. LDS

    Beyond Drury from the first list, I’d let them all go or trade them now. As for Drury, offer a 1-2 year extension now. If he turns it down or they can’t reach terms, trade him as well. Expecting Sims, TJ, Gutierez, et al, to be competitive pieces in 2023 is likely wishful thinking. Pham, only a piece or two away from competing? As I said yesterday, Pederson must have slapped him back – HARD. Trade him if they can find a buyer. Fraley, Aquino, Fairchild, Friedl, Schrock as OF candidates. Not likely. And while Fairchild has been on a tear, Aquino tears up AAA pitching as well. If Fairchild were the “real deal”, he likely would still be Arizona, Toronto, Seattle, or San Francisco. He’s moved around a lot for a bit more than a year. So, I doubt the FO ability to make competitive moves for 2023. And there’s still the Bell issue – he simply prefers to start the older players. If Castellini doesn’t sell soon and the new owners clean house, the Reds aren’t likely to be competitive in the next 10 years, wasting a lot of promising young players.

    • Jim Walker

      For whatever reason Fairchild has never been given an open door opportunity despite having a mid .900 OPS at AAA where he has been. He has been nickeled and dimed through 28 MLB plate appearances in 2 seasons with 3 teams.
      Despite this as I commented above in 2 different AAA leagues with roughly the same PAs in both he has posted virtually identical AAA OPS/wRC+.

      Maybe scouts see something that makes them think 4A but he should be given an honest look

      • LDS

        You follow this more closely than I so I’ll defer to you on that. Though given the usage of Schrock, Lopez, and other younger guys, I’m not sure it matters.

      • Chris Holbert

        If he wants a real chance as a “young” player, he is probably on the wrong team, with the wrong manager.

  9. Bill J

    Someone mentioned the other day on Facebook a game on July 2, 1963 where Juan Marichal outdueled Warren Spahn 1-0 in 16 innings. Marichal threw 227 pitches in 16 innings, Spain threw 201 in 15-1/3. Today it may be difficult to find a Reds or any pitcher throwing that much in 2 games.

    • Doc

      A modern Reds pitcher couldn’t come close to 16 innings with those pitch counts and those guys were pitching in a four man rotation! BTW – how much arm trouble did Spahn and Marichal have? Rhetorical question.

    • SOQ

      I have a book about that game. It’s called “The Greatest Game ever Pitched” by Jim Kaplan.

  10. Bill J

    Spain was 42, in his last of 13 of 20 win seasons, March so was 25.

  11. Redhaze

    Don’t forget after 2023 Votto’s 20+ million contract comes off the books.

  12. SOQ

    Sept.1, 1967, Gaylord Perry went 16 innings against the Reds in a 21 inning game. The Reds used 4 pitchers. Mel Queen started for the Reds and went 9.1 innings.
    Reds lost 1-0 in 21 innings

  13. Votto4life

    I can save the front office some time here. There is NO WAY this team is going to win in 2023. They are going to have to make up 40 games just to get to .500. How many times has that been done in one season.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I’m sure not very often, if ever.

      If I got Nick Krall’s job, understanding the restrictions he is under, here’s a very quick sketch of my plan moving forward:

      1) Offer Castillo for trade, but only for bonafide prospects who are MLB-ready, or else players already in MLB with several years of contract control. There is nothing that says the Reds have to give away their top asset. He still has a year of contract control, and trades could be revisited over the offseason.

      2) I’d want the return to be the top position players, of any position. If it’s at a position of current strength, flip someone for a starting outfielder or two. The idea: Have top assets to work with.

      3) Starting pitching: Castillo and-or Mahle (if around), then Lodolo and Ashcraft. Leave positions four and-or five open for free-for-all competition in spring training. Greene fits in if he figures things out before the end of this season. (I would be very open to trade offers on Mahle. His best chance for long-term success is outside of GABP, and I would not want to overpay someone who consistently struggles at home.)

      4) Relief pitching: Keep Sanmartin and Diaz from the current bunch, and open things up in spring training for the rest. That includes Sims and Antone.

      5) Catching: Move Stephenson out of the mix. He won’t become the great hitter we hope for with the constant pounding he takes as catcher. Let the young catchers and Garcia compete in camp for the roster spots. Most MLB teams use defense-first players at catcher. Maybe bring Tucker Barnhart back? His contract is expiring.

      6) Infield: Create a Stephenson-Votto mix at first base and DH. Move India to third base, where he played in college. His defensive runs allowed rating is very bad over his first year-plus at second. If Barrero hits in spring training, put him at shortstop. Farmer could then move to second, where his lack of range won’t be as evident, and he could platoon with Moustakas. I’d love to keep Drury as a guy who can fill in anywhere. I’d offer a two-year deal in the range of $10 or $11 million total. His largest average salary in his career is $2.05 million, so I think he’d at least think about it.

      7) Outfield: Senzel is convincing me he is here to stay, provided he stays healthy. Almora will be back unless traded. He fits as a great fourth outfield and defensive replacement. I think Pham could be back, with the $6 million mutual option pending. I’d want to come up with a really strong bat to fill out the OF.

      • Votto4life

        I love your plan Tom. I think you have put more thought into it than Nick Krall has.

        The only thing I would change is, I would keep Stephenson behind the plate. I think he is more valuable there than at first base. He just doesn’t hit for enough power to be a corner infielder.m, while as a catcher he is a star.

        I would give Alex McGarry a shot to replace Votto. He is having a monstrous season.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        The elephant in the room really is what to do about Votto (and Moustakas). Some will cite Votto’s advanced analytics as evidence he is still contributing. I trust my eyes, and I know what I’m seeing.

      • LDS

        That’s the problem with “advanced analytics”. They aren’t predictive, as I keep repeating, they are descriptive. It’s one of the reasons baseball has become so boring.

      • LDS

        But I agree with Votto4Life, I think you’d make a better GM than Krall.

      • TR

        Agreed, especially with #1. Most teams are looking for pitching. If the Reds do not get what they want in the upcoming trade period, then Castillo and Mahle should not be traded at this time. When it comes to starting pitching, the Reds are in the driver’s seat.

      • Old-school

        Nice work on this piece Tom. I agree with a lot of what you are saying. The 2023 season is a transition year to a new core and a new team. This is the end of the Reds as we know it under a Votto led offense.

        There is still a lot baseball to be played in 2022 and I agree with Tom D that August and September should be a whole lot of young players with good Milb numbers who need extended looks at the MLB level.

      • Hanawi

        1) Why would a team give up a good young position player that is in the majors for Castillo to win this year? This was the mistake they made the last rebuild. Reds are not winning in 2023 and they should maximize talent, even if it is A or AA (where most of their position player talent still is).

        On 5, what young catchers are you talking about? Reds have nothing in the pipeline. Moving Stephenson is the absolute worst thing the Reds can do.

      • greenmtred

        Analytics aren’t perfectly predictive, but they demonstrate in considerable depth what a player’s past performance has been, and this gives some indication of the sort of player he is and, by extension, how he might perform in the future. No system is perfectly predictive: There are far too many variables in baseball.

    • Steven Ross

      100% agreement. Unless Bob sells the team, we won’t win next year. IF Bell returns as Manager, we sure as heck won’t win next year. The ownership/system is flawed.

      Bob bought the team in January 2006. Not one playoff series win since. Lost in 2010, 2012, 2013 and 2020. Why on earth would anyone think this will change? It won’t.

  14. Votto4life

    I would re-sign Tyler Naquin just because the team has such a need for outfielders. The rest I would let go.

    I know Brandon Drury is popular here, but he reminds me of Jeff Treadway. There are plenty with his skill set out there.

    I truly hope the Reds come to the obvious conclusion they can’t win next year. If by trying to win they trade for “near major league” talent and /or plop down a lot of money for free agents which is how we got in this mess to begin with.

    Do the wise thing, get the best young talent you can find, strategically use free agency to improve the team, maybe sign a Scott Rolen type who can teach the team how to win and then wait.

    As a fan of 50 years, I would be happy with this approach. Let’s look forward to winning in 2026-27.

    Baseball is like everything else, there are no short cuts to success.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      You might be right about Drury. I’ve been of the mindset that he has flourished at least in part because he’s playing in GABP. He may want to keep that going. But of course, this could also be a complete fluke of a year.

    • Greenfield Red

      Agree Votto4life. No major league ready talent. It is the Kiss of death.

      • DaveCT

        Plus one, Greenfield. Teams that compete and win consistently acquire and retain elite talent.

  15. Rednat

    i think it will continue to get worse for the reds. ( and the rest of the bottom third of the league ie Pirates, Tigers, Royals). the talent pool of position players is drying up pretty quickly. (mainly a result of less youth playing baseball which is starting to catch up to the major league level). this has been going on the nba for many years now and now you have teams with routine winning percentages in the .200s. this is coming to baseball soon. Just a product of supply and demand now. And i think it will get harder for teams like the Guardians and Rays to compete as well. Even with really smart decisions the talent just isn’t there.

    there are 3 solutions in my opinion. 1. go total nfl and have hard salary cap where every team works with the same amount of money (wont happen). 2 league contraction( my choice). the league has talent for about 16-20 teams. ( this may happen eventually but not for a long time. 3. just go along as planned and sweep all the problems under the rug and focus on “fan experience” which likely will happen for the foreseeable future, which means a lot of bad reds teams to look forward to

    • Votto4life

      To make it worse, MLB is talking about expansion.

  16. Bdh

    Trade the following

    Castillo should bring a big return and I’d get what I could from the rest. Load the farm up

    Sign a power hitting corner outfielder in the offseason. The money is there to sign one to a multi year deal with the current payroll and Moose + Votto coming off the books the following year. Also sign a backup catcher and a proven bullpen arm. Move India to 3B and let Schrock/Lopez handle 2B until McLain shows he’s ready. Go into next season with the following look and hope the prospects/young MLB players continue to develop into the next core

    C – Stephenson
    1B – Votto
    2B – Schrock
    SS – Barrero
    3B – India
    LF – Fraley
    CF – Senzel
    RF – New signing
    DH – Moose

    Bench – backup catcher
    Bench – Lopez
    Bench – Fairchild
    Bench – Friedl

    SP – Mahle
    SP – Lodolo
    SP – Greene
    SP – Ashcraft
    SP – Dunn

    CP – Sims
    RP – Diaz
    RP – Antone
    RP – Santillan
    RP – Hoffman
    RP – Sanmartin
    RP – Moreta
    RP – New signing

    • LDS

      Interesting idea but likely still under .500 outcome. If Votto, Moustakas, and Fraley are starting, you’re probably behind the 8-ball already. And several of the BP candidates are likely going to perform less well than fans are hoping.

      • VegasRed

        The thought is good but that group is what we have now, more or less. And it isn’t cutting it, not by a long shot.

        The bull pen needs complete redo. Spend the money for real relief talent or nothing will change.

        The reds could improve next year and possibly play close to .500 but it would take MLB bullpen and a MLB field staff. Bell and crew need to go to change the message/channel/ mindset. And everyone with half a brain knows this true.

        You play the young guys, period. You play aggressively, athletically, and you don’t condone or entitle poor fundamentals, lack of hustle, ego or salary. Play hard, smart and emphasize accountability to get PT.

        You let young starters develop but play excellent defense fro bp and late innings. Do that and then see how 2024 looks and ratchet up the FA’s.

        You just can’t fake a bull pen any longer, the last several years prove that, just like they show Mr. Bell isn’t cutting it.

    • SteveO

      If all of them are traded, we shouldn’t need to sign, but would receive a corner OF and backup C in the trades. It all depends on the trade partner. We could possibly get both in the trade for Castillo. If the trade is with the Dodgers, Vargas and Cartaya must be included and fills those voids. What would teams be willing to give up for the best available stater with 1.5 years before FA? To me, we would get the best return for Castillo if he is traded to either the Dodgers, Guardians, Yankees, Rangers, BlueJays, Mets, Giants or Cardinals. Not in that particular order, but they have prospects that would help the Reds immediately in 2023 and also supplement the Bats and/or the Lookouts. This will allow the organization to get younger, more flexible and create more sustainability to be able to produce consistent competitive teams annually for the Reds.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Sorry, just dont see it with Fraley. Watched him in many a game before he got hurt and not only did he not hit, he made quite a few mistakes in the outfield. Just my Op but I do not agree on him

  17. LDS

    Lineups out and Moose & Votto are both out of the lineup. Probably a good thing but also getting to the point where they need to make a roster move on Votto. Back injuries can take a while and he’s nearly 39. The Reds need to quit wasting roster spots on guys that can’t play currently.

  18. David

    Roughly speaking, the Reds (or any contending team) needs 1 or 2 4 or 5 WAR players. These guys don’t grow on trees. Or an absolutely lock-down pitching rotation. Think of the Braves in the 1990’s. We don’t have that, either.

    The team also needs 4-5 2-3 WAR players.

    How do the Reds get there? Because right now, we aren’t that close.

    The top WAR player that the Reds have this year is Brandon Drury. He is not old. I would like the Reds to keep him. He will be 30 next month. Who else in this line-up or in AAA could hit 25 HR and drive in 80-100 rbi’s next year for the Reds?
    There is talk of keeping Pham. I think this is the big illusion. Even playing in offense – happy GABP, he has not put up anything remarkable in numbers. He is 34 years old. Do you really want to keep this guy? He is standing in the way of playing younger guys (Aquino, who is 28, Schrock, who is 27, Fairchild, who is 26). I am not a fan of Friedl; I don’t think he is a Major League hitter.
    While remarking on Barrero and his hand injury, remember that Aquino had the same type of injury last year, so his hand strength may just now be rounding into shape.
    I think that Aquino still has the “potential” to be a high WAR offensive guy. +30 HR a year, a lot of rbi’s. These guys don’t grow on trees or just “happen”.

    Where do the Reds get some good and also some high WAR level players?
    Nobody trades 4 an 5 WAR players unless they are doing a salary dump. Taking that on is a big risk, too.
    I would keep Tyler Naquin, for now, and see how he finishes the season. I don’t think he has much trade value. Naquin is 31 years old.
    I like Albert Almora, but he is now showing why the Cubs gave up on him. He is a talented but streaky hitter.
    I also think that Kyle Farmer has some trade value to the right team, right now. And not later. Unless we want to keep Kyle for another season, I would try to trade him now. He is not a gazelle at Shortstop, even though he is a really nice guy and team leader, by all accounts. Kyle Farmer will be 32 next month.
    Mahle probably can’t be traded now; he’s hurt. Maybe in the off-season, unless an extension can be worked out. Mahle will be 28 in September.
    Castillo should be traded, if a high-value player (minor leaguer?) could be had in return. Castillo will be 30 years old in December. Do the Reds want to sign him to a 3 year, or a 5 year contract for $100 million? As much as we may like Luis Castillo, small market teams can’t afford to do stuff like that.

    None of these are new thoughts to the familiars at Redleg Nation. But imagining that the Reds can contend next year is just fantasy. They can be better, but they have a very long road to travel to get to “contention”. Most of this has to be young player development. And I don’t think David Bell is the guy to manage that kind of development.

    • Votto4life

      I agree David the Reds can be better next year. Almost assuredly, they will be better next season. I think 70-73 wins would be great season for them in 2023. That puts us basically back to 2017, but it’s a step in a right direction.

      They need to move past Pham, Almora jr. Drury and the like. These players will lead to more of the same.

      Invest in young players, be aggressive with international signings, sign a key free agent or two. The teams needs to focus on getting better and not take in a fool’s errand of trying to win next year.

      The most important step they can take this year is finding the best person to right the ship and to lead them going forward. Nick Krall is not the person to do that. He has failed miserably in my opinion.

    • Hanawi

      Completely agree with this assessment.

  19. Indy Red Man

    I look at the swings of particular players and Drury has a fairly short swing. I’d sign him and trade Naquin as well as Castillo. I really think Naquin could help someone, but he’s always banged up and I doubt that improves by 2024.

    I’d really love to pickup Brandon Nimmo. He just homered twice in that Mets series…of course the Reds come off the menu if he’s playing for us. Lifetime .386 obp though and I’d bat Stephenson 2nd. Thats going to mean alot of pitches for the starter right off the bat and hopefully guys on base. Pham, Drury, Votto, India, Senzel after that. Then actually spend some $ on the pen for a change and this team could improve rapidly if the young starters progress. “Could” and “if” being the key words

    • Indy Red Man

      Forgot about Farmer, but if you have something like Votto, India, Farmer, Senzel 5th thru 8th then thats not a bad lineup. I’d be ok with trading Naquin or Farmer or Pham though if they can get someone they like.

      • LDS

        Folks keep saying Votto, but it’s starting to look like he isn’t bouncing back again. He’ll be 39 next year and shouldn’t be more than an occasional starter, i.e., accommodate his farewell tour perhaps but not every day and not the entire game. And there’s still the MOOSE.

  20. Jim t

    @LDS don’t think the reds will be anywhere close to contending until Votto and Moose are off the books.

    Also don’t think the window will open until EDLC or Barrera is at SS and the other in the out field.

    • Greenfield Red

      Sorry Tom. I could not disagree more with your thoughts here. To require major league ready talent will set the Reds back another 10 years. That’s what they did with Cueto, Bruce, Frazier, amd Chåmpan. What did they get for it? Nothing.

      If a MLR player was anywhere near as good as their marketing, they would not be traded by any team.

      Multiple high end 17 to 21 year old prospects is the key.

    • Dewey Roberts

      The Problem is that I don’t trust the front office to use the savings well. They proved that last year. They gutted the team and saved almost nothing with their additions.

  21. SteveO

    Dugger DFAd and Solomon back to the Bats as he was the 27th man for the DH yesterday. Would’ve sent down Moreta and try to give Dugger a chance in the bullpen. Obviously, management doesn’t think much of him as this is the second time this season he has been DFAd or feel that no other team will claim him and he’ll go back to Louisville. I think that Dugger and Sanmartin don’t throw as hard and have reliable breaking pitches that make them harder to hit coming in after hitters are seeing high 90’s with the starters except for Minor.
    Oh well, let’s see if he survives the waiver wire again this time

    • Roger Garrett

      Pham is out for himself.Nobody and I mean nobody is going to play him 6 mil next year except the Reds.He is just looking out for # 1

  22. Rednat

    I m starting to see what Pham is saying about this team being close to being good. once stephenson and votto come back you can have a line up of

    1. senzel- cf
    2. India- 2b
    3. stepehnson -c
    4. drury- 3b
    5. Naquin rf
    6. votto/moose dh
    7. votto/moose- 1b
    8. Farmer-ss
    9. pham- left field

    reynolds, almora, salano off the bench

    that lineup should score some runs. i would trust running this line up back in 2023 than any other trades the reds may make

    • SteveO

      I’d like to know how much you think the Reds pay to keep Drury, Pham, Naquin, Almora, Solano and Reynolds around. Drury and Farmer will not have a higher trade value as they have now

  23. Roger Garrett

    Reds cannot do well in 2023 as long as Votto/Moose/Pham are starters.There best days are behind them and it shows on the field and at the plate.They truly will be what will hold this team back.Now the argument is always well who could be bettter?Unless the Reds and this year find out about Fairchild and Barrero the answer is we don’t know or as is often the case in Reds land they must walk on water before we even give then a chance so they aren’t doing that so they get no chance at all.

    • donny

      Guys Farchild had his shot with the Diamondbacks and he failed miserably . He could not hit big league pitching.

  24. Mark A Verticchio

    I wish we would talk about when to put EDLC into the Reds plans. I think he should be moved up to AA asap and then next spring be given a chance to stick either at short stop or in the outfield. Look what Juan Soto did at age 20 or 21 in 2019. He is the Reds best prospect by far so let’s see what he can do next year, if he is a success at AA this year.

    • BK

      I think he’s on track to join the team by 2024. This is his first “full” season of pro ball (and in the US)–I suspect this may explain why he’s still at Dayton rather than AA. That said, with each day, he’s making his case for the Reds to accelerate his timetable.

  25. Greenfield Red

    Sorry Tom. I could not disagree more with your thoughts here. To require major league ready talent will set the Reds back another 10 years. That’s what they did with Cueto, Bruce, Frazier, amd Chåmpan. What did they get for it? Nothing.

    If a MLR player was anywhere near as good as their marketing, they would not be traded by any team.

    Multiple high end 17 to 21 year old prospects is the key.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      My problem with that is that less than half of those prospects will even get to Class AAA, based on history. If you strive for MLB-ready players, there is still a chance of failure, but much less than with players who are trying to make the jump from the low minors.

      • Kevin H

        Yep a friend of mine days prospect =suspects.

        Basically one just doesn’t know.

      • Greenfield Red

        That’s why tou get all of them you can. If half work out, the Reds can challenge gor the WS in 5 years… not .500 and the last wild card in 2 years

        Did anyone learn anything from Jocketty’s “Major League Ready” proclamation. It was a disaster a d it will be again.

        The Angels would not have traded Trout for anybody when he was 22, but the Mets would trade Dilson Herrera when he was 24. It’s just a little soreness in he shoulder. Once it feels better this guy is a great hitter. We’ve been there. Do not go back.

      • BK

        In 2015-16 the Reds did as you suggest and targeted near-major league ready talent (all AA or higher at the time of trade) for Leake, Chapman, Cueto and Frazier. The return included 5 players that delivered small contributions:

        – Adam Duvall (best year 3.3 bWAR, best career 10.0 bWAR)
        – Scott Schebler (slightly above avg. hitter for 3 years, 2.6 bWAR before injury ended his career)
        – Jose Peraza (produced 2.4 bWAR in his 4 underwhelming years with us)
        – Cody Reed (2 meh seasons, 3 bad ones)
        – Brandon Finnegan (1.5bWAR before he hurt himself boating)

        Several who didn’t make the majors or delivered only negative results:
        – Brandon Dixon
        – Tony Renda
        – Caleb Cotham (at least we got him as a pitching coach for a while)
        – Rookie Davis
        – John Lamb

        We also got Keury Mella, a fringe Top 100 pitching prospect at High A, who made it to the majors, but didn’t produce. Finnegan was the only other Top 100 prospect we acquired. Reed became one in the Reds farm system. In summary, we mostly acquired replacement level players or worse, and failed to restock our system with the necessary talent to emerge from a rebuild. It’s hard to say the results of this strategy were anything but a colossal failure.

        Every prospect will not work out, but the Reds should target elite prospects for Castillo or Mahle. Otherwise, they should hold on to them and try again in the offseason.

    • Hanawi

      Yep. Absolutely this. Said the same in a comment above. No one is giving up high-end major league ready talent on long-term deals if they are trying to win.

  26. MBS

    If the idea is to win in 23, this is the way I’d go.
    1B Votto, 2B Farmer, 3B India, SS Barrero, C Stephenson, DH Drury (3 y, 12M)
    LF Pham, CF Senzel, RF Benintendi (2Y, 30M) 2nd year mutual option.
    C ? (Garcia), U Schrock, U Santana, OF Fraley, OF ? (Gilliam)
    Mahle, Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, Dunn, AAA Overton, AAA Abbott, AAA Phillips
    FA Closer, FA Setup, Diaz, Williamson, Santillan, SanMartin, Hoffman, ?

    Trade Castillo, Naquin, and Solano DFA Moustakas
    I didn’t do the math, but you should be able to do this with approximately the same money we spent this year.

    If you want to rip it all down, and not compete in 23, add Mahle, Farmer, Drury, and Pham to the trade list and watch it burn in 23.

  27. SteveO

    To maintain sustainability in the organization, the Reds should not sign any player to a contract past his age 35 season. The final year of the contract is year 35. Small market teams that don’t want to spend money must not get caught with contracts that restrict financial flexibility. This is for both extensions or FA deals. If the player is still productive, in July of year 35, the player is traded.

  28. SteveO

    The Reds need to build their organization like the Guardians. They have winning records at all levels in the minors, are young at every level and promote aggressively. All of this done on a $69M payroll, 4th lowest in MLB. They have very few players (2-3) on the Guardians over 30 with none in their minor league system. Their AAA team has prospects knocking on the door to join the Guardians, unlike the Louisville Retreads, who have more over 30’s on their pitching staff than the Guardians have in their whole organization. The best thing is that a high majority of theirs players are either drafted by the Guardians or were acquired in trades. The have a very low percentage of FA signings or waiver claims. If the Reds organization can look like the Guardians in the next couple of years, there is a good chance that the Reds can maintain to be consistently competitive. It stats this month by trading Castillo, Mahle, Minor, Strickland, Detwiler, Pham, Naquin, Farmer, Drury, Solano, Reynolds, Almora and Garcia.
    Finally, replace DB with Mike Sarbaugh. A proven winner as a player, coach and manager in the Guardians organization. He would be a first time MLB manager and wouldn’t command a very high salary. At the end of his tenure as their AAA manager, he won back to back championships and is now the 3rd base coach for the Guardians. He’s been my choice to manage the Reds since Dusty Baker was fired. Price, Riggleman and Bell have been below mediocre. It’s time for a change in Reds Country!

  29. William

    I think the GM ought to read today’s posts.