The Cincinnati Reds spent the trade deadline trying to, and largely succeeding in moving veteran players in trades to acquire younger players with a lot of team control. They did something similar this spring, too. Of course they began it last winter by waiving Wade Miley and trading Tucker Barnhart. Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Tyler Mahle, Jesse Winker, Eugenio Suarez, Tyler Naquin, Amir Garrett, Tommy Pham, Brandon Drury – all gone via trade.

That’s nearly enough players gone in less than 12 months via trade or release to fill out an every day lineup and most of a rotation. On top of all of that, injuries have decimated any amount of depth that the team may have had at this point. Hunter Greene, Jeff Hoffman, Vladimir Gutierrez, Art Warren, Tony Santillan, Justin Wilson, Daniel Duarte, Lucas Sims, Tejay Antone, Connor Overton, Robert Dugger – those are just the PITCHERS that are currently on the injured list.

To say that it’s been a rough year for the Reds is an understatement. Of course, you already knew that. The team is 45-69 on the season, a half-game ahead of the lowly Pittsburgh Pirates for last place in the division.

When you look at the current roster there are a few guys that everyone knows. You’ve still got your Joey Votto and Jonathan India. Beyond that, would any fan in Kansas City recognize a single player that the Reds run onto the field on a regular basis (who wasn’t a Royal at some point, that is)?

T.J. Zeuch was released by the Cardinals while he was in Triple-A in May. Now he’s in the starting rotation for the Reds.  Mike Minor just picked up another loss last night, falling to 1-10 on the season with a 6.31 ERA in 13 starts. Justin Dunn has made two starts in the big leagues in the last 14 months, both with the Reds and they’ve not exactly gone well (8.64 ERA) after he struggled in Triple-A (6.92 ERA in seven starts).

The bullpen is a disaster that somehow has left David Bell continuously running Hunter Strickland out to the mound in close and late situations. He’s pitched in 48 games and for only four of them has the game ended and his ERA on the season was below 5.00. It’s currently 5.56. Outside of Alexis Diaz and Reiver Sanmartin (1.01 ERA in 24 games as a reliever), that essentially describes the rest of the bullpen, too.

There are potentially some players that are on the active roster who could potentially be a part of the next winning team for the Reds. Pitchers Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, and Alexis Diaz are all rookies in their first season. Jonathan India is in his second season and Jose Barrero is still considered a rookie even though he’s in part of a 3rd season at the big league level could still be around in a few years when the current “rebuild”.

There are a few other guys on the injured list – Tyler Stephenson, Hunter Greene, Tejay Antone, Tony Santillan – who could be around, but they just aren’t on the field right now.

It wasn’t long ago that the fans of Cincinnati went through something similar. The 2016-2018 rebuild wasn’t long ago. Many of the players from those years are gone and forgotten. Plenty of the “future building blocks” didn’t work out for one reason or another. Maybe this time it will be different. Right now, turning on a Reds game, you don’t see a lot of the hope for the future on the field. Injuries play a factor there, but a lot of it is simply that the future the team seems to be building toward just isn’t close to being ready. Triple-A is has three of the organization’s Top 25 prospects. Double-A is loaded, featuring nine of the top 25 prospects in the organization, but the results are a bit of a mixed bag there currently.

In a perfect scenario, everyone currently on the 40-man roster can remain (or get and then remain) healthy for 2023 and 2024, and the guys currently in Double-A and Triple-A pan out for the most part and don’t have many hiccups in the early big league career and step in and can perform. That would bring the Reds to a more competitive mode sooner rather than later.

There’s a lot of hope in that scenario. For now, when you turn on your television each night and tune into the Cincinnati Reds game, many are left asking the question: Where have the Cincinnati Reds gone? The answer is mostly Seattle and Minnesota.

43 Responses

  1. MK

    If I am GM then 2023 starts today. It starts with the release of Minor and Strickland and Williamson and Cruz being promoted as their replacement. Think we need to see what Cruz can do at MLB level. Votto becomes permanent DH and Solano takes over at first. I’m placing India on the IL, maybe for rest of season and I’m giving Lopez a shot everyday. Barrero at short, Farmer at third. Reynolds backs up everybody in the infield. Fraley gets to play everyday, Almora in center Aquino and Friedl platoon in right. I’d really like to see what Koloszvary can do over an extended time. Think this could answer some questions heading to off-season and Dpring Training.

    • SultanofSwaff

      Agreed MK. I’d go even further.

      I don’t dislike Kyle Farmer, but I hate what he represents. Every day he starts means a missed opportunity to play a prospect who needs to start taking his lumps at the major league level. To that end, I don’t see why Spencer Steer isn’t the everyday third baseman. To those who say Farmer hasn’t done anything to lose his job, I say look at his age and career OPS+. He simply won’t be a part of the next good team and by logical extension has no business blocking a player who might.

      • Oldtimer

        I’m glad SOS isn’t the Reds manager or GM. It’s bizarre to think that 6 weeks in MLB this year matters for how Steer develops. SMH.

    • Chris

      So you guys are looking for a rebuild after this one even sooner then, right? Why in the world would you start clocks on kids before they are truly ready? This isn’t fantasy baseball.

      • musicclown

        Starting the clock is overblown. See the Atlanta Braves and all of their young talent playing for them.

    • Steven Ross

      You’re hired! Almost exactly what I would do. Nice post.

  2. Mark B

    The one player that absolutely has to be gone is Aquino. He cannot hit major league pitching and it’s hard to watch him hit and miss!!!

    • MK

      I like AA as a bench piece. His arm is worth a place on the bench if nothing else, but he can outrun many of the others making him available to pinch run. He also has the big power which could make him a pinch-hit option late in a game when power was necessary as a last-ditch effort.

      Right now, he keeps getting used in situations which he is doomed to fail. Bell keeps putting him in that position hoping for a different outcome.

      • Chris

        He’s playing him almost daily. How is that putting him in a position to fail? If anything, it’s giving him a chance to show that he is worth holding on to.

      • Jim Walker

        As much as I have supported Aquino and continue to, I think this is probably accurate if he remains in MLB. But I think the specialty role described for him exists on an established contender building out its bench for an extended playoff run.

        I keep noting how Aquino devastates AAA pitching every time he is exposed to it. And then I recall hearing that the pitching median in Asia is pegged at somewhere between AA/AAA. The fastballs aren’t as lively; and, the breaking pitches are not as sharp and well commanded as at MLB.

        I think if AA has a sharp agent, he will head to Japan or Korea where he can most likely have a more prosperous career than in MLB.

  3. Bred

    I hope 5 times a week that I win the lottery. I won $2 once a while back and thought I was on a hot streak, but alas I’m still waiting for my fortune to arrive. That’s how I’ve felt since the first rebuild. Now, the FO is playing us again by ripping apart last years team and replacing it with mostly washed up guys and AAAAA players. For things to improve by 2024 or 2025 the Reds will need to hit the player development lottery. Most top 100 players don’t make the show and wash out. For this group of prospects to bring winning baseball back to us, the players will have to defy the odds. If they do, perhaps then the FO will bring in some talent to finish off this off this rebuild. I still read RML everyday and am a Patreon subscriber just to keep my hopes alive. By the way I have been following the Seattle Reds some. I need to compliment Doug on what he does as no other team that I can find has a fan site that comes close the quality of RML or RLN.

  4. Daytonnati

    I have friends from Pittsburgh who are lifelong Pirate fans. I used to feel sorry for them. The GMs, Huntington and now Cherington, along with owner Bob Nutting seemed to be the most greedy, incompetent executives and owner in the sport. No matter how lousy the Reds are doing, the Pirates are worse. They could potentially have a starting rotation now of Gerritt Cole, Tyler Glasnow, Jameson Taillon, Joe Musgrove, and Clay Holmes. Think of the position players they have traded away? Josh Bell, Starling Marte, Adam Frazier, Jacob Stallings, just to name a few. Anyway, I digress. My Pirate friends say there are two kinds of fans now – those who drink the neverending rebuild Kool-Aid, and those who have bailed.

    It seems so familiar?

    • SOQ

      I fear we are in a never ending cycle of trying to get prospects, and trading away those that meet expectations just as they are hitting their prime. Meanwhile we will still be here complaining about those that can’t figure it out, and still stuck with.
      Hard to get excited when you see it happen over and over and over again.

  5. Steve Schoenbaechler

    One thing with the pitchers. . .I thought all of that stuff with Boddy was suppose to help us.

    • David

      Well, we may have been mistaken. Besides, Boddy has been gone for a while.

      I think that we have to look at the “young talent”, ie, who has been drafted by the Reds.
      The 2010-2012 team was largely drafted by the Reds. With, of course, some notable exceptions (Scott Rolen, Bronson Arroyo, Brandon Phillips, Orlando Cabrera, Ramon Hernandez, Ryan Hannigan).
      The Reds drafting since then has been pretty much of a bust.
      There are and have been a few good (not great) players drafted. But their drafting generally stinks. Devon Mesoraco should have been a pretty good player. Yasmani Grandel has had a pretty good career.
      Building with young talent also means….drafting good players.

      Why have the Reds been perennially lousy during the Castellini ownership era?

      And pitching. Their team ERA (I know, an obsolete metric) has been near the bottom of the league almost every year since 2014.
      Lousy starters, lousy bullpen, poor performing draft picks.
      There are no real surprises here.

      • MK

        We still have some arm injuries but nothing like when Boddy was here.

        At what point does Johnson get all the positive credit he gets.

    • Doug Gray

      Boddy essentially had 2 seasons in the minor leagues before he was let go/resigned.

      You pretty much always need more time than that. With that said, much of what he brought is still in place. Different people are calling the shots, of sorts, at the very top, but they are people who were on board with the same sort of vision. Will it work out? Time will tell. Without getting into it all there’s some things that I don’t really like, and some things that I do really like about the pitching development situation for the Reds over the last few years.

      Injuries (and trades) have just decimated any and all semblance of Reds pitching depth. A lot of guys who are getting crushed in the big leagues right now wouldn’t be there with even a little bit of health and not trading away or giving away 4/5 starting pitchers in the last 10 months.

  6. LDS

    I’m not sure why folks insist that it’s Aquino that needs to be gone. As I’ve said, at least he had one stellar month. Fairchild, Friedl, and others can even lay claim to that. If we’re playing the GM game, then in my world, Votto, Moose, Minor, Strickland, and numerous others are done. Yes, Moose & Votto’s departure would cost the Reds money, but neither are helping the team any longer. I thought Moustakas was a good signing originally, but it seems he’s unwilling to put in the effort to be competitive and is out of shape and non-productive. Joey, sorry folks, but Father Time looks to have won that battle finally. Lots of pitchers on the IL that I question whether they’ll ever bounce back, e.g, Antone & Gutierrez. Wilson, too old to matter, cut him loose. Any FA signings I would consider would be in their 20s and capable of being around and productive for a few years. And to finish out 2022, we’d be seeing guys like Cedrola, Williamson, et. al. regardless of how effective they are at hitting MLB pitching. And Bell & his coaching staff would be gone. The Reds too often show up to sleepwalk through games, aggressively swinging at the first pitch, swinging for the fences, poor fundamentals, etc, etc. That’s one the management. Sadly, the GM can’t fire the owners. But as the imaginary GM, man, I wish I could.

    • David

      Father Time wins all the battles. Joey Votto has always been a grinder. He works hard, is always in shape. His hand-eye reflexes have now deteriorated to a level just somewhat better than mere mortals like us.
      Moustakas is a lazy, fat ball player. Yes, I would DFA him and gulp down his contract.

      Moustakas, by the way, will be on the Opening Day roster next Spring, in 2023. You can count on it.

      • LDS

        @David, Sadly, I suspect you’re right about Moose.

    • VegasRed

      Bell is absolutely beloved by many on here, which makes no sense to me. I don’t see why that is. Clearly he is beloved by the owners, which for me is a huge reason I want him gone.

      But objectively, how are the reds young players going to ever develop under this field staff?

      I would scour baseball to find the best minor league management and coaching and put together a field staff out of those best coaches.

      I would also be flabbergasted if the Reds organization ever did anything that sensible.

      • LDS

        @VegasRed, remember Bell is related to the front office. I agree with your assessment. And it’s why I’m skeptical that they can compete in the next 2-3 years.

    • Jim Walker

      As much as I have supported Aquino and continue to, I think this is probably accurate if he remains in MLB. But I think the specialty role described for him exists on an established contender building out its bench for an extended playoff run.

      I keep noting how Aquino devastates AAA pitching every time he is exposed to it. And then I recall hearing that the pitching median in Asia is pegged at somewhere between AA/AAA. The fastballs aren’t as lively; and, the breaking pitches are not as sharp and well commanded as at MLB.

      I think if AA has a sharp agent, he will head to Japan or Korea where he can most likely have a more prosperous career than in MLB.

      • Jim Walker

        Somehow this comment got posted twice. It was meant to be above where it posted first.

        What I was going to say here is that Aquino is a lightning rod.

        He was called back from AAA on May 22 and a day later Senzel returned from the COVID list. Since those returns, Aquino has a higher OPS .689/.645 and a higher wRC+ 86/77. There can also be little doubt he is the better all around defensive OF and baserunner.

        Both are borderline MLB players but one is a lightning rod while the other is seen as a solid contributor. ????

      • Old-school

        @ Jim. I gave up on Aquino last year. His arm is absurd. Hes got some tools and his power is off the chart. But, he hasn’t hit over .190 since 2019 and that’s a hard stop. His OBP is a career low .221 and his slugging…supposedly his best feature….is .312. hes got 4 home runs.

        Hes had 131 PA this year, not a ton, but at age 28 with over 600 career PA you cant have those numbers and a BB rate of 4% and a K rate of 42%.

        Count me out on AA as an everyday OF. I dont have an issue with giving him another 50 at bats this year to see if he can be a 5th OF but what’s the point on a terrible team. I would just move on. He will probably hit 2 home runs tonight.

      • Jim Walker

        I agree AA is a 4A, fringe MLB guy. However, his career OPS line totals better than Senzel’s; and, he appears to a better defensive OF and baserunner than Senzel.

        So, why do so many folks want flush AA yesterday while holding onto some hope that Senzel is ever going to be anything more much less an impact player? 19 homers in a month once at MLB seems to me to be more to hold onto than anything Senzel has ever done at MLB if a person is looking for a lifeline.

      • MK

        With that arm maybe they should try AA on the bump. Could be the blow away closer they need.

      • Jimbo44CN

        I’m with you Jim. Yes, AA is frustrating as heck, and at this point a AAA,AAAA player, but I still support him yet due to his defense and speed. But, to this point in time he is better than Senzel, and has always been healthier. Senzel is just one of those guys that is fragile and cannot seem to get over the top, sad as it is to say.

  7. Optimist

    I just took a look at the 40-man roster shown on BRef, which has 50 total names (36 playing/14 on the various injured lists). Without naming names, I’d keep 12 of them, and that includes Votto since he’s a category unto himself. I could see arguments for about 5 others, but the rest, honestly, are salary minimum FAs or AAAA players unlikely to develop further. Only 10 are 25 yrs. old or younger.

    • Tim

      Play the young guys with the greatest potential. Roll the dice. It would be fun to see a couple become the next Indias

  8. Tim

    Let Votto have his retirement party next year. Let him DH and have a dozen dingers or so as a send off. It will be fun celebrating his accomplishments at GABP. Dump Moose and play a development player. Eat his salary or trade him and spend the meager return on a reliever.

    • SultanofSwaff

      The Pujols victory lap in St. Louis is a good template. Votto should only be a part time player next season so as to keep him fresh and get him the most favorable matchups.

  9. Hanawi

    Guess I’m in the minority on this site in actually getting better about the Reds now than I did at the beginning of the season. I’m also more optimistic about the future than any point in a long time including the last “rebuild” or the “playoff” team from a few years ago. They are loaded with high end prospects now instead of high floor replacement level guys. They need to figure out who to approach about buying out arbitration years among the 3 young starters, India and Stephenson. Then probably need to start shuffling positions in the minors to help development for a 2024 target for the playoffs.

    • SultanofSwaff

      I’m optimistic too but until I see the ink dry on some extensions I’ll withhold my praise.

  10. TR

    The Pandemic upset the world, certainly economically and that includes MLB and especially the team with the least wealthy owners, the Reds. Surprisingly the Reds, last year, were in the hunt until late in the season when the Cardinals went on a 17 game win streak to eliminate them from the playoffs. Even so, many fans felt the Reds had a real good chance to compete this year, but based on financial considerations, the core of the offense was let go followed by the deflating Opening Day statement of the principal owners son. Payroll has been lowered and the team is in another rebuild based on the development of prospects. The Reds need new principal ownership which will be able to acquire good consistent hitters to go with the development of prospects which could take some time.

  11. Jim Walker

    …Where have the Cincinnati Reds gone? The answer is mostly Seattle and Minnesota.

    Great closing paragraph Doug!

  12. Oldtimer

    The 1970 Reds won 102 games and made it to WS but lost.

    Just 6 years later, only 8 of the 33 players who were Reds in 1970 played for the Reds in 1976. They were replaced with a mixture of veterans (through trades) and young players from the Reds minor league system,

    The 76 Reds also won 102 games but won the WS and are considered by many as the best Reds team ever.

    • MK

      One of the big reasons for the personnel changes you speak of was Riverfront Stadium and Astro-turf. They gave up power for speed and speedy defense.

  13. Pat

    If I were a hitting coach, which obviously, I am not, the first thing I would do with Aquino is demand that he charge his batting stance! The only way he gets a hit is if the pitcher makes a mistake and throws a fastball over the middle or a little up in the zone. He can’t hit breaking balls low and away because by the time his bat gets to the ball it’s past him. Too much wasted motion trying to get his bat where it needs to be to make contact when he’s standing straight up with his bat on his shoulder. Just an old lady’s opinion.

    • Jimbo44CN

      You are right on. He should be given an either or situation, change your stance or sit on the bench.