When the Cincinnati Reds went through their last rebuild it wound up failing, miserably. A big part of the reason that happened is because much of that rebuild was completely reliant on the young starting pitching the team had in the minors stepping up and performing in the big leagues. Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Amir Garrett, Sal Romano, Rookie Davis, Brandon Finnegan and crew simply never worked out as starters. Eventually the team would find success with Luis Castillo and later on Tyler Mahle as starters.

When the Reds went into the current rebuild they had two of the top pitching prospects in baseball with Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo. With the season nearing it’s end, neither are prospects anymore, but they’ve established themselves as big league starters and they’ve been joined by Graham Ashcraft. The three rookies have had various levels of success.

Nick Lodolo has been on an outstanding run of starts. Since returning from the injured list he’s made 13 starts and posted a 3.47 ERA in 72.2 innings. In the second half of the season he’s been even better, posting a 2.95 ERA in 10 starts. On the year his ERA is now down to 3.81. Graham Ashcraft is scheduled to make a rehab start today in Louisville after missing the last month. Prior to going on the injured list he had made 16 starts with a 3.97 ERA in 93.0 innings pitched while being among the top ground ball rate starters in the game.

Hunter Greene’s ERA isn’t below 4.00 like the other two starters. After his last start he got it below 5.00, dropping it to 4.97 with 6.0 shutout innings against the St. Louis Cardinals over the weekend. The youngest and least experienced of the trio, Greene’s battled more inconsistency than the other two have. At times he’s been outright dominant – like when he didn’t give up any hits in 7.1 innings to the Pirates back in May, or when he allowed one baserunner against Arizona in June in 7.0 innings, or in his last two outings when he’s given up five combined hits in 12.0 innings with 19 strikeouts and no walks. But he’s also had some struggles, like when he allowed eight runs – including five home runs – to the Brewers in 2.2 innings on May 5th.

The home runs have been the biggest area where Greene has struggled. He’s given up 23 of them, and prior to going on the injured list at the start of August he had given up more home runs than any other pitcher in baseball. In his last five starts he’s given up just one home run in 29.1 innings.

Watching the Cincinnati Reds as the season winds down isn’t all that much fun. The every day lineup that’s being run out there is full of guys who aren’t likely to be starting players next season, with a few of them looking like quality utility guys. The bullpen has a few interesting guys, but it’s also got several players who every time out there are questions if this will be their last outing before they are designated for assignment. And the rotation has been cycling through waiver pick ups and relievers who may have once upon a time started. But when it’s a day that Nick Lodolo, Hunter Greene, or hopefully later this week Graham Ashcraft are going to take the mound for the Reds, the fans can at least watch a staple of the future that the organization is trying to sell them on.

Connor Overton working his way back

On Sunday afternoon Connor Overton made his second rehab start for the Triple-A Louisville Bats. He would allow two runs (both came on solo home runs) in 5.0 innings while giving up four hits, walking a batter, and striking out five. He threw 78 pitches on the day.


Having thrown 78 pitches it would seem that he’s ready to return to the big leagues from a standpoint of workload. He’s pitched well in his two outs with the Bats, too, so unless he feels he needs another outing to work on something, don’t be surprised to see him back on the big league roster later this week.

77 Responses

  1. Mark Moore

    My 2023 optimistic hope is the three top-tier rookie starters plus Overton pitching well and Cessa being a serviceable 5th starter. I’d be fine if we open up with 6 starters given the game today and how, as Doug noted, there aren’t many pitchers hitting 200 innings anymore (and none of ours).

    Hoping the BoSox kind of roll over on Tuesday and Wednesday.

  2. LDS

    I hope OVerton works out, but he doesn’t have that many MLB innings, about 40. And his performance this year with the Reds is far better than his career average. Maybe this year was a “breakout”, but I won’t be betting the farm.

    • SultanofSwaff

      Agreed. Overton is that competent injury insurance every good team needs stashed in the minors….a guy capable of covering starts over long stretches but not necessarily good enough to give you an entire season. Dunn probably fits that mold as well. Hopefully Williamson or Abbott could be the full season starter the Reds need to complement our big 3. The lack of depth overall probably necessitates another journeyman starter signing…..let’s just hope we don’t pay him $10million.

    • DaveCT

      Plus one. In addition, Overton’s injury (stress reaction in his back) is one of those things that fair or unfair will be a concern going forward. The same can be said for Lucas Sims with his back injury.

  3. Optimist

    Cessa has much more value than Overton, but neither of them are likely a 5th or 6th starter. Reds (and most teams) need 8 starters, and both of them are 7-8th types. Cessa has much more value in the pen. Plenty of potential in MiLB but they’ll need one of those early next year to avoid reliance on another FA end-of-career types.

    • Pete

      Agree, just signing another over the hill, end of a career mediocre, at best, starting pitchers is not the way I would go. Main reason is it’s taking valuable innings of development from younger guys. Even if they get beat around it’s still has value.

      That’s before we even discuss the value of dollar investment. The odds are so long that the Reds will be competitive next season, the time should be used for development and exploring the talent that we have.

      • Jim Walker

        The fact that the Reds are likely to burn (at least) 2 years of service time each of Greene, Lodolo, and Ashcraft suggests how poorly thought out this “rebuild” was from the get go.

      • VaRedsFan

        It’s a double-edged sword Jim. We’d like for all of their service time years to be used up on contending teams, but they also have the need to be developed against MLB pitching (the learning curve, if you will). So I see this year as very productive for the 3. They each took their lumps, as well as showed flashes of brilliance, while…in my mind…improved as the season went on.

        Perhaps they also learned what it might take to play a 162 game season, as each of them had to be shut down for period of time. (Not catastrophic, at least, as they all are on track to finish the season in the rotation).

        Those experiences are things that hopefully, they wont have to endure going into the team’s competitive years.

      • MBS

        @Jim, I have to disagree with you. The “all of the eggs in the same basket” approach could hit, but if it doesn’t what do you have? That method is just setting up your next rebuild. Creating a Steady Pipeline, and a winning culture is the only way to succeed consistently.

        Tampa found their way, the Cards have their way, I want a hybrid of both. Turn players over to continue to add to your funnel, but also spend enough money to keep your payroll in the middle of the pack. That would allow for a combination of extending players that are good fits for the organization, and signing FA’s. That would not allow falling in love with players, and keeping them around because they are fan favorites.

      • old-school

        @ Jim. You raise a good point, which is Reds cant fritter away controllable seasons of good young talent nor can they just flip a switch sometime down the road and say we will try now. I believe they need to use 2023 as a transition year to build a winner for 2024 and start playing competitive baseball in 2023. With only $42 million in salary to Votto/Moose and nothing committed in 2024, Reds could be active in FA for multi-year guys that improve 2023 and 2024 but dont add huge contracts after 30.

        Several websites already have predictions for MLB contracts and if the Reds were serious about building a winner, they could be active to supplement their growing numbers of talented young prospects.

        1.) Acquire a good veteran C to give Reds a good catching tandem for 162 games and allow Stephenson rest days at DH, 1b. Christian Vazquez is a GG caliber defensive catcher and decent hitter. Predictions are 2 years and $16 million .

        AAV $8 million

        2.) Reds desperately need bullpen arms and its not just magically coming from AA/AAA. Reds used to go get good arms- Arthur Hughes/Cordero/Broxton/marshall and invested in their bullpen. Do it again.

        Edwin Diaz is elite and projected 5/90 million
        Trade prospect capital for a controlled lefty arm or pay big bucks for a veteran lefty to give the Reds a closer and 2 high leverage arms from both sides in Younger Diaz and elite lefty.

        AAV $18 mil Diaz plus loss good lefty TBD
        3.) veteran starter for innings and mentoring and wins and depth. Tyler Anderson is a lefty having a great year for the Dodgers. 2 years and 22 mil is forecast

        $11 mil AAV

        4.) Lefty hitter. Joc Pederson destroys RH pitching and is projected to get 3/39 as a FA. Josh Bell would be a great lefty asset in GABP but his years are projected at 4/60 and Nimmo and Benintendi are projected to get 5 years and 100 mil each. Pederson could play RF and DH some and could hit a ton of homers at GABP and be a big lefty bat with his righty/lefty splits until the Reds prospects at A/AA mature

        AAV $13 mil
        5.) sign Jon India to a 7 year extension at 80 Mil.

        AAV $11 million with smaller 2023/24 numbers

        For $50 million in payroll + long term commitment to India plus additional investment in lefty Bullpen arm , The reds could dramatically upgrade their areas of weakness in 2023 and 2024+ by adding a proven C, 2 elite bullpen arms, a lefty OF with power, and a good lefty SP to add to the young SP. That would restore some hope in the short and long term and marry the rebuild of home grown talent maturing in the upper minors in 2023/2024 with targeted improvements to areas of need.

        The other option is 2 more years sorting and wasting controllable years of good young talent

      • MBS

        @Old. I like the Vazquez signing, and I would do the Josh Bell deal 4/60 in a heartbeat. I’d shy away from Diaz, and opt for a Jansen, or Chapman who would be slightly less money a year, but more importantly a shorter commitment. India seems like a safe investment, although I’m against long term deals as a rule, and I feel he’d sign that 7 years for 60M range.

      • old-school

        @ MBS, Im just spitballin’ as the only reason to watch Reds is hope for a better tomorrow. Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, and Diaz have been massive developments for an organization who needs home grown SP and young pitching. But, we’ve also seen Barrero and Senzel hiccup, both of whom now have even bigger questions marks after 2022 than before and lots of positional areas with gaping holes that Marte, Collier,Arroyo, McClain, CES wont fill in the short to early medium term. Bullpen needs addressed and its insanity to go sign another OhlenBadenDoohembreeStrickland or 3 off the non-roster invitee list or hope AA/AAA guys become Josh Hader or Devin Williams. Reds hit on Diaz and thats great.

        Targeted external solutions can be done without forfeiting prospect capital or altering the blueprint.

      • Reaganspad

        Conforto would look good for one year in Cincy. Let him hit 45 hrs. He will then do the Boros walk. But for 2023, he would add a lot of offensive fireworks, is a very good defender and won’t block. Anyone in 2024

      • Redsvol

        @Old. You have presented some really thoughtful ideas – I love it. The possibility is there and the names you mention are the key ones to go after. I’m just not sure the front office is ready to spend the money – even though they should be able to.

        I also think teams like our Reds will have a lot of trouble recruiting good players like you named. If you were a free agent and you had a similar offer, would you come to Cincinnati? Its a really hard ballpark for pitchers and hitters will likely go to teams more likely to contend in 2023/24.

        If Castellini won’t spend $ on players, I would love it if he would spend $40 million on raising/moving the right field fence back 20-30 feet. Its a ridiculously short porch and, lets face it, we don’t need the seats it will cause to be lost. If retractable roof stadiums can be built I’m sure their is an architect/engineer that can design something for GABP.

      • Jim Walker

        As I count the service time, the Reds have burned a year on both Greene and Lodolo which could have been saved and still have gotten them plenty of MLB exposure. Witness the fact Ashcraft will come up short of a year service time since he wasn’t brought up until well into May.

    • J

      Cessa has been a million times better as a starter if it continues he’s earned the right to battle for the 4th/5th spots next spring training at the very least

  4. Bred

    Doug: Watching the Cincinnati Reds as the season winds down isn’t all that much fun.
    That’s the painful truth, but you kept putting out interesting articles and never took a day off. I think you should get Most Valuable Blogger of a sports team award. Also after searching other MLB fan sites RNL and RML are the gold standard for excellence! I am surprised the Dodgers or Yankees have not tried to lure you away from the Reds. You do add value to the organization.
    I urge everyone to support Doug on Patreon! If we all chip in a few bucks a month, maybe Doug could have a very Merry Christmas!

    • Redsvol

      Amen to this @Bred. Doug makes following the Reds much more palatable and hopeful. Been supporting him on Patreon for years and I encourage everyone who comes here on a daily/weekly basis to do the same as this and redsminorleagues.com are really valuable sites for Reds fans. Not to mention he keeps the debate to a civil discourse and there are some really knowledgeable fans (partly due to Doug) on these 2 sites.

  5. RedBB

    Unfortunately Castellni still won’t spend next year IMO. My guess is he will sign 2-3 FA’s in the mold of Drury and Naquin or guys he can flip at the deadline which isn’t a bad strategy really. Doubt we sign anyone for over 5-6M next year.

    2024 has and always will be the target year to compete again once Joey and Moose’s big contracts finally come off the books. Keep in mind next year the team will likely buy out both contracts to the tune of $11M in just buyouts for 2024. Total spending on both next year will be $54M in 2023.

    • 2024WSChamps

      What are you basing that on other than pure pessimism? The Reds have spent well over $100M in payroll since 2019. They spent $118M this past year, and currently have about $55M planned for next year based on their current roster (and who has team control). That is a huge gap, I highly doubt they will not attempt to bridge it. Under Castellini, the Reds have consistently had 3 large contracts, and several mid contracts. I expect one major signing, and several small to mid signings, that will place the Reds back in the 85-100M payroll range

      • MadMike

        Here is one example. If they were intent on maintaining a flat salary expenditure, they could have picked up bad contracts for prospects at the trade deadline, just like other teams have done to accelerate their rebuilds.

        The Reds did not, so that’s a pretty strong clue they are going down the low budge path.

      • 2024WSChamps

        That is only a thing in the NBA, almost no one does than in MLB. They wouldn’t intentionally take on a bad contract, so that means they don’t want to spend next year? What kind of backwards logic is that?

      • jon

        most of the 55m is moose and Votto. Big deal.

  6. Redgoggles

    Extend Tyler Stephenson & Jon India, sign 1 long term FA OF or 1B. Dumpster dive for mid-season trades for the rest of the sortable roster spots.

  7. TJ

    Everyone keeps saying that Votto’s money will be off the books in 2024. If he doesn’t perform in 2023 that will be a certainty. Also, if the Reds don’t find a replacement then he could come back. What numbers in 2023 would warrant a 2024 extension? 270/330/485 ? I’m thinking if he hits .270 with 20 home runs and drives in 85 or so, that might do it. If he hits good enough AND they have a replacement in 2024 that would give the Red’s brain trust something to think about. Without knowing what the Reds are thinking, in my mind, I believe they want to give Votto a nice send off whatever year that may be

    • Optimist

      Without checking, I’d bet that 270/330/485, 20/85 is comfortably above average for NL 1b, and close to average for DH, so, yes, he easily gets a 1 year renewal offer.

    • Doc

      I would have to see him get out of the gates hot and stay hot, at least around league average. He has been an anchor around their necks in the first 8-10 weeks of the season for 4-5 years now, then gets all his numbers after the Reds are hopelessly buried.

  8. SultanofSwaff

    On the Cardinal’s broadcast yesterday they said the attendance is over 3 million for like the 17th year in a row not counting covid. While I know they draw well, I was astonished at the duration. This is a team with no geographical or population advantage any different than Cincinnati or Milwaukee. What they seem to understand is that you have to invest in players to make real money. Think about their acquisitions and home grown players over the years and how they extend those core pieces.

    Sure the Reds are profitable as currently constructed, but to have any hope of restoring any kind of legitimacy as a franchise they need to put butts in the seats….and the only way to do that is not thru marketing gimmicks but winning games year in year out. The enormity of the task is massive, and for decades now the Castellini’s have punted at every moment where a continued investment would at the very least ensure the team wouldn’t bottom out. There’s simply too much evidence they can be trusted to make the right decisions. Sell the team, Bob.

    • BK

      The Cardinals have exceeded 3M in attendance every year but three since 1998. In 2003, they had 2.9M. The other two years were COVID related (2020 and 2021). This attendance advantage gives them a revenue advantage which translates to additional roster/payroll flexibility.

      I don’t agree that the Castellini’s have punted at every turn. I see the problem that they have knee-jerked far too often rather than ever following a coherent strategy. Fan favorites were retained in spite of poor performance, failure to add to good teams, and an unwillingness to consistently build through the farm. Nonetheless, for whatever reason, they’ve failed. I don’t know that the team needs to be sold, but it needs a new leader at the top and it’s not the current CEO’s son.

    • TR

      St. Louis, Cincinnati Milwaukee and also Pittsburgh are about the same population (300,000 or so) in each cities’ municipal area. But, St. Louis has the population advantage, over the other three cities, in that it’s metro area has at least 500,000 more in population.

      • Jim Walker

        I’ll bet without looking that St Louis does not have the 60 and 90 minute market that the Reds have. 60 minutes for Cincy covers to north of Dayton along i75. The Dayton metro area (separate from Cincy’s) has a population of >800K. The 60 minute market also covers to the Columbus outer belt along i71.

        The 90 minute market covers most of the Columbus metro, population >2m plus Lexington to the south and portions of the Indy metro.

        IMO, the most significant mistake the Castellini regime has made off the field of play is limiting their vision of the their primary market to the Cincy metro area.

        I live 10-15 miles northeast of downtown Dayton a mile from the freeway. It is right at an hour for me to get to GABP. I have 2 Kroger Marketplace stores, 2 Skylines, a Graeters and Mike’s Car Wash within a 10 minute drive from home. AltaFiber is trying to build a market in my area. How many people within the Cincy metro can say all this? Shouldn’t I be a prime customer target of the Reds?

        The Columbus Blue Jackets have figured out I am a hockey fan (same length drive as to Cincy) and regularly reach out to me via email and even a phone call from time to time about season ticket packages. I have yet to receive any sort of solicitation from the Reds.

      • LDS

        I grew up in a small town near Louisville, back when Indianapolis was the AAA team. That was definitely Reds country. We had TVs set up in the schools in 1970, 1972, as well as 75,76, though I was gone by then. Castellini was and is still shortsighted about the club’s market.

  9. Optimist

    I’m in Seattle, and watching their two young pitchers should be a preview of how the Reds do it – Gilbert will get to 175 ip this year, and Kirby will be at 125-135. So, if 200 is an outside maximum, 175 is very realistic for the Reds 3.

    Jim’s comment about burning service time is, of course, evergreen for the Reds, but the replies are more apt – it goes back to IIRC Krall’s comment about smoothing out the hills and valleys. This was the year all 3 young pitchers get much more than a taste of MLB. Next year is when the sorting begins to determine which, if any, get long term offers.

    They’ll likely face the same choice they had between Homer and Cueto, as to how long and how much. The fears, of course, are 1 – they don’t make good enough offers for any of them; 2 – injuries show they made the wrong offer; 3 – whichever of the 3 they do extend doesn’t earn out the contract.

    It’s a good problem to have, and for a committed “small-market” team (which they seem intent of sticking with) they need to keep MiLB full of arms – which to their credit they are doing.

    Still – fundamentally an ownership discipline problem when all is considered.

    • Jim Walker

      As I count the service time, the Reds have burned a year on both Greene and Lodolo which could have been saved yet still have gotten them plenty of MLB exposure as with Ashcraft who will come up short of a year of service time since he wasn’t brought up until well into May.

      Because the Reds did not have organizational depth to cover the injury delayed season starts of Castillo and Minor, they ended up needlessly burning the full year’s worth of service time on their 2 crown jewels, Greene and Lodolo.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        Jim, Lodolo was added a few days after the opening day game, and Ashcraft was added maybe a month or two into the season. Do those count as full seasons of service? Greene for sure does.

      • Jim Walker

        Tom> per Fangraphs game logs, Lodolo pitched for the Reds on April 13, 18, and 24 and then was moved t the MLB DL (per the Reds public website transaction log) on April 28 retroactive to April 25. His next game appearance was July 5.

        April 13 by my count is too early to avoid 172 days of active time; and, as nearly as I can determine, Lodolo has spent the entire time from April 13 onward either on the MLB active roster or MLB IL both of which count as service time.

        So, unless I counted something wrong or missed an option transaction, he will make the 172 days and be granted a full year of service time

      • Optimist

        As a general rule, and IIRC as Doug has indicated, the “burned a year” of service time should be way down the list of concerns. If a player is good enough, and particularly a starting pitcher, they should be on the roster. Even for rebuilding teams, there are too many contingencies involved to even try to manage service time. They need to find out now if these guys are the talent they want and need.

        I’m surprised it wasn’t eliminated in the recent CBA, but for practical purposes about the only time it should be considered is for a final roster spot between a borderline FA or a MiLB callup – an example might be the final spot in the bullpen or choice of backup catcher.

        Aside from the goodwill labor/management issues, losing a year of control in that case likely doesn’t matter (i.e. is that backup catcher going to be that valuable years down the road when eligible for free agency?)

        In the instance of Greene/Lodolo/Ashcraft, I’d much prefer they get a 4-6 more starts in at the beginning of this year, and get that out of their system, on the odd chance that their last 25-35 innings next year may matter.

        Finally, if any of them turn into top of the line aces, what is the likelihood the Reds could wait that long to try to retain them? They’d be far too expensive. Better to get thru 300-400 ips, and decide if they’d go for a few years buyout into their arb seasons. The Reds aren’t going to go into long term, open market pricing in any case – they proved that with Castillo.

    • Stock

      Jim, I agree with you 100%. Greene and Lodolo were with the Reds from the beginning because Bob wanted to make the fans feel that he had a plan and traded away Gray because he had someone who was ready to pitch in the majors. Greene needed another 2-3 months in Louisville and Lodolo could have used a month or two also.

      • Jim Walker

        Thank you. I agree this would not have been a Kris Bryant situation where they were just held back for the “extra year”.

        Based on Greene’s 2021 AAA performance and subsequent struggles at MLB, he could have certainly benefitted from a couple of months at AAA to work on his change up and location of his heater.

        At the end of 2021, Lodolo had made only three AAA appearances and could have also benefitted from the increased AAA time.

        Starting them at MLB in 2022 was more about washing away the bad taste of the salary dumps than what they were ready to do at MLB.

      • Optimist

        Jim – your concluding paragraph is a reasonable view for why they were moved up to MLB. OTOH many have noted that there was nothing more then to show at AAA and that they were ready for MLB. Their performance this year shows that.

        The open question. Of course is what if the Reds kept Mahle and Castillo – how would next year look. That’s the obviously bad ownership, but doesn’t negate the performance of the 3 in MLB this year.

      • Stock

        if a player with Greene’s talent has an ERA of 5 then he is proving that he was not ready for MLB. So again Jim is right. Greene was not ready at the start of the year. Lodolo showed he was not ready also which is verified by how he began the year.

      • Doug Gray

        Lodolo had THREE starts in April before he went to the injured list.

      • Doc

        A group of us, including me, held from the get go that Greene needed more time at AAA. Another huge group held that he had nothing more to learn in AAA. Neither group carries much weight! I don’t keep track of who says what and when but, Jim, which group were you in at season’s start?

      • Stock

        I agree Lodolo had 3 starts and a 5.52 ERA prior to hitting the DL. He was not ready. You are proving Jim’s point. Neither Greene nor Lodolo were ready. But they were here anyway and now we have lost one year of control because of that poor decision.

  10. Tom Mitsoff

    Completely off the topic of starting pitching: I really think the front office should try to re-sign Buck Farmer. He has been ultra-reliable and effective since returning from the minors. He has certainly earned at least a look by some team for 2023, so why not the Reds?

    He’s not part of the long-term future, but this team must avoid another start and overall season like this one in 2023. I believe he was on a minor-league contract this year, so offer him $1 or $2 million per year for the next couple of years and see what he says.

    • DaveCT

      If he wants to stay, sure. But Buck has been through both Detroit’s mediocrity and now ours. He may want a change not so much of scenery but with a more competitive organization.

    • Amarillo

      @MBS the steady pipeline only works if you already have a core in place. If you start with very little, like we currently have, and then only produce 2-3 players per year, you end up with a lot of 75 win teams. We need everyone to hit on a similar time frame to build a core first.

      • Amarillo

        I responded to the wrong post, whoops.

      • MBS

        I agree slow and steady will produce 75 win teams in the beginning. Let’s go with your number of 3. I put Ashcraft in 23’s mix, since we didn’t lose a year of control.

        2021 India / Stephenson / Santillan (3)
        2022 Greene / Lodolo / DIaz (3)
        2023 Ashcraft / EDLC / McGarry (3)
        2024 CES / Marte / Abbott (3)
        2025 Phillips / Arroyo / Collier (3)
        2026 Balcazar / Jorge / Cabrera (3)

        I just put some names in to illustrate that slow and steady does add up. 6 years = 18 guys to me that’s about perfect, as the remaining players are FA that you pick up to fill in the holes.

        I honestly think 3 is a bit short of an expectation per season. For example we could add to the 21, and 22 totals with SanMartin, Gutierrez, Lopez, Moreta, Steer. Sure they might be role players, but you need role players.

  11. 2024WSChamps

    The Reds cut a TON of 2023 payroll with their various trades. Castillo (12), Mahle (8), Suarez (11), Winker (8), Gray (13). This doesn’t even mention the 2022 payroll they saved, nor does it factor in the payroll saved from FAs leaving: Solano (4), Pham (7.5), Minor (10). I also think that the Reds will work something out with Moose to lower that pain, or at least spread it out. That is a lot of potential cash that the Reds can spend (over 70,000,000) just to be at 2022’s payroll, which was substantially lower than previous seasons 2019-2021. I understand that Reds fans are jaded, but there really is a lot of potential to improve the roster.

    The team has potential already. Of guys they have team control of currently:

    SR: Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, Overton, Cessa, Williamson/Stoudt/Abbott

    Pen: Dunn, Sims, Antone, Diaz, Santillan, Hoffman

    1B: Votto/Steer
    C: TySteve
    2B: India
    SS: Barrero
    3B: Farmer/Steer
    LF: Fraley/Friedl
    CF: Senzel
    RF: Fairchild/Aquino
    DH: Votto/TySteve

    70M spent on a Corner OF, extra bullpen arms, backup catcher, and a mid-rotation SP, along with a call-up or two (EDLC, Abbott/Stout/Williamson, CES, McLain) could really transform this team and give them something to build on in 2024.

  12. Magnum 44

    I personally think they should sign all of Lodolo Greene Ashcraft India and Stephenson to 7 to 10 year contracts with the average of about 10 mill per year at least it shows a direction to the fan base, but I don’t think this franchise has the ability to Identify core pieces early and sign them to team friendly contracts ala the Atlanta Braves

    • Greenfield Red

      Question: Have the Reds signed any player(s) to an existing player, to buy out arbitration years and then add 1 or 2 years that would have been free agency that have actually worked out for the team? The two that come to mind were disasters (Mesaroco and Suarez).

      • Greenfield Red

        Before anyone says Votto, I’ll mention the Reds have won a total of 2 playoff games in his career, and his contract has kept the Reds from doing other things… as we as being an anchor the last 3 or so years of it.

      • Doug Gray

        Joey Votto’s contract didn’t prevent the Reds from doing other things.

      • David

        I actually don’t think that Eugenio Suarez was a disaster. He did not live up to expectations in some ways (especially last year), but he is having a good power/RBI year for the Mariners (although only batting .236, or something like that), still under the same contract.

        And Devin Mesoraco was just really bad luck for Devin and the Reds, both. And really, especially Devin.

      • Bill

        The only contract extension that was really a disaster was Bailey. Suarez had a bad year, but is back to over 4 WAR this year. Mesoraco’s contract didn’t turn out well but didn’t really cost that much overall – 5 million in 16, 7 million in 17, and the 6 million (of 13) paid to the Mets in 2018. The Shogo and Moose free agent signings were fare more detrimental, and throw in Minor for $10 million this year. The Reds should be able to absorb a Mesoraco type deal every once in a while

  13. Fanman

    Old School, I like your plan. Time for Castellini’s to give Reds fans a legitimate contender. Tremendous building blocks with Big 3 rookies in rotation. Add a veteran starter, not from scrap heap, sign to a reasonable contract. 10 million ok if he is actually legit. Overton/Cessa, Dunn? Develop arms as depth. Eventually step in. Bullpen of Diaz, Sims, Santillan, Cruz, Antone. Then add a couple of arms. Especially legit left hander. Veteran catcher that can hit and play D. Allow Stephenson to stay fresh, keep bat in lineup. 1b/Dh. Sign India and Stephenson to multi year deals.

  14. Fanman

    ….1b Votto/Stephenson/Steer. 2b India, SS Barrero or McClain/DeLaCruz. 3B Farmer/Steer/Senzel. Lf sign or trade acquisition power bat. Cf Senzel/Siani/ McClain/DeLaCruz. Rf Aquino/Fraley platoon/. De La Cruz. .DH Encarnacion-Strand/Stephenson/Votto. Bench.. Friedl, Lopez, Fairchild, Senzel? Moose? Lopez. Open competition at several spots. 1b, SS, 3b, Cf, Rf, bench. If young player outplays current player then so be it. If Moose comes in healthy and doesn’t produce time to cut ties and eat final year of contract. Maybe Senzel finally breaks out if not, trade and move on. Reds can be competitive in 2023 if everything falls into place. With so many unanswered questions 2024 most likely to be their year. That is with financial help of front office and aggressive manager that steals bases, hit and run, bunt and hit behind runners. If that is Bell? if not, Larkin.. other.

  15. Amarillo

    As much as the Bullpen has been tragic, Bullpen is still the least valuable part of the team to spend big money on. We should have Sims/Antone/Santillan back which shoukd help. Preferably whoever we add works put this year, but Free Agent relievers are so fickle. Other positions of need include 2 starters, 2 Outfielders, Backup Catcher. Outfielders we could give bigger deals too, because the Minor League outfielders in the near future are only Siani and whoever loses out at playing Shortstop. Starting Pitchers we add should only be on 1 year deals, because we have Williamson/Stoudt/Phillips/Abbott/Roa/Boyle in AA or higher, although that group would need to make an Ashcraft level jump to be ready year. I’d bet Williamson gets a midseason callup, but the rest will likely need a full year in the minors. Hence, any free agent SP is not likely to take starts away from young players. Elly, McLain, CES, and Siani I expect will all be midseason call-ups. Elly’s bat was incredible this year, but he still strikes out too much to be an opening day call up. (I hope he is playing in the Dominican Winter League). McLain is missing the batting average, even if the rest of his game is in good shape. Siani has improved immensely, but is not ready for Major League pitching. CES feels the most ready, but since he only has 48 games in AA I’d expect his to start in AAA. That all said, those 4 should all be up at some point. I would focus on contracts similar to Drury/Solano/Pham (1-2 year contracts given with the specific purpose of trading at the deadline and working well with young players)

  16. TJ

    Hey Doug, not sure if you have inside info, but asking you for your opinion. Are the Reds drafting the wrong players or are they not good at developing these players? In my opinion it has to be drafting good players. I don’t see many misses by the Reds go on to other teams and become superstars. The Reds always seemed to have an excess of outfielders: Davis, Sanders, Dunn, Kearns, Stubbs, Bruce. Seems like it’s been forever since we’ve developed an all star outfielder. Should I even mention shortstops? Since Larkin the Reds have been pretty empty there also. Just wanting to hear your thoughts.

    • Amarillo

      It’s definitely player development. The Reds are significantly above league average when it comes to their first round draft picks making and contributing the majors. They are below average when it comes to developing players in other draft rounds. The MLB draft is a dart board, players come out of nowhere to become good players all of the time. That isn’t a failure in drafting. The player just got better with time.

  17. old-school

    Sonny Gray re-injured his hamstring again and was pulled from his latest start.
    Tyler Mahle had recurrent shoulder tightness and was placed on the IL early September. He mad a grand total of 4 starts for the Twins and 2 of those he was pulled after 2 innings due to should fatigue.
    The Twins are in free fall and are out of any post-season conversation.
    Mahle and Gray are likely done for the season. Ironically both have pitched 120 innings with fWAR around 2.1-2.4 but neither will play a role in a playoff run for the Twins. Gray will make $12 mil next year and Mahle will likely push the $10 mil level.

    Both were great pitchers and competitors for the Reds but durability concerns continue to plague Gray as he pushes into his mid 30’s with a team option for $12 mil and the Reds did the right thing with Mahle, extracting peak value at the trade deadline and not waiting till the off-season.

    Would you rather have Chase Petty, Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion Stroud and a young lefty or a fading Sonny Gray at $12 million and 1 more year of Tyler Mahle. How much trade value would Mahle have had this off-season for the Reds after being shut down 3 separate times in the second half of 2022 and finishing the year on the IL had the Reds kept him?

    Great job Krall.

    • Jim Walker

      What I would have preferred was to have Suarez and Winker to go with Castillo and Mahle plus a couple of good relievers (financed by money not spent on Pham) and still have had the option to trade guys at the deadline or hold them into the offseason based on where the team stood in the playoff picture.

      • Bill

        Agree on the Winker/Suarez trade. They could have traded Winker by himself and gotten the same return. Suarez’s value was low at the time and any money they saved the Reds immediately spent on Pham, Salano, Drury, Minor, and others. Suarez would have returned far more value at the deadline than Drury and Pham combined. The record wouldn’t have been any worse and cost less

    • Pete

      I agree completely, great post! I’m very excited for the future of this organization but they have to make sure we have the pieces in place to provide the development tools the system needs. We have some very, very good athletes down on the farm. To me Krall has done an excellent job. Hopefully Bob and Phil can leave well enough alone, time will tell.

    • Kevin H

      Sonny Gray and Tyler Mahle. I say this as injuries can happen to the players you mentioned that the reds got in return.

      I am excited about the prospects yes, however Reds had a solid rotation traded away in blink of a eye.

      • Pete

        The way I see it is Castile an is certainly an ace pitcher in his prime. No question. However, he wasn’t going to remain a Red any longer than through next year. I think the deal Krall made was probably as good as the Reds could ever hoped for. We won’t know until passes.

        Mahle always struggled at GABP, it wasn’t a good match. Sonny Grey is showing his age and the return they received could be one for the record books. IMO, Krall has made excellent deals my concern is do the Reds have the capability to adequately develop the talent. If necessary I recommend spending a king’s ransom to ensure it.

  18. Stock

    I would love for the Reds to sign Greene, Lodolo, India and Stephenson to 5 year contracts with two option years. It would be nice to have them front end loaded so there is money to spend on players when they are ready to contend.

    I am not yet convinced on Ashcraft yet. In today’s environment he would be a good #3 SP. But with the shift being banned next year a low K, high GB pitcher may not work. Many more of those GB will find holes.

    I like Cessa and Overton for the #4 and #5 spots on opening day. If Cessa shines next year trade him in July to beef up the farm. I don’t think Overton will be a long term option as a SP and may absolutely stink next year. But the Reds have nothing to lose by finding out first hand.

    • 2024WSChamps

      You make a valid point, but I think elite BB% + elite GB% will always play, especially at GABP. Still, will be fascinating to see how much BABIP increases leaguewide next year

    • west larry

      Like Skyline Chili. Big Bob needs a five way here. Stevenson, India, Greene, Ashcraft and Lodolo all need to be extended five years.

    • Kevin H

      Ashcraft will be just fine. A ground ball pitcher as he is will have success.

  19. Redgoggles

    I’m disturbed by the consistent lack of winning in our minor league system at most levels. Sure, we are accumulating several high end prospect/pieces, but I think the minor league records have to speak to the lack of overall quality/depth. For as long as we’ve been “rebuilding”, it sure seems like we would be in better position to use our farm system to supplement the Reds. Otherwise, being forced to sign – and likely overpay in money or length – FA’s during our competitive window is risky business.

    • Stock

      I think from a prospect perspective our depth is very strong. However, our filler seems to the quality of other teams.

    • BK

      First, the number of injuries at the MLB level decimated Louisville’s team. This potentially had a trickle-down effect on lower levels, too.

      Second, excess MLB prospects who would have been knocking on the door at AAA this year were previously traded for Bauer, Puig/Wood/Farmer, and Gray. So, we entered the season without much in terms of upper-level position players this year.

      Third, Stock’s point is spot-on. This is the deepest I’ve seen the farm system in the last 15 or so years. There are multiple legit prospects at every level from AA down to the Complex levels. But just like at the MLB level, it takes more than 6-8 good players to win pro baseball games. Perhaps an indication of the quality of our organization depth players or possibly impacted by my first point.

    • John J

      I think that’s the overall goal! Prepare this monstrous farm that will help for at least the next 4 years. Next year is looking better, I wouldn’t say playoff bound, but its 4-2 rank wise in the NL Central at least. You get a lotta guys back healthy next year, Votto (could have a bounce back year after a major injury), you hope sims and Antone can be dominate, and not to mention Stephenson is back.

      2 middle of the order bats, and 2 high end relievers.

      I think your point is DON’T sign any free agents for more than 2 years.

      I think it would be smart to sign 1 year contracts that aren’t terrible cheap and would provide us with trade value and a chance to compete.

      India, TSteve, greene, lodolo, ashcraft all are potential extensions, and it would provide stability for the future.

      Its hard to predict or even ponder who to extend because they have been injury prone, and the shift is changing next year and so on… I think you wait a year to sign any of the pitchers, but I like lodolo, ashcraft, then greene. I think tyler and johnny are bound for less injury and productive seasons.