The Cincinnati Reds have less than $75M of payroll on the books for the 2023 season. With a few non-tenders likely, it’s possible that number drops below $70M before the winter meetings get underway in early December. While no one should expect the Reds to go out and sign Carlos Correa, and I’m sure many people will roll their eyes at the idea that the team is going to spend ANY money this offseason, they will spend some money. How much is one of the big questions. Where they’ll spend it is another as there are plenty of places to try and fill holes on the team.

One interesting free agent that is going to be on the market this offseason is Japanese pitcher Kodai Senga. He’s pitched in parts of 11 seasons in the NPB and posted a 2.59 ERA during his career. The right-handed starter will be 30-years-old next year, so it’s unlikely that he will sign a long-term deal, though he likely will get at least a few years in a contract he signs.

Given his track record, he probably isn’t going to be a cheap sign. But with his age and opinions that he is probably going to be more of a solid, not elite starter, he could be a good option for a team like Cincinnati to help fill out their young rotation with more of a veteran presence.

A 4-pitch starter, Senga’s fastball and splitter are both above-average offerings but his cutter and slider are a bit more fringy. Fangraphs report suggests that perhaps that could leave some teams to try him as a relief option. Still, with four pitches, control, and a track record of plenty of success in Japan, there are going to be teams willing to let him start first and see how things go.

In the 2022 season he was making $5,300,000. He opted out of his contract following the season, so he presumably believes he will get more than that per season. But he’s also stated in the past that he wants to test himself in Major League Baseball, so perhaps it’s not just about making more money.

There will be no posting fee or percentage of the overall contract due from the signing team as Senga has actually reached free agency in Japan, so whatever he signs for is the only money due for bringing him in.

After the team thought it was a good idea to bring in Mike Minor for $10M despite his track record of an ERA over 5.00 in the previous two years, the team could certainly spend the money on a “gamble” of sorts, if you want to call it that, here. With that said, the team has a lot of holes and roles to fill on the roster if they have any plans of being remotely competitive in 2023, too.

It’s a long offseason, and we don’t really know how much money the team is going to spend, but we’re going to look at some of the mid-and-lower tier free agents over the next two months to discuss if and how they will fit within the organization.

43 Responses

  1. scotly50

    I, for one, do not trust our staff to fairly evaluate personnel outside of the MLB.

    • Nelson coble

      Please sell the team and get an ownership group that will field a winning team. That includes ownership all of the way down to the product on the field.

  2. LDS

    I’m not sure I trust the Reds to evaluate personnel within MLB, let alone overseas. After the Akiyama debacle, I doubt the Reds bite. Akiyama should have been better. In the Reds system, that didn’t happen. Senga has a solid career but I’m willing to bet it wouldn’t stop DJ and the organization from changing his approach. Dumpster diving again seems more likely.

    • Groot

      Between Covid, trees attacking his wife, and his age, I am not sure that the Akiyama experience should be that big a negative. His contract was perfectly fine and if the Pauper Produce Poverty King hadn’t conditioned you so well, you would realize it was a perfectly fine low cost roll of the dice for a “starting veteran” player. Some players fall off a cliff as they enter their mid 30s. Akiyama certainly did that.

  3. MBS

    Not knowing their budget it’s hard to say, but I’d spend money on the pen, then the OF, a back up catcher, and then maybe a starter.

  4. Jim t

    With 2 spots in rotation up for grabs signing him to a 1 year deal for a bit more then he made last year is reasonable. Of course he’ll need to agree.

    • Rob

      The Reds traded a whole lot to get Dunn and Williamson. Surely 1 or both are in the Reds starting plans for 2023/2024. Right?

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        Dunn hasn’t looked the same since his injury in 2021 and he still had some lingering issues he said he felt in 2022 with his shoulder. Williamson struggled to throw strikes in 2022 in the minors. Both should be treated as “I hope they turn it around” guys instead of anything like “they’ve got to be in the rotation”.

        I don’t know if this Kodai Senga guy is the answer but I would have more faith in him than either of those two guys. It will also cost a lot more to find out if he is.

      • Votto4life

        I am afraid that trade may end up being a total bust for the Reds. I mean, unless you consider a part time outfielder a thing of value.

        I think the Reds made that deal, purely for salary relief. Which is why it seemed to have come together so quickly.

        Also, Seattle needs a second baseman who can provide them with some offense. I wouldn’t be surprised, if they come calling for Jonathan India this winter

      • Optimist

        I’ve long thought Dunn is a fine 4-5 role rotation starter, and has almost proven as much, but for the injury history unreliability. Williamson took a small step back last year, and with any progress he should be on the 26 man roster after mid-season. 2023 would be a success for those two if they can combine for a productive 150 ip in MLB. With no injury time, it could get over 200.

        Very doubtful Senga is in their plans beyond a courtesy call, and suspect his interest in the Reds is even less.

        Good for Doug to kick off the stove simmering with this one, but there are many more likelier options to come, both in FA, and within the org.

    • Votto4life

      I think it is going to be more costly than 5 or 6 million dollars. to sign him. I also don’t think he is going to sign a one year deal and we all know what the Reds think of multiple year contracts.

      I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up with several suitors. Maybe more. I just don’t see him signing with the Reds.

      • Jim Walker

        Don’t know what sort of AAV Senga will be looking for but agree he is not signing a 1 year deal to come to MLB.

  5. Votto4life

    I’ve read in a couple of places that the Cubs are really interested in Senga. Not that it really means anything. I do think Shogo probably has left a sour taste in some mouths. I wouldn’t be opposed to giving it a shot, but I just don’t see this team be willing to spend even that kind of money yet. It seems like $5 Million a year has been the cut off for the past couple of seasons. Also the Reds are going to be pretty bad in 2023. They can lose without Senga. (Not my thinking, but perhaps Nick Krall’s)

  6. Harry Stoner

    I’d enjoy seeing what kind of a pitcher he is, but wouldn’t recommend taking the financial risk.

    That kind of money spent on the bullpen could translate directly into 6-10 wins.

    It’s not going to get the Reds into the playoffs on its own but would make for a fair number of less miserable nights in 2023.

  7. Votto4life

    Cincinnati is one of the last places a free agent pitcher will want to sign. The Reds may attract a position player who is trying to re-see their career, but I don’t know why a pitcher with any other option, would want to pitch for a last place team at GABP. At least, without the Reds seriously over paying.

  8. Votto4life

    Dusty Baker is about to get a ring. Good for him.

    • David

      Yes, Houston wins the World Series.

      Yordan Alvarez hit a monster 3-run homer. That guy is a hoss!

      One of the weirdest World Series ever, from the point of view of a lack of real interest in it outside of Houston and Phillie fandom. A lot of people (well, the big media people) expected Atlanta/Mets/Dodgers/Yankees, etc to be in it.

      To me, Houston was not a surprise to be in the WS, but Philadelphia was.

  9. Eric the Red

    I’m sorry he didn’t get his ring in 2012. I’m sorry the cheating Astros have changed the narrative from “underachieving cheaters” to “best team of their era.” But Dusty is a pretty good guy and I’m pleased he finally won a World Series as a Manager.

    Did anyone catch that graphic about the ridiculous, historically dominant performance by the 1990 Reds bullpen?

    • Joey Red

      I watched a video the other night of the 1975 WS. Tony Perez hit a HR with Johnny Bench on 2nd. Joe Garagiola who was a former catcher was the color commentator. He said Bench probably stole the sign from the Boston catcher and relayed it to Perez by signal. Stealing signs has been going on long before Houston.

      • Votto4life

        Yeah, stealing signs have been around forever. I don’t excuse what the Astros did in 2017. I am glad they were caught and punished.

        However, I do get tired of Dodgers and Yankees fans whining about it. Both teams, have an unfair advantage, year in and year out, with their $200,000.000 payrolls.

      • Oldtimer

        Stealing signs from 2B is a lot different than stealing signs from the scoreboard or TV.

      • Joey Red

        Stealing signs is stealing signs. If someone stole my car it wouldn’t matter how it was stolen.

      • David

        Yeah, Joe Garagiola was probably the smartest guy on NBC baseball at the time (rolls eyes).
        Tony Perez, who hit 379 career home runs and is in the baseball Hall of Fame, needed Johnny to steal a sign so he could hit a home run. Joe Garagiola loved to hear himself talk, too.

        I do remember Tony hit one off of Bill Lee’s rainbow curves. Tony ALWAYS ate up left handed pitching.

        Stealing signs? Guys were always trying to steal signs. Catchers would always change the sequence of signs when a man was on 2nd Base. Didn’t Joe Garagiola know that? Did he think Carlton Fisk was stupid?

    • TR

      It’s nice to see Dusty Baker win a WS at the age of 73 after 20 years as a player and 25 years as a manager.

  10. Rednat

    look, don’t waist any money on 1 year rentals that we will try to “flip” for prospects at the tradeline that won’t amount to anything anyway. i am already running out of patience for this strategy..

    spend all and any available money on making gabp a more competitive field. and i am not talking about adding more hotdog stands.

    get rid of the outfield bleachers. nobody sits in them anyway. move the fences back 30 feet. ( i think Griffey is retired so no need for a short rt field fence to chase Hank Aaron). make the walls 50 feet high for all I care. make it impossible to hit a home run in gabp but easy to hit a double or triple. Also get rid of the thick grass. maybe not astro turf but how about the artificial grass they use in football.? I want to see our reds beating out high choppers and hitting triples into big gapss as balls bounce to the wall. We can’t afford home run hitters any more anyway so try to take the homerun out of the equation when playing at home. also this may attract more pitching aces from around the league.

    • MBS

      That’s interesting, I wouldn’t mind making the OF a bit deeper, but I’d keep the grass. There are enough injuries in baseball with grass, an artificial turf would probably increase them. I’d like a team built of speedy contact hitters, and good defenders.

  11. CI3J

    Congratulations to Dusty Baker and finally getting his ring. Love him or hate him, the dude is a winner, players apparently love him, and for a few heady years, he helped make the Cincinnati Reds relevant on the national stage.

    Who knew things would so quickly fall apart afterwards. Turns out, Dusty’s tenure was an outlier in these otherwise two dark decades of Reds baseball.

    • Joey Red

      Totally agree. Firing Dusty was a huge blunder. The guy has always been a winner. I couldn’t be happier for him plus the Reds have been exposed again for their mistakes. They will never make the playoffs with the current ownership and front office.

  12. TR

    Nothing wrong with taking a look at Kodai Senga but I think they’ll be many more clubs taking a look with a lot more money to throw around. I’d prefer seeing Reds money spent on a good bullpen, and/or an all-around rightfielder to anchor the outfield until EDLC/Marte and company are ready to take over in a couple years.

  13. Hotto4Votto

    I think they do need to bring in the proverbial veteran innings eater. They just have too many young guys or guys with big question marks currently in the mix for the rotation that some reliability and experience would be very beneficial.

    I’d hope they target someone more effective than Minor. I’m not sure that guy should be someone signed for more than a season. Not sure that guy should be someone who’s not established at all in MLB. Another Tanner Roark would be great.

    • Votto4life

      I think they will bring in an innings eater, but I don’t think it will be Senga. There will be a lot of clubs interested in signing him. He will get more money and years than the Reds will offer.

      The Reds will find a cheaper version of Mike Minor. Someone who will put up better numbers than Minor, but won’t cost as much. it will be hard, even for the Reds, to make another blunder like acquiring Mike Minor.

      • CI3J

        The Mike Minor deal STILL baffles me.

        It was like “Ok, the Reds will take flyer on Minor.” But “taking a flyer” on a player should NEVER cost $9 million. That kind of money should buy a proven, decent player, worth about 2 WAR.

        I have no idea what they were doing when they signed him for that money. Do they really think some other team was going to beat them to the punch? Somehow, I can’t imagine Mike Minor had a whole lot of suitors, and certainly not suitors willing to shell out $9 million for him.

  14. RedFuture

    I’m also happy for Dusty. As far as filling out the rotation next year, I didn’t see any mention of Overton and Cessa. I really enjoyed seeing Overton pitch, he really seemed to have exceptional command. If his back issues are behind him, I would really like to see him get an extended look at a spot. Cessa looked pretty good as well in all but one of his several starts who has to have an edge over Dunn who gave up 11 HRs in his 31 innings. Hopefully at least 1 of 3 hopefulls; Williamson, Abbot or Stoudt take a step forward into the rotation.

    • Harry Stoner


      At the moment both Overton and Cessa look more promising in the rotation than Dunn or Gutierrez.

      Dunn came in on the Geno salary dump so they will make every effort to try to get something out of that but it doesn’t look promising.

      I’m guessing but I wonder if Dunn’s shoulder problems are really behind him or he’s trying to avoid the inevitable surgery the way that Votto revealed that he had been stoic about.

      Of course they need SanMartin’s arm in the bullpen, however lightly and strangely Bell used him.

      But I’d like to see him get another try at starting before shelling out for another so-called “innings nibbler”.

      Whatever that overused term is supposed to mean.

      As long as it doesn’t mean: Minor, Zeuch, Anderson, etc.

    • Votto4life

      Good point. I too would pencil in Cessa as the #4 starter, if not #3 right now. But depth is important, so acquiring another starter or two should be the plan.

      I think the Reds will be more active on the waiver wire, Rule 5 draft and/or trades, rather than signing free agents.

      If they do sign a free agent it will be at the end of Spring Training when the free agent game of musical chairs has ended and a player ends up without a place to sit.

    • MBS

      @RedFuture “If his back issues are behind him” Where else could back issues be? Sorry for the bad joke, couldn’t help myself.

      I agree with you on Cessa, as he should be the 4th, with Dunn and Overton competing for the 5th spot. If the team’s budget allows for multiple FA signings, then sure grab the proverbial innings eater. Otherwise I’d like to see the young pitchers sort themselves out.

  15. west larry

    how about looking to resign sonny grey?

  16. RedBB

    Much less risk than a Japanese hitter IMO

  17. CI3J

    I don’t think the Reds should sign any high-priced starting pitching, and instead should use 2023 to see what they have with their internal candidates.

    I think people on this board are sleeping on Vladimir Gutiérrez. He was injured last year, so you should really disregard those stats. In the previous year, he was a bang average starter, which would be perfectly fine for a #4 starter behind Greene, Lodolo, and Ashcraft. I’d like to see how he bounces back and see what he can do.

    After that, I think the final starting role should go to either Cessa or Dunn. Let’s see what they can do.

    I wouldn’t be opposed to the Reds bringing in a cheap, veteran innings eater, per se, but the focus should 100% be on figuring out what they already have in-house.

    Let the Season of Sorting commence.

    • Doug Gray

      A few things…. how much money is “a high priced pitcher” paid? $20M or more per year?

      Gutierrez had Tommy John surgery – he’s not coming back until 2024.

    • craig

      Agreed CI3J. Reds are rebuilding. Plenty of internal candidates as you mentioned. Unless Reds spend a lot of money (which they won’t) they are probably not going to be in contention for anything next year. Spend money on a few nice free agents once the young players start to get really good, that’s the time to spend.

  18. Mike

    “…he probably isn’t going to be a cheap sign…”

    The Castellinis have left the chat

  19. Votto4life

    Personally, I don’t think the Castellinis are going to sign more than marginal free agents ever again and even then it will be one year deals.

    But let’s say Uncle Bob was willing to get back into the free agent market, what impactful free agent would want to sign with this organization?

    No established pitcher is going to want to pitch at GABP if they have any other choices at all. Perhaps, they could sign a position play who wants to try and reestablish himself after a bad year or two.

    The Reds had to overpay to land Moustakas and offered Castellanos multiple opt out clauses to get him to sign.