There are probably a few reasons that Luis Cessa got an opportunity to be in the Cincinnati Reds rotation. Most of those reasons were that the team simply wasn’t willing to spend any additional money on payroll, leaving them very few options.  That led to Cessa, along with journeyman starters, and a few prospects that simply weren’t ready, vying for the two spots in the rotation that were up for grabs. In the end, Cessa got one of the spots, almost by default.

A reliever for much of his big league career, the transition to the rotation hasn’t gone well in 2023. Through six starts, Cessa has allowed 26 earned runs in 25.0 innings. That’s an ERA of 9.36. He’s given up 43 hits, walked 12, hit one, and struck out just 11. His WHIP is 2.20. His strikeout rate of 8.7% is 137th out of 137 pitchers with at least 20 innings pitched this season, and it’s a full 3% lower than the guy ahead of him.

This is not Luis Cessa’s fault. He is being asked to do something that he shouldn’t have been asked to do. He’s a reliever. And he’s been a good one. But there’s a difference between relieving and starting.

“It’s still early in the year, but we’ll take a look at that and see what’s best for our team,” David Bell told’s Mark Sheldon following the game last night about Luis Cessa’s spot in the rotation.

When looking at the 40-man roster there are four starting pitchers in the minor leagues right now. One of them, Lyon Richardson, isn’t an option. He’s coming off of Tommy John surgery and spent the first month pitching in Single-A Daytona – the lowest level playing right now – before joining Double-A Chattanooga this past week. The organization is bringing him back slowly and he hasn’t thrown 50 pitches in a game yet.

That leaves Kevin Herget, Levi Stoudt, and Brandon Williamson. Based on the stats alone – Brandon Williamson should be checked off of the list. The 25-year-old lefty has an ERA of 8.46 with 16 walks and 16 strikeouts in 22.1 innings for the Bats. You could probably say the same thing for Levi Stoudt. The 25-year-old righty has an ERA of 5.68 and also has 16 walks and 16 strikeouts in his 19.0 innings. You simply can’t walk that many batters and have success in the long run.

That leaves Kevin Herget. The 32-year-old has made two starts for Louisville. He’s also spent some time in Cincinnati pitching out of the bullpen. In his two starts with Louisville he’s allowed four runs in 6.2 innings with four walks and four strikeouts. With the Reds he threw 7.2 innings out of the bullpen with two walks and four strikeouts. He’s probably the best of the options on the 40-man roster, but doesn’t inspire tons of confidence, either.

Of course, the Reds don’t have to choose an option that is currently on the 40-man roster. The other two players in Louisville’s rotation are Ben Lively and Andrew Abbott. And both of them are having success in the minor leagues this season.

We’ll start with Lively. Like Kevin Herget, he’s an older player. He’s 31-years-old and he’s pitched for Louisville each of the last two seasons after spending several years pitching in Korea. This season he’s made four starts and one 5-inning relief appearance. He’s allowed just seven runs on the  season, good for an ERA of 2.33. He has given up just 19 hits and walked 10 batters. Lively has also struck out 16 batters. The righty throws six different pitches, so he’ll bring a lot of different looks, but he’s not going to be overpowering anyone. His fastball is averaging 91.3 MPH this season in Triple-A.

Then there’s Andrew Abbott. He’s been the talk of the farm system this year, and for good reason. The 24-year-old lefty has made three starts in Double-A Chattanooga and two more in Triple-A Louisville. His ERA currently sits at 1.40, but it should be half of that if not for a 200 foot fly ball that was lost in the lights and landed 5 feet behind the center fielder that led to two runs scoring on the play which would have been the third out of the inning. Abbott has struck out 51 batters and walked just eight of them during his 25.2 innings pitched this season. His dominant run stretches back to last season, when he ended the year in Chattanooga with 16.0 shutout innings over his final three starts with three walks and 21 strikeouts.

That run gives him eight starts with 41.2 innings of 0.86 ERA baseball between Double-A and Triple-A that has seen him allow 18 hits, walk 11 batters, and strike out 72 of the hitters he’s faced.In his two starts for Louisville he’s averaged 92.9 MPH with his fastball. Despite the mediocre velocity, the pitch seems to play well as he’s gotten a whiff rate of 14.8% on it.

Cincinnati seems to have some options to look at between Kevin Herget, Ben Lively, and Andrew Abbott. One could make the argument that Abbott may be better served to get a few more start at the Triple-A level and Cincinnati could let one of the two veteran guys come up and make a few starts in place of Luis Cessa and see what Abbott does to adjust to the level and what hitters do to adjust to him. But on a team that seems to be competitive three times out of five due to the lack of starting pitching in two of the five spots of the rotation, going with Abbott instead has actual upside with it. If he can carry over even some of the success he’s had in the minor leagues this year, all of a sudden the Reds could have an opportunity to take another step forward in the rebuild and maybe even be sort of competitive this season as they move forward.

102 Responses

  1. Ksdavis

    I would go with Lively for the time being. If he doesn’t work out you can DFA him and see if anybody picks him up. Save Abott until he gets a few more starts.

  2. J

    It’s probably a safe bet that Cessa needs to lose another 8-10 games before they’ll decide to try something as radical as a young pitcher who’s better. The Reds usually refuse to admit their decisions aren’t working until the damage is insurmountable.

  3. Rut

    At least they can’t trot out Chase Anderson…

    But as noted when they put Weaver in the rotation, just rearranging deck chairs on the Titanic at this stage. None of those options will likely pitch well, and none would likely even make the Reds a .500 team.

    But do look forward to seeing Abbott before year is out.

  4. Stock

    I bring up Lively and see what he can do. MK pointed out that he looks to be in better shape this year. Maybe what he is doing in AAA can carry over to the majors. I don’t bring up Abbott. No need to rush him. Let him learn in AAA. Abbott should stay in Louisville until at least June.

    Personally, I let McLain, CES, EDLC and Abbott play together in AAA until September. I then bring all four up and let them compete for rookie of the year in 2024. Waiting until September helps the Reds in several ways.

    1. The Reds will lose more games this year without these four. This gives them a better chance to get the first pick in next year’s draft.
    2. These four will be rookies in 2024 giving the Reds the opportunity to gain additional draft picks. Seattle has already received 1 additional draft pick for Rodriguez and may receive more in the coming years.
    3. Gives Senzel, Barrero, Steer, Fraley, Friedl and Ramos more playing time. The Reds need to figure out who can play every day in this group. It would be nice if two or three of them could join Stephenson and India as everyday players.

    • MBS

      No way am I letting those 4 stay down until September just to have #1, and #2 points happen. I don’t want to rush anyone, but I also don’t want to hold anyone back.

      I’m guessing Abbott, and CES will both be up by June, if not a bit sooner. McLain just doesn’t have a home if he’s called up, so unless they decide to cut bait on Barrero at SS, or move him, or India into the OF, the Reds will probably be forced to hold him back longer than necessary. EDLC is a whole other case, When he’s ready, he immediately displaces whoever is in his way.

      Point #3, Friedl, and Fraley have little to fear, especially since we don’t have OF’s ready to come up.

      Oh and Bring up Lively to replace Cessa in the rotation, and Hopkins to replace Fairchild, thanks.

    • SultanofSwaff

      One less year of control over the big 3, but who’s counting.

      • AllTheHype

        Ashcraft has one more year of control than Greene and Lodolo. Abbott would have two more.
        Greene after 2027
        Lodolo after 2027
        Ashcraft after 2028
        Abbott after 2029 at earliest

    • Amarillo

      The Rookie of the Year picks are only given to players who debut on the Opening Day roster, a September callup would disqualify them.

      • BK

        I don’t believe “debut” is included in the criteria. From MLB’s website:

        “If a player who was rated as a preseason Top 100 prospect by MLB Pipeline, Baseball America, and/or ESPN (at least two of the three) and was on his team’s Opening Day roster goes on to win the Rookie of the Year Award, the club is awarded a Prospect Promotion Incentive pick after the first round.”

        Thus, the player just needs not to exhaust their rookie eligibility in the prior season.

  5. docproc

    Why not skip the #5 in the rotation for a turn or two? We had an off day last Thursday, one today, and one on Monday. Cessa wouldn’t have had to pitch if we had played our cards right. Hope we do so next week.

    • Joe

      Agree with doc when you have off days skip your #5 keeps everybody else on a regular routine.Think we may see Lively because he pitched on same day Cessa pitched.Maybe he will be like last year’s Overton.

    • MBS

      My only guess is to keep the innings off of the young guys. I don’t think any of the 3 have have anything near a complete MLB season, and all 3 went down with injuries at some point in 22. If this was Castillo, Maile, and Gray, we’d probably have skipped the 5ths spot a couple of times already. Just my guess fwiw

    • Jim Walker

      I suspect the plan has been to use the adjacent off days to get extra rest for the top 3 guys like they did when Stoudt made the spot start a couple of weeks back. If one of them goes down or has to miss a turn, things will really be off the track

  6. Dennis Westrick

    Drove by a Babe Ruth Little League complex on my way home from work last night! Saw a couple of potential candidates to replace Cessa!

    Seriously, why the reluctance to at least try one of the minor league pitching prospects!

    The “Cessa Experiment” has failed epically!

    • Doug Gray

      To be fair, only one of the actual pitching prospects is doing anything remotely close to good right now.

  7. LDS

    The Reds really need to take the microphone out of Bell’s hands. There’s a reason companies don’t let everyone talk to the media. In baseball, the manager is expected to, but someone needs to coach him better.

    • Dennis Westrick

      Don’t do that! I play Bell’s post-game press conferences to counteract my insomnia!

    • Jim Walker

      After 6 years of making sure I always caught John Tortorella after CBJ games (even (and sometimes especially) when I had Cleted out of the actual game), I thought the issue with Bell was that my expectations were too much. 😉

  8. Votto4life

    Every, single person in this group knew the Reds needed to sign or acquire a starting pitcher this past winter.

    The is no excuse for the Front office ignoring this problem. Having only three starting pitchers, Wil Meyer was a luxury.

    This is not a David Bell problem, it’s a Nick Krall problem.

    • Votto4life

      Also, Brandon Williamson is looking more and more like a bust. That is also on Nick Krall.

    • redfanorbust

      I would counter that it is Nick Krall’s problem. I am sure if NK had been given $ he would have been happy to go out and buy a pitcher or two. It is a ownership problem.

    • Dennis Westrick

      Agreed! It is NOT Bell’s problem that the Reds FO has not given him the players he needs to win on a consistent basis!

      PLEASE NOTE – this may be the only time I defend Bell

      • Melvin

        Bad argument. He often doesn’t use the ones he has.

    • MBS

      @Votto, I’m not sure how many $6M starting pitchers were available on the market, much less effective $6M starters. I’d say it’s a Bob problem, because he’s clearly curtailed the available budget to the GM’s office.

      It will be interesting to see what Krall does with the available 24 budget, even if it’s only the same $87M that it is this year he’ll still have a lot to play with.

      Votto 7M buyout
      Myers 1.5M buyout
      Casali 0.750M buyout
      Griffey 3.5M Final year of payment

      Greene’s 3M salary plus the rest would put the committed money at 15.75M. To sign the Arbs, and maybe an extension or 2 plus the league minimum guys probably puts us in he mid 30’sM range, let’s just say 35M.

      That’s still a 52M gap that Krall could use to improve a team that will likely already have Greene, Lodolo, Ashcraft, Abbott, Diaz, Stephenson, India, Friedl, Fraley, Steer, Barrero, McLain, EDLC, and CES.

      • Votto4life

        We will see if the Reds spend money this off-season. I am a bit skeptical that they will.
        I can see them citing the loss of TV revenue to remain pat.

        The upcoming FA class doesn’t appear all that impressive to me.

        The Reds truly need two solid starting Pitchers, a couple more arms for the bullpen and a middle of a line up bat to drive in runs.

        Frankly, I don’t see them spending what it takes to get it done, no matter how much money they save with expiring contracts.

        The extension of Hunter Greene is a very good sign. I would be very happy if they would extend Lodolo and Ashcraft as well.

        I would be less inclined to extend Tyler Stephenson and Jonathon India. Perhaps, they could be traded for an above average pitcher or two.

      • MBS

        @Votto, “ I can see them citing the loss of TV revenue to remain pat.” I can to.

        I am hoping that 23 turns out to be a decent year, and they can see a way to win in 24 keeping the same payroll.

        We’ll have a better idea of the needs by the end of the year, than we can speculate today. My guess is the addition of CES, EDLC, and McLain to Stephenson, India, Fraley, and Friedl will put the offense in good shape. I also think Stephenson’s bat will have a bit more pop a year removed from his surgery. If we get some positives from a couple of Barrero, Steer, Ramos, Hopkins, Robinson, or other yet unknown contributor, we’ll be a potent offense.

        Abbott is a big wild card, if he can lock down the 4th spot and pitch like he’s a #2 or #3 our big 3 will truly become a big 4. That would leave 1 SP spot to fill via FA $$$.

        Diaz is about the only guy you’d pencil into the 24 pen and say no issues here, but Young, and SanMartin are good options from the left side of things. If we have 1 of Sims, Antone, or Santillan healthy, that’s at least 4 options in the pen. I’d love to add a closer to the pen via FA $$$, and fill the remaining 3 with some of the others in the system.

        I’d spend all of the $57M difference on those 2 pitchers, So I’m not talking about signing a mid rotation piece, but a Urias level guy and Hader to close. I know we might not get those 2, but the money will be there, I hope they go big this offseason.

      • greenmtred

        I’m skeptical, too, Votto. I’d guess that we all are. But the signing of Hunter Greene does suggest the possibility that the team is getting serious. Why else would they have signed him?

    • J

      To be fair, an awful lot of people in this group desperately wanted to see the Reds sign Cueto as #4. As of now, that seems like it wouldn’t have been so great. They should certainly have done *something*, but we all act as if spending money is always the answer. Minor wasn’t the answer, Cueto probably wasn’t the answer, Moose wasn’t, Pham wasn’t, Meyer probably isn’t, etc. Some of the best guys to play for this team in the last few years were cheap guys nobody expected to be any good.

      • Doug Gray

        The difference between signing Cueto and him getting injured and not trying at all is that Cueto was coming off of a very good season.

        I think that people can understand “they tried and it didn’t work”. Signing a bad reliever to be a starting pitcher (Luke Weaver) and just letting Luis Cessa start is just not trying.

      • Votto4life

        The “answer” the Reds decided to go with was to do nothing. One thing that I have learned in life is that problems seldom solve themselves.

      • J

        If the Reds had signed Cueto, I guarantee that a lot of people on this site would not be saying “at least they tried, so I’m satisfied.” A lot would be saying this team didn’t do its due diligence, signed a guy who was too old, ignored better options, didn’t have any backup plan, etc. People have already started complaining about the Meyer signing, and he’d been a pretty good hitter before 2023.

        I agree they should have done “something.” I’m just not sure what it was, and I’m sure that if the “something” had backfired, a lot of people on this site would be saying it was a stupid thing to do, and insisting there was an obviously better choice. Meanwhile, when a really cheap guy turns out to be better than an expensive guy, people don’t seem to notice that spending money isn’t always the solution to every problem.

        I keep saying one of the best decisions this organization could make would be replacing the manager with a better manager, and it would cost a lot less than Cueto. I’d be so much happier to see a new manager than a “proven” #4 starter like Cueto.

      • J

        *Myers. (I know too many people named Meyer.)

      • Votto4life


        If you hire an experienced manager and his number 4 option in the rotation is Luis Cessa, then what has changed?

        Some people may have complained if the Reds tried to acquire a starting pitcher and failed. So, the answer is then to do nothing??

      • J


        As I’ve said, I would have liked to see the organization do something rather than nothing. But I think a lot of people feel doing something is automatically better than doing nothing, and that’s where I draw the line. I think, for example, the signing of Minor last year was an attempt to say “hey, we’re doing something!” In that case, it was not only a dumb signing, but it was compounded by the team’s unwillingness to admit it made a mistake. In that case, doing nothing would actually have benefited the team, but, if they’d done nothing, people wouldn’t be saying “well, at least they didn’t spend $10 million on a lousy pitcher and then insist on having that guy start every 5th game, let’s give them some credit.”

        Hiring a new manager might have resulted in Cessa not being a starter at all. Or it might have resulted in Cessa being lifted sooner in every game. Or maybe he’d have pitched better than he’s been pitching because a different manager would insist he make some sort of change. Or, maybe the Reds would have won a couple more games that were started by their top 3 pitchers, so Cessa’s losses wouldn’t be quite so damaging. I don’t know. What I do know is that we can’t possibly know how good this team can be until it’s led by a manager who makes smarter strategic decisions and insists players play smarter than this team plays. Taking strike three down the middle with runners on 2nd and 3rd and one out should not be happening. Swinging at a 2-0 pitch out of the strike zone with the bases loaded and a pitcher who’s having trouble throwing strikes shouldn’t happen. Bell implicitly encourages these kinds of things by doing nothing about it. A different manager could potentially help in all sorts of subtle ways, and would cost practically nothing.

      • Doug Gray

        People don’t want them to “do something”, they want them to do something that probably helps them win.

        Acquiring Minor was a “he pitched at Vanderbilt and that’s where Derek Johnson was a pitching coach at” move, not a “this guy is good” move.

        Cessa isn’t on Bell. If it wasn’t Cessa it would have been another 30-something AAAA guy because none of the younger guys showed anything at all. And outside of Andrew Abbott, they still haven’t.

      • J

        (And yes, I know they traded for Minor rather than “signing” him, but the point remains the same.)

      • Votto4life


        yes, we agree doing something can be just as bad as doing nothing. When I say the Reds FO should have acquired a starting pitcher this past winter, I do not mean they should have signed a Mike Minor type. When I said I
        Think the Reds FO should have acquired a starting pitcher, I mean a pitcher who is actually going to improve the team.

        I know the Reds were not going to go out and sign an established starter at $35 million dollars a year this past off season. However, they could have explored the trade market.

        We have been told the Reds have the 4th best farm system in the major leagues. Highly regarded Prospects, with years of control, are in very high demand. It doesn’t seem that far fetched that the Reds could have dealt one
        those prospects for a solid # 4 starting pitcher and still have plenty of talent down on the farm, but the Reds chose to do nothing instead.

        Of course, a search for a #4 starting pitcher would not have even been needed at all had the Reds not traded Luis Castillo last season. He signed a very reasonable, team friendly contract with the Mariners. Imagine having Castillo, Greene, Ashcraft and Lodolo in the rotation. I instead of Castillo, who the last time I looked, was 4th in the American League in ERA, we have Luis Cessa.

        It’s always easier to keep talent than it is replacing it. If you not able to acquire pitching with money then you must do so with talent. The Reds decided simply to do neither. That is why Luis Cessa is still in the Red’s rotation.

      • J

        Doug, what if the Reds had signed a veteran pitcher who’s been both a starter and a reliever in his career, has a career ERA a bit above 4, pitched quite well as a reliever in 2020 and 2021, so-so in 2022 with an absolutely terrible team that plays in a hittrr-friendly stadium, and this guy is about 31 years old. And what if the Reds said “we’re thinking about this guy as a possible #4 starter.” Would that have been considered “trying”?

    • greenmtred

      But it might simply be that ownership wasn’t willing to spend the money it would have taken to get starters better than the current #4 and #5, In retrospect, Myers was indeed a luxury, but it would have been hard to predict that Friedl and Fraley and–to a certain extent, Steer and even Barrero would be contributing at the levels they are.

  9. old-school

    Id go with Lively and give Abbott another 4-5 starts in May. If he’s cruising, bring him up Memorial Day Weekend. If Herget is 32 and on the 40 man and Overton was bad and hurt, and Cessa is bad and Anderson got traded and Weaver isnt good, it begs the question why is Lively on the 40 man in AAA? It would appear the Reds view him as bullpen depth and not as a starter.

    • Jim Walker

      Because he doesn’t need to be unless and until they decide to bring him up. They signed him as a minor league free agent. Cot’s doesn’t say how much he is making at MiLB but says his last year in Korea his base was at least $700K (US) with 250K in attached bonus possibilities. Last year, he signed as a MiLB FA with the Reds and reupped this year.

      • old-school

        I meant why is Herget, not Lively, on the 40 man if you aren’t going to use him in this situation……..uggggh.

        Hergets and Lively’s and Overton’s and Anderson’s and Weaver’s……ive only got so much bandwith available for the over 30 journeyman pitchers.LOL

  10. Mark Moore

    My vote would be Lively for now and let Abbott season a bit more. Any idea of the innings limit they will place on him?

  11. dimondfvr

    Apparently we have too few pitchers and a plethora of shortstops! How does this happen? Whose in charge? Of course, I forgot, where are we gonna go?!

    • Doug Gray

      When it comes to the prospects – the Reds didn’t avoid acquiring pitchers in those deals. Brandon Williamson simply has regressed in a big way. Levi Stoudt was a bit of a starting pitcher lottery ticket. But they also acquired Chase Petty and Connor Phillips last year in trades – they were just a little further away and in A-ball when the trades happened.

      That said – starting pitching is a bit of a weakness of the farm system. But it’s not barren.

      • old-school

        I know this is your other site, but DJ was very high on Phillips and many felt he might be the #1 pitching prospect in the minors coming into this year. Is he back on his trajectory in early May? Reds also have the #7 overall pick in 2 months and there’s 2 high caliber college arms that mock drafts have going to the Reds.

        Abbott, Phillips, Petty, and high draft pick would be a nice cadre. Lodolo was the #1 pitcher taken at 7 overall when the Reds got him.

      • Doug Gray

        Phillips has two elite-level pitches, but barely throws a third one (if this sounds familiar…..). But he also has a long history of struggling to throw strikes. He’s still quite young to be in AA and his walk rate is down from where it was last season, but it still needs to come down. I had him as the #1 pitching prospect in the organization coming into the year. I still do, but it’s pretty close with him, Abbott, and Chase Petty. If someone wanted to argue for any of the three as the top guy I think a solid argument could be made.

        That said, Petty and Phillips both need time, probably at least another year+ for Phillips unless he makes some dramatic improvements in his control. Probably two or more for Petty, who is still in A-ball and needs to both do plenty of learning (he’s young and had about 100 pro innings) and building up his innings.

  12. RedsGettingBetter

    There is a problem here. I think Herget and Lively are good players at AAA but they struggle when make the conversion to the majors, it is to say 4-A players. Abbott needs more time at AAA to show he can do long term. Cessa shouldn’t continue to be a starter for the sake of all. After pulled my hair, I’d go with Lively the next three outings to give time to Abbott and after that could take a decision.

  13. Votto4life

    10 Things I would like to see before the 2024 Season.

    1. David Bell fired or reassigned. Kick him upstairs, if you like, but he should never be given responsibility for making personnel decision. Ever.

    2. Hire an experienced manager with a solid track record of winning. This is important SOMEONE OUTSIDE OF THIS ORGANIZATION

    3. The addition of a middle of line up bat who can drive in runs.

    4. Two very solid veteran starting pitchers at the back end of the rotation. If Abbott or someone else develops also that’s great. You can’t have enough pitching.

    5. Add Two solid relief pitchers. At least one being left handed and one who has served effectively as a closer in the past.

    6. Find an answer behind the plate. The team needs to get pass this silly three man rotation behind the plate. I would be willing to try Stephenson as the starting catcher. But if they are convinced he can not play that role, then trade him and look for a better solution. To me, Tyler Stephenson has no real value to this team as DH or first baseman. Whatever the Reds FO decide to do, they must find a catcher who can at least minimally contribute offensively. They can not let that position continue to be an automatic out. Bill James says when you get nothing offensively from one position, another position has to contribute twice as much. The Reds do not have an offensive player capable of producing twice as much. They are very few of those players in the league.

    7. Sign Lodolo and Ashcraft to extensions. There is no one other than these two who are worthy of an extension at this point.

    8. Trade Jonathon India and Tyler Stephenson (if he is not going to be a full-time catcher) at the trading deadline this year to meet some of the needs listed about. I would make these trades sooner, rather than later in India’s case. He is having a good year, let’s try to maximize value.

    9. After 2024, evaluate the need for further extensions. Perhaps by that point, EDLC, CES, Abbott, McCalin etc. may be worthy of extensions.

    10. Make an effort to be competitive in 2025. I think the real window probably doesn’t start until 2027, at the earliest, but if the Reds FO wait until then to make improvements the MLB market in Cincinnati May never recover.

    Anyway, just my thoughts on the other forward.

    • Laura

      Agree with almost all your points – especially #2!

      Regarding #6 – Stephenson is still recovering from his collarbone surgery so I’m willing to cut him some slack this year. I believe Yasmani Grandal becomes a FA at the end of this season. If he’s healthy and we could get him for 1-3 years, then we eliminate one of the backup catchers and Stephenson becomes the 3rd catcher. If not Grandal, someone similar.

      And for #8 – instead of trading India, convince him to move to LF. Pete Rose played 5 different positions for the Reds and Tony Perez played 4 different positions – both players have 3 World Series rings. Coincidence? Maybe… but remember how the Big Red Machine in 1975 took off after Rose switched to 3rd base which allowed Foster to become the fulltime left fielder. India moving to LF would give us CES at 1st, McClain at 2nd, EDLC at SS and Steer at 3rd. That could become a very exciting and powerful infield.

      Finally, I would like to add #11 – right now, trade Senzel or Barrero or both, for a starting pitcher. At this moment, their stock is high – get the best deal you can for them. Neither one is part of the team’s future. That will also open up 2 roster spots for the new guys about to be promoted.

      • Dennis Westrick

        I agree with your suggestions with one caveat! Trade Barrero but keep Senzel. The Reds have several options to fill the SS position.

      • Oldtimer

        Rose not only played five positions but he was an All-Star at each position.

        I don’t remember Perez playing anywhere but 1B and 3B.

    • Redsvol

      In a vacuum, I agree with much on this list @Votto. But in reality, you are talking about a minimum of 65$M in payroll for points 3, 4, and 5 – based on what players like that got in 2023 free agency. In addition, the 2024 free agency class is horrible compared to this past off-season. There really isn’t a middle of the order bat or impactful starters – at least what I consider impactful. And third, good starting pitchers don’t want to pitch in Cincinnati when there are other options available to them – which means a significant over pay.

      I do believe there will be some decent bullpen arms available and its time to add a couple – even knowing that free agent bullpen pieces are notoriously unreliable. But we don’t have a choice when our internal bullpen prospects are Ricky Karcher and Vlad Guitierrez!

      Whatever we do, more $ will have to be spent to take the team to the next level of competitiveness.

    • BK

      Your list well summarizes where the question marks lie on this team. It’s a really thoughtful post. Thanks for sharing it!

      #3 – hopefully, CES fills this need.
      #4 – the Reds definitely need two league-average or better starters, though I’m not sure we need two veteran starters. Abbott, Dunn, and Gutierrez could bring internal solutions. We’d still need a couple of prospects knocking on the door at AAA, too.
      #5 – right now I see this as the easiest way to improve the team. Hader is a free agent after the season. I’d consider signing him. He’d make everyone more effective in the pen. Antone, Santillan are questions that need to be answered later this season. LHP Salazar is off to a great start at AA, too. Like with starting pitchers, the Reds will need some relievers ready at AAA.
      #6 – finding a second catcher who is not a liability in the batting order is the biggest position player need. Very few catchers hit 110 starts over a season. It takes two catchers (but not three).
      #7 – agree.
      #8 – India is likely the Red’s best trade chip right now. I’m okay with moving him if it fills a need, although the offseason is probably the best time. It’s unusual for teams to overpay at the deadline for a 2B. I’m not for trading Stephenson. We just need to let him heal–there’s a reason the Reds went with three catchers this season.
      #10 – the Reds had better make an effort to compete in 2024. If they aren’t competitive until 2027, it does not bode well for the franchise. MLB will likely have expanded by then (or at least have selected the locations). We don’t want our franchise in a weak position just after expansion with only 10 years left on the GABP lease.

  14. SultanofSwaff

    I get but I don’t get the notion that Abbott needs ‘a handful more starts’ at AAA. There’s not a person on this site who doubts he could do better than Cessa, yet there’s this notion that his already high baseball IQ would be improved playing a month more against roster filler most ML teams would consider a failure to have on their team. Even if he gets beat around a little, would it be any different than the growing pains our big 3 experienced last year? Any different than the struggles of Steer, Barrero, Senzel, etc.? By not promoting Abbott (and McClain and CES) aren’t you kicking the competitive can down the road another year….wasting controllable years from the core players already up? His upside is considerable, and if he were to stabilize a rotation spot you have to consider there would be a beneficial effect on the bullpen. Let’s also not forget no one is going to run away with the division, and the Reds, with just a few reinforcements, could be quite disruptive.

    It’s not about workload either—he’s thrown 50 innings so far and 118 last year. With off days/occasional skips they could reasonably space out ~20 starts so he tops out around 150 IP.

    • Kevin H

      Agree and let’s remember he is a college pitcher. So in my opinion ready.

      • DaveCT

        Yes, a college guy, but he only started his last season in school, and has just one full season in pro ball. So, he doesn’t have the experience of a 3-year college starter and another 2 plus years in pro ball. Some limitations may be kicking around that we don’t know about.. That said, Abbott clearly has high aptitude and seems to know himself as a pitcher well. So, he’s very close if not there already.

    • DaveCT

      The one factor that could influence whether to bring Abbott up is how well he adjusts without the enhanced grip baseball he had at AA.

      BA just did an informative article on this, and discussed how Abbott’s fastball movement had increased pretty significantly with the enhanced grip baseballs, and in 1-2 starts at AAA had returned to previous levels.

      It may or may not be moot, as Abbott had late season success and it’s so far, so good at AAA. But those making the call could want to see a few more outings.

    • MBS

      I don’t think he needs 3 or 5 games to become good enough. I think most people, myself included are thinking about protecting him. If he shows good results over the next few starts, I’d feel a lot more confident that he’s ready. 80% of Abbots starts last year were not very good. He clearly figured something out by the final 3 games of the season. This year he’s pitched 5 games, and only 2 against a new level of competition. That said if the Reds said he’s taking Cessa’s next start, I’d still be very excited, even if I’d be crossing my fingers a bit harder.

      • DaveCT

        I agree the most likely influence on promoting Abbott now or later is about protecting him, ie let’s see how he does with the standard baseballs. It may well not be necessary, with the scouting and development people giving an all clear. Either way, seems like he’s very close.

      • Laura

        I agree with you – think of players the Reds have rushed (Leake, Stubbs, Cingrani and Barrero). They all had great potential, but it was never achieved. They were adequate for the time the Reds used them, but they were never great. I hope they won’t do that to Abbott.

    • David

      True. Players don’t always “turn it on” the minute they step up from AAA to the Majors. It might take 1-2 years before they actually step up and start to consistently show their abilities.
      I think I would bring up Ben Lively…NOW. What happens to either Cessa or Weaver is of no never mind to me. Maybe Cessa goes back to the bullpen and replaces someone who is not that great (Buck Farmer???).
      I think it would be good to stretch out Kevin Herget as a starter in AAA, and he could also come up, if needed. I thought he was a dark horse to be the 4th-5th starter in Spring TRaining, but that didn’t happen.
      Andrew Abbott is a major talent. He will be a major league pitcher with the Reds…soon. It’s a judgement call as to when he is ready. Let’s see if he continues to be overpowering in AAA ball. If so, for another 4-5 starts, then sure, bring him up. What else does he have to prove?
      Tony Santillan WAS a starter in his Minor League career, and then they decided to make him a reliever. Get him to lose 45-50 lb, and maybe his knee problems go away. And get him to start again, IMHO.
      I would not trade Jonathon India unless some team offered me a lot in return. And I think that Stephenson’s value as a major leaguer has dropped significantly.

  15. Indy Red Man

    It wasn’t me!!

    Anyone else read about the “large” wager placed at GABP on LSU vs Alabama in college baseball? Alabama coach fired and Alabama baseball games have been taken off the board. Where there’s smoke there’s fire ?

    • Old-school


      This is big. Heard brief details on radio but Apparently Alabama ace pitcher scratched and coach let it out before handicappers new and bet placed with inside info.

  16. Jim t

    Folks the fact is this year is about development. Who is pitching in the 4 and 5 rotation spots right now is not important. Developing those 2 pitchers is what’s important.

    Frankly this year is going very well. Freidl and Steer are showing signs of becoming major league players. CES, EDLC and McCain are doing well and are moving towards taking the next step to the majors. Add them to India and Stephenson along with acquiring a OF bat and we could have a decent lineup. We have a Closer and 3/5ths of a very nice rotation. We have 45 million of payroll coming off the books which is contributing nothing at this point. We have a very good minor league system.

    This year we are building not competing. Don’t rush the prospects. Give them every opportunity to grow. That is what this season should be about.

    • Old-school

      Good 30000 foot view .

      Some game thread hot takes age well and some dont. But they are fun for sure.

    • BK

      I agree with you, but I don’t blame others for not being satisfied with the Red’s approach this year. They burned a lot of goodwill by failing at the last rebuild. That said, you’ve accurately described where we are, and it’s important not to sabotage this rebuild.

    • MBS

      @Jim the only problem I have with what you said, is that they could have added some legitimate pitching for those 4/5 spots, and still developed the young pitching prospects. Those are not mutually exclusive ideas. While I don’t like Bob cutting back, I do kind of understand that he probably knew there was going to be some funny business with the TV contracts this year. So I will cut him just a tiny bit of slack, not too much, I think he could have spent more money to make 23 more than just a “development year.” Good organizations develop while trying to win.

      • BK

        What’s wrong with Fairchild as a backup OF?

      • MBS

        He’s not good, and if you disagree that’s ok. I don’t know if Hopkins is going to be a good option either as the 4th OF. I do know he’s been excellent so far this year. The Reds are going to be in a roster churn as the top prospects join the big club. EDLC, CES, and McLain are going to take someone else’s roster spots.

        Stephenson, India, Friedl, Fraley, Steer, Barrero, EDLC, CES, McLain should be the main focus as the season progresses. The 4 bench guys is where the churn will be felt, so only 4 of Casali, Maile, Robinson, Myers, Fairchild, Hopkins, Ramos, Senzel, Newman, and Reynolds can stick around until the year’s over.

      • BK

        Fairchild has been an above average hitter and slightly above average fielder in the fourth outfielder role with the Reds. He’s also fast, can effectively handle all three positions, hits LHP and RHP well, has an option remaining and will play for the MLB minimum for at least two more seasons (possible Super Two in 2025). The current starting outfielders are all LH or switch hitters. Fraley has extreme splits and should never start against LHP. Fairchild checks a lot of boxes right now. He’s not showing that he’s a starter, but he brings a lot to the table off the bench and seems comfortable in his role. From a performance perspective, he is probably the safest bench player and likely the only one who is a long term fit.

      • MBS

        This is the same Fairchild that is sitting on the Mendoza line at an even .200 BA, and sported a .247 BA in 22? I would prefer Hopkins for Fairchild’s current role. It probably doesn’t matter, because when Myers comes back someone is going to have to go. My guess is it will be Fairchild. Ramos has the edge with being a switch hitter, and we have a serious lack of LHB’s.

  17. AMDG

    If they going to replace Cessa, they might as well replace Weaver. Neither one is getting the job done this year.

    Unfortunately, they don’t have many better reinforcements in AAA.

    The hope would be either Stoudt or Williamson, but both of them are struggling mightily this season.

    And Lively and Herget are likely no better than Cessa and Weaver. And that’s a switch just to switch.

    The only possible upgrade is to bring up Abbott. And it should matter that he’s only had 2 starts. Remember, Lodolo only pitched 6 games in AAA before getting promoted. And Leake pitched 0 games in AAA.

  18. Redsvol

    I vote a Ben Lively audition for May, Kevin Herget for June, and Andrew Abbott for August. This is all assuming good health with the big 3. More likely we will need them all much earlier.

    Also – and I know its fools gold – I hold out hope that Justin Dunn and Vlad Guittierez can give us some type of major league average innings in the 2nd half of the year.

    • BK

      I think you could also add Tony Santillan to that list, but he’s got to get into better shape. We may see all three in the second half get a shot at starting. Ideally, Abott will eventually claim the #4 spot. It’s disappointing that Stoudt and Williamson have regressed this year. But what’s important is that the Reds find out if they have a 5th starter plus 2-3 others that can pitch competently when injuries happen available in the system (AAA or long relievers). Competitive teams have a few difference makers (Greene, Lodolo, and Ashcraft check that box), a few league-average starting pitchers, and depth. At least what we need is the easiest to find in the offseason.

    • William

      I hope the Reds call up Abbott. I have watched him pitch and have been impressed. I just think he is ready now. No more delaying this guys career. He turns 24 next month. I would hate to see this guy hurt his arm in AAA trying harder to get to the MLB when he has already proven he is a very good pitcher worthy of a call up. If he pitches somewhat like he has been after he goes to the show, like Mr. Gray said in the article, it will be a “step forward in the rebuild” and the Reds will be a bit more competitive this year.

      • Dennis Westrick

        Gotta be better than Cessa or Weaver!

  19. Melvin

    Herget didn’t make it out of the 1st inning tonight. Give Abbott a couple of more starts. If he does well I’m comfortable with him coming up. There is a learning process for any new guy coming up to the majors whether it’s position players of pitchers. That’s why, if they get regular playing time, I’m not opposed to bringing up the Mclains etc. The sooner they go through that learning process the sooner they will reach their potential in the majors. It’s part of the development process. Waiting till late this year or next year just prolongs that process. Just DON’T bring them up and sit them on the bench so they can watch the Newmans play. Ridiculous.

    • Melvin

      By the way so far tonight:

      EDLC – 2 hits

      McLain – double, triple, HR

      CES – two HR

      Hopkins – HR

      • Melvin

        I doubt we will have to worry about power and HR when those guys finally get here.

      • MBS

        CES and Hopkins should be up tomorrow, and dfa Reynolds, and Fairchild.

        That’s coming from a guy that likes Reynolds, but he is a redundant player since we already have Newman as a backup infielder.

    • Pete

      The only question I ask myself is, what would Tampa do in the same situation? In my mind they set the standard for small market ball clubs.

      • TR

        Tampa certainly gets it done organizationally and manager wise. But they’re tied with the A’s for worst ballpark.

      • Melvin

        Yeah for sure. 🙂 4 hits, 4 RBI, 3R – not too bad for one game. 🙂

  20. MBS

    CES doesn’t need to be in AAA, 3rd HR on the night, good grief, bring him up tomorrow.

    • Melvin

      haha I saw that. One guys hits for the cylce (McLain) and another hits 3 HR (CES). Pretty cool. 😀

  21. Dennis Westrick

    While the Reds were enjoying their day off, ALL of the other teams in the NL Central Division LOST today!

    Time to start a new winning streak!

  22. MBS

    Ok, I can’t wait on McLain anymore, CES is also ready, and lets not forget Hopkins.

    DH Steer 6/9 Stephenson 2/9 Ramos 1/9
    C Stephenson 5/9 Casali 4/9
    1B CES 7/9 India 2/9
    2B India 5/9 Senzel 3/9 Steer 1/9
    3B McLain 5/9 Senzel 4/9
    SS Barrero 7/9 McLain 2/9
    RF Hopkins 5/9 Ramos 4/9
    CF Friedl 7/9 Hopkins 2/9
    LF Fraley 7/9 Ramos 2/9

    That gets all the guys 7 of 9 games a week, aside from Casali at 4/9 games, and Newman 0/9 games (defensive replacement)

  23. Melvin

    “Ok, I can’t wait on McLain anymore”


  24. Laura

    Tony Perez was signed as a SS out of Cuba. He played SS until they moved him to 2nd base, and he played there until Pete Rose came along. Perez was moved to 3rd so Rose could play second. Then it was 3rd base and 1st base in the Majors.

  25. Nicole Cushing

    My vote goes to Mat Latos. (I say this because I’m a reverse-fan rooting for as much dysfunction and bufoonery as possible.) Last I saw, he was kicking around some independent minor league back on the east coast. Better Latos than never!