The Cincinnati Reds are currently a .500 team as they sit 35-35 following their win last night to open up a 3-game series with the Houston Astros. In a terrible National League Central division, that puts the club just a half-game out of first place. It has them tied with the Pittsburgh Pirates in second place. In less than two weeks we will be at the midway point of the season and be coming up on a month before the trade deadline. What will the Reds do at that point?

Well, a lot of it probably depends on exactly what transpires between today and a month from now. If the club keeps winning, they’ll probably remain in the playoff hunt. And looking at the team as it stands right now, there’s a clear need in one area more than anywhere else – starting pitching. Right now the rotation is a bit of a mess. Nick Lodolo isn’t going to return until after the trade deadline. Graham Ashcraft is currently on the injured list and even before then he had been struggling for over a month. Brandon Williamson has struggled, posting a 5.40 ERA in his six starts. Luke Weaver has struggled, posting a 6.23 ERA in his 10 starts.

Hunter Greene and Andrew Abbott (with his three starts) have been good. But the rest of the rotation sure looks like it could use some help. Of course there are a lot of teams that are out there looking for starting pitchers. And the cost of acquisition isn’t cheap, either. That may not stop the Reds, though.

“There’s nothing I see that is going to impede us from making an acquisition,” Reds general manager Nick Krall told The Athletic on Friday.

Even with the Reds having called up multiple players this year who are now helping the big league club win, there are still plenty of players on the farm that could potentially be utilized in trade(s). Cincinnati’s farm system is one of the best in baseball, not just because of the talent at the very top that we’ve seen in Triple-A and now in the big leagues, but because of the depth of talent there is there, too. Having a strong farm system isn’t always just about having those guys reach the big leagues with your club. Sometimes it’s useful to have those guys to help acquire talent at the big league level when you need it.

Teams tend to wait until closer to the deadline to make moves. We can argue all day how silly that is given that you lose out on having those players sooner and thus should increase your ability to contend, but I guess that’s more for a different story. For now it’s likely that the club waits and sees what transpires over the next five weeks and assessing where they are. But it seems that if they continue to keep winning and hanging around that they might actually go out and try to make some improvements to the team.

57 Responses

  1. LDS

    Actually, I hope they aren’t buyers. I’d rather see them trade the likes of Myers, Newman, Senzel, Reynolds, etc. for what they can get, preferably pitching prospects with high ceilings. Winning a weak division and making the playoffs doesn’t really move the team forward. The opportunity is still in the future. Being the best in a bad division is sort of meaningless to me. BTW, the Enquirer article yesterday, sort of felt like foreshadowing Senzel’s move though they called it “extreme”. Senzel isn’t an outfielder and the article suggests that’s where he’ll play a lot.

    • Hardball

      Did you grow up being a hockey fan?

    • Pete

      It is so refreshing to be able to trust your general manager to make trades that will benefit the team. The Reds future is so bright that next year will certainly be better than this year and the following year will be better than next year. Oh, what a feeling! We are truly blessed with a turnaround from just a year ago.

      • Alex Reds

        I totally agree. Reds should definitely not go all in this year. I would also be very careful with trading prospects away this deadline. Need to save high end prospects for another wave of players to keep this competitive window rolling. The Reds have a full payroll of $100M+ money to spend this offseason in acquiring an absolute ton of pitching with no other real needs to spend that money on. I would lean towards picking up expensive contracts and really good pitching players at the deadline vs. trading away high end prospects. Absolutely should not trade Marte. Marte to high upside to give up. Marte may end up the best player of any of these players. I wouldn’t even trade Arroyo yet. Once 19 year old Arroyo is ready in 3-4 more years, the Reds will need another wave of players coming through. Trading away depth prospects is ok though. I would be ok trading Sal Stewart, Jay Allen II, Carlos Jorge, Rece Hinds, Ariel Almonte, Austin Hendrick, Michael Siani, Jose Torres, and Tyler Callihan. That’s plenty of solid and real prospects that should be able to acquire some pitching. There may be some teams looking to dump some contracts on pitching and Reds should have flexibility to buy. If Reds traded for a high end prospect starter that has 4-6 years of control left, then I would be open to trading more. I’m just not sure it makes sense though, they have to spend payroll somewhere. Wouldn’t the Reds be better off purchasing pitching next offseason at no high end prospect cost of trades, rather than trading for pitching and giving up high end prospects?

    • SlippinJimmy

      I understand, but I would be very hesitant to trade Newman. I don’t know the particulars of his deal, but I suspect he’s on the cheap side, and he has really contributed a lot to the Reds this year. Let him be the utility infielder and Stewie the utility outfielder?

      • jmb

        Newman’s making $2.7 mil. and is a free agent after next season. After a slow start, he really hit his stride there for a time, but has come back down to earth. Regardless, he can play any infield position, so he’s valuable to this team. Being that Senzel can play four positions, 2 infield and 2 outfield, he also is valuable to this team. That said, Ramos and Reynolds are raking at AAA.

    • LDS

      If Newman or Senzel either one can bring in decent pitching prospects, then trade them. The Reds need to quit treating their players as fungible parts in Bell’s utility engine and develop premier position players, e.g., EDLC at SS, McLain at 2nd, India at 3rd, Steer at 1st, Stephenson back to C (which he has played in less than 1/2 his starts), CES at DH. The OF needs work. Myers, Ramos, and Fraley aren’t the answer. Well, Fraley is 1/2 an answer. Fairchild is OK. Benson may be OK. Hopkins isn’t ready. Barrero, once he’s hitting again, which he will, will likely be traded. Pitching is in worse shape than the OF. So by all means, trade at deadline, but dump deadwood and acquire prospects. Don’t go all in on winning this year. It didn’t work in 2019 and it’s not likely to work this year. Bell still isn’t the guy to take the team to the next level, last night’s many fawning comments notwithstanding.

      • greenmtred

        I don’t know how many of you are familiar with Winnie the Pooh (the A.A. Milne original). There is a character named Eeyore, a donkey as it happens, a highly lugubrious donkey, who found something to be melancholy about in any circumstance. I worry about you, my friend.

      • LDS

        Nice @greenmtred, but apparently you missed my point. Too many here are willing to abandon the rebuild in the hopes of winning the division this year. It’s not worth it. Stick to the rebuild. Don’t throw away the prospects accumulated. If they’ll take the veterans, as I’ve outlined above, then go for it. Otherwise, stick to the plan for once.

      • greenmtred

        I know, LDS, and agree with your position if not all the details. I just wish that you could bring yourself to enjoy the fun baseball we’re seeing.

      • Matt

        We are on the same page with EDLC at SS and McLain at 2nd, but India struggles to field the ball at 2nd, there’s no way in hell he cand handle the hot corner. (Senzel is the best defensive 3rd baseman) Also Steer is horrible at 1st. He has no length and just not a good fielder. CES isn’t a great fielder either, but 1st/DH are his only options. This playing him in the OF to appease Votto is ridiculous. The outfield should be LF India, then we need to trade the rest for pitching and upgrades. Fraley, Fairchild, Myers etc just aren’t legit starters. Friedl is a 4th outfielder overachieving and should be traded before he falls back down to earth. Use all the OFers I mentioned , as well as Edwin Arroyo(can’t hit but he is an elite defensive SS with value), Newman , Barrero, whatever to get pitchering help and legit young Outfielders.

    • jmb

      A few years ago, the Reds said they wanted to be like the Cardinals, in that (at that time) any time a Cardinal went down with an injury they just called up a guy who performed well from their minor league system. Now it’s the Braves who are known for that kind of depth. The Reds too, now, have such depth (with several at AAA ready for the call), though a lot of their front-runners are still very young, just starting to make their mark.

    • Oldtimer

      None of M, N, S, R, or Etc will bring in return MLB capable starters or relievers.

      • LDS

        Exactly but they will bring prospects. Play the long game. Forget winning this year

    • AllTheHype

      Newman has been, and continues to be, a very important and useful part of this team. Not sure why everyone wants to ship him off. Guys who play anywhere on the infield with good defense as a role player and ALSO hit league average or better are VERY HARD to come by, because most of them are starters.
      Newman is probably one of the top five, or certainly top ten, role players in baseball right now.

  2. Tomn

    I know it might be a stretch but there’s at least one more pitcher in the farm system – Connor Phillips? – who might be ready? I think he’s at AA but it wouldn’t be the first time a pitcher’s come up directly from AA to the majors.

    WOuld he be a feasible alternative? Give him a couple of starts or even BP appearances to see how he might do?

  3. Daytonnati

    I think you should try to win every chance you get. That said, I think you have certain “untouchable” players in your system.

    I wonder if the Mariners would part with Castillo for, say, Marte, Arroyo, Stoudt, and Moore ?? 🙂

    • Tom Mitsoff

      My first reaction to that was, the Reds should jump on that. But they won’t. Castillo has five more years on his contract at $22M-plus per year. Very reasonable for a pitcher of his caliber, with the caveat that he is already over 30 years old. Injuries and a performance downslide are both very likely over the term of that contract.

  4. RedsGettingBetter

    This analysis will be more interesting after 3 weeks from now. But Doug is right when you can think that landed a couple of good starters right now increases a lot to reach the playoffs so why to wait? Maybe because this season was defined as a “rebuild” so the FO thought just in developed some players and eventually gives them a shot at the big leagues with no press of a post season or something like that in addition to save more money. Although the FO didn’t suspect the success of a surprising team being at the .500 mark in 2nd place just a half game from the first place with 70 matches played so it could change the original plan… Krall should be preparing the decision …

  5. Tampa Red

    I read an article in the Athletic written by Shiny Pants that was about each teams greatest need heading into the trade deadline. For all but a few teams it was pitching. Including pretty much every single legit contender.

    My take away from that? To get pitching help at the deadline, it’s going to cost the Reds A TON.

  6. Optimist

    I lean toward the “don’t trade too much” for the remainder of this season. No need to make a push to win a bad division or the last wild card. Continue the sorting and tryout process with the talent here, and the next few promotions.

    That said, nobody is indispensable, but on the current 26 man roster they only have a few fielders and pitchers, respectively, that won’t be considered to move.

    For everybody else, they should be looking at pitching prospects for the lower minors – load up on those. If they can get a rental bat for a nominal cost, OK, but keep the top 15-20 on Doug’s prospect list – even the current staff (and returning rehabs) should keep them in contention for the next month or two.

  7. SlippinJimmy

    Don’t get me wrong here, I would NOT trade him, but I am curious to know what teams would offer for Diaz. He is quite a weapon to have, for sure. There must be a lot of teams who’d love to have him.

    I still say listen to offers for India and Stephenson. Not to dump them, but see if it gets you players who better fill out the Reds lineup. Those two (as productive as India has been, and Stephenson is maybe starting be finally) seem to be sort of square pegs in a sense.

    It sounds and seems like McLain at 2B and Elly at SS is a foregone conclusion, so India sort of delays the inevitable. He can be a DH, but that seems an odd fit for him on a daily basis, and I would think there’d be teams who’d be very interested.

    The Reds carrying 3 catchers is probably not sustainable, and Stephenson is the worst defensively. Casali is probably the best, but Maile is still pretty good and a much better hitter. Like India, he is a DH or less than your best on defense, so considering a trade makes sense to me.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      I would absolutely not trade Diaz. Having said that, don’t forget that the Brewers traded Josh Hader last year when they were still in contention. It’s happened before.

    • Optimist

      Teams would offer the moon for Diaz – the big money teams for his performance, the “small-market” teams for the years of control. Still, unless it really is the moon (say an active MLB near-AS quality hitter, and 2 top 10 prospects) no need for the Reds to move. That’s more than Hader brought the Brewers, but Diaz is arguably that much more valuable.

      • JayTheRed

        I don’t trade Diaz. He is under team control through 2027.

    • Michael E

      While messing with team chemistry when its coming together to some degree is bad…

      ALWAYS BE TRADING CLOSERS. Yes, eventually you’ll end up with a late innings mess, but usually you can find an adequate closer. Not every closer need throw 98+. Some do the job well with so-so fastball and just good location and inducing a lot of ground balls.

      If they’re in first place, rolling, maybe you don’t mess with things, but if some team comes and offers their “can’t miss” prospect for a guy that throws 3 innings a week, I am definitely listening and excited.

    • Michael E

      Maybe Ashcraft should be a closer? He seems like the type that can’t put it together in the rotation, but suddenly becomes lights out (at 98 mph +) as a closer or setup man?

      • Matt

        You are spot on! I like Diaz, but if we could get some top prospects or legit Outfielders, I’m all in. Ashcraft is built for relief and not starting. He has a high batting average against trying to go through the lineup and his Fastball-Slider combo would tick up and be nasty in relief. This is also what most reports suggested of him to start. I don’t know why the Reds are set on him as a Top 3 guy?

  8. OGFan

    Win it with what we got. Look at what a difference maker McClain, Abbott, DeLaCruz have been. CES and maybe Phillips can join in. Lodolo and Ashcraft will be back. A big key to the Reds success
    this year is Sims, Farmer and Diaz are kicking butt. If we can find another Sims/Farmer at a low cost it would shore up the BP. A resurgance of Santillan would be great. Hang on to the Martes, Arroyos, Colliers, Rodriguez’s, Jorges

  9. Mike Adams

    Wait a minute on going all out on improving starting pitching.
    The Reds have won series and games and fought their way to second place with what they have–in spite of injuries, poor performance, whatever.
    Has it been only luck? I don’t think so.
    I agree with Doug on what the Reds may do in his last two sentences.
    That is, wait 5 weeks and see what happens.
    If they keep winning with what they got they don’t have to spend big bucks on a free agent starter or two, and also don’t have to trade away the good young talent.
    Doug, do you think another thing the Reds will do over the next 5 weeks is pay close attention to attendance? There is normally an increase once school is out but if there is another five or ten thousand bump on top of that how will that affect their decision making at the trade deadline?

  10. Votto4life

    Nothing is guaranteed in baseball. Who knows what next year will bring? Maybe the Reds will have key injuries next season, maybe players will underperform. Maybe the Cardinals will right their ship and run away with the division.

    The only thing that is for certain is the Reds are currently in second place in a very winnable division.

    Don’t let perfect be the enemy of the good. Don’t give away the farm, but if you can improve your chances of winning the division by trading a prospect or two then do it.

    In my opinion, the Red’s competitive clock started ticking the minute they promoted Ella De La Cruz. We will be looking at another rebuild in four or five years. Don’t waste any chance to win the division.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      Agreed on all counts. I saw yesterday a social media post which showed that since late April, Cincinnati has been by far the best team in the division — by six or seven games. If that pace continues, they’ll win the division by a wide margin and be a legitimate threat in the playoffs. If that pace doesn’t continue, they’ll be muddling with several other teams for a wild-card berth. I’d be much more willing to trade high value for a high value return in starting pitching in the former scenario, rather than the latter.

      • greenmtred

        I’m on the fence, Tom, mainly because of Ashcraft and Lodolo. They’ll be back and, perhaps, sorted, and if so, the need for starting pitchers dwindles. Ashcraft had been effective and either changed his approach or didn’t maintain it. Seems fixable. But they shouldn’t write this season off, either. I would not trade India; I believe his value transcends his numbers.

    • MBS

      @Votto, exactly! I get why some people are afraid to trade away POTENTIAL, but that’s because that’s all we’ve had to root for, potential. We have a legit shot at the playoffs even without a move. If we make the right moves we have could make an impact on the playoffs. I like winning more than dreaming of winning.

      I’ll add to the Bengals mantra, “Why not us”, to Why not us, why not now

    • Old Big Ed

      Among the things not guaranteed in baseball is that the veteran traded for at the deadline actually helps the team. See Mahle, Tyler.

    • RedlegScott

      Agree, V4L. Why stick to the plan that this must be a rebuild year? What if they make the playoffs and have three (or four) outstanding starters by then? How far could they go? Who knows? Why wait, for all the reasons you mentioned, when opportunity is knocking now?

  11. Tim

    A team could possibly win 90 games and not make the playoffs. If the opportunity is there you must grab it. That is the nature of competition. The team needs a starter and another good reliever to not only make the playoffs but to compete in them. Bringing up CES and fielding the best players we have would help. Seize the Day

  12. Bdh

    I hope they don’t trade for starting pitching as even a rental will cost more than what I want the reds to give up in this surprising run they’re making ahead of schedule. Greene, Abbott, a healthy Ashcraft, a healthy Lodolo who they could get back around the trade deadline, and 1 of Lively/Weaver/Williamson/Stoudt look like it can be enough with this lineup to win the central this year.

    If they want to add to the bullpen though then they can find some quality rentals for cheap.

    Some of the proposals I’ve seen on here and Twitter are ridiculous. Some of the players suggested in moves would be huge overpays. I have even started to see people suggest Fraley as an option to be moved! Look at recent deals for relievers

    For 3 years of Cessa and 2 of Wilson the reds gave up cash and a PTBNL ending up as Jason Parker

    For a rental of Givens they sent the Rockies Noah Davis and case Williams who Colorado had actually sent them earlier in the year

    For what should have been 2 years of Archie Bradley, one of the better relievers in the league at the time, the reds gave up Van Meter and Fairchild with Arizona also throwing in some cash on the deal.

    • RedlegScott

      Nothing’s cheap these days. Give up Marte (there’s no spot for him) and others on the farm and grab a Chapman and bona fide starter and sign them both. As mentioned, carpe diem.

    • Matt

      We need a Starter, @BDH. Ashcraft isn’t a starter and is best suited for Closer/Setup duties. Scouting reports said that from the start. His BAA is high because he can’t get through the lineups. Put him at back end relief and his 2 pitches tick up. That leave currently Greene, Abbott and Lodolo who is injured. A guy like Dylan Cease from the White Sox might be available. I don’t see Williamson or Ashcraft in the future rotation though. It’s extremely rare to have 3 lefty starters!

  13. Old Big Ed

    There aren’t really many sellers, particularly of starting pitchers. The A’s, Royals and White Sox in the AL; the Nats, Cardinals and Rockies in the NL. The Cardinals are unlikely to trade with the Reds, and the others don’t have a lot the Reds may bite on. There isn’t a Luis Castillo out there for which the Reds can outbid others on prospects.

    They will get a refreshed Ashcraft back in a week or so, and Lodolo should be back before mid-August. The good news on both of those guys is that their injuries were not arm injuries.

    I would prefer that they wait a bit to evaluate whether any of Lively, Williamson or Weaver gets any traction, because I just don’t see anyone available out there who is going to get a post-season start for the Reds or any other team.

    • Indy Red Man

      Kendall Graveman is signed thru 2024 at 8 mil. A little pricey, but would probably give the Reds the best pen in the NL. Sims is as good as he’s ever been right now and it would take the heat off Diaz.

      I completely disagree that winning the division is unimportant if you can’t advance. You have to walk before you run. Would I make a big Latos deal? No, but grab the division and make a statement towards next year!

    • JayTheRed

      Sorry I am not sold on Ashcraft. He gives great effort but just doesn’t seem to be as good as many make him out to be.

      • Matt

        He’s definitely not as good as what so many think he is or what they think he’s going to be in the future. He gives up too high of a batting average and only has 2 pitches. His prospect report always had him as a back end reliever with nasty Fastball-Slider. Those pitches would tick up to possible Closer/Setup status if he was only pitching in relief.

  14. Melvin

    If they want make the playoffs and potentially do well in the playoffs then Chapman is the man to go get in my view.

    • JayTheRed

      With you man. I don’t think it would take too much either to get Chapman. We would have to give up a little something good to get him but overall, I don’t think it would be anything huge.

  15. Old-school

    Id go after a rental SP as the price wont be that much. Zach greinke or similar cant cost that much and the Royals want to unload payroll and Greinke probably would like to pitch for a young exciting team making a run

    Rece hinds or Hendrick and a low A SP

    With the Ashcraft and Lodolo uncertainty, now is the time add behind greene Abbott. Im ok with lively and Williamson on a start to start basis.

    Weaver is a problem and needs replaced very soon

  16. Oldtimer

    Reds got SP Ken Johnson when rookie SP Ken Hunt struggled in mid 1961. Reds won NL pennant.

    Reds got SP Fred Norman in mid 1973 to add a much starter for their mid season comeback.

    Reds added OF Glenn Braggs in mid season 1990. Braggs was a key player in 1990 WS championship.

    Reds traded for 3B Scott Rolen in 2009. He was a key ingredient in 2010 and 2012 season (NL Central winners).

    Sometimes one key acquisition can put you over the top.

    Reds had a chance to acquire Rick Reuschel in late 1980s (for Tracy Jones) but passed on the trade. They should not have passed.

    • RedlegScott

      Quit clouding the issue with facts, OT! Lol You’re right. Who knows how far these guys could go with a good starter and a guy like Chapman added to the mix? People keeping mentioning Greinke, but is he really going to be better than one of our bottom level starters at a place like GABP? He could get bombed and be a waste of time and prospects. Aren’t there any higher caliber guys out there? Perhaps not.

  17. Michael E

    Bottom line, see where you’re at in a few weeks. If you trade for an SP, get someone with a couple of years of control. Look at the other BAD teams that might need a boost at hitting.

    Maybe target a team like Marlins or Guardians, who are usually pitching rich and hitting poor. Then offer up an Arroyo and Senzel and another NON-stud piece for a good (not likely great) younger starter.

    Heck, see if you can get Gavin Williams, send em Senzel, Arroyo and Ashcraft or something. like that.

    • Matt

      The Guardians aren’t giving up Gavin Williams . Those trade values don’t matchup and Senzel’s best position is taken by Ramirez. Arroyo can’t hit and even if he could, the Guardians are high on Rocchio at SS who they just brought up. I also don’t think anyone besides some Reds fans are that high on Ashcraft. He’s better suited for relief duty than a top starting pitcher.

  18. Reds67

    I would be interested in what Adrian Morejon SD would cost. He has had injury problems but is still under team control for 2 more years and I thought he had a high upside as a SP out of Cuba. SD has underperformed but are kind of to far invested to be sellers. SD need CF and C help so I don’t know if Senzel has enough value to pull the trade off. Tyler Stephenson would definitely have to much value but maybe SD could throw in minor leaguers like Adam Mazur.

    Adam Mazur brings up another interesting thought, would the Reds be better off to take college pitchers with the majority of their amateur draft picks in July. Position wise the Reds seem close and it seems that pitching is what they need to put them over the top. In last years draft if the Reds had taken Adam Mazur and Carson Whisenhunt instead of Sal Stewart and Logan Tanner I feel they would be much closer to competing in the post season.

  19. sam

    I’d really like to see Senzel and Myers traded for whatever we can get, and their spots taken by CES and Joey. Joey only plays against some righties, spends the rest of the time Tik-Toking and announcing, whatever. Leave Benson and Fairchild up. Go get an ace and a lefty setup guy with Marte and a couple of other MILB guys. Win the whole darn thing.