The 2023 season feels like it ended just yesterday. It was actually a little over a week ago and the divisional round of the playoffs are still taking place. But the Cincinnati Reds aren’t playing and the club has some decisions to make soon on player options, but they’ll also need to start figuring out how much money they have budgeted for the 2024 season.

No one, as of right now, is owed more money than league minimum for the Cincinnati Reds in 2024 except for Hunter Greene. The club will have to likely pay buyouts on option years for Curt Casali and Joey Votto. One thing that will change the math is when the Reds tender contracts to players who will be arbitration eligible.

Cincinnati has 10 players who are arbitration eligible, which we discussed last week. Some of the players are easy choices to be tendered contracts for 2024, but some of them are tougher decisions. And now MLB Trade Rumors has released their arbitration projections – which, while not exact, tend to be pretty close in most cases – it shines a little more light onto things.

Here is what they project each of the 10 players would receive in the arbitration process for the 2024 season:

Player Arb Year Projected $
Lucas Sims 3 $2,800,000
Nick Senzel 3 $3,000,000
Derek Law 2 $1,400,000
Justin Dunn 2 $900,000
Tejay Antone 2 $900,000
Alex Young 2 $1,700,000
Jake Fraley 1 $2,200,000
Tyler Stephenson 1 $2,900,000
Jonathan India 1 $3,700,000
Vladimir Gutierrez 1 $1,000,000

None of the ten players for the Reds are projected to get paid a large amount, with Jonathan India being the largest salary from the group at $3,700,000. That’s a large raise given that he made the league minimum last year – it’s about five times what he made in 2023 – but it’s still a drop in the bucket.

As noted above, Hunter Greene is the only player that is currently under contract for 2024 who makes more than the league minimum. If we add in his salary, along with all of those arbitration projections, and then fill out the rest of the roster with players making the league minimum, that would put the Reds payroll at just over $35,000,000. That number doesn’t include the buyouts expected for Joey Votto or Curt Casali, nor the money owed to Mike Moustakas – all of which is just over $12,000,000.

Given that the club “did way better than we thought we were going to do” in terms of bringing money in during the 2023 season according to Senior VP of Business Operations Karen Forgus told the Cincinnati Business Courier, the Reds should have a whole lot of money to spend to improve the team for 2024.

Further, Forgus said that “every dollar we make is invested back in the organization, with almost all of it going to baseball operations. All that additional money coming in makes everything bigger and you can do bigger things on the field and in player development. That’s always the priority.”

We’ll see how that goes – but the current payroll is nearly as bare minimum as it can get. And the club is publicly saying that not only did they make more money than they expected in 2023, but that it should allow them to do “bigger things on the field”.

63 Responses

  1. Ryan

    Senzel getting a raise is the epitome of what’s wrong with the process

    • Bob Purkey

      Couldn’t agree more. let him go.

    • RedBB

      If the Reds are smart he is gone. His hitting against LHP is not repeatable and his D sucks. Remember that year when Phil Ervin pounded LHP as well? Team doesn’t need complainers either…

      • MK

        To be fair there was no problem with his defense. He was more than adequate at third and the outfield. If he would accept the same contract as last season pre-arbitration hearing I would resign him if not the non-tender. They really need right-handed hitting outfield bats.

      • Chi Reds Fan

        The Senzel of 3 or 4 years ago, perhaps even 2 year ago seems to have matured. Having a child perhaps was a catalyst for him. He seemed to embrace his role as a platoon player and was as enthusiastic as anyone about the team on social media and from what I saw in the dugout. $3MM is not a big salary for a vet with positional flexibility and decent success v. lefties.

      • RedBB

        @MK he was and has always been terrible in the OF, sorry but he failed the eye test and the sabremetrics back this up. He was solid at 3B but we don’t need any 3Bmen.

    • Tar Heel Red

      Ryan< agree with you. If it were me I would non-tender Senzel (attitude/whining), Dunn (long history of injuries) and Gutierrez (recovering from Tommy John). Cutting them loose would not only rid themselves of three players who really don't figure into the immediate future, but also save the team money enough to go after a quality reliever or to put toward the starting pitcher they desperately need.

      I would also not be surprised at all if they trade India and Fraley, perhaps as part of the package for that starter.

  2. Amarillo

    Let’s assume 50MM in obligations. 35 + 12 as stated in the article +3MM for an underestimate in Arb raises.
    You can sign a high tier starting pitcher for 25MM per year, a good Outfielder for 10MM, a set up man for 8MM, pick up Votto’s option for 13MM. Total = $106MM which is under this year’s payroll of $117MM.

    • Mike

      With Steer able to platoon in left, Fairchild in center, and Blake Dunn likely forcing his way up here sometime next year, we don’t really need to overpay for a middling OF free agent. Pitching, pitching, pitching.

      • John J

        I mean really should be fine in the OF.

        LF Steer
        CF TJ
        RF Benson
        Fraley mixed in and at DH


        bench bats-eventual starters

        I was hearing fraley and india could be packaged for talent of some sort because we have flexability.

      • Amarillo

        John J if one of the top 3 guys goes down to injury (will happen at some point) then I don’t feel good about Martini/Dunn/Hurtubise for an extended time. India and Fraley would not fetch in a trade as much as people think, so trading them wouldn’t improve the team.

      • AJ from Hamilton

        I’m a bit puzzled by the enthusiasm so many people have for Dunn (I hope I’m wrong). He was not a top 30 prospect until this past year, when he played A and AA ball at age 24 (turning 25 in Sept.). I entirely agree that the Reds need to focus on pitching–at least one solid starter and perhaps a couple of relief arms, maybe one long-relief type. But I’m not optimistic that Dunn will be anything other than perhaps a fourth outfielder.

      • Optimist

        AJ – Are you aware of Dunn’s history? Check out Doug’s write ups on the RML site. If he and Hurtubise (check his history as well) are the Reds 5th/AAAA OFers next season they’ll be doing very well. If both are in AAA to begin, with hot starts they’ll be all set to repeat this season’s call up pattern.

      • MK

        i like Hurtubise but he is basically Fridel 2.0 with less power and experience. Not sure they need two.

    • IndyDoug

      no chance they pick up Votto’s option.

      • redfanorbust

        Hopefully there is no chance they sign him at all. Most of us love JV but his time is over. We don’t owe him anything else. He was cheered and appreciated by the fan base and paid well for a very long time. It’s the young guys time now and they need all the at bats they can get.

      • David

        To me, it’s not so much the money (it’s not my money!!!), but the roster spot on the 40 – man and 26 man roster.
        That’s my problem with re-signing Joey Votto.

      • JB

        Thank about what you can get for Votto’s 13 million and then people want him so we can see .200 BA and we get to hear how close he is to getting it together.

    • Harry Stoner

      A $10M outfielder like Pham or Myers?

      Not Krall’s high points as a GM.

      Another Benson-like coup?

      That’s another story, and it won’t cost $10M.

      • jmb

        Senzel, India, Stephenson, and Fraley to Angels for…who cares! But I’d like to see the Reds land O’Hoppe and Adell. O’Hoppe would be an upgrade at C. The Reds would be rolling the dice on Adell. Angels need a 2B, could use a left-handed hitting OF, always need a back-up for their 3B, could use Stephenson if they trade O’Hoppe. Maybe Greene and/or Lodolo could be dangled, if necessary, to land O’Hoppe.

  3. Optimist

    Here’s my off season cut and paste comment:

    “3 obvious, oft repeated goals for the off season –
    1 – get a good to great starter (Sonny?!?!), likely only via FA.?
    2 – get a proven MLB power-hitting outfielder (may be available via trade)?
    3 – get a new managing partner”

    The Forgus quote is interesting, but it highlights the problem – what is the Reds idea of, as Doug puts it, “a drop in the bucket”?

    The only real questions seem to be whether any of the pitchers are DFA’ed, released, non-tendered. I think Jim W explained that for rehab players they may offer a MiLB contract to retain them in the organization – that would cover J Dunn. I suspect someone would claim Antone, so he needs a tender offer.

    The amounts are so minimal simply tender the others just to keep them thru the off season – and be prepared to trade or release as acquisitions require added roster space.

    • Jim Walker

      To be clear they can avoid waivers through nontender but the guy becomes a free agent. So, they want to be really sure and have trust in the player and his agent.

      • Optimist

        Yep – It’s only for Dunn that they should follow this path – tender Antone.

    • JayTheRed

      I would love to see Sonny Gray back but there are a few other decent options out there on the free agent market besides him.

      For power hitting OF’er I want Teoscor Hernandez (Spelling) Guy would just smash like crazy in Cincy. Though I don’t know if his strikeout numbers are ok or not. He may have gone down hill since his days with the Blue Jays.

      Overall the main focus needs to be #getthepitching again this year..

  4. rednat

    of all these players, I trust Senzel the most. he has found his niche as a lefty dominator and solid third basemen. i think 3 mill is a steal. crazy to say it but he also may be the healthiest guy on the list as well

    • Mike

      Not as enthusiastic, lol, but Senzel is a capable bench/platoon guy. I’d blanche at 5 mil or more, but 3 mil is reasonable

    • RedBB

      Disagree. His hitting against LHP is not repeatable. Ask Phil Ervin…

      • Redsvol

        Senzel had excellent results for 45 at bats against LHP at the end of the year. As RedBB said, he doesn’t have a track record against LHP before this year. And I disagree that his defense is adequate – it might be adequate at 3B but it is not adequate anywhere else.

      • RedBB

        @RedsVol I couldn’t have said it better myself. He never should have been moved to the OF. He lacks instinct, fails the eye test and fails any sabermetric evaluation of his efficacy in the OF. He has been solid at 3B on all 3 above metrics but unfortunately for him we don’t need and third basemen. I also didn’t like his complaining for more playing time this year….sorry.

  5. Mark A Verticchio

    Reds need to get a power arm relief pitcher, Jordan Hicks.

    • CI3J

      Hicks and Chapman would be great pickups for the Reds’ bullpen.

      Chapman has said he wants to end his career in Cincinnati and he’s a FA, so ostensibly the Reds should be at the front of the line to sign him. This will be his age 36 season, so a 2 year contract sounds about right, although if he demands 3, I’d give it to him.

      CL Diaz
      LHP Chapman
      LHP Young
      LHP Moll
      RHP Hicks
      RHP Sims
      RHP Farmer
      RHP Gibaut

      Looks like a decently strong bullpen.

      • Melvin

        “Chapman has said he wants to end his career in Cincinnati and he’s a FA,”

        An argument could be made that if we would have been able to get Chapman at the deadline even without a starter it would have been enough to get us to the post season.

      • JayTheRed

        Buck Farmer is a free agent, I think.

  6. Mike

    Be interesting to see what names on that list might get traded, and for how much cost/control in return.

  7. MBS

    I wasn’t optimistic about beating the 2023 spending, but Forgus’s comments seem to imply that they may. Hopefully they do spend, this could be a fun season if they do.

    • JayTheRed

      We would be at the bottom 5 in spending next season and with a winning season and the fact they made more money than they expected they would, it would be a huge slap in the face to Reds face if they don’t spend money this offseason. Overall payroll needs to be at least 100 million. and that could get us some pretty good players.

  8. RedsGettingBetter

    I really wish the Reds FO spending enough to land the players that can improve the roster carrying the team to the 2024 World series, but I have a little doubt about the FO could be thinking different so 2024 will be another building-for-the-future year and they just say “Ok, an starting pithching? Finish Phillips, Richardson, Spiers and others development. Uh!, Power bats Outfielders? Here are Blake Dunn and Hinds… “, So they barely will invest in another Sam Moll to the bullpen… I hope it’s just a pesimistic thought from me and won’t be the reality in the offseason…

    • Brian

      I have a feeling that the payroll will be somewhere between 90-100 mil at the beginning of next season. I really hope that they find 1 and 2 year contracts that they pay a little more for. They really should be careful with any long term deals, 4 years being an absolute max. I never understood when they locked Votto up for 13 years, way too dangerous to lock up 1/4 of your payroll long term on one guy.

  9. redfanorbust

    Reds have no excuse not to spend this offseason. The time is now to bolster a strong young talented roster. Ownership, management and Reds fans all know this. The division is up for grabs. We have suffered long enough with only a couple of glimmers of hope that were quickly extinguished in the last 30+ years! We could quadruple our 2024 team salary as it stands now and only come up to league average.

    • rednat

      plus 1000. but which free agents are out there to get? i don’t follow baseball enough to know? i feel we are back in the mid 80s again with guys like Davis, Lenny Harris and Larkin coming up. Dave Parker was a huge free agent signing that really helped the team turn things around. Is there a guy like Dave Parker out there today? do they even make players like him anymore? i don’t know.

      just think we need a big bat in the middle of the lineup that is consistent and can play everyday to glue everything together.

      • rednat

        i meant Kal Daniels, Not Lenny Harris.

      • redfanorbust

        Hey Rednat here you go. IMO whoever the Reds get it needs to really move the needle. No more cheaping out, getting a warm body and hope somehow we win the lottery, that a below average player somehow can play above average!

  10. SultanofSwaff

    “every dollar we make is invested back in the organization”

    How can that statement be even remotely true in an environment that includes revenue sharing and the huge influxes of cash from the MLB partnerships? Someone help me make it make sense!

  11. Melvin

    “And the club is publicly saying that not only did they make more money than they expected in 2023, but that it should allow them to do “bigger things on the field”.

    They can sign David Bell to an even larger extension now. 😀 Yipeee!

  12. LDS

    About half of these players should be non-tendered or traded. I can’t see spending more for the likes of Senzel, Dunn, etc. And it’ll be interesting to see how honest Karen Forgus’ comments turn out to be. I don’t for one minute believe the quote:
    “every dollar we make is invested back in the organization, with almost all of it going to baseball operations. All that additional money coming in makes everything bigger and you can do bigger things on the field and in player development. That’s always the priority.”. Would that it was true but I’m skeptical given the last 15 years.

    • Optimist

      Most, if not all of them, are tradeable, which is why they should be tendered. Even for the Reds, this is not a financial issue. The test of her comment about the budget is a FA signing, or a trade for a much higher salaried player. They likely need more than one of those.

      • MBS

        I think they could be traded well before the Arb deadline. I would hang onto Stephenson, Young, and Antone for sure. Knowing the injury issues with Dunn and Gutierrez, I’d go with the @Jim plan DFA, then resign for a milb contract. Sims, Law, Senzel I 100% trade. Trading Fraley, or India would depend on what FA bats they are willing to bring in, but if it’s none, or just a mediocre bat, I’m keeping both.

    • Jim Walker

      What does “every dollar we make” mean? Operating profit? A person really needs clarity on that to evaluate the statement.

      • Optimist

        Clearly opaque and TBD by the front office, but just making the statement puts her on the hot seat. Seems much more considered that Phil’s throwaway interview lines.

      • BK

        This has been the message from Ownership since they took over and is consistent with Forbes’s annual analysis. Companies usually don’t evaluate themselves or budget based on their “Operating Income.” “Net Income” and cashflow are the best metrics for internal evaluations and spending planning. Operating income is typically used to compare companies within the same industry. It excludes interest income and taxes (among a couple of other expenses) that can vary quite a bit among competitors.

        In short, what we learned from this interview is that the Reds are past their COVID losses. Also, as you may recall from last offseason, there was a high likelihood that the Red’s regional sports network income was in jeopardy–a pretty big risk.

      • Optimist

        True enough BK, but my take on “opaque” is the Reds practice over the last 20 years or so – hesitant in some cases, yet willing to extend Homer and Joey, then more deliberation, then the Castellanos/Moose/Akiyame signings, then the retrenching you note, then this past season aggressive shedding – Moose/Myers/etc..

        Not yet confident they’re in a new era of finance, though they seem intent on moving toward a league average payroll.

      • BK

        @Optimist, the Reds have the resources to address their needs (starting and relief pitching). By doing all of the draconian cuts over the last year and one-half, they also likely have cash on hand to pay posting fees for players coming out of Japan–Yamamoto would be an ideal fit for the Reds, but he’ll be expensive on a yearly basis and require a big posting fee.

        I expect the Reds to spend this offseason. The question is whether they can thread the needle of acquiring the necessary players–I will argue they have the money to take on significant payroll this year–while not tying their hands for the future. There are many ways for them to do this … hoping they find success.

        As for being opaque, the Reds would lose a great deal of leverage in negotiations if they were to publicize a budget. Unless you are the Mets and willing to outspend all other teams, there is literally no reason to be transparent about your spending plans.

      • Optimist

        BK – I meant opaque to the fans – they’ll obviously not conceal anything in FA negotiations. As for expectations, sure they should make several acquisitions – either FA or trade, both of which require assets, and I think they will, but I don’t KNOW they will, and fear they’ll favor quantity over quality. This is the off season they are all set for quality acquisitions. They’ve done well with the quantity and prospect transactions, and there is plenty of quantity now in the system.

      • Optimist

        Ooops, “concede”, not conceal.

      • BK

        ‘@Optimist, I agree with you on where the Reds are. Simply pointing out I don’t know how the Reds communicate their intentions with specificity to the fans without that affecting negotiations. If we’re lucky we’ll hear a mantra like, this offseason is the one where we’ll “get the pitching” or something similarly vague.

        I very much agree that the Reds should target quality/elite talent, not numbers. I believe we have quantity in our system. To protect the farm, means going the FA route which we’ll be very competitive this offseason.

  13. Jason Franklin

    Don’t the Reds have one year left of obligation to Griffey Jr ? I think it was around $3 million?

    Been sick as a dog the past month so Hi everyone.

    • JayTheRed

      No Griffey contract is over with this season.

  14. Mike

    Our team finished 3-7. If we had gone 5-5 we would have been a wild card. Get Chapman and Sonny and we’ll be in the playoffs in 2024. It’s that simple.

  15. GreatRedLegsFan

    As hard as it sounds, it should not be a surprise if India is non-tendered as he’s due for a significant raise, doesn’t have a clear spot in the lineup and his trade value is low.

    • JayTheRed

      India is not going to be non-tendered. There is just no way.