The Gold Glove Award finalists were named this week and the Cincinnati Reds didn’t have a single player make the cut. Three players were named as finalists for each position, and there was also a spot for a “utility player” who played all over the field.

A part of that could be that many Reds players may not have been eligible. Players had to have played 698 innings through the team’s 138th game. Why they have the cutoff at the 138th game makes absolutely no sense given that there are 162 games in a season. A player could qualify ahead of another player with more innings at the end of the season simply because they had more playing time early in the season than later in the season. Alas, those are the rules.

Unlike how things used to be, there’s actually a statistical component that comes into play in the awards these days. No longer will we get awards handed out to guys who are really good hitters, or days where a player gets the award despite playing 28 games in the field.

Cincinnati didn’t find any of their players on the list of finalist. That doesn’t necessarily mean the team was bad from a defensive standpoint, though. It just means that none of their players were viewed as an elite fielder.

Let me note that while I do believe that there are some defensive stats that hold some value, I am also a believer that even the “good” ones miss a whole heck of a lot of information. Let’s also note that the general consensus is that defensive stats need about three full seasons worth of data to be considered a reliable reflection of a players abilities.

With that out of the way, let’s take a look at what some of the publicly available stats and see just how the Reds players stack up.

The Good Defenders

Harrison Bader graded out as the best defensive player on the Reds in 2023. The problem with that is that he barely played for the Reds and most of his defensive value came as a non-Red.

Among the players with Cincinnati who graded out the highest, it starts with TJ Friedl. Baseball Savant lists him at +7 runs on the season. Most of his time came in center, but he also played 128 innings in the corners during the year (out of his 1090 innings).

Elly De La Cruz is the next guy on the list. He graded out at +3 runs in his 850 innings. 591 of those came at shortstop with the other 259 coming at third base. Another shortstop is here, too. Matt McLain graded out at +2 runs. 465 of his innings came at shortstop with 296 of them coming at second base. Rounding out this group is Stuart Fairchild, who like McLain, came in at +2 runs. Fairchild played a fairly even amount in left, right, and center field for Cincinnati in 2023.

The So-So Defenders

Much of the team fell into the “average-ish” area. Players that were rated out as a 0-run (average) defender and a -2 run defender is quite long. Christian Encarnacion-Strand was rated as a neutral defender at 0 runs. Wil Myers, Jake Fraley, Luke Maile, and Noelvi Marte graded out as -1 run defenders. Will Benson and Joey Votto checked in as -2 run defenders.

No one in this group spent 600 innings in the field and none qualified for the Gold Glove Award based on that. Given their defensive stats here it’s unlikely they would have been a finalist even if they had more playing time.

The Not-So-Good Defenders

This group features a few players who didn’t play a lot and one who did. Kevin Newman and Jose Barrero both came in as -3 run defenders. Both saw limited action on the field. Barrero was sent down to Triple-A in June and never got called back up. Newman played in 463 innings during the season. He missed much of July and a month and a half of August and September before he was released in late September.  Jonathan India falls into this group at -5 runs. All 893 innings he played came at second base.

The Poor Defenders

Three players are in this group and all played a decent chunk for Cincinnati this past season. Nick Senzel played at five different spots in the field in 2023 and came in at -9 runs overall. He played more third base than anywhere else – making up more than half of his innings in the field. Tyler Stephenson graded out at -11 runs behind the plate and at first base. He only spent 39 innings at first, with his remaining 703 innings coming behind the plate.

Spencer Steer was the worst defender on the team according to the fielding run values at Baseball Savant, coming in at -13 runs. Like Senzel, he played five different positions. But he played more innings in the field than anyone else on the team and by a wide margin. He played 1297 innings in the field. TJ Friedl was the only other Red to top 900 innings, coming in at 1090. Steer played 300+ innings in left, at third, and at first. He also played some at second base, and saw 11 innings in right field.

Does anyone disagree?

These numbers from Baseball Savant paint the picture of a really poor defensive team. But as noted above – defensive metrics have plenty of flaws in them. And different statistics tell different stories. Heading over to Fangraphs we can look at the team statistics and it’s more of the same from a team perspective. In fact, their defensive numbers have the Reds as the worst defensive team in baseball for 2023 at -61.6.

What’s interesting with the Fangraphs team defensive stats is that they only have five teams as being truly above-average. One team, the Yankees, is technically “above-average” at +0.2. Two other teams come in at 0.0 and -0.1. Everyone else is multiple runs on the negative side of things. The Brewers (+44.4) and the Rangers (+22.3) were the only two clubs in the positive double digits.

When it comes to the defensive value of individual players at Fangraphs there are a few players who grade out above-average. Their defensive value numbers include a “positional adjustment”. As such, simply being put in the lineup at shortstop, catcher, or center field is going to add to your value versus being put in the lineup at first base where you are going to get a negative starting defensive value.

Fangraphs had Elly De La Cruz as the team’s most valuable defender at +5.0. TJ Friedl checked in next at +4.8. Matt McLain was next at +3.9. Catchers Luke Maile and Curt Casali were also above-average here at +2.0 and +1.4.

Everyone else was below-average according to the defensive value stat at Fangraphs. Their numbers agreed that Nick Senzel (-9.1), Tyler Stephenson (-9.2), and Spencer Steer (-17.8) were the worst defenders on the club.

92 Responses

  1. Jer-B

    Surprised by Steer rating so poorly. The question is what is his best position moving forward?

    Friedl is the only Red that should’ve been in the convo for Golden Glove. Maybe a full year of McClain at 2nd as he seems to be very good there.

    • wkuchad

      Agree, Steer’s rating is my biggest surprise from the article. Based on eye test, I would have guessed Steer was league-average defensively.

      • Melvin

        In my view there is a lot of baloney in defensive stats. The “eye test” wins out for me. For example there is no way Steer is that bad defensively.

      • Dale

        What about Benson and Fraley? No mention of them anywhere in the article…

      • Doug Gray

        Dale – Benson and Fraley were both mentioned in the article.

    • MBS

      Steer was rough at 3B, and he spent a decent amount of time there. I’m guessing that had a lot to do with his poor rating. My eye test is that he was best in LF, or 2B. 1B showed promise, but CES should be the guy there.

    • BK

      Steer illustrates just how hard it is to make in-season position changes at the MLB level.

  2. TJ

    Jer….I was going to ask the same question. I don’t live in the Cincinnati area so I don’t see a ton of games, but I do listen to Brantley. I’ve heard him say a few times that Steer struggled early. I also heard him say how hard he was working and how some of the tough plays he made later in the year (mainly at 1st and 3rd) was because of his working to get better. I did see Steer in left and from what I saw it was not pretty. It would be interesting to see Steer’s breakdowns by position. I bet if his left field opportunities were taken out his numbers would go up. Also I believe his defensive numbers might be better on the infield as the season went on. Did anyone else notice this?

  3. Bob Purkey

    Let’s face it. While being flexibly able to play multiple positions can be a great benefit to a team, it also has its’ drawbacks and I think that moving around to 3 and 4 different positions creates much of the issue(s) expressed.

    Marte, Cruz, McLain, CES needs to play 85-90% of the time. Steer, Friedl and Benson/Fraley/FA power acquisition play RF & DH.

  4. old-school

    Good info that should help inform roster construction in 2024.

    1.) TF Friedl had a breakout year and is your core everyday CF. Good bat, good glove, good speed and hits lefties better than any lefty in baseball. Strong up the middle.

    2.) Elly and McLain are going to be good defenders for years to come. I think Marte will as well. Seems like Benson struggled with some line drives and taking bad angles at times, but I think he will get better.

    3.) Fraley and Steer give tremendous input with their bat. If Steer played first base, I think he’d be a plus defender. CES’ bat is his carrying card so he just need to be average at 1b.

    4.) India and Stephenson?? ouch. Stephenson is going to get another year paired with Maile as the catcher so we can all watch how that goes in 2024. I love India but his bat has been average for 2 years and defense isnt good. Interesting to see how that plays out.

    5.) Senzel has become a 1 trick pony but Bell has loved those handedness guys on the weak side of a platoon for 5 years. Fairchild plays a good OF and should be a strong 4th/5th OF.

    • MK

      Baseball is such a groove game. Players need to get into a groove of routine and consistency. In Stephenson’s case, the plan to limit him behind the plate to protect him from injury had negative implications defensively and offensively. He couldn’t get into a groove early on as he shared time with the other two behind the plate, played some first base, though not as much as people expected, and DH. He also has the challenge of being a taller than average catcher. It is also interesting to see how much better his offense was later in season when one third of the three- headed-catcher was out and Tyler caught more, even occasionally back-to-back days. In 2024 my hope is Tyler catches 5 games a week.

    • David

      Sounds like wishful thinking… 🙂

      But anyways, I think there are several parts to this problem

      1) some guys moved around a lot (Senzel and Spencer Steer). Nick Senzel is supposed to be an elite fielding 3rd baseman, but I do recall one game where he really hacked it up at 3rd.
      2) India has been out of position for years…he is really a third baseman
      3) Stephenson is just not that good as a catcher, and is unlikely to get much better

      • greenmtred

        Steer evidently told Bell that he was fine with playing multiple positions.

      • MK

        I would tell Bell the same thing about myself but sure he should take me up on it either.

  5. greenmtred

    My impression was that the Reds were average defensively, with the exceptions of Friedl and McClain, who were good. I’m surprised to see EDLC rated as high as he was. He showed flashes and has a great arm, but he booted a lot of pretty routine grounders, probably because he was rushing. I have some confidence that most or all of them will improve.

    • Old Big Ed

      Almost all young shortstops have trouble adjusting to the speed and mental intensity of MLB. Even Ozzie Smith. EDLC made his share of bobbles and miscues, but those go away with time and experience. McLain was better at SS this year in making the routine play, but his arm is not close to EDLC’s. McLain is going to be a standout second baseman.

      EDLC’s arm is a weapon. He had a few relays to the plate that no other MLB shortstop could make, and each one of those turned a run into an out — the equivalent of robbing a home run. What they do with him when Edwin Arroyo is ready is to be determined, but I expect him to be a lot better and more consistent defensively in 2024.

      All of the rookies (and Benson) will get better defensively with more repetitions. Steer, though, is not the natural athlete that EDLC, Marte, McLain and Benson are, and he probably should have a primary position, most likely left field. It is unfortunate that India has the same issue — a RH-hitting gamer without the athleticism to be a standout defender — and there is likely not enough playing time for both India and Steer. Steer is the better hitter, so …

  6. Mike

    So we have two DH’s in India and Steer? Got it. Trade whichever you think will be the lesser hitter and get a George Kirby type starter back

    • Old Big Ed

      India has very little trade value. He is a below average fielder, and an average hitter (his OPS+ was 100). He can run a bit when healthy, but he isn’t healthy very often and his speed is just a bit better than average. Plus, he is heading into his arbitration years. I will concede that he has some stones, but no team is going to give up a 4th starter for Jonathan India.

    • BK

      Because injuries happen and teams fade without quality depth.

  7. CI3J

    When Steer was a prospect, he was called “All bat, no glove.” Looks like that continues to be true at the MLB level. I personally thought he didn’t look THAT terrible, but he was pretty mediocre. You couldn’t really expect him to make spectacular plays, he’d just make the plays that came right to him.

    I was most surprised by Benson this past season. From what I’d heard about him, he was a plus defender with good speed and a very strong arm. But in reality, he always seemed to get bad jumps on balls and looked very janky and unsettled when making plays. Not smooth at all. What happened there?

    • Old Big Ed

      I also thought Benson seemed shaky in the field at times, especially in left field. He seemed much more comfortable in right field.

      Benson is a big guy, but very fast once he gets going. I noticed as a hitter that it takes him some time to get up to speed after hitting a ball. I hope that he gets some spring training work on his footwork in the field and at the plate.

      I don’t have any problems with a guy being a utility player, but Steer doesn’t really fit that mode. He probably needs to be the full-time left fielder; with some good work in spring training, he should be at least close to average there next season.

  8. LT

    Numbers don’t lie. SS needs to work on that part of his game. TS, God bless him, it seems that every time he tried to throw out a base stealer, the ball sailed into center field.

    • CI3J

      I think SS’s future is mostly as a DH with occasional starts in the field.

      Just because he’s capable of playing multiple positions doesn’t mean he should.

      • Chris Holbert

        I am not sure they will get better without consistent reps at the same position over and over. It takes certain type of player that can be a “super” utility player and most are not younger players. That is not the managing way of DB so anyone getting a gold glove in the future is probably questionable.

    • TJ

      @LT. I saw Stephenson lose the ball in the transfer from the glove to his hand when he tried to throw runners out. I didn’t see a bunch of games, but when I did Stephenson seemed to drop the ball a lot

  9. BK

    A little background on Steer. Steer played 144 games at 3B, 45 at SS, and 15 at 2B as a collegiate. In the minors, he started 114 games at 3B, 48 at SS, and 88 at 2B. He logged just 17 innings at 1B and 11 in RF in the minors. In the 2023 Spring Training, he logged 101 innings at 3B and 1 inning at SS.

    The Reds prepared him to play 3B, then asked him on the fly to play three-quarters of his innings at other defensive spots. I haven’t seen a site that breaks down defensive stats over the season, but his Statcast numbers were already ugly by the end of June and then leveled off.

    The problem wasn’t that Steer couldn’t adequately play multiple positions; the problem was they didn’t prepare him to do so. As an organization, the planning needs to improve. Players should be prepared to execute what the team will ask of them. Steer can offer a ton of flexibility, but he should be afforded prep in Spring Training if that is in the plans for 2024.

    • MK

      Steer was absolutely terrible at third in Spring Training He needs to get a position and leave him there. and I was pleasantly surprised by his improvement once the season began. Left field might end up being his spotas he seemed to take to it well. With the arrival of Marte and CES his need to move around should be lessened and defensive consistency help the situation.

      • BK

        You’re right, his defense was rough in Spring Training. A lot of his moving around defensively was due to injuries at the other positions. Having a versatile player is a plus, but I bet the Reds would like to use his versatility less.

    • Jeremiah

      Good point, I don’t think he played all those positions out of necessity, not from a plan. I think Steer should be at 1B or LF, or DH all the time. He can play the other spots in an emergency.

  10. RedsGettingBetter

    It doesn’t seem to me Steer is so bad defensively as the stats say. Even he has a value when is able to play 5 different positions on the field. But I always see him poorly evaluated as defender by the experts.
    One thing is true, the central line has good defenders when Friedl (CF) , De La Cruz (Ss) , McLain (2B-Ss), Luke Maile (C) are in play…

  11. rednat

    edlc grew on me at short stop as the season progressed. with his height and athleticism he was able to snag a few line drives that certainly would be doubles. i initially thought right filed would be the best use of his height but with the rule change of fielders having to stay in the dirt i think there is an advantage to having a tall ss (and second basemen for that matter).
    as far as Steer is concerned, first base clearly was his best position from the eye test. i would let him and CES battle for it next year.

    • Laredo Slider

      Let’s not overthink this. Steer/CES both have 30+ HR potential, both need to be in the lineup, Steer LF/CES 1B.

      • Old Big Ed

        This is a correct opinion. It’s not rocket surgery.

      • greenmtred

        Few things are. It’s an arcane discipline.

  12. Rob

    Raises the question of whether Stephenson is good enough offensively to retain at C. Lots to be gained by having a strong defensive C who can hit 240.

    • Jason Franklin

      I wouldn’t totally give up on Stephenson for the bat. I believe with a broken clavicle it takes a good amount of time to adjust and heal from that. Maybe with a solid offseason exercise regiment he can get some of that talent back? As you know though, for most catchers (unless the rare star), they are usually hit or defense. Would you feel better for the Reds if they went defense first here but that would probably mean obtaining a slugger. Would they spend the money on one? Trade? Just rambling.

      • greenmtred

        Stephenson finished the season hitting well, which supports the idea that he was adversely impacted by the clavicle injury and was healing as the season progressed.

  13. Jason Linden

    It’s important to remember that someone like Elly, who has a ton of range and a crazy, can rate highly while still missing some easy ones. I haven’t dug deeply into the numbers, but I’d guess that his arm and his range mean he makes plenty of plays that no other shortstop would make. That more than covers for the occasional booting of a ball he should get.

    Also, count me among those who think EDLC should stay at short. Moving him to CF when he’s already good at short would just be silly.

    As for Steer, he learned several positions on the fly this year. He gets a pass. If he ends up being bad defensively over multiple years, then I’ll worry.

    • VaRedsFan

      Elly also displayed great (spectacular even) defense at 3B which certainly bolstered his numbers.

    • BK

      Well said, Jason. I couldn’t agree more.

    • Optimist

      Agree with most of this – was it you, Jason, who observed that EDLC was better at SS in AAA with McLain at 2b?

      If anything, let him play 3b some as well, as VaRedsFan comments. Do NOT move him to the OF.

      Also believe Steer will settle in somewhere, given the chance and time – maybe RF/2B most of the time.

    • greenmtred

      I don’t disagree. I remember the ongoing argument between and about Davey Conception and Larry Bowa. Bowa–ever diplomatic–referred to Davey as “E. Conception,” but Davey had great range and an accurate arm and, biased though I undoubtedly was, I’d have picked him over Bowa 100 out of 100 times. I trust that Elly will cut down on the errors.

  14. VaRedsFan

    The eye test for me after watching the majority of games this year…

    Ty Steve was not good…and the numbers actually support that. As I said in the previous thread, I could live with the “not bad for a catcher” hitting stats. But his defense need to improve a ton, and that starts with pitch framing (60th out of 63)

    India is not a very good defender at 2B. He makes a lot of good plays, but throwing errors seem to be his bugaboo.

    Spencer Steer. I couldn’t believe he was rated so low. He made a lot of great plays in the field no matter what position he was playing. He also had some obvious blunders at every position. It seemed like more early season than late season. He is nowhere near bad enough to be considered a full time DH.

    SS Defense – Just the eyetest, but MMC looks better than Elly. He makes more of the routine plays why Elly offers more of the spectacular. Elly is young and can clean up his routine plays, and will be fine. Jeter made 22 errors in his 1st full season.

    3B defense – Elly was spectacular when he was there. Marte was solid, but I’m not sold on his arm. His throwing motion just seem rigid…Might be nothing.

    OF Defense – TJ is great and looks the part. Benson scares my out there, but will get better with more reps. Fraley is avg. Steer again…makes plenty , misses a few.
    Playing OF in MLB 3 tier stadiums/domes takes some getting used to.

    Most all of these guys are young, and it’s just part of the growing pains

    As stated above, my biggest worries are Ty and India.

    • greenmtred

      Agree with everything you said.

    • Redsvol

      Agree also. 2023 was all about figuring out who could play at the MLB level and where. By a large extent, they did that.

      I would hope they have a talk with India’s agent and explain that he needs to get comfortable with idea of moving off of 2nd base and it that doesn’t go well trade him.

      TS – much harder decision. He is below average now in both fielding and hitting. I don’t buy the notion that he was recovering from a collar bone. You don’t make the playoffs – or at least do well in them – with this quality of catching. Common denominator of all the playoff teams is a very solid #1 catcher. Calling the game and framing borderline pitches is more important than the hitting but you can’t be an offensive black hole either. TS wants to catch but its time he accept that he is not a #1 catcher and try another position.

      • greenmtred

        Why don’t you buy it? Particularly given that he was one of the team’s more effective hitters late in the season.

  15. Eddiek957

    SS seems fine to me. MM at second for a full season would be a nice improvement for the defense. TS a season away from surgery will hit better

  16. Harry Stoner

    That Steer could keep his offensive production numbers up this year despite being shifted all around by Bell is a testimony to his all-around abilities.

    I’ve always thought he’d hit better if he had a consistent role in the field but perhaps that point is moot…..or maybe he’ll hit even better (cut down on Ks, maybe hit 45 2bs next year….)

    Baring some big trades, (or Bell deciding he’d rather coach hockey) I don’t see the Reds lineup not involving the Bell Oujia Board / rotational system next year, in which case Steer’s versatility will again be called for.

    I realize he’s pretty much an untouchable hero on RLN so the weak D numbers probably are probably a hard swallow.

    But who really cares?

    Given his contributions (particularly RBIs) under the Bell system, I’ll more than tolerate some brave bull action in the field for a guy putting up 20 hrs, 90 rbis, and 40 2Bs.

  17. DataDumpster

    I believe in the eye test stats given by the members of this forum more than those ridiculous “stats” provided by the analytics “experts.” Sure Stevenson, India and Senzel are well below average and very few of the Red’s defenders deserve an above average rating. McClain is very good, EDLC is spectacular and often horrible at times but I can’t fathom how that affects his “score.” Steer is average to good but not in 6 positions (perhaps this sinks his ratings).
    I just hope that the predications of David Bell to create the supremely fungible defense and batting order will finally be evaluated in the sense that we should have 8-10 starters that can play everyday with minimal handedness issues given a trade or two in the offseason. The Braves send out the same lineup and the same batting order nearly every day playing the best player in his best position for the lineup. I would think that David Bell can figure out pretty easily what that lineup should be for the Reds.

    • Jim Walker

      +10K It is probably not a coincidence that the two guys with the worst defensive stats (Steer and Senzel) are the two guys that get bounced the most around the field defensively in support of Bell’s lockstep belief in handedness both in the starting lineup and as the game develops.

      • Harry Stoner

        I would propose that Bell is just fine with some of the sloppy defense that his position juggling contributes to.

        He’s quick to excuse any miscue on the field, basepaths, mound or plate and never second guesses himself.

        Bell clearly likes to insinuate himself into the game. “Handedness” is just a reason to do so, not the goal in and of itself.

        Bell’s note inconsistancy in doing so is why I’m suspect. He passed on obvious pinch hitting opportunities numerous times down the stretch as we watched Senzel or Newman, for example, flail against RHers when numerous LH bats sat on the bench and likely scratched their heads along with the rest of us.

        A set lineup is anathema to him. A new lineup and arrangement of positions is proof that he is “managing”, the master strategist.

  18. Votto4life

    Interesting read…I thought overall the Reds defense was pretty good in 2023. I thought the outfield play was challenging sometimes. Benson and Fraley were a bit too aggressive at times, although outfield errors seem always to stand out more.

  19. Rick

    If Steer starts the vast majority of his games in LF I would think that his defense would vastly improve with continuous reps there.
    With our best SS(McLain) playing 2nd base everyday, he will improve our defense at that position if it plays out that way CES playing regularly at 1B should improve playing regularly there. He had some games that he looked pretty good there.
    While RF should be the only handedness platoon position(aside from the DH spot) playing the same position daily should help the 2nd year guys improve. Coaching needs to step up teaching fundamentals and situational baseball, as well as better fielding communication between players should produce better team defense.

  20. Jim Delaney

    I like what Steer did offensively but I would look to move him and India in off season for additional pitching and/or a big time LH bat or better option than Stephenson or Mahle at C. Reds are overloaded with RH bats and have more RH bats close to big leagues.. key is to make this team good enough to make playoffs.. Dbacks are showing you get in and you have a shot.. you don’t have to be best team to win World Series but you have to be good enough to get there… Better Defense will give Reds better chance to make post season..

  21. TR

    Overall I think the Red’s defense this past season was average. Extending Maile is a positive and I like his catching defensive skills better than TS. Stevenson seems better suited at first base rather than behind the plate but first base and DH can be crowded with CES, Steer and perhaps Votto in 2024. Sorting to come up with a regular lineup, which I think is important to a winning team, will continue in the coming season. Questions to be resolved are where can the immense talent of EDLC best be utilized; will India stay at second base or be traded for pitching; and will Senzel be retained as a key utility player. It should be interesting to see how all is resolved once the WS is over and April is here.

  22. West Larry

    I noticed that you have a photo of India catching a ball in a article speaking of the reds poor defense, Appropriate. Several bloggers noted that Bell’s moving players all around the infield and outfield hurts the ability of these players-if they have to learn only one position they would become better defenders, I agree. You need one super utility player though. Who should that be? I believe that this is a perfect role for Barrero. Hopefully, Votto will not be back. I think Senzel should be deleted from the roster. Too much money for a flawed player who is unhappy with limited starts. II fear India will be dealt. If he is, I hope it’s for a great and a good reliever. The reds really need a quality starting pitcher, as noted by many. If we get a quality starter at 20 or so million a year for three or four years, and those afore mentioned relievers, I think the reds will have enough to compete for the central devision.

  23. Mark Moore

    Off topic for this thread, but … 😀

    Go Snakes!! The mighty Kimbrel blows another game and it’s now a best-of-3. Snakes probably need to win at home today so they can split back in Philly.

    Kind of looks like the Rangers are cooked at this point. Houston at home is a tough team. Then again, we beat the entire state this season, didn’t we?

    • Redsvol

      Yes @mark I thought Texas lost the momentum and now is cooked. Their relievers walked the bottom of the lineup and got allowed altuve to bat once more than he should have. Big mistake.

      I’m pulling for Phillies myself – schwarber Harper and wheeler fan. Their big mistake was allowing snacks back in it 2 games ago when they had no business. My opinion is they’ve got their best relievers in the early innings. Kimbrel has no command. Again, too many walks.

      I also can’t believe how few runs they generate yet their big guns hit plenty of home runs. But they hardly ever have anyone on base for those home runs.

      • VaRedsFan

        Are you saying that having one of your best hitters at the top of the lineup, in case it turns over, to have him get the extra at bat matters?


      • old-school

        @ VA

        Lineups dont matter. C’mon. You’re new here arent you.

      • Melvin

        VaRedsFan – New theory? Maybe it will catch on. Who knows? 😉

      • TR

        I don’t root for the Phillies but they are an exciting team and have the power trio of Harper, Schwarber and Castellanos. Even with their cheating history, I prefer the Astros with Dusty’s leadership. It’s history, but it’s too bad Dusty couldn’t have won it all with the Reds in 2012.

  24. old-school

    Terrifying article by Gordon Wittenmyer saying India, McLain, and Steer have jobs locked up and Votto need not worry as Krall says some rookie who played at the end of the year will battle for jobs to make the team in spring training. Elly De La Cruz doesnt have a roster spot in 2024!!!! Nor does CES. Nor does Noelvi marte. Nick Senzel “right now hes on the club”. That doesnt mean much except Krall chose to say it in an article that somehow says CES Marte and Elly are battling for jobs in spring training. Why dont Votto or Senzel have to battle for jobs? I love India but why doesnt he have to battle for a job?
    It was noted that no decision has been made on Votto but that Castellini will basically tell Krall what to do. The budgeting process is 1-2 weeks away from being finished.

    If the Reds bring back Senzel, India, and Votto with guaranteed jobs and roles and the ensuing roster crunch generated by that decision means marte or Elly or CES or a combination of such starts the year in AAA…..I may join the dark side of RLN. That seems very much like service time manipulation and marketing folks telling baseball ops that elevating India and Votto at Redsfest will sell more tickets to the masses of casual fans.

    • Melvin

      I didn’t know I was in the “darkside”. 😉

    • Laredo Slider

      old-school, can’t believe any supposed major league baseball man would be that dumb.

  25. Kevin Patrick

    I’ve mentioned in another thread how I’d do the infield (Elly third, McClain short, Marte second, Encarnacion Strand 1st). I think however as I sit and think about it longer and longer…that the Reds might actually let Votto go. I think (right or wrong) that the Reds look at India as the next team leader. We might see India play a lot of first this year. If you DH Strand, and shuffle the outfield for handedness, then you might have a pretty solid defensive infield…but it won’t matter if we don’t get better defensive and offensive production from the catcher position. The Reds need to figure out how to field an elite defending outfield. Trade any of Steer, Fraley, Benson, Fairchild, Senzel to acquire those fielders. I love all those guys…I just don’t trust that the Reds have solid enough pitching to have long innings because of miscues. That said, I think any of those guys could become more than solid outfielders except for maybe Fraley whose arm I don’t trust. I want 2 guys with arms like Ichiro.

    • Mark Moore

      I was thinking Marte at 2B wasn’t the best option. I believe I recall Doug noting that (and I trust his judgement). I would strongly prefer to see MattyMc back at SS and EDLC at 3B. But I do like what I saw of Marte late in the season and think his upside potential is pretty high. Then somebody is likely to bring up Arroyo and the SS position, so there’s that … 😉

      Friedl in CF regularly and Steer in LF most of the time also does it for me. Regardless, the only role I see for a healthy Votto is DH. And that’s a full stop for me.

      • Harry Stoner

        I don’t think we’ll see Arroyo in 2024 unless there’s a blockbuster IF clearing trade or devastating injury.

        I’ll go out on a limb and suggest Marte is the best hitting prospect the Reds have had in a long time.

        The adjustments he made in September were the ones EDLC couldn’t or wouldn’t make.

        True, he hasn’t shown the power yet of CES or Elly but I think his consistency (so far) at the plate will likely push him ahead of Steer, even, for overall productivity.

        I could readily imagine Krall shipping off CES and / or Marte for the over-rated innings nibbler with “No regrets!”

        I don’t yet have the faith in him as a buyer that we’ve seen in him profitably selling off the Reds starting rotation.

        Anyhow, the rapid (over) hyping of EDLC appears to have locked him in, while other prospects have more than the potential of out performing him over time.

        Marte and CES are going to be highly productive hitters for a long, long time. The Reds would be crazy not to find a place for them to play.

        Even crazier to trade them off for an MOR nibbler.

        I don’t see India going anywhere in 2024. He’ll likely walk as a FA before he gets traded.

        Krall has hinted that someone might wind up back in AAA. Kind of gutless, but also maybe playing it safe for the time being.

        But really, CES or Marte back in Louisville? That’s nuts.

      • Optimist

        How does Marte go to 2b? He has a total of 1 inning played there in his professional career.

        The base infield has to be CES-1b, McLain-2b, EDLC-SS, Marte-3b. That doesn’t mean it’s all 162 games, or even more than 120. Just the base to start from.

        Recall that Steer can handle 1b or 2b, and India is likely OK at 1b, 2b and 3b.

        Finally – Harry – where do you get the idea that Marte or CES could be traded for a mediocre SP? Who is the last mediocre starter the Reds acquired by trade? Sure, everyone is tradeable for the right price, and yes they’ve had some horrible FA signings, but when was the last trade they made for a MLB starting pitcher? Especially after they spent the past 2 seasons acquiring all this MiLB-now MLB talent.

      • Harry Stoner

        I don’t have any firm idea about that, “Optimist”, so maybe I ought to change my handle to “Pessimist”.

  26. CFD3000

    I’m one of the biggest Votto optimists here, but the starting 8 for 2024 seems pretty obvious to me, and it doesn’t include a spot for Votto, India, or Senzel. Stephenson / Maile C, an infield of Marte, EDLC, McClain and CES left to right, and an outfield of Steere, Friedl and Benson left to right. If Votto is truly healthy I’m fine if he’s back to DH and occasionally play first, but never against a tough lefty, and only if he’s productive. If there are 13 non-pitching spots on the roster, the rest includes Barrero, Fairchild, and Matt Reynolds. I wouldn’t be horrified if Fraley and/or Senzel replaced Fairchild or Reynolds but I’d be looking to trade India, Senzel and Fraley for pitching. But that’s just me.

    • Mark Moore

      Agreed. So many options for those valuable 13 spots. And the average age is DEFINITELY on the decline for them. The final 3-4 spots are almost a “pick ’em” in my book.

    • DataDumpster

      Agree. I don’t see much of a path for India, Senzel, Votto, and some combination of Fraley/prospects and the rest of the bench crew to be viable on next year’s team. To me, Krall is just speaking out of the wrong side of his mouth to satisfy some marketing angle to mollify the ownership’s (petty) concerns.

    • BK

      I won’t be satisfied if the Reds sign a MiLB free agent to man a bench role over anyone on the Red’s current roster. Reynolds was outrighted during the season, the other 29 teams passed on picking him up.

  27. Mark Moore

    Looking like the Snakes are now cooked. 3 in a row is hard. 2 in a row during the playoffs in somebody else’s park is a very tall order. Of course, they did already pull that off against Bernie and the Trolley Dodgers, but I’m thinking Philly is peaking at the right time. Too bad as I’m not really a phan in any way.

    • Kevin Patrick

      I’m a huge Pham of Castellanos, Hoffman, Lorenzen. and Cave.

  28. Votto4life

    The Reds should sign five free agents this winter.

    Two Solid Starting Pitchers

    Two solid relief pitchers

    One middle of the line up type hitter, preferably an outfielder.

    If I had my say the Reds 2024 starting day line up would consist of:
    (Not the batting order)
    DH – CES
    1b -Steer
    2b – McClain
    SS – EDLC
    3B -Marte
    LF- Benson or Fraley
    CF- Friedl
    RF – free agent with some pop
    C- Maile

    I truly don’t think this is too much to ask for.
    The Reds could afford to spend money on 5 free agents. That’s all they need in order to compete next season.

    Having said that, I would be surprised if the Reds sign more than one free agent. Even if they do sign a free agent, I don’t expect the player to be a game changer. It will likely be whatever free agent is left standing come Spring Training.

    I suspect the 2024 team payroll to be between $75-80 Million dollars.

    • Jason Franklin

      I think they may spend some cash for a starter with some experience (innings eater). I don’t see them getting anyone with star capability though. They should invest in some studs though because that would drive more fans to the stadium but we are talking about a Kroger-owned team. I would expect Krall to do his usuall garbage bin/AAAA scouring though. I don’t blame him for that either. I would love to see them pickup guys like Sonny Gray and Wade Miley again. That would help bolster the rotation.

      Relief-wise I think they need another lefty in the pen that they can rely on beyond Moll. They also could handle a backup closer type (maybe somebody with experience there).

      I wonder if there are any platoon type OF’s who could alternate with Fraley against lefties? Someobody with power/fearsome. They probably won’t spend for a full-time hitter who can handle both righties and lefties with pop.

    • BK

      My plan would be:

      SP – Yamamoto (young, good, and Reds can rebuild some trust with upgrading the obvious need; low 2023 budget covers the posting fee)
      LHRP – Matsui (high-leverage relief pitcher, no additional compensation required.
      OF – Adam Duval; RH power bat to pair with either Benson or Fraley who also hits RHP well. He’s good enough to start when a starter is on the IL. Also, a Louisville, KY native.
      LHRP – Suter, very unusual throwing motion, had success in Coors Field. Also, a Cincinnati native.

      I estimate this would result in a $90M payroll, fill team needs, and bolster depth. Offseason is the time to buy. Free Agents don’t cost prospects.

      • Jason Franklin

        I could totally see them going after Suter. Also, Duval would make sense and he plays a pretty good defense (or at least in the past he did). He would also be cheap right now. Not sure about the other Japanese pitchers. Do you thing the Reds would be a little weary about signing someone else from Japan to a big contract?

      • Votto4life

        @BK I think you have a valid, well thought out plan and I like It a lot. I think, if adopted, it would go a long way towards establishing the Reds as favorites to win the NL Central next year.

        Unfortunately, I just don’t believe the Reds will spend that much I money. On paper in 2023, the Reds spent $85 million dollars. I will be surprised, if the Reds spend $70 million dollars in 2024.

      • BK

        Both Japanese pitchers are very well-regarded; Japanese pitchers have had a lot of success in MLB. Also, Akiyama received a relatively modest contract.

        @V4L, if the Reds can add a quality starter and reliever while improving the team depth, great! If they don’t address the obvious needs the Castellinis will just be adding to their credibility problem.

      • Melvin

        ” If they don’t address the obvious needs the Castellinis will just be adding to their credibility problem.”

        You mean they have a credibility problem? 😉

      • MBS

        @BK, I like the mix you offered up, but I hope they go a bit more high end on the outfielder. I was very high on Yamamoto, but soured a bit. The estimate I’ve seen for him is a 10 year commitment, but if he’s signing a 5 year deal, I’m back on the Yamamoto train.

      • BK

        @MBS, with Hinds, Dunn, and Arroyo close to major league ready, I doubt we’ll see a long term position player free agent signing unless someone is moved via trade.

        WRT Yamamoto, his posting fee works against a lot of the estimates I have read. Also, there are several good free agent starters this offseason. Other clubs will certainly like Yamamoto, too.

  29. David Ward

    Since pitching and defense is the key to be in every game, the Reds lineup has to be: LF-Steer/Benson, CF-Friedl/Bader, RF-Fraley/Martini, 3B-Marte/EDLC, SS-EDLC/McLain, 2B-McLain/India, 1B-CES/Steer, C-Maile/Stephenson, DH-India/Senzel (against lefty’s only)

  30. Jim Delaney

    Reds have a window to contend and they should take advantage of that by talking to teams that are looking to unload payroll this off-season. For example, the SD Padres are trying to get there payroll down to $200M while also trying to contend in 2024. The Reds can offer SD the MLB players and/or MLB ready players to acquire Joan Soto and Yu Darvish. Soto gives the REDS the legit middle of order LH bat they need to contend and Darvish gives them a veteran starting pitcher.
    Potential Lineup with Soto on Reds:
    CF- Friedl/Dunn
    2B- McLain
    RF- Soto
    1B- CES
    DH- Fraley
    3B- Marte
    SS- EDLC
    C- Stephenson/Mahle/Free
    LF- Benson/Friedl/Hurtibise
    Starting Pitching: Darvish, Ashcraft, Abbott, Greene, Williamson, Lodolo- REDS go with 6 man rotation- Darvish pitches better on 6th day and REDS need to be careful with innings.
    Bullpen- Sign 2 free agents unless Mets are willing to trade Edwin Diaz,
    Rest of PEN- Diaz, Moll, Phillips, Richardson, Cruz, Giabaut.
    If Padres won’t trade Soto, I would still see if an India for Darvish and cash type deal is possible.

  31. Jeremiah

    De La Cruz could be great at SS. I think some of it is maturing and focusing. I kind of liked him at 3B too. He can save runs just by being the cutoff man on outfield throws too keeping runners from attempting to go home as well.

    Overall I have wondered who is best everywhere and that is a problem for the Reds, are they valuing defense enough.

    Jim I think it’d be fun to see Soto come to the Reds too. I doubt the Reds have that boldness in them though. I think you gotta have some veteran stars though to win a World Series and Soto would provide that.