The Cincinnati Reds should have a lot of money to spend this offseason. While we don’t know how much money the team has to spend, we do know that their current payroll for the 2024 season if they decline the options on Joey Votto and Curt Casali is about $37,000,000. That’s more than $100,000,000 lower than their record high payroll that came at a time when there was far less money in the game of baseball. And according to the Reds themselves, they made a lot more money in 2023 than they expected to. The instability and uncertainty of the regional sports network situation (in Cincinnati’s case, that’s Bally Sports Ohio) could add a little bit of hesitation to “go all in” in terms of spending, but either way, there should be plenty of money.
Over at The Athletic it’s former Reds general manager and everyone’s favorite leather pants wearing character this side of Ross Geller took a look at the top 40 free agents this offseason and which teams were the best fits for each player. Cincinnati was listed among the best fits for three of those 40 players.
The top player that is a “best fit” with the Reds among the teams is left-handed pitcher Eduardo Rodriguez. Technically, he’s not a free agent at this point. He has an option that he can exercise once the World Series is over, but he could also choose to remain with the Detroit Tigers for the next three seasons, earning $49,000,000 in the process. The expectation, though, is that he’ll become a free agent and try to cash in after a season in which he posted a 3.30 ERA in 152.2 innings across 26 starts where he walked 48 batters and struck out 143. Bowden projects that he will get a 5-year deal at a cost of $90,000,000. He’s listed as the 11th best free agent this offseason.
The other two players that have the Reds listed among the “best fits” are both former players. Wade Miley, like Rodriguez, has an option for 2024. It’s a mutual option for $10,000,000 with the Brewers and has a $1,000,000 buyout. The other player is outfielder Harrison Bader.
While it makes some sense that Wade Miley is a good fit for the Reds as they likely want to add a veteran starter and pitching depth, it’s tough to see how Harrison Bader fits in. The Reds outfield has Spencer Steer in left, Will Benson in right, TJ Friedl in center, and Jake Fraley in both corners. Bader is the best defender among the group, and while he’s not a bad hitter, he’s not a better hitter than any of those guys. Given the pricetag, he’s an expensive non-upgrade.
Looking over the list and projected contracts, is there someone that sticks out that would be a good fit for the club? Once you get beyond the top three guys on the list, Cincinnati should easily be able to afford any and all of the contracts projected by Bowden without issue or complaint from any rational person.