Spring training is over. The Cincinnati Reds got on a plane last night and flew to Cincinnati to prepare for Opening Day on Thursday, when they will host the Washington Nationals (who have a roster full of former Reds).

The Reds only had 25 players left in big league camp when they left Arizona. They need 26 players on the roster. That leaves them one short. Let’s take a look at the players who appear to have made the roster (trades, other acquisitions could still alter this – if you’ll recall, Todd Frazier once made the opening day roster as the team left Arizona, but a waiver claim led to him being sent to the minor leagues before the season began).

The Rotation

  • Frankie Montas
  • Hunter Greene
  • Nick Martinez
  • Graham Ashcraft
  • Andrew Abbott

This is a solid looking group. There’s upside here, too. But there’s also some uncertainty about just how good this rotation can be as everyone has some lingering questions with them. Whether it’s the health of Montas, Greene and Ashcraft’s inconsistency, Abbott’s second season after struggling a bit down the stretch, or Martinez not really having been a big league starter since 2017 – everyone’s got a bit of a question mark on their resume. Toss in that beyond them you’ve got Nick Lodolo with questions about the health of his leg, and then Brandon Williamson’s shoulder and the uncertainty around that and you can both feel good and iffy about the starting pitching.

The Bullpen

  • Tejay Antone
  • Fernando Cruz
  • Alexis Diaz
  • Buck Farmer
  • Emilio Pagan
  • Lucas Sims
  • Brent Suter
  • Justin Wilson

Plenty of familiar guys in the bullpen. If you’re one who puts stock into spring training numbers then you might have some concern that the closer had an ERA in the double digits and allowed one less home run in a handful of innings in Arizona as he allowed in all of 2023. Along the same lines, only Lucas Sims had an ERA under 4.00 out in spring training among this group.

Of course we should all know by now that spring training numbers aren’t of much value. Between the level of competition that guys face being wildly variable, in particular in Arizona the breaking ball doesn’t quite break like it does in non-Arizona places, guys going out and working on specific things without the expressed idea of “winning this particular at-bat”…. it’s just not full of information worth relying on and projecting forward from. Most of these guys have some sort of track record to rely on. The group should be solid.

The Infield

  • Tyler Stephenson
  • Luke Maile
  • Jeimer Candelario
  • Elly De La Cruz
  • Christian Encarnacion-Strand
  • Santiago Espinal
  • Jonathan India

There’s a pretty important name missing here and it’s Matt McLain. He’s seeking a second opinion on his shoulder and we should know more about how much time he may miss this year. But until we know the answer to that, there are going to be some questions. And even if he does return this season, shoulder issues can be things that linger. Until he’s back on the field and performing, there’s going to be some uncertainty here.

And then there’s the whole Noelvi Marte thing. He’s going to miss the first half of the season after his 80-game PED suspension.

With the guys who are going to be on the club – there are plenty of questions, but plenty of upside, too. Elly De La Cruz has MVP level upside, but he’s also got concerns when it comes to how much contact he can make and how that has led to inconsistency in his short big league career. Christian Encarnacion-Strand had a little more than half of a season under his belt. Jonathan India’s battled injuries the last two seasons and coming with that has been underperformance in both the field and at the plate. Jeimer Candelario had a good 2023, but he also had a terrible 2022, and after being acquired at the trade deadline by the Cubs last season he saw a drop off in his performance from his time with the Nationals in the first half.

Behind the plate you’ve got Tyler Stephenson, who is more of a bat-first catcher, but one who is coming off of his worst season at the plate. Then there’s Luke Maile who is a glove-first catcher who has not really ever hit much in his career.

If this group plays to their potential, then the sky could be the limit. But across the board there are some questions that everyone’s going to need to answer, too.

The Outfield

  • Will Benson
  • Stuart Fairchild
  • Jake Fraley
  • Nick Martini
  • Spencer Steer

Losing TJ Friedl to a broken wrist is big. It’s not just that he’s a valuable player, but he’s realistically the only true center fielder on the club at this point. The Reds have given Will Benson some time there this spring, and Stuart Fairchild has experience in the big leagues and minor leagues in center, but neither profiles as an every day caliber center fielder from the defensive aspect.

Spencer Steer is the only guy among this group who is, or at least has been used recently, as an every day player. Will Benson and Jake Fraley were both platoon players with Cincinnati last year. Nick Martini didn’t get 100 at-bats in the big leagues last year, and Fairchild has been a backup for his parts of three big league seasons.

This is likely where the club will be looking at to make their roster addition. Whether that comes from someone already in the organization or the team makes a trade or waiver wire pick up is still up in the air.

212 Responses

  1. AllTheHype

    A rather large hole, in my view, is the lack of a ML quality defensive CFer. Benson and Fairchild, as the article states, can fill in but neither is the guy you want manning CF with a 2 run lead in the 9th.

    • Casey39

      Why cant the Reds try Jacob Hurtubise out there?

  2. AllTheHype

    Great article btw. It hit all the main points it should have hit.

    • KYfan

      Why not play the fastest man in the world in center field? His infield defensive skills are not exactly sterling. How many times did he boot a routine infield roller, or if he did manage to make the catch, throw the ball into the seats? His speed is only being used offensively. Why not let him stretch it out in center field? I’m thinking with all his length he’d rob more than a few home runs from the opposing team.

      • TR

        When management and EDLC are ready to make a change, it will happen. Elly has all the tools to be an outstanding centerfielder, especially speed and a strong arm which will make a big difference in the extra large outfields.

      • VaRedsFan

        Then you are out of an even more important defensive position….at SS.
        Who plays SS if Elly gets hurt?

      • greenmtred

        He probably would make a great center fielder. And he’d probably make a great shortstop. It’s an interesting exercise to compare, in a few games, how many non-routine plays a center fielder makes versus how many a shortstop makes. Then do the same comparison for routine plays. Elly’s arm is a great weapon at shortstop.

      • MBS

        I was/am ok with EDLC in CF, but not now. McLain might miss significant time, Marte is suspended for half the season, and Arroyo is out for the year.

        I’d have Marte shagging fly balls while he’s suspended, he doesn’t have EDLC speed, but only EDLC, and Fairchild had a higher sprint speed last year.

      • Melvin

        I was hoping it would happen sooner rather than later with Arroyo on the way. After seeing him (Arroyo) play I thought he was the best at SS out of all of them. There’s virtually no doubt in my mind that EDLC will make a superstar CF if/when that happens. That will have to be put on hold now obviously. EDLC pretty much has to play SS this year.

  3. wkuchad

    Rotation: I like the five options we’re starting the year with, though I preferred to see Martinez in the bullpen. But hopefully he’s just a placeholder for a healthy Lodolo in a few weeks.

    Bullpen: It’s a collection of unspectacular but solid pitchers. I would be much better with this group if Diaz returned to dominant form.

    Infield: I’m disappointed we’re not starting 2024 with two of our most exciting rookies from last year. The remaining starters should be very solid, but our depth is gone, and we’re going to take a hit whenever anyone sits for a rest.

    Outfield: Losing Friedl hurts a lot. I would continue to platoon Fraley, but maybe give Benson a chance against lefties to start the year.

    • Mauired

      Agreed. If Martinez is a placeholder for Lodolo and simply a swingman, that’s great. But if Reds are counting on him as a starter all year, I’m not hopeful of it working out. I’ve seen this attempt by the Reds so many times of trying to convert a good relief pitcher into a starter and it ending in disaster. Latest example being Luis Cessa last year.

      • Tom Diesman

        The odds of Martinez succeeding as a SP are much better than the Luis Cessa situation. Martinez has started 19 G over the last two seasons, 44% of his IP for those two years, and has a 3.41 ERA in 95 IP in those games. Plus in 2021 he put up a 1.62 ERA in 149 IP in Japan.

      • Daniel Kals

        Based on their numbers as starters, you should be way more bullish on Martinez as a starter than Greene, Ashcraft, and Abbott.

  4. Rednat

    The lineup kind of reminds me of the late 70s reds. You had a lot of remnants from the big red machine but without Rose and Perez it wasn’t quite the same. This team without Friedl,McClain.Marte just not quite as potent on paper at least

  5. Ethan L

    Thanks for posting this. It’s exactly what I was looking for. A great guide to Opening Day.

    Two of my favorite players are in the pen: Antone and Suter! I’m hoping Suter can have a similar season to Scott Sullivan’s ’99 campaign!

    • CI3J

      I miss ol’ Sully and Mullet, which was the X-Files inspired nicknames for Scott Sullivan and Danny Graves from those Reds teams from the turn of the millennium.

      • Pharmer85

        Loved the X-Files. That was one spooky show

  6. LDS

    Good article, though not one that screams “all is right with the world”. Lots of upside, but lots of downside as well. I’d feel better about the team if some of the deficiencies noted in the last year or two have been remediated. I suspect not, but we all hope.

    • Mauired

      Yeah I’ll be closely monitoring the production of Castillo and Montas.

      They had an ACE pitcher who was not only successful in Great American Smallpark but willing to stay in Cincinnati and willing to take a below market deal. To this date they still have NOTHING in return for him. Marte is suspended. Arroyo out for the season after shoulder surgery. Stoudt released. Moore maybe becomes an MLB reliever in a couple years with luck. Meanwhile, Seattle has an annual Cy Young contender for a very fair price.

      Reds have gambled on Montas being healthy again and being his replacement this year at the front of the rotation.

      Why not just keep the healthy, durable, and productive Castillo to anchor the young rotation.

      • Optimist

        OK, but it wasn’t a Castillo for Montas trade. It was not a like-for-like, SP-SP deal. We likely won’t know for several years how it works out. Stoudt and Moore were the throw ins. Unless Marte somehow gets banned and Arroyo’s injury is a career ender, it won’t be until 2027 or later that a final verdict can be declared.

        That, and if I recall correctly, it was only for the prior 1 1/2 years of Castillo’s performance that was traded, considering his Reds contract ended this off season.

        All in all – way too early to reach any conclusions on this deal.

        Now, about the Benson deal . . .

      • Doc

        If you had told the Reds that the suspension and injuries were going to occur before the trade was made, I am certain they would have done things differently.

        Additionally, you have an implied assumption that Castillo will never go down hurt. He hasn’t been up to now, tis true, but the rolls are full of pitchers who had no prior injury history who have met Mr. TJ and his knife.

      • DHud

        How do you know Castillo was willing to take a below market deal?

      • AllTheHype

        @DHud, He doesn’t, it just makes his argument look better to say that.

      • LDS

        Better than saying “below market”, I think affordable would be more accurate. He’s making about $24M this season. The Reds could have afforded it, but chose not to. I still suspect that the Reds may trade Marte. They have a tendency to trade “controversial” players, even those falsely accused and later cleared.

      • Mauired

        @dudson. How do I know if was willing to take a below market deal?! Because he did. Because he did. He’s getting 22 million a year when pitchers his caliber are getting 30-30 annually.If you mean with Cincinnati. Castillo did an interview after he trade and said he wanted to stay in Cincinnati. These aren’t my feelings. There are numbers and quotes.

      • Mauired

        @dudson and hype. How do I know if was willing to take a below market deal?! Because he did. Because he did. He’s getting 22 million a year when pitchers his caliber are getting 30-30 annually.If you mean with Cincinnati. Castillo did an interview after he trade and said he wanted to stay in Cincinnati. These aren’t my feelings. There are numbers and quotes.

      • Mauired

        Sorry about double post. Had some editing issues.

      • Old Big Ed

        But you don’t know that Castillo was willing to take that same deal with Cincinnati. For one thing, there is no state income tax in Washington, plus they play 13 road games a year in Texas.

        More to the point, though, the Mariners got a year-and-a-half out of Castillo under the contract he was under. Anything beyond that is what Castillo and the Mariners agreed to do later. The Reds did not have any rights under Castillo’s contract beyond the end of 2023, other than what a QO would generate, and they therefore could not trade those rights.

        Meanwhile, they still have 6 more years of contract rights to Marte and probably 7 with Arroyo. It’s still going to be at least 3 years before the trade can be reasonably assessed. Castillo may become a multi-year Cy Young Award winner, or he may blow out his elbow in a week and be finished, but both possibilities are irrelevant to the value that Castillo’s contract was on the day it was traded.

      • Mauired

        Big Ed. Lots of ifs, hope, and tax theories there. I do hope Arroyo and Marte rebound and become all stars. Not looking good right now.

        Reds had a top ten MLB pitcher (which they have rarely had in the last 50 seasons) that opening stated in the enquirer that his preference was to stay.
        The Reds HOPED that Greene or Lodolo would be just as good. Unfortunately that hasn’t happened. Now Reds are HOPING and banking on Montas coming back from shoulder surgery and be the guy they need at the front of the rotation. We’ll see. He pitched one inning last year.

      • 2020ball

        I still think an extension wouldve been the best move, same as at the time. I, however, care very little how a player not on the team anymore is doing unless their on the other team i follow.

      • Justin T

        @Optimist

        Stroudt was hardly a throw in, he was the Mariners 7th best prospect. Go back and read Krall’s comments when the trade was made. To imply that he was a throw in means we traded a prime Castillo for a top 50 prospect infielder and Arroyo, who still isnt considered a top 50 prospect.

        At this point we are probably a couple more years from seeing any kind of return on that deal. Fair to say we lost that one.

      • wkuchad

        “They have a tendency to trade “controversial” players, even those falsely accused and later cleared.”

        Wait, what??

      • VaRedsFan

        @Maui – You are failing to realize that when the Reds traded Castillo, they were abysmal, and entering into a full rebuild. An ace pitcher on a team with nothing around him is useless. So they traded him for some highly rated prospects and set the Reds up for turning the Reds into a winning team. They moved other lesser caliber players as well, to also bring in some high end, young talent. It also gave them payroll flexibility for the future years signing the guys that deserve it.

        There’s no half measures, you either rebuild, or you don’t. There’s no cleansing of the stale roster without getting rid of a good player or two.
        Stop looking backwards.

      • Mauired

        Va. I haven’t forgotten how bad they were in 2022. That doesn’t mean you subtract your best pitcher going forward. The following season they were back in the playoff hunt. Nutty theory that you have to get rid of your best pitcher because the team is bad for one year.

      • Mauired

        The fact is Reds had Castillo for a year and a half. There was no rush. If they held onto him in 2023, a few things would have happened. For one they would not have needed to add starting pitching which everyone wanted at the trade deadline. The Reds undoubtedly would have won two more games (probably much more) with him instead of Weaver on the team. They reach the playoffs and in a year where the DBacks go to the world series, who knows what the Reds would have done. Possibly advanced in the playoffs for the 1st time since 1995! Maybe the Reds even would have extended Castillo in season with the same very reasonable salary he took with the Mariners when they realized they had a good young team but the pitching needs help. Or not and they let him go after get the draft pick for the qualifying offer. Even in that scenario. I would rather have a playoff team with a shot at the World Series and a draft pick than two shortstop prospects the team doesn’t need. One suspended for steroids and the other out for the year with shoulder surgery. This is exactly the kind of stuff that continues the streak of no playoffs series wins longer than ANY team in North America. We have to go to other parts of the world to find more loser teams than the Reds now. No more excuses.

      • Cincy6464

        Your argument has merit. Wouldn’t it be terrific to have LC in today’s starting rotation!
        However, hindsight makes it easy to consider the trade a “miss”.
        I think 2023 competitiveness was a surprise for the Front Office. At the time of the scorched-earth rebuild, I would posit that “budget limitations” & “organizational depth” were the goals.
        “Budget limitations” were justified after the low-income years (debatable – but for another time). “Organizational depth” was needed after a decade of decay. LDS is not wrong when he states “player development is poor”. Until last year’s arrivals, there are not too many success stories – as compared to TB, Oakland, Atlanta (teams with track records of developing young guys).
        So, keeping Castillo looks smart in hindsight. The organizational priorities at the time drove the decision.

      • greenmtred

        Good points and plausible scenario, Mauired. Obviously, there could have been other outcomes had they kept Castillo–injury or a repetition of that curious and lengthy streak of ineffectiveness at the beginning of (21 or 22?), but the current Castillo added to last year’s team would certainly have made a difference and would likely have propelled us into the postseason. Don’t overlook the injury-related shambles that was the rest of the rotation, though: the two extra wins would likely have gotten us there, but it takes more than one or two healthy and effective starters to advance. One other quibble: in past years, the Reds would probably have traded Castillo for MLB-ready, low-ceiling guys or a generous handful of over-the-hill veterans instead of very promising prospects with great potential.

      • Optimist

        @JustinT – Yes, Stoudt and Moore were the throw-ins in the trade. Yes, Stoudt was close to MLB ready, and in fact debuted with the Reds, and did Krall say anything to indicate more than he’d get his chance? IIRC everything thought he was a 5th starter/long reliever type, very useful but largely unimportant for trade value.

        Still, Marte was a top-20 MLB prospect for several years, and Arroyo ranked 40-60ish the past 2 seasons, each also much younger and at premium positions.

        No – it’s not fair to say we “lost that one” – it’s incomplete and will be for several years. Unless Marte AND Arroyo are both out of the game entirely by the end of this season, there’s no way to evaluate this deal yet.

    • LDS

      @Mauired, without hope and if, the Reds don’t have much. Lots of potential, lots of upside, but not a lot of proven players. Some of them could turn out to be all stars or they could fade like Senzel, Aquino, Barrero, and the rest. Yes, some of us would like to have seen them invest in proven, above-average, major league talent. That’s just not the Reds way. Sometimes lottery tickets win. Usually they don’t .

      • Mauired

        Funny thing is Castillo was a lottery ticket that won. Reds got him for Dan Straily. Marlins probably regret that one. But the sad part was Reds weren’t smart enough to keep their winning lottery ticket. And that move already cost them a lot last year. Castillo instead of Weaver would have won them the division at least.

      • Jimbo44CN

        Wait a minute, wait a minute. Was’nt it just a few days ago you were saying that they were stupid to release Barrero? Now he’s washed up like Aquino? i don’t think the two are the same, but you can’t have it both ways.

      • LDS

        They did give up on Barrero too soon. I didn’t say washed up. I’m talking about fading in the Reds eyes. I also commented that the Reds organization is lousy at developing prospects. Consistent @Jimbo, you just left out part of the discussion.

    • 2020ball

      This is pretty close to my take too actually, crazy as that may sound. I think we agree that the team is missing maybe one more star player somewhere on the roster for me to be comfortable with it, but it looks a lot better to me than past seasons. Things can change, the team has prospect capital and some upside players so nothings set in stone.

    • Mauired

      Fair enough Cincy64. But I’m not using hindsight. I was literally praying two years ago to the baseball gods. Get rid of anybody but keep Castillo. I have been closely following the Reds for decades and I know how hard it is for a any team to find a true number 1 especially a small market team like the Reds. It’s literally the hardest thing to find and replace. The Mariners are so happy. I believe he is slated to start his second opening day with them. Bell didn’t even have the common sense to do that. Mahle was the opening day starter in 2022 over Castillo. It just shows the ignorance and lack of respect the organization had for this guy. And it has forced them to gamble on Montas a great pitcher with a big question mark of health. If it’s a question of resource management. Ok. Well for the same price of Pagan and Montas you could have Castillo (age 31) this year instead. And his current contract only has four more guaranteed years and approximately 98 million after this year in a stretch where Reds are not paying anyone anything. What a great situation ownership had but they were just too cheap to make it happen.

      • Tom Diesman

        Regarding….. “Bell didn’t even have the common sense to do that. Mahle was the opening day starter in 2022 over Castillo. It just shows the ignorance and lack of respect the organization had for this guy.”

        From mlb.com – “Sore shoulders early in camp for ace Luis Castillo and recently acquired veteran Mike Minor are preventing them from being ready in time for the regular season. ”

        Castillo opened 2022 on the DL and made his first start for the Reds on May 9th.

      • Mauired

        My bad Tom. Maybe was confusing the previous season that Bell didn’t start him on opening day. I think it was Sonny Gray instead.

      • Cincy6464

        MauiRed – Can’t argue with the real numbers!
        I do agree, LC could have been the next Johnny Cueto and an established #1 for several years running in Cincy. Maybe there was fear in signing a pitcher long term after the Homer Bailey episode? Hard to know.
        But as you point out, if the player wants to be a Redleg and has #1 starter stuff, you need to have vision to look beyond past failures.

  7. MBS

    I feel really good about the infield. Except for EDLC the floor on these guys is pretty good. Add in the ceiling of EDLC, and it could be a really fun group.

    The OF was weak before the Friedl injury, and even more so now. Unless they make a trade we probably don’t have any help for 2 months or so. A Friedl, return, and a Dunn promotion could right the ship.

    (Marte should be shagging fly balls the entire time he’s suspended)

    • AllTheHype

      Personally I think India will be extremely motivated to re-establish himself. I wouldn’t be surprised to see an excellent first half from him. He had his spot taken away, then given back via injury, and he’s got a chip on his shoulder. I’ll bet that’s the way he’s looking at it.

      • JayTheRed

        I’m with you on this India wants to prove he is a starter. He will be closer to his ROY results, I think.

      • Jeremiah

        I agree India could be a wildcard in that he could be really good…I think injuries are a concern with him though.

      • TR

        India will take advantage of his early season opportunity to regain team leadership as a mature player. I see the righthanded hitting core of India, Steer, CES and Stephenson, as a sleeper, leading the Reds offense this season.

  8. Stock

    Question:

    Does anyone know if Lodolo is starting the year on the DL or if he will be optioned?

    The advantage of the option is they gain a year of service time.

    • AllTheHype

      I had the same question the other day and BK found this on the Red’s official website, so looks like DL and accrue ML service time.

      “LHP Nick Lodolo (left tibia discomfort)
      Expected return: April 10
      After the Reds break camp, Lodolo will remain in Arizona and pitch in a Minor League game on March 26. His plans include pitching in two games on a rehab assignment with Triple-A Louisville before making his regular-season debut in the big leagues on April 10 vs. the Brewers. (Last updated: March 21)”

    • Jason Franklin

      Nobody knows for sure because the Reds do a pretty poor job of spreading info to media. Do they lack a media guy? Or someone in charge of this?

      • greenmtred

        The information on Lodolo was on the Reds’ website, and so is the information on the other injured players. Not a difficult source to access.

      • Doc

        The Reds website does not update very often. Makes it less than comfortably useful.

      • DHud

        Or they have a very good PR team who only puts out exactly what they want/need to?

      • greenmtred

        I don’t check it every day, Doc. When I do, it seems reasonably current. Current enough for my needs, at any rate.

  9. JayTheRed

    Rotation – I look for Montas to have a nice comeback year. I watched him pitch the other day and, he just looks good with all of his pitches. I’m still not sold on Greene. The guy gets 0-2 often enough but then nitpicks the corners and gives up too many homeruns still. I am fine with Nick Martinez being a #3 but I really look forward to seeing what Lodolo can do, especially with these the best stuff in spring training comments we have gotten from some players. Ashcraft is a solid innings eater type who has the upside to be a little more. Let’s hope he gets a full season this year. I saw publications that he is our 5th starter, not 4th. Abbott has a really good potential. I hope he worked on conditioning this winter so he cannot run out of gas like he did last year. I am perfectly fine with the rotation as a whole.

    Bullpen
    Well unlike most I feel like we have a really good bullpen this year. Having 2 or 3 lefties is going to be a nice luxury that this team has not seen in a long time. There really isn’t anyone on the bullpen that I will worry about when they come in, with the exception of Diaz. He has looked pretty bad this spring, and I worry about how many homeruns he has given up. I am hoping it’s just he was working on things and will be the consistent Diaz we saw most of last year. Sims has looked good so far and I expect he will have another solid year. If Antone can come back to what he used to be that will be a huge lift. I also think Fernando Cruz will be even better than last season. Not sure what to expect from Pagan. He has a decent track record though.

    Infield
    Catching I am pretty happy with. Would be pretty amazing if Mallie hits well and has his good defense. I could see more of a split in time between the two catchers if that happens. I love the Espinal pickup. He has been very good as a backup with Toronto the past 3 years. Hoping CES has a monster year. He sure has that potential. Elly will be fun to watch, and I hope he continues to improve on reducing his strikeouts. I think both India and Candelario will have nice strong seasons. India will be better than last year. Without Marte and McLain I think it hurts but it won’t be the end of the world without them. Sure, I would rather have them, but I think the Reds will be solid without them.

    Outfield
    Losing Friedl hurts but I think Fairchild and Benson can hold down the fort just fine until he returns around mid-May. Unless something awesome is on the waiver wire or a trade is swung for a good outfielder, I think those two guys will be quite productive. Steer reminds me a little of Joey Votto in his good years. just seems to get hits all the time. I also heard he is really working on his outfield defense. Frailey when healthy is a solid player too. I look for him to have an even better year as well. several here don’t think he is a good OF. His splits are definitely good for a platoon.

    My overall prediction even with the suspension and the injuries to start the season is for the Reds to get 85 wins at least, and perhaps get as high as 90 wins. As you can see, I have more optimism this year than I have in the past 3 seasons. Go Reds and prove all those professional predictors wrong.

    • Daniel Kals

      If you check his splits, you’ll see that Diaz was very bad in three situations last year:

      – day games
      – tie games
      – extra innings (presumably sometimes these were tie games)

      If you watched last year, this was all pretty obvious to the eye test. If he was brought into a game in the 8th, it was usually ugly. Tied in the 9th? Ugly. Top of the 10th? Ugly. His WHIP was 1.50 or higher in all those situations.

      He seems to only be able to get up for closing situations under the lights. I have little faith that David Bell will make any changes to how he uses him, so I expect a lot of blown holds and some saves early in the year. After way too many blown holds and saves, Bell will then finally start using other options to close, like Antone and Sims. My guess is this will happen mid-season, once we’re well past it being obvious that Diaz is a one-trick pony.

      Of course, Diaz could grow as a pitcher and fix this issue. I’ll be hoping for that before I would ever anticipate Bell making a change.

      • Daniel Kals

        And of course, day games in unimportant situations is basically what Spring Training is all about. So no surprise he’s been bad this spring.

      • Still a Red

        If I remember correctly, without look at his stats, he scared me almost every time he came in, though he often got out of the jam he got himself into.

      • greenmtred

        Sims scared me, too. I left the room when he came in to pitch in a close game.

  10. Jason Franklin

    My biggest problem with the team outside of the CF position is catcher. Stephenson is a really poor defensive player. His pitch framing is terrible as he would probably been near the bottom of the standings there if he had played more games. (Basically his pitch framing cost the team -9 runs last year). He was about league average on caught stealing. He was also -3 in blocking pitches in the dirt which was middle to low. Seems like the Reds don’t put as much value into the position as they should.

    • DaveCT

      I thought last years trade talks here should have focused on Stephenson rather than India. It was pointed out, correctly, that India would be much easier to replace than Stephenson given the latter’s relatively positive offense at a key defensive position. How, as you point out, Stephenson’s defense is inadequate. I felt then, as now, making Maile the starter and acquiring a backup such as Jacob Stallings would solidify the defense as well as help the pitching staff. I felt the collective offense of the various combinations of middle infield, corner infield and outfielders could make up for Stephenson’s offensive value. I would not be surprised to see a trade deadline deal moving him, though off season is more likely. And, while it may take another year or two, Michael Trautwein is a pretty good prospect, while Logan Tanner has a laser of an arm.

      • greenmtred

        Stephenson was not fully recovered from injury last season, so judging his hitting should take that into account. Late in the year he started showing signs of being the hitter that many–including Joey Votto–thought he would be. If that carries over, few of us would want to trade him.

      • DaveCT

        Stephenson gets a pass on the shoulder injury, for sure. Certainly with the bat, and possibly his defense. However, I’m not sold on his defense overall.

      • Pharmer85

        Maile is by far the better defensive catcher. Saw him throw out 3 guys at second last Thursday against Mariners. Teams run at will vs Stephenson

  11. SultanofSwaff

    For me anything less than a wild card will be a failure. That said, some guys will outperform and some will underperform, but on the whole this is a much better team than the 82 win team last year even before factoring in the mid-season additions of McLain, Friedl, and Marte. Lodolo will be a major addition and in turn will greatly benefit the bullpen.

    Give credit to Krall for the smart pitching additions and Candelario…..big fan of his moves, especially the decisions on who not to keep (but I will be tracking Espinal vs. Barrero!).

    Left unsaid of course is the question of why is the payroll still so meager in an offseason where most free agents had to take a fraction of their predicted dollar amounts? In such an extreme buyers market, I don’t know how they get a pass despite ‘spending’. Not to gripe, but they’d still have to nearly double payroll just to be league average (pssst……Jordan Montgomery is still out there). Maybe if there were a few extensions handed out to the pre-arb core guys I’d be more understanding, but there’s been no movement there either.

    • Doc

      I’d prefer to see the pre-arb guys actually perform for a couple of seasons first. They gave a huge chunk of change to a pre-arb pitcher not too long ago and, so far, they have gotten zilch from that deal.

      • Old Big Ed

        I would be a lot more willing to lock down EDLC and CES and maybe a couple of other hitters than I would be any pitchers. There is just too much injury risk with pitchers.

        If the team waits too long, though, there is no value to be had. The Braves locked up Acuna early; if they waited until after this year, it could not be done.

    • AllTheHype

      @Sultan – The payroll is still (mostly) meager because the best players on the team are still pre-arb and making league min. Those same players will start to become expensive in 2-3 years, and really expensive in 4-6. Payroll needs room to grow year over year going forward.

      • VaRedsFan

        Hype gets it regarding payroll. You need room to grow.

  12. Jayce

    I’m pretty optimistic about all of rotation, bullpen, infield, outfield and bench. Friedl for me is the biggest loss and missing piece but I have high expectations of Fairchild and Benson. Have to keep in mind Friedl isn’t so established either and was not guaranteed to repeat 2023 performance. There are a lot of players recovering or developing that will be factors at some point this season and the Reds should be a competitive team. I think it’s part of the plan that 40 different players will be rotating in and out.

  13. Old-school

    Strong work Doug
    Great content and balanced synopsis as we head into 2024.

    Looking forward to the “2024 predicted record” article

    RLN is a great place

  14. Jim Walker

    It would behoove the Reds to deal from a position of strength to get someone more than a pickup make do CF as in all honesty, I’m not sure Friedl fits the bill on the defensive side.

    For me, he lacks the arm and maybe even a bit of range in CF for a championship level team. He looks better suited to be a corner OF or DH who can play vs both RH and LH pitching. Perhaps his best use might be as a 4th OF who DHs when he isn’t playing OF.

    The Strength? The Reds already have 2 LH hitting OF who are not safe to use versus LH pitching with Hurtubise looking to be #3. Building the trade around one of them could also open a corner spot for Friedl. But it probably will also take something more to get the deal done.

    • MBS

      I didn’t see this post before I put mine below, but it’s maybe one solution to 2 of our problems.

      If you want an offensive CF with very good defense, that’s going to cost a lot in trade. I think our best chance of that is Dunn, but we need to see how he does in AAA first. I don’t think Hurtubise is known as a very good defender.

      I also like the idea of converting Marte to CF/RF, and he’s now got 80 games of free time to practice shagging fly balls.

      • Jimbo44CN

        He looked pretty good to me (Hurtabise) in the games I saw him in this spring, though limited due to the crap show which is Bally Sports ohio. Anyway, the guy is a full go player and a decent hitter. I’ll take that anytime. Might as well give him a shot.

      • MBS

        @Jim, That’s good to hear, I haven’t watched him play, just what I’ve read. Hurtubise along with Dunn are 2 players I’m excited to see on the Reds soon.

    • DaveCT

      Friedl isn’t what we’ve come to view as the standard CF, being undersized a bit when compared to, say, Kiermeir and Buxton (6’1″-6’2″). I think he uses his excellent quickness very well, and I think his reads/routes are very good. His arm, I agree, is perhaps average. For me, it’s more of a case where we watch and wait for a better long term candidate to emerge, rather than scour rosters for one and force an issue for an injury replacement. The caveat, of course, is if Friedl is out for a considerable time. For now, I’d prefer we view this as a 1-2 year goal for longterm upgrade rather than emergency.

      • greenmtred

        Friedl is almost exactly the same size as Willie Mays and Mickey Mantle.

      • Mauired

        Greenmt. That’s an amazing comp. It’s also very surprising that the true homerun king Hank Aaron was just six foot 180lbs. Not a big guy at all for a slugger.

    • Rednat

      I think your guy Stuart Fairchild could be the answer as an everyday centerfielder. What I like about him is his durability. An outfield of Benson, Steer and Fairchild intrigues me because all players could potentially play all 162 games. You don’t have to worry about them being banged up too much.

  15. MBS

    The Guardians outrighted Myles Straw (CF/SS) to AAA. They owe him $19.25M over the next 3 seasons.

    I’ve been thinking that if they were to pair him with Bieber that the prospect capital would be pretty reasonable. They’d be glad to rid themselves of the payroll. It would still take something good, but much less that it would for Bieber straight up I’d guess.

    Payroll would still be very low compared to our organizations highs.

    • Jimbo44CN

      Way too much for a guy that just can’t hit. No thanks.

      • MBS

        That’s the whole point, Straw’s AAV vs his output is out of whack. So adding him in would lower the prospect capital it would take to trade for Bieber.

        Look I’m not married to this deal, but I really like the idea of adding a TOR guy like Bieber, and this way could help make it palatable. If the 2024 spring training taught us anything, it’s that you can’t be too deep. Bieber helps make us deeper from the top down, and Straw lengthens the roster from the bottom up.

      • Optimist

        A very intriguing idea – but requires a known quantity add-on of some kind (not necessarily high value, say a passable reliever). Way too much risk, and cost, with the package of Straw and Bieber,

    • Old Big Ed

      Nah. Bieber is Cleveland’s opening day starter, and Cleveland is not looking at a salary dump. I don’t think the Guardians have enough offense, but that division is up for grabs and Cleveland is in the mix.

      Bieber is owed a mere $13 million this season, and he has had an excellent spring, averaging more than a SO per inning and yielding a WHIP of 0.81. If the Guardians are not competitive at the deadline, Bieber should be one of the juiciest rentals and will earn the Guardians a good prospect or two.

      Cleveland owes Straw $27 million over the next 4 seasons, but they want shed of him not because they can’t afford him, but because he can’t hit. They have no choice but to stick him in AAA and see if he can be made into a productive player. If he shows some signs of life after a couple of months, and some other team wants him with Cleveland eating some of the contract, then he will get traded. At 29, he’s become Billy Hamilton without the charm — a replacement-level player.

      Straw is a good example that there is risk in a team’s buying out a player’s arbitration years. He was rewarded for one decent half-season with Cleveland at age 26, but he fizzled thereafter.

  16. DataDumpster

    Nice synopsis to start the season, largely in agreement with the points noted. Having been earlier surprised with the low expectations given to this team by the analytic runs and now the ESPN real life analysts (80-82 record), perhaps I am now noticing more questions than answers along with holes in the concrete.
    With all the promising rookies, it takes just two of them (Friedl and McLain) to take away a great deal of OBP, defense, baserunning, bunting and very good fundamental play from the entire team. Who remains as the solid veteran to mentor or otherwise pick up the slack? Not sure if Candelario or India fit the bill, they both have a lot to prove with their own play. The pitching staff has been reinforced and remains largely intact, although their effectiveness and deployment remains an uncertainty at best. Can the Reds win the division without at least one known player of definite high quality or almost unimpeachable upside (in this year)?

  17. Melvin

    “Of course we should all know by now that spring training numbers aren’t of much value”

    Let’s hope this holds true for a lot of our guys not doing so well this spring for both pitching and position players.

    • 2020ball

      Since theyve never been of much value, im feel pretty safe assuming they’ll continue to be as such.

  18. Jeremiah

    I echo many others, nice summary Mr. Gray!

    I can’t remember too many seasons where there is hope because of so much upside, while also concern because of so many unknowns and so few players that have actually had full productive major league seasons.

    It’s certainly better than past seasons though where you knew they pretty much had little shot to compete.

    It’s going to be very interesting to see who steps up, who struggles, etc.

  19. Jim Walker

    The minor league rosters can be very fluid this time of year but right now Dunn is listed at AA Chattanooga.

    • Jim Walker

      This was meant to be a reply on up a couple of comment threads. Sorry,

    • Jason Franklin

      Forgot to say this, but I really enjoyed your article the other day, Jim. Keep up the excellent work sir.

    • Doug Gray

      As a non-roster player, he is going to be listed with the team he played for last until the actual rosters come out.

      • Jim Walker

        Sorry for the confusion. Austin Wynns was my bell cow. He was listed despite not being in the org last year and figured that meant the rosters had been updated. 😉

  20. Jason Franklin

    If the Reds can gut it out for a couple of months, we can hope by then that the team gets Friedl back followed by McLain and then Marte after his stupidity period is over. Kind of nice influxes of talent as the season goes, but man, it would have been nice to have them to start the season. Trying to adhere to the “glass half full” theory a lot of you fellas go with here.

  21. Tom Mitsoff

    I’m concerned about how Diaz has pitched in the spring, on the heels of an unimpressive close to 2023. The good news is there are candidates to fill the closer role if needed (Pagan, Antone and maybe Santillan).

    • Jimbo44CN

      Totally agree on Santilln, he looks like his old self from a couple years ago.

      • Jason Franklin

        I don’t understand why he isn’t on the team to start the season over some of the guys who made it.

      • Jim Walker

        I think Santillan’s situation has everything to do with his 40 man roster status (not on it) and option status (he has no options remaining). He is not going to be up until they really need him b/c it will take a 40-man move to bring him up. On the flip side, they need to be as certain as possible he is going to stay up because he is not likely to clear waivers.

        I saw a Bell quote that almost directly said this. DB said he told Santillan his time would come, more likely sooner than later, and that once he was up he would be up for the rest of the season.

    • Optimist

      Have to believe Santillan is the first pitcher called up, in May if not sooner.

  22. Eric Davis Joe Morgan

    Good article indeed , liked it & enjoyed reading it .

    To me , at least the reds should be fun to watch .

    We have been hit with some injuries, but i look at as another door opens for someone else to step up .

    Go Reds !

  23. JohnnySofa

    I’m happier and more hopeful than the previous 10 years, but would certainly not say the starting rotation is a “solid looking group.” It’s five question marks. Montas is the biggest question mark of all. Greene has two great starts and four duds. Martinez would be a nice spot starter, not a #3. Ashcraft: see Greene above. Abbott is the only one who makes a realistic fan feel like tonight we got a shot — but we hope to see the mid-summer ’23 Abbott rather than the late-summer ’23 Abbott. Again, everyone knew back in November the Reds desperately needed a horse to anchor the rotation. They didn’t get one. Maybe one emerges. But for now, it’s just a wish. And that — the rotation — is why so many baseball people see this as a team destined for the middle-of-the-pack. I hope they’re wrong. If they’re right, then it falls squarely on the FO.

    • greenmtred

      Ashcraft was good early and late last season but had a very bad stretch in the middle. The fact that he overcame it and finished well is a good sign. 99mph sinkers don’t grow on trees.

      • JohnnySofa

        He flat-out needs to be better — a lot better. An ERA near 5 and WHIP around 1.4 tells me he had more than a bad stretch and that his sinker isn’t consistently and unusually spectacular.

      • greenmtred

        You’re right if you base it on his numbers for the season. But it looks different if you look at his starts after he came out of his funk. I can’t remember exactly what the explanation was: tipping his pitchers, maybe? In any event, he was pretty dominant late in the season.

      • Amarillo

        His Grandfather who taught him the game passed. We don’t know whether or not there was more to it than that.

      • Tom Diesman

        It was Ashcraft’s grandmother that passed away and he was tipping his pitches.

        From the 11/08/23: Reds Hot Stove program

        Graham Ashcraft: “I was tipping there for a little bit. We found that out through video and once we kind of fixed that it all kinda went back to where it needed to be. …. They knew whenever I was throwing the fasball or the slider, they just didn’t know if it was going to be the cutter or the sinker.”

  24. AMDG

    The rotation doesn’t look to have that automatic Loss every 5 days, a la Weaver / Minor, so that’s a plus.

    And the offense has a lot of ‘upside’ if it comes together.

    On paper, the bullpen seems to be a solid group, other than the lack of a quality closer. But hopefully one will emerge.

    • Oldtimer

      Reds won 12 of Weaver’s 21 starts. Reds won 57% of Weaver’s starts. How is that an automatic loss every 5 days? Do the math. Lucky, sure. I’d rather be lucky and win.

      • greenmtred

        I was wondering when this would happen again. Technically, you’re obviously right, OT, but an analysis that leaves out critical information is not analysis: it’s propaganda. Because of Weaver’s impact on the bullpen, he could have been christened collateral damage.

      • AC

        Like the sun rising in the east. This is one of the worst, most repeated opinions on these here internets.

      • Mauired

        AC if you are referring to Weaver not having a negative impact on Reds pitching staff as a bad theory. I just don’t know how to help you. When a pitcher is so bad that he can’t get out of the first inning every start and the bullpen has to continuously come in early in games. Then yeah that most likely was a factor in the bullpen being gassed and ineffective in the second half. I mean this isn’t so much of theory as common sense.

      • greenmtred

        Mauired: AC may have been responding to OT’s post. I prefer to think so.

      • Oldtimer

        Simple math. Even Reds fans can understand grade school math. Reds won 12 of 21 starts by Weaver. Reds won 57% of starts by Weaver. Reds won 70 of 141 starts by others. Reds won 49% of starts by others.

        Reds SP averaged 5 IP per start. Weaver averaged 4.7 IP per start.

        The Reds SP put a strain on the BP. ALL of them, not just Weaver.

        Very simple math. Yes, luck is involved. Luck is always part of baseball.

      • Mauired

        Ha the fact that Weaver has any support is hilarious to me. Yeah Reds offense bailed him out a bunch. So what? He was probably the worst starting pitcher in baseball. it was literally batting practice when he was on the mound.

      • DaveCT

        While the overall value of wins is not quite a myth — wins don’t measure how effective guy is, they reflect the team around them and are stats they accumulate — they are subject to (no pun intended) a lot of spin that just isn’t true.

        **The problem is that it’s virtually impossible to have a discussion when facing high spin rates (sorry lol).

        “Simply put, a win does not tell us anything about how well a starter performed.

        Starter wins tell us more about the quality of the team the pitcher played on. A worse starter on a good team will win as many games or more than a better starter on a bad team. Why? Because a starter can only somewhat control the runs he allows while he is in the game. He has no control over the runs scored by the offense, given up by the defense, or allowed by the relief corps.”

        “These kinds of counting stats are rather useless when it comes to pitchers because they can vary greatly based on the number of innings a pitcher pitches.”

        “Saves are the equivalent of wins for a reliever. It does not in any way tell you that a pitcher “saved” the game for the winning team. All it tells you is that the pitcher was on the mound when the game ended under a specific set of circumstances.

        Saves are rooted in the assumption that the highest leverage moment of a game is the ninth inning. Therefore the “closer” should get credit for getting through that moment and ending the game with the win.

        The problem is that’s not always true. A “closer” can earn a save by getting the 7-8-9 batters out to preserve a 4-1 win. Not very impressive.

        In the inning before, a different reliever might have faced the 4-5-6 batters out to hold that lead and might have had runners on when they did it.

        Which situation had a higher impact on “saving” the win?”

        Source: https://www.vivaelbirdos.com/2022/2/16/22936243/stats-you-need-to-know-pitching

      • greenmtred

        I don’t question your math, OT, but it’s in service to a meaningless point, the absurd logical conclusion of which might well be that, if the Reds had a rotation consisting of five Weavers, they’d win 57% of their games.

      • Oldtimer

        I repeat. The Reds won 57% of Weaver’s starts and 49% of other pitchers’ start. Miss O’Malley (my 3rd grade teacher) would confirm 57% is better than 49%.

        Weaver averaged 4.7 IP as Reds starter. Equivalent to 2 outs in 5th inning. Other Reds SP averaged 5 IP. That’s 3 outs in the 5th inning.

        Weaver is in the NYY bullpen for Opening Day. He had 4.15 ERA for NYY in ST. Not great but not awful. Better than many Reds pitchers in ST.

      • AMDG

        Oldtimer…

        In those 12 wins in which Weaver started,
        the Reds had to average nearly 7 runs per game,
        because Weaver had a 6.92 ERA in those games.

        And, if we are using the useless “wins” stat for pitchers, another perspective would be…

        Weaver started 21 games, but only managed 2 Wins credited to him.

      • greenmtred

        Opponents had an OBP in excess of .360 against Weaver.

    • JayTheRed

      I’m not saying Diaz is going to be bad this year. I just am concerned about his late season in 23′ and his spring looked pretty bad. Let’s hope he was just working on stuff in spring.

    • Old Big Ed

      Nah, Oldtimer, Weaver was a bullpen killer.

      It became apparent starting in June. In his 13 starts after June 1, he started 13 games and pitched 53.1 innings, with an ERA of 8.10, giving up 75 hits and 13 HRs, while walking 25. Hitters slashed .323/.387/.591 against him in that stretch; he effectively turned the average hitter that he faced into a Hall of Famer. To put the .591 slugging percentage in perspective, runaway MVP Ronald Acuna, Jr. logged a .596 slugging percentage last year, second in the NL only to Matt Olsen at .604, with 54 home runs.

      The team, staggeringly, won 9 of those 13 games, but the first 5 were in the Reds’ sizzling offensive June. The Reds scored 9, 5, 9, 11 and 11 in those starts. Weaver himself recorded 1 win in that 13-game stretch, and the relievers got the other 8. In the only game that he recorded an out in the 6th inning, he gave up 2 runs to the Dodgers, yet lost.

      Meanwhile, rookie Andrew Abbott also made 13 starts in that same period, going 76.1 innings with an ERA of 2.95. Abbott was going almost 2 innings deeper into games than Weaver. Brandon Williamson made 13 starts and pitched 66.2 innings, with a 4.19 ERA., or a full inning more than Weaver.

      The Reds had two devastating 6-game losing streaks between July 9 and August 6. Yes, the Reds won games on Weaver’s starts, but his inability in the heart of the season to get to the 5th inning in those games devoured the bullpen.

      Weaver was a flop. His 8.10 ERA and the .323/.387/.591 slash line in his last 13 starts tells us all we need to know.

  25. Eddiek957

    I’m hoping a year removed from injury Stephenson will have a good season. If India is healthy there in nobody on the Reds I’d rather see leading off. Can’t wait until Thursday

    • JayTheRed

      I too love seeing Inda lead off. I think once Friedl is back though he probably gets to lead off again. India just seems comfortable leading off. When is in the middle of the lineup, he looks uncomfortable at the plate.

  26. LDS

    Haven’t seen an update on McLain. Was hoping for a legit update – surgery yes or no.

    • Mauired

      Shoulder surgery for any player, pitcher or hitter is scary. Suarez was on the brink of being a superstar until his shoulder surgery. Was never the same after.

      • LDS

        Nope, he wasn’t, though I still think part of his problem was mental. He anchored on HRs. He was better when he hit around 25-30. His 2018 season was arguably better than his 2019 season. And his BA has declined and his SO rate has soared. In fact, the team’s SO rate has been higher than 2018 every year since. The strategy has become HR or SO, nothing else seems to matter. The team batting average was .263 in 2018, excluding pitchers. It hasn’t reached that since either. So team composition, thus Krall’s fault? Or strategy and implementation and therefore Bell’s fault (or both). There’s enough blame to go around. Nonetheless, the analytics do not support the arguments supporting Bell’s management approach. And we’ll see what happens this year. It’s a lottery ticket and maybe they win the Powerball. I’ll be glad to see it. But the numbers don’t favor it.

      • Old Big Ed

        I agree on Suarez, LDS. He got homer-happy, started trying to pull too much, and lost his ability to drive the ball to the RF gap.

        The 2018 team (which started 3-18) got unicorn years from Scooter Gennett (.310) and Jose Peraza (.288), both in more than 630 PAs, and it was Suarez’s best season by OPS+. They lost 95 games, with a pitching staff with had 6 guys who had 20 starts and ERA+ of less than 100.

        That was a rough time to be a Reds fan. In the whole Brian Price tenure, it seemed like the Reds started every game down 4-1.

      • Old-school

        @OBE, let’s just pause for a second and appreciate the myth and legend of that 45 second July 4th Sparkler in one Scooter Gennett, version 2018. . That early June night when he hit 4 HR was a beacon of light in an abyss of darkness. Hopefully, 2024 will provide lots of enjoyable nights for Reds fans like that 2018 June night. They do have a lot of talent.CES is my breakout candidate for 30 HR and a thumper power bat at 1b to anchor the 4/5 hole for years.

    • Jim Walker

      Technically any situation is neutral when updates are pending. However when an update isn’t forthcoming when expected that likely means further testing and examination is in order, and that seems less than neutral to me given the Reds staff had already offered an opinion which led to the 2nd opinion being sought.

      • Still a Red

        agreed. My bet is the first opinion is surgery and McLain and his agent want to try and avoid it.

      • Kevin Patrick

        Baseball is kind of wild. I was on the Barrero bandwagon before the spring. Now…there are 2 guys who have the potential to be difference making Reds. I must have fallen off Barrero ‘s band wagon and into Espinal’s. The opportunity for Fairchild to show he has more to offer is on the table. If these 2 can make contact, play good D, and move runners, go first to 3rd…then this team could still be dangerous. Can the Reds wear out their opponents starters and wreak havoc on their bullpens like last year? It will depend upon seeing eye singles these 2 execute. I hope Martini sees a ton of mistakes pitches from 2nd tier relievers.

      • Jim Walker

        @Still A Red>>> I’ve been thinking about what the Reds medical call was and McLain’s decision to exercise his right to an official 2nd opinion. I haven’t reached any conclusion, largely due to the current stage of McLain’s career.

        You may be correct. However, McLain might be willing to give up a year early on in his career if he gets advice that surgery can fix the problem once and for all without any more risk than rehab with no surgery which could lead to a chronic condition he has to deal with off and on through the years.

        It is just a tough spot for anyone, especially early in what could be a career to result in generational wealth for his family.

      • Mauired

        Jim I think it’s pretty clear the 1st opinion is not good. If it was just rest and rehab, I think the team and player would be thrilled with that. Now if it’s surgery and out for the year, that’s when more opinions are usually asked for. Hate to be a Debbie downer but we will probably not see McLain until 2025. I really hope to be dead wrong here but that’s my intuition.

  27. Mauired

    He definitely had too many ks. But in 2019 before the shoulder surgery, he had a .930 ops and set an NL record with his 49 homers at 3rd base. His numbers immediately fell off a cliff after that off-season swimming pool injury.

    • Mauired

      He was also 2nd in MLB in homers and top ten in total bases.

      • Jim Walker

        But Suarez compiled a 130 OPS+ in his 1st Seattle season which was just one off from his 49 HR season in Cincy and both were ~5 points lower than his OPS the season before his 49 HR season as noted by LDS.

      • Jim Walker

        Above should have said

        both (OPS+) were ~5 points lower than his OPS+ the season before his 49 HR season as noted by LDS.

      • Mauired

        So if we are talking ops+, we ignore his record homeruns at the position, and his top ten in baseball in total bases (2019) and penalize him for the ballpark he hit in?

    • Old Big Ed

      The numbers reflect that Suarez in 2019 (the 49 HR year, of which 25 were on the road) began to pull the ball a lot more. His “pull percentage” was 25.5% in 2018 and 37% in 2019, and it has remained since (37.2% in 2023). https://www.baseball-reference.com/players/s/suareeu01.shtml. Meanwhile, his exit velocity went down, from 91.4 to 89.7, and his SO% went from 23.4 to 28.6 (and upward thereafter).

      Saurez’s BABIP had always been over .300 through 2019, but it collapsed to .214 and .224 in his last two seasons in Cincinnati (2021-22). Maybe that had something to do with the shoulder injury, or maybe it had to do with his trying to pull too much, and maybe the two are related.

      I always thought that a Suarez hitting 28 homers and hitting the ball all over the field was better than one trying to hit 45 homers and striking out so much.

      • Justin T

        I dont think it was anything that we have to really dig into the advanced stats on, he simply was swinging for the fences. The manager continued to bat him 3rd or 4th for entirely too long as well, making his problems more amplified.

      • Old-school

        @Justin T

        Dont forget batting him leadoff… gotta get him going!

        He had an 0-5 with 5 K’s i think

        Certainly a golden sombrero

  28. Chad A Donnell

    Our answer thru the first 80 games may be another RH hitting catcher. Put Tyler at 1B and move CES to third. That lineup looks a lot better with Maile and another guy.

    If Diaz is hurt or is a headcase that becomes the Reds biggest headache.

    • greenmtred

      Does Candelario DH, then? My understanding is that he’s better defensively at 3rd than CES is, and CES is probably better at 1st than Stevenson. Defense will be at a premium with the losses of Friedl and McLain.

  29. VaRedsFan

    Exactly how long does it take to get a 3rd opinion?
    Asking for a friend

    • JayTheRed

      I feel like they are still deciding which route to take. This is why nothing has been announced at this point.

  30. Laredo Slider

    Playoff/WS contenders generally have outfielders who are All Star level. While Steer has potential, all others are significantly below that range…this is an area the Reds need to correct moving forward.

    • Casey39

      If last years draft “lottery” didnt change last year, we would be looking at Wyatt Langford right now.

      • Tom Diesman

        @MBS, you’re correct, losing Friedl for a third of the season will not help that ranking, but other factors most assuredly will.

        That 19th ranking included 416 PA from the following players who are no longer here, so remove those:

        Wil Myers
        Nick Senzel
        José Barrero
        Henry Ramos
        Harrison Bader
        Hunter Renfroe
        TJ Hopkins
        Michael Siani

        Now add about 500 PA more to the OF mix from Steer.

        Now add about 150 PA more in the OF mix for Benson.

        The result looks something like the following:

        Name 23-WAR 23-PA Est-24-PA Est-24-WAR
        Steer 2.9 665 665 2.9
        Friedl 3.8 556 435 3.0
        Benson 1.6 329 480 2.3
        Fraley 0.9 380 210 0.5
        Fairchild 0.5 255 180 0.4
        Total – – 1970 9.1

        Those changes project this years OF to a 9.1 WAR, which would have ranked them 10th last year.

        There’s a lot of moving parts here, there will a few PAs in there for the likes of Martini/Thompson/Hurtubise/Dunn etc.

        But bottom line, the Reds are in a lot better shape in the OF than some here want to give them credit for.

      • Tom Diesman

        Ooops, apologies for the double post, chose the wrong reply button the first pass.

    • Tom Diesman

      The Reds OFs get way less respect than they deserve.

      Among MLB OF with at least 300 PA in 2023:

      Steer would have ranked 5th among LFs in OPS (.820).
      Friedl ranked 8th among CFs in OPS (.819).
      Benson ranked 5th among RFs in OPS (.863).
      Fraley ranked 16th among RFs in OPS (.783) (He would have ranked 10th in RF if he would not have come back in Sep. and tried playing through his broken toe (.813).).

      • Casey39

        Why cant the Reds give Hurtubise a shot?

      • Casey39

        Hurtubise had a .997 OPS at Louisville.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        Hurtubise hits the ball about as hard as Billy Hamilton does. He also had more than a few bad defensive plays in the outfield during the spring. They probably want to see him hit the ball harder and improve on defense.

      • greenmtred

        Now, now, Frankie Tomatoes: I seem to remember Billy hitting two dingers in..one game!! Or was that a fever dream?

      • Doug Gray

        Fever dream lol. I double checked over at Baseball Reference.

      • MBS

        @Tom, 2023 Reds OF ranked 19th in WAR according to baseball reference. Losing Friedl for an extended time will not help that ranking very much.

      • Tom Diesman

        @MBS, you’re correct, losing Friedl for a third of the season will not help that ranking, but other factors most assuredly will.

        That 19th ranking included 416 PA from the following players who are no longer here, so remove those:

        Wil Myers
        Nick Senzel
        José Barrero
        Henry Ramos
        Harrison Bader
        Hunter Renfroe
        TJ Hopkins
        Michael Siani

        Now add about 500 PA more to the OF mix from Steer.

        Now add about 150 PA more in the OF mix for Benson.

        The result looks something like the following:

        Name 23-WAR 23-PA Est-24-PA Est-24-WAR
        Steer 2.9 665 665 2.9
        Friedl 3.8 556 435 3.0
        Benson 1.6 329 480 2.3
        Fraley 0.9 380 210 0.5
        Fairchild 0.5 255 180 0.4
        Total – – 1970 9.1

        Those changes project this years OF to a 9.1 WAR, which would have ranked them 10th last year.

        There’s a lot of moving parts here, there will a few PAs in there for the likes of Martini/Thompson/Hurtubise/Dunn etc.

        But bottom line, the Reds are in a lot better shape in the OF than some here want to give them credit for.

      • MBS

        @Tom, Individually I like Benson, Friedl, Fraley, Steer, I just don’t like them as a group. We don’t have a perennial Allstar type of player. I’ve been saying for a while that I’d like Marte to be transitioned to CF.

        He has the potential to be an Allstar, and the skills that you’d love to see at either CF. Now that he’s sitting for 80 games, I really like the idea. Marte’s 2023 WAR 0.8 in 114 AB’s. By midseason the OF could look like this.

        Marte (CF) Benson (RF) Steer (LF) Friedl (RF/CF/LF)

        Fraley (DH/RF)

        I’d basically go with a 4 man rotation with Fraley as the primary DH, and emergency OF.

        Maybe Dunn, or Hurtubise changes the mix when they get the call up, but that would the proverbial “good problem to have.”

      • Tom Diesman

        @MBS, I’m good with all of that. I’m good with any of De La Cruz/Marte/McLain moving to CF, they can juggle it however they best see fit. The OF can be improved and that’s a good thing. My point is that it’s already pretty good and that appears to be flying under the radar.

  31. Old-school

    Lance mccalister tweeted out the facts about Reds slow starts that I knew were bad but geez. Reds average being 6.8 games out of first place at the end of the first full month of the season over last 10 years

    Reds have a .388 winning percentage over that span

    2013 was last time reds had a winning first month

    I want a winning record on May 1 and comfortably so in the 4-5 games over .500 range. Thats all that matters in 2024. Win!

    • 2020ball

      God I hate selective endpoints. McCallister is just trying to rile up the Reds complaint mongers, it’s surprisingly easy.

      • Frankie Tomatoes

        The Reds would like a better start too. A nonlosing start is going to do better for ticket sales. And it also helps with their record on the season.

      • Justin T

        When you have North American professional sports longest, active streak of not winning a playoff series that’s what happens.

      • Dan

        I mean, let’s be honest… a .388 winning percentage is terrible. That’s a 63-99 pace over 162 games.

        And it’s over 10 years combined, so, maybe 250+ games? So not a small sample at all.

        I think it’s very valid to point out a 10-year trend in how a team gets out of the gate. One month in seems as valid an endpoint as any.

        Hope Bell and the coaches have learned from this and can kick it into gear faster this year.

        (Also hope Phil will keep his trap shut. He single-handedly turned a 2-2 record into 3-22 in 2022. At least it sure felt that way. What a doofus.)

      • Oldtimer

        McAlister is his fake radio name. His real game is Lance Gosh or something like that.

        The 1961 Reds started about .500 the first month. The 1975 Reds started about .500 the first two months. The 1976 Reds started about .500 the first month.

      • Harry Stoner

        The .388 winning percentage average was calculated over the last 10 years and include seasons led by the current manager and GM.

        The 1976 Reds were 48 years ago.
        The 1975 Reds were 49 years ago.
        The 1961 Reds were 63 years ago.

        1898 Reds were 126 years ago.
        They got off to a slow start and went 92-60 for the season.

        Thus current fans have nothing to be concerned about.

    • Melvin

      “Reds average being 6.8 games out of first place at the end of the first full month of the season over last 10 years”

      Pretty bad. Hoping for more “sense of urgency” early. Games DO matter in March and April.

  32. Mauired

    The Barrero saga continues to be puzzling. I was confused when they released him halfway through spring. Bell started he wasn’t going to make the team but they were hoping he would pass through waivers.

    He was absolutely abysmal since joining the Rangers after being very solid with Reds. Ops north of 1. and as many walks as strikeouts. I think he had 1 hit after going to Rangers though.

    After the Reds lost 3 starters and Krall states they wanted to get an INF/OF from outside the organization, I thought maybe they circle back to him like Bubba who they acquired twice this off-season.

    But then the reporter who already misreported that Barrero was traded, said Barrero shockingly made the Rangers. But no other reports confirm this and the Rangers just played two exhibition games in Dallas. Barrero didn’t appear in either game.

    • Mauired

      Maybe he’s being held out for a trade back to Reds to fill that open spot?

      • DaveCT

        The Rangers said Wyatt Langford has made the team, but he is not on their 40-man yet, sp that move is coming. They do have guys heading to the IL, ie, Mahle, deGrom, Scherzer, but they actually have 42 listed currently. Playing hide and seek with Barrero, perhaps. Or nothing at all, as one of their injured guys, Jung, is an infielder and they may need him.

      • Mauired

        I read Jung and Seager for that matter are expected to be ready for opening day.

      • Mauired

        Another curious thing is he played exclusively outfield with Rangers and they are loaded there. You would think if he was needed more for infield depth, they would have played him in the dirt a little bit.

  33. BZ

    Even outside of the Barrero fiasco which has bit them in the butt, it would be awesome to have Michael Siani about right now to play CF but instead he was waived for Hunter Renfroe. Siani is now making the Cardinals big league squad.

    • greenmtred

      If Barrero learns to hit MLB pitching in the next few days and the Reds infield collectively doesn’t hit, it would be accurate to say that this “bit them in the butt.”

      • BZ

        The Reds are trying to fill a bench role that can play IF and OF for their 26th man. They had to trade for a backup middle infielder. They have lost three starters since they cut him for no reason at the beginning of March. You can think he is not starter quality and understand that he is needed on this current team until players come back. Those two thoughts aren’t mutually exclusive. Cutting him when they did has absolutely bit them in the butt.

      • greenmtred

        I understand your point, BZ, but my point is that there is reason to believe that he won’t hit well enough to be a valuable substitute. You expect a fall-off in production when a starter is out, but it obviously makes sense to minimize it. Maybe his defensive versatility is enough to make him valuable in this instance, but Espinal can play 2nd, 3rd and short, and both Benson and Fairchild can play center.

  34. Jim Walker

    Pink Floyd had the perfect description for today in vis-à-vis Reds news:


    “Ticking away the moments that make up a dull day
    You fritter and waste the hours in an offhand way
    Kicking around on a piece of ground in your hometown
    Waiting for someone or something to show you the way”

    • Doug Gray

      The Reds had the day off after having an intrasquad-type game yesterday. I’ll assume based on the team not showing up to the stadium that the media also didn’t, which is why we’ve heard nothing and won’t until tomorrow when everyone returns.

      • Jim Walker

        I was thinking about myself googling up”Matt McLain” every 2-3 hours throughout the day and at the same time knowing there would be nothing because you would have it here if there was.

        What a way for the Reds to run their railroad to not even say late Monday “No official news on McLain. In all likelihood none before Wednesday.”

    • Justin T

      There is definitely an unwarranted arrogance to this front office and media/fan relations dept.

      • greenmtred

        They may simply be concerned about our impatience: it is patience, after all, that is considered a virtue.

  35. LDS

    So I’m guessing Montgomery won’t be filling the Reds’ 26th slot. Arizona seems to have gone all in this off season as well.

    • Dan

      SUCH a good signing… wow. I wish our Redlegs had stepped up and done that.

    • BK

      That appears to be a fantastic signing by Arizona. They have had quite the offseason.

    • MBS

      I guess I was nuts to think signing Snell or Montgomery was crazy. I wasn’t expecting such short term deals, but you got to due your due diligence to see what is possible.

      • AllTheHype

        I am very surprised more teams were not in on that. Montgomery on a deal like that I would have very much been a fan of.

        Maybe Montas ends up having a good year, we don’t know. But Montgomery could have at least pushed Martinez to the BP then you have improved SP and RP in one signing.

        But Maybe Montgomery didn’t want to sign a one year “prove it” contract to pitch in GABP for a year. I bet it would have been hard to get him to sign here.

      • MBS

        That’s always a risk with GABP, but I think the point still stands. Not every deal has to be the extreme worst case scenario. Some will, some won’t, but you have to pursue all of the options out there to field a good team.

        I’m not saying Krall didn’t hit up Snell, and Montgomery, but I’m guessing he didn’t. I am really guessing he didn’t check in on them when they were getting desperate to find a deal midway through spring.

    • Old Big Ed

      The D-Backs made a lot of sound position player moves, including picking up Eugenio Suarez and Randall Grichuk and resigning Lourdes Gurriel. They did have a couple of spring training injuries to pitchers, with Eduardo Rodriguez (a free-agent signing) going down with a lat strain and closer Paul Sewald to an oblique strain.

      They got Montgomery to a safe, short contract, but he hasn’t yet faced live hitters this spring and will miss some of April. He apparently will not formally sign until after opening day, specifically so that he will be ineligible to receive a qualifying offer if he becomes a free agent after the season.

      The D-Backs certainly have a bigger payroll than they usually have, but they also don’t have a lot of risk on the books. Montgomery appears to be a one-year guy; Ketel Marte has a reasonable contract through at least 2027; Suarez’s contract is done this year, but with an option to spend $13mm more for next year; Merrill Kelly is under control through 2025 (his age 36 season); and they control Corbin Carroll through 2030 at an AAV of less than $16 million. Zac Gallen will be a free agent after 2025. And they have several rookies from last year. They seem to have a window that will keep them competitive without much financial risk for the next 6 years or so … as they angle for a new ballpark on the public dime.

      GABP is not an attractive option for pitchers in the position of Montgomery or Snell, who want to post good numbers for a repeat free agent off-season.

      I am surprised that Montas signed with Cincinnati for that reason, but he must have some confidence that his shoulder problem is behind him. Montas did not have the QO issue attached to him that Snell and Montgomery did. The pitching market is a bit hard to figure right now, but if Montas looks good in his first 8 or so starts, maybe the Reds will try to extend him.

      • AllTheHype

        Yep, good synopsis, and GABP would have indeed been a tough sign for Snell and/or Montgomery.

  36. MIredfan

    Votto currently listed as ‘out’ with the Jays. Ankle issue.
    Love to see him have a great year but the recent track record would indicate he’ll have issues staying healthy.

    • Mauired

      Hit a homer off Zach Wheeler his first spring training at bat. Stepped on a bat in the dugout immediately after. Has been out of action since.

  37. DaveCT

    Memo

    To: Nick ‘The King’ Krall

    From: Loyal Fans

    Re: Final Roster Decision

    Yo, Nick,

    Forget the individual players on the fence. Think about, and realize fully, us.

    Announce the roster in the morning. Or else. We’ll f*#t in your general direction.

    Just get it over with. A few hours will NOT matter. See, attached, WAR.

  38. Old Big Ed

    I went to spring training a couple of weeks ago and had some very good seats for Reds games.

    The one thing that stood out to me is that Christian Encarnacion-Strand is a physical monster. You can’t really see it on TV, but he is as strong as a player can possibly be in his core. There are some old photos of Lou Gehrig in workout clothes, as opposed to the draping uniforms of the day, and Gehrig is chiseled in his thighs and trunk, as impressive as any player today.

    CES is 6’0″ like Gehrig and has a very similar build, and I now understand where the power comes from. He’s going to hit a ton of home runs for a long time, and he is born for GABP.

    The Twins are stupid.

    I saw Rhett Lowder’s Spring Breakout game, too. Barring injury, he is going to be very good. He got knocked around in a later MLB spring-training game, but that doesn’t change anything.

    • AllTheHype

      If you look at college video, Lowder has a pretty devastating changeup, very Castillo-esque. He has at least 3 good to great weapons with very good control and command. There’s a lot to like there.

    • Jim Walker

      Something about the way CES moves reminds me of Tony Perez. I don’t recall that Tony looked buff back then, but who did in that era when there was actually a school of thought that weight training could make a baseball player too “muscle bound”?

      I want him to see the ball, hit the ball, be the big stick, and get the big check as Tony used to say was his goal.

      • Old Big Ed

        I don’t know how chiseled that CES is, but he is a big-boned guy with a lot of strength through the hips. It doesn’t take a lot of effort for him to generate a ton of torque in his swing. He is what they used to call “country strong,” and then some.

        He is also fairly fast for a guy that sized.

      • Melvin

        ” but who did in that era when there was actually a school of thought that weight training could make a baseball player too “muscle bound”?”

        An argument could be made that too much weight training is a factor in more injuries these days.

  39. Hotto4Votto

    The rotation is exactly as I expected it. I had thought Lodolo could use some AAA time to work back. Outside of health the bullpen is largely as I expected. I had Moll and Gibeaut penciled in but injuries will hold them back. Still, everyone in the pen was someone I thought would contribute at some point this season (with Wilson being added late). The positional side will certain miss Friedl, McLain, and Marte. Got to hope India and Fairchild can step up and help steady the ship until these guys get back.

    I think for the last spot I’d like to see Hurtubise get it. I think we’ll see more offense out of him than we’d see with Thompson.

    ST was definitely a downer with the injuries and some uneven performances from the pitching staff. Hopefully we can put that aside and come out the gates firing. Expecting big seasons from CES, Steer, Benson, and Elly. Hoping Greene, Lodolo, and Ashcroft take a step forward and Abbott can find what worked for him last season.

    • AllTheHype

      That stinks. However, Krall did a great job acquiring infield depth. Now it is needed, more than ever. When Marte returns mid-season I suspect it will be a much needed boost.

      • TR#1

        Terrible news on Matt but maybe he comes back later in year. Opening day is almost here. Excited!!! Maybe we get something today from Doug as we all know he works 70-80 hours a week

    • LDS

      Likely gone for the year. Whether he successfully recovers is the bigger question. Some do and some don’t. Regardless, it’s a major setback for McLain and the team. Guys like Espinal help but aren’t comparable. So now we wait to hear who #26 on the roster will be.