Record: 35-58, 5th in the NL Central
In a division with the Cubs, Cardinals, and Pirates, it might seem like a lost cause to try and compete this season. That brings us to the Reds.
It’s not that they didn’t try, per se, but rather, that they just don’t have all the moving parts to concoct a winning team while in the middle of a rebuild.
They have individual players like Adam Duvall, who has 23 home runs this season, and Billy Hamilton, who has 27 stolen bases, who can keep the team moving towards a win here and there. But as a whole? It’s been less than satisfactory.
Ever since the Reds last made it into the postseason in 2013—if you count the Wild Card playoff game as a postseason game—they have been consistently under .500. This season is no different.
Cincinnati has been selling veterans for a year, with Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Marlon Byrd, Todd Frazier and Aroldis Chapman leaving town. That leaves the Reds with expendable veterans like Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips (who blocked two deals last winter due to his no-trade clause), and Zack Cozart, who all could be dealt this month.
Are they buyers or sellers?
Sellers, but as it stands, they’re a bit inactive. The problem here is that they don’t really have many players to trade. The team, as a whole, is batting .238/.298/.397has a collective 5.39 ERA. Even Jay Bruce is just hitting .264/.317/.529, though he has 18 home runs and 64 RBI.
If they do intend to sell, they won’t be selling much. It’s not that they can’t, it’s just that they might not have the trade chips to let go. A lot of veteran players have already come and gone for the Reds, such Cueto, who was dealt to the Royals, and free Aroldis Chapman, who was traded to the Yankees. Bruce is one of the last veterans left on the team, and it just might be that his time with the Reds is coming to an end.
Who could they trade?
Bruce is the obvious answer, and may be the major-leaguer most likely to be dealt before the deadline. Cincinnati came close to moving Bruce to the Mets at the deadline last year, and then had a deal agreed upon with the Blue Jays during spring training that fell apart. Bruce spoke to our Chris Cotillo at the All-Star Game, saying that it “definitely will not surprise [him]” if a deal is completed. Bruce has already been linked to the Jays, Orioles, Nationals, Dodgers, Indians, Blue Jays, Rangers and Giants.
The Blue Jays are looking for outfield depth, which puzzles our Michael Bradburn considering they seem to have that depth. The Indians, on the other hand, really need that outfield depth, so it would make sense for Cleveland to trade for Bruce. And though the Nationals might have depth coming from their farm system, they are very much buyers looking to win the NL East. Bruce, though, has a no-trade clause that allows him to nix any deals to the Yankees, Red Sox, Athletics, Rays, Marlins, Twins, Indians and Diamondbacks, though Jon Heyman reports that Bruce is willing to waive that right for the chance to play for a contender.
Phillips could be moved, but has a full no-trade clause that he used to block deals to Arizona and Washington over the winter. Cozart, who is controllable through next season, would likely draw interest as well.
With the market for starting pitching so weak this summer, Yahoo! Sports Jeff Passan suggested that the Reds make Anthony DeSclafini available due to his strong performance so far this season and the fact he is under control for four seasons. Though that seems to be a less than likely possibility, Cincinnati could make relievers Ross Ohlendorf and Blake Wood available for teams looking for low-cost pen additions.
Bruce will likely get dealt at the deadline, if not before then. At this point, there’s really no reason for the Reds to keep him, especially if they are in the midst of a rebuild.
It’s also hard to try and compete for the NL Central coming from a 32-57 record at the All-Star Break. Stranger things have happened, yes, but that doesn’t mean it can or will happen.
What the Reds will get in return for Bruce is the question, though, and it probably won’t be a major-league player. Instead, the team will likely get a couple of near- major-league ready prospects and some who are waiting in the wings for a call-up. From there, the Reds can start to move toward making the postseason once again.
But for now, well, they’ve got some talent in the farm system that doesn’t make it impossible for them to compete within three years. They just need to keep cutting bait and developing new star players who will be the faces of the franchise for the future.