Cincinnati Reds (68-94), 5th in the NL Central
Free Agents: SS Zack Cozart, RHP Drew Storen, RHP Scott Feldman
For the third straight season, the Reds finished in last place in the division and had over 90 losses during their campaign. Despite their struggles in terms of wins and losses, the club has seen improvement from some of their young players, which Cincinnati general manager Dick Williams wants to keep seeing next season.
Which brings us to this offseason. Williams told the Cincinnati Enquirer that the Reds plan on adding some pieces, but are going to go crazy because they need their young players to keep growing.
“Most of the improvement for this coming year needs to come from within,” Williams said. “We do intend to supplement. We do intend to spend some money, we do intend to bring in some talent from the outside. We're not at the point where the free agents are going to put us over the top.”
So, what pieces are they looking for?
The top priority for the Reds has to be pitching, as they were near the bottom of every major statistical category. The Reds ranked last in home runs allowed (248), OPS (.810) and quality starts (54), and ranked 29th in both ERA (5.17) and walks (631).
A big part of their struggles was because they had to throw eight young starters into the fire after Anthony DeSclafani missed the entire season, Brandon Finnegan missed nearly all of it and Homer Bailey also was sidelined for a good portion of the season before finishing with 18 starts and a career-worst 6.43 ERA. Williams said the Reds would like to add a veteran arm, but within reason because he doesn’t want to interrupt the growth of young starters such as Luis Castillo, Sal Romano and Robert Stephenson.
Another way they could improve is to add a veteran reliever or two in the bullpen, which may be the most logical move because relievers don’t cost as much as starters and it would help give the bullpen more experience.
Along with the pitching needs, the Reds have to figure out their shortstop and outfield situations.
Their starter at short last year, Zack Cozart, will test the free agent market after having an All-Star campaign. The Reds don’t have a current caliber player like Cozart waiting in the wings to take over the position, so do they try to go with second baseman Jose Peraza or third baseman Eugenio Suarez? Do they try to bring up third baseman Nick Senzel, their No. 2 overall pick in 2016, and have him switch positions? Or do they try to sign Cozart or another veteran to a short-term deal?
As for their outfield, the Reds have four young talents in Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker. Winker, 24, made his debut last year and has been able to produce at the plate, so do the Reds try to move Duvall, Hamilton or Schebler in order to get him in the lineup?
Another way they could add more pieces is trading their biggest asset in reliever Raisel Iglesias. Iglesias drew some interest during the trade deadline, but the Reds kept him and he finished with 28 saves in 30 opportunities while posting a 2.49 ERA.
Along with having a strong season, what makes the 27-year-old Iglesias attractive is that he has a friendly contract. He is only owed $14.5 million over the next three years before he is eligible for arbitration in 2021. He is a free agent in 2022 and a deal involving him can bring in a nice haul for the Reds to improve other areas.
The Reds could also try to trade Duvall, Hamilton, Schebler or utility player Scooter Gennett. But, the Reds may have to wait until the trade deadline next season because these guys may not generate enough of a return yet to help the Reds be closer to getting out of the basement.