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Offseason-in-Review: Cincinnati Reds

A requiem for Zack Cozart.

MLB: Spring Training-Cincinnati Reds at Los Angeles Angels Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds (68-94)

Additions: Kyle Crockett, David Hernandez, Jared Hughes, Cliff Pennington, Oliver Perez, Ben Revere, Kevin Quackenbush

Subtractions: Bronson Arroyo, Zack Cozart, Scott Feldman, Drew Storen

Strap in kiddos because nothing is more titillating than the thrilling, exhilarating, spine-shiver-sending moves that the Reds have accomplished this winter. The only thing more fast paced than Cincinnati’s front office making moves this offseason is perhaps a long distance snail the Arctic tundra...and also the snails have been dead for a few weeks or so.

I have good news and bad news. The bad news is that the Reds had a pretty rough 2017 and will likely not have an outstanding comeback this season. They lost at least 90 games for the third consecutive year. Looking for a bright side is like staring at a solar eclipse head on but hey at least you’ll burn your corneas out and then you never have to watch another Reds loss again.

It feels like we’re grasping for straws here, but if I’m going to scrap together some good news, it’s that Cincinnati wasn’t completely dormant this winter and made some pretty substantial moves in the way of bullpen depth. It wasn’t even close to filling all of the needs of the Reds but something is better than nothing, right...right??

One of the biggest blows to Cincinnati’s hope and dream this winter was franchise short stop Zack Cozart was lost to free agency, signed away by the Angels to the tune of three years, $38 million. A moment of silence as we mourn what could have been. Anyway, back to our regularly scheduled analysis. Cliff Pennington was signed on a minor league deal and could possibly fill the Cozart gap. Top prospect Nick Senzel could also in the running for the position at short after seeing time there this spring, and maybe split the time with ultimate utility-man Jose Peraza. As of now, Phil Gosselin is slated to be the backup shortstop, but he only has five major league starts at that position. If the Reds are going to take a gamble on inexperience, they might as well do it with a player they want to mold for that position for years to come.

The Reds also did their share of cultivating minor-league deals, which felt far too in-vogue this offseason. The bullpen has been Cincinnati’s biggest Achilles heel over the last two seasons, with a combined ERA of 4.65 in 2017, so the barrage of cheap reinforcement could prove to be a good investment. On the stronger part of that bolstering is David Hernandez, who inked a two-year, $5 million deal with the Reds in late January. Hernandez had a 3.11 ERA over 64 appearances split between the Angels and Diamondbacks in 2017 while striking out 52 hitters and walking just nine.

Cincinnati also signed RHP Jared Hughes to a two-year, $4.5 million deal with a club option included. Veteran pitcher and starter-turned-bullpen arm Oliver Perez was brought on with a minor-league deal and could possibly see time in the Reds’ bullpen this season. Paired with 26-year old reliever Kyle Crockett that the Reds claimed off of waivers from Cleveland, Cincinnati has set up a cheap, low risk/high reward bullpen. Crockett isn’t arbitration eligible for another year, so he’ll be making league minimum on a strong slider as he improves the velo on his fastball.

Perhaps the only part of their roster the Reds don’t have to worry about is their rotation. 2018 will be the year of the rookie starter, with young arms such as Sal Romano and Tyler Mahle competing for backend rotation slots. The offseason opened with Bronson Arroyo announcing his retirement, which was more of a hit to the team’s morale than to their actual pitching strength. Arroyo went 3-6 with a 7.35 ERA over 71 innings. However, the loss is felt in the mentorship he could have provided for the slew of new pitchers set to make their debuts with the Reds this season. Anthony DeSclafani is getting rocked in spring training, so reinforcement is needed.

Ben Revere was signed to a minor-league contract and would provide nice depth for Cincy.

A big move coming from the Reds towards the end of the offseason was agreeing to terms with Eugenio Suarez on a contract extension through the 2024 season, with a team option for 2025. The third baseman is guaranteed $66 million over the next six years, with the 2025 option worth $15 million with a $2 million buyout.

The Reds didn’t make a single trade this winter, and that’s okay.

But Joey Votto is still around and still getting bases on balls so let’s relish in that and use it to sustain us through the bad days.