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If the Cincinnati Reds are going to contend in 2020, the front office must make some changes to the roster. Which five players are most likely to be traded this offseason?
If the Cincinnati Reds are looking to make a big splash this offseason, it’ll likely come through a trade rather than free agency. With that in mind, you got to spend money to make money. So, if you’re the Reds, you got to trade away talent in order to gain talent. Which five players on the Reds roster are most likely to be traded this offseason?
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The Cincinnati Reds have eight players eligible for arbitration this offseason. Which five are most deserving of the bump in pay?
Each year, MLB Trade Rumors calculates an estimate of what each arbitration eligible Major League Baseball player will make through the process. Players who have more than three, but less than six years of major league service are arbitration eligible every offseason. This year, the Cincinnati Reds have eight players who fit that category. Which five are worth the bump in pay?
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If a player and team have not agreed upon a salary for the upcoming season by the mid-January deadline, both parties will enter arbitration. After the team and player exchange numbers, an arbitration hearing is scheduled and if the two sides have not reached an agreement by the time the hearing rolls around, a panel of arbitrators will decide how much the player’s salary will be.
As the Cincinnati Reds’ front office personnel look for areas to improve in 2020, they feel like they learned a lot about the team’s bullpen after playing in so many close games.
The Reds played in 57 one-run games, the most in the majors, and had another 31 games decided by two runs. It was a lot of stress on the bullpen, which was a strength in the first half of the season and then got roughed up in the second half.
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In the offseason, upgrading the bullpen is expected to be one of their top priorities. The Reds posted a 24-33 record in one-run games and a 13-19 mark in two-run games.
“You’re talking about almost 90 games that the last three or four innings, one swing of the bat can change the outcome,” said Dick Williams, the Reds’ president of baseball operations. “Every decision was scrutinized and that’s just the nature of baseball in close games. I think a lot of attention was starting to be paid to our bullpen. They were so good and such a strength, but because we were in every game and fighting in close battles, we did put a lot of pressure on those guys.”
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Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett (50) returns to the dugout after being pulled in the eighth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, July 28, 2018.
Cincinnati Reds relief pitcher Amir Garrett (50) returns to the dugout after being pulled in the eighth inning of the MLB National League game between the Cincinnati Reds and the Philadelphia Phillies at Great American Ball Park in downtown Cincinnati on Saturday, July 28, 2018. (Photo: Sam Greene)
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During the first three months of the season, the Reds had the National League’s top bullpen with a 3.73 ERA. The Reds ranked third-to-last in the NL with a 4.85 ERA in the final three months.
Williams says the bullpen deserved more credit than it received.
“When they did let things get away, I think they were, at times, unfairly scrutinized because I really think when the offense had chances to provide separating runs, get big leads, jump out, we just didn’t get quite enough of that, taking pressure off the pitching at times,” Williams said. “I felt like, I’m generalizing, more often than not, the offense ended up being a culprit.
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“We just weren’t generating enough offense overall. That will be a focus for us.”
The Reds remain confident in their core of late-inning options: Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson. Iglesias had his worst season as a closer with a 3-12 record and a 4.16 ERA, but he converted 34 saves and showed encouraging signs when he allowed four hits and one walk across 10 ⅔ innings in September.
Lorenzen pitched 83 ⅓ innings, the second-most in the NL among relievers, and finished with a stellar 2.92 ERA. He had a career-high 9.2 strikeouts per nine innings. Garrett struggled in the last two months of the season, especially with walks, but finished with a 3.21 ERA in 56 innings as his slider developed into one of the top swing-and-miss pitches in baseball.
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Stephenson was the final player to make the 25-man roster in spring training and found success in the bullpen. He posted a 3.76 ERA in 64 ⅔ innings and received more high-leverage opportunities at the end of the year.
Along with any offseason additions, the Reds are hopeful that some of their internal options take a big step forward, whether it’s Joel Kuhnel, Matt Bowman, Cody Reed, R.J. Alaniz or Jimmy Herget. Lucas Sims and Sal Romano spent time as starters, but they will be out of minor league options next year. Kevin Gausman is a candidate to be non-tendered because he’s expected to make more than $10 million through arbitration, but the Reds like his potential as a reliever.
“I do believe that we’re going to continue to get more and more out of our existing players,” Williams said. “We showed that last year that we were able to draw more out of, particularly, the pitching staff. I think that’ll be exciting to see next year.”
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This last season, we saw the Cincinnati avoid arbitration with all eligible players. The likes of Scott Schebler, José Peraza and Yasiel Puig were in last year’s group. This year provides a few new names and some you’ve seen before.
This arbitration season will be interesting, as four of the eight players are arbitration eligible for the final time, meaning they’ll be free agents after the season. Those players are most likely to receive a multi-year deal if the Reds want to maintain control beyond the 2020 season. So, which five players, eligible for arbitration, are worth the increase in salary?
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No fan wants to see their favorite player shipped off to another team. Trades are hard on both the players and the fans, but it’s part of the business-side of baseball. With the Reds looking to upgrade at virtually every position, it stands to reason that Dick Williams and Nick Krall will be busy early and often this offseason.
After a seeing the Reds front office pull off a blockbuster trade with the Los Angeles Dodgers last season, I’d expect to see something similar this offseason. While the likes of Mookie Betts and Corey Seager may become available, they won’t come cheap. Teams are looking for prospects, but inevitably some major league-ready players might also be involved in potential deals.
The Cincinnati Reds have a plethora of young talent who’ve yet to reach their potential, but if ownership is in “win now”, the team may be willing to part with some of its more promising players in exchange for established major league talent. So. which five players may find their way onto the trade block this winter?