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Strength in Numbers: The Cincinnati Reds

A team preview

The Cincinnati Reds approached this offseason hungry for more. The organization isn’t satisfied with minor improvements. The goal this year is to bring home the World Series. Everything that falls short of that will be considered a failure. 

The Reds offseason splash began on December 5th, 2019 when they signed former Brewer’s second baseman Mike Moustakas to a four-year deal worth $64M. The Reds were prompted to improve their offense which finished 12th in the National League in runs scored, 13th in hits, 12th in batting average, and 12th in on-base percentage. In addition to the Moustakas signing, the Reds signed Japanese outfielder Shogo Akiyama to a three-year deal worth $21M and former Cubs’ outfielder Nick Castellanos to a four-year deal worth $64M.

With these batting upgrades, the Reds are poised to improve and bring more guys around home plate this season. Currently, the Reds are projected to start Nick Castellanos and Shogo Akiyama in the outfield, who starts alongside them is yet to be determined. Phillip Ervin is the most reliable out of the remaining outfielders, hitting .271 last year in 236 at-bats. The Reds also have the 26-year-old Jesse Winker, but he has an extensive injury history along with the former-top prospect, Nick Senzel. The team also has to consider the mystery of Aristedes Aquino who got off to a hot start in his major league career but endured a late-season slump. The Reds can opt to send him down to Lousiville to start the season with the Bats if the outfield becomes too crowded. Additionally, the Reds have Scott Schebler, a former 30 home run outfielder, who is attempting to revitalize his career. This overcrowded outfield is a good problem to have, which could prompt the Reds to trade someone prior to the start of the season.

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The Reds have an interesting infield situation. At third base, they have Eugenio Suarez who is coming off a career-high 49 home runs. Unfortunately, Suarez could miss the start of the season due to a pool injury. At shortstop, they are relying on Freddy Galvis, who they claimed off waivers from the Blue Jays in August. Galvis only hit .234 last season with the Reds, but the team is banking that a full offseason with the team will help him grow into the player they envision him as. The Reds signed Mike Moustakas to take over the second base duties this year. However, Moustakas is a natural third baseman which might prove to be an issue, at least defensively. At first base, the Reds have Joey Votto, but Votto has struggled the past two seasons and he’s 36 years old. Relying on him as an everyday first baseman may not help the offense out. At catcher, the Reds have a decent duo in Tucker Barnhart and Curt Casali. There’s also the possibility top catching prospect, Tyler Stephenson makes his way to the majors this season. Additionally, the Reds do have versatile utility players in Alex Blandino and Kyle Farmer. Expect them to make another infield addition to their roster before the season starts.

Last year, the Reds had one of the best pitching staffs in baseball. They added starting pitcher Wade Miley to their already formidable rotation. With a rotation headed by Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray, Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani, and Wade Miley, the Reds should have no problem holding teams to low scores. While the bullpen had its struggles last year, the three-headed monster of Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, and Amir Garrett is back at full strength. Pedro Strop, the former Cubs reliever, was signed to bolster their bullpen. Additionally, the team has plenty of young guys looking to make a name for themselves in Tyler Mahle, Lucas Sims, Cody Reed, Jose de Leon, Robert Stephenson and potentially Tony Santillan and Nick Lodolo later this year. 

Winning the offseason doesn’t always translate to winning the season, but there is hope for the Reds. The Cubs, Brewers, Cardinals, and Pirates did little to improve their rosters, while the Reds had many offseason acquisitions that could provide an immediate impact. The depth the Reds have, particularly in the outfield and bullpen, could prove to be helpful down the stretch. Inevitably, players are going to get injured, so having plenty of guys with major league experience could prove to be extremely helpful. Additionally, once the trade deadline hits, the Reds might need to improve a particular position on their roster. The Reds could address their future potential needs with the abundance of depth they have. Overall, the Reds are an improved team who are relying on their strength in numbers.

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