It feels like centuries ago when the Reds fielded a good baseball team. In 2013 the Reds won 90 games then fired Dusty Baker leading to their downhill slide. 2014 brought 76 wins followed by a lousy 64 wins in 2015, 68 in 2016, 68 in 2017, and 67 in 2018. Folks, that’s four straight last-place finishes. The rebuild was in process. Think of the big names and fan favorites that would be traded you think of Cueto, Frazier, Phillips, Bruce, Chapman, and others. Here is a breakdown of what the Reds acquired for a combined 12-time All-Stars:
* Indicates players in the Reds organization
Todd Frazier – Jose Pereza*, Scott Schebler*, Brandon Dixon
Brandon Phillips – Andrew McKirahan and Carlos Portuondo
Jay Bruce – Dilson Herrera and Max Wotell
Johnny Cueto – Brandon Finnegan*, Cody Reed*, John Lamb
Mike Leake- Adam Duvall, Keury Mella*
Mat Latos – Anthony DeSclafani*, Chad Wallach
Aroldis Chapman – Caleb Cotham, Rookie Davis, Eric Jagielo, Tony Renda
Jonathan Broxton – Kevin Shackelford*, Barrett Astin
Dan Straily- Luis Castillo*
Take the pitchers from this list and look at their stats combined in a Reds uniform:
43-92 record 6.03 ERA 6.3 WAR
Now remove Castillo and DeSclafani: 5-47 record (!)
7.25 ERA -2.3 WAR
Some of these pitchers are still young and can still turn it around and produce effectively for the Reds. You can find better statistics and break it down this way or that way and yeah yeah yeah. *Rolls eyes* At the end of the day the return, overall, simply is not strong. The Chapman trade and Cueto trade sting because they are the most talented pitchers on the list and the return was nowhere close to their worth. Castillo, as many young pitchers do, has had his ups and downs. At times he throws like an ace and at times he looks lost. His stats post All-Star break last year: 2.44 ERA, 5-4 record (Reds only won 24 games in that span), .206 BAA while striking out 69 and only walked 14. Castillo’s potential is high, he has the talent, now it is time for him to put it all together consistently.
The hitters that were brought in from these trades are headlined by Jose Pereza and Scott Schebler. Adam Duvall hit some home runs (84 to be exact) in a Reds uniform but only batted .235 while posting a .297 OBP, which is .01% worse than Billy Hamilton. Pereza has shown he has the stuff to be a good everyday shortstop now and in the future. At only 24 (25 in April) years old the Reds are set up well at short for the future. Schebler hit 30 home runs in 2017, but only 17 last year. He will see more time in center this year but is not the future in that position. He is a great lefty bat that will get plenty of at-bats and pinch-hit opportunities. Dixon, Herrera, Wallach, and Renda all failed to bat over .200 in a Reds uniform while Jagielo never got to wear one.
The most important and impactful rebuild trade was the Alfredo Simon trade with the Tigers that brought in Eugenio Suarez and Jonathan Crawford. Crawford is a career minor leaguer, but Suarez is an All-Star. In retrospect, one might ask “How did the Reds get Suarez for Simon?!” Alfredo Simon was 8-12 with a 5.18 ERA and -.4 WAR with the Baltimore Orioles when the Reds snagged him off waivers in April 2012. He was a starter, then a reliever, then a spot starter, then back to reliever, and he really didn’t have a fit in Baltimore. Simon was a better waiver claim than Scooter Gennett (HOT TAKE ALERT). Simon had a 26-23 record with a 4.06 ERA and 2.0 WAR in his four seasons as a Red that included a 15-10 All-Star season in 2015. For some reason it felt like a fluke. He couldn’t keep this up, right? Right.
Following the season, the Reds made a smart move to shop Simon and trade him to the Tigers. Simon’s $5.5 million contract might have looked like his 5.05 ERA, but that was not his value. Simon was let go after one season in Detroit. The Reds brought him back on one of those awkward return to the Reds and get cut in June deals we are all familiar with. Suarez, on the other hand, has developed into one of the top third basemen in the league.
With the Tigers, Suarez was a top-10 prospect in their organization clocking in around the seven to nine range. The Venezuelan shortstop played 81 games with the Tigers in 2014. When he came over in a winter trade, Zack Cozart manned short forcing Suarez to AAA Louisville. After Cozart suffered an injury, Suarez got his chance. He hit 13 home runs while batting .280 in 97 games. Cincinnati needed to find him at-bats, moving forward, making Frazier expendable, at that time.
Suarez had a monster 2018 season that he hopes to build off of, going into 2019. Amongst third basemen, he was second in home runs and RBI while ranking top-5 in walks, Slugging percentage, and WAR. He committed 23 errors which is the least he has made in a Reds uniform. Before the season Cincinnati locked up Suarez with a 7-year $66 million dollar extension. A deal that sets the Reds up to succeed now and in the future.
The value of this deal is incredibly important for the Reds and their rebuild. The Reds now have a special talent at third on a deal that gives the team more money to spend elsewhere. Compare Suarez salary of $7 million, average annual value, to third basemen around the league: Rendon ($18+), Bryant ($12+), Turner ($19), Carpenter ($14+), Arenado ($26), Seager ($19), Longoria ($14+), Frazier ($9), Prado *squints eyes* ($15). The most Suarez will make is $15 million in 2025, his age 33 season. Another aspect of this contract is it does not last until he is old and potentially not playing at the same level. The issue with the Machado and Harper signings is that teams do not want a big price tag on an aging player (Albert Pujols). Machado is due $30 million dollars in the last year of his contract when he will be 35 years old. We will have to wait and see how that plays out.
Now that the Reds have Suarez locked up what should fans expect from him? Since becoming the everyday third baseman, each year he has increased his home runs, RBI, average, WAR, and extra-base hits. At only 27 years old (28 in July) he is entering the prime of his career. The Reds will field more offensive talent in 2019. Gaining Puig, Kemp, Senzel, and getting Jesse Winker back will only help Suarez. This could lead to more at-bats with runners on. His slot in the batting order is not locked in yet, but he should fall in the 4-6 range. In 2019 Suarez saw the most at-bats in the 5 hole (336) batting .259 with a .368 OBP hitting 13 home runs and driving in 46. When batting 6th his stats were .282 avg., .392 OBP, 9 home runs, 23 RBI in only 124 at-bats.
Regardless of where he hits, he will hit. I am looking forward to this year for Suarez and many more years to come. The Reds have positions to fill for this year and the near future, third base is not one.
Should the Reds Sign or Trade Puig?
With the way he has struggled, and the Reds’ current pace, we may see Puig on the move before the trade deadline.
Yasiel Puig gave this team energy in December. The Cincinnati Reds haven’t had excitement in December in years. Acquired in a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, Puig came to town with a lot of buzz. You may remember him parading around town posting on social media about how much he loved Cincinnati and how excited he was to be a Red. I was thrilled. The talks of 30+ home runs and reaping the benefits of GABP had many fans following the Reds once again. Fast forward to mid- June and no one is too excited about the .213 hitter. The Reds’ chances at making the playoffs seems slim and it might be time to move some rentals. With an expiring contract the question is this: should the Reds look to trade Puig at the deadline?
One thing we all know about Puig is that he’s an emotional player and a big personality. This season, hitting and getting on base has been a struggle for the Wild Horse. A .213 average and a *squints* .256 on-base percentage are awful. 62 K’s to 13 walks is not pretty, either. Sitting at a -0.3 WAR you wonder what’s going on. 11 home runs and 9 stolen bases are positives. He has a strong arm in the outfield as well. While a walk off hit and “I am going to fight an entire Pirates’ team” were memorable moments of the season and, fun as hell, I am not sure if he’ll have a chance to make many more moments like these. So what teams are looking for a corner outfielder who is struggling and is maybe “a bit too much of a personality” for some? That might be the problem. The first corner outfielder off the market was Jay Bruce (name sounds familiar) to the Phillies. The amount of contending teams needing a corner outfield bat is not high and honestly there are simply better options available.
On paper, you would not see a larger return for a player with his stats. Look at his track record, a career .273 hitter that is no doubt a talented player. It might take an injury on a contending team to get his value up. A trade of “we lost a player and need to replace him” not a “let’s see if we can upgrade from our current player” type of trade. When the Reds traded Bruce to the Mets they took a flyer on an injured former high prospect Dilson Herrera. Sometimes taking a flyer on a prospect who might need a change of scenery can pay off big time. Someone did mention they could trade him and try to sign him back in the offseason. While true, I think the Reds would not trade him if they plan to sign him to an extension.
Signing Puig to an extension would pretty much set the outfield for a few years. Winker, Senzel (assuming he stays there), Puig. But with Taylor Trammell approaching quickly where would that put him? Ervin, Schebler, Sirri, Siani, and others could play a role in the future. Puig is not going to be cheap, either. What he does from here on out will give us a better idea but at only 28 years old he has many years left in him. Plenty of expiring contracts will need to be resigned and, well, the Reds don’t have Yankees-type money.
The trade deadline is coming soon and the Reds making the playoffs is very unlikely. Look for the front office to move some players for prospects and for Puig to be a prominently rumored player on the move.
Locked On Reds – 6/13/2019 Reds Split with Indians
Thursday’s episode is up!
Scooter Get Off The Pot
Scooter Gennett is a dude who will be hard to say goodbye to. The team’s current makeup, however, makes it seem that is coming, sooner rather than later.
Jeff has brought up a lot of talk about who we as fans would hate to see get traded this year. For me there is only one answer. Scooter Gennett.
Without a doubt it has to be him. While I completely understand if they do from a financial and bigger picture stand point, it will eat my soul. I haven’t seen a Cincinnati native this well liked since Barry Larkin.
Everything about him including his name screams a Cincinnati Reds ballplayer. You can see it in his play, character, leadership, and communication that this guy LOVES playing for his home town team. The man is already a Reds legend after smacking 4 home runs in a game. A game that, by sheer luck, I was able to witness. It was, by far, the best moment I have ever witnessed in person at GABP. He put up the best numbers of his career in 2017 only to follow it up with a better season as an All Star in 2018.
Scooter has made it clear he would like to remain a Red and loves this organization. I was really hoping the Reds would extend him to a short term deal last season after an incredible season that almost saw him win a batting title. I even tried starting the #ScooterGetOffThePot trend. Instead, like many things in recent memory with this team, good things go wrong quickly. He suffered the worst injury of his career with a severe strained groin.
Making the case for extending him even more difficult has been the off-the-wall performance by Derek Dietrich. Another free agent find who has been as wildly entertaining and likable. Dietrich has already made himself the face of the team this year with his kid like swagger for the game. Dietrich was just named second basemen of the month of May by the MLB. Per Stats by STATS Dietrich played in 55 games with a .706 slugging percentage. The only other player in baseball history to match that in there first 55 game with an organization was a HOF 2B Rogers Hornsby. The Reds also have control of Dietrich’s contract next season being an arbitration year. If you remove Dietrich from the equation it’s not any better.
Jose Iglesias is a must start for this team, currently, at shortstop. Iglesias is the best defensive infielder the team has had since Brandon Phillips. Iglesias also currently holds the highest batting average on the team nearly two months into the season. Meaning Jose Peraza has no place left to play but filling in for guys on their day off. Peraza also seems like a guy that, come next season, will more than likely be the starting shortstop simply because of his age and salary.
The Reds have their current center fielder, Nick Senzel, who has been the spark to this offense since coming up to the big leagues. The Reds have averaged nearly 2 more runs a game since Senzel has been playing for the team. Senzel definently stands a chance to be Rookie of the Year. Most importantly he seems to a guaranteed core player of this team’s foreseeable future. Senzel is a player who could, hypothetically, be the Reds starting second baseman for 2020. Plus they have Johnathan India, last year’s first round pick, quickly making his way up through the minors. He could potentially take that spot if not next season the following year.
None of this leads me to believe Scooter will be playing for this team next year. He is the perfect trading chip if they are looking to have a sale at the trade deadline or add a missing piece as well. I think what I enjoy about Scooter Gennett most is his GRIT. There is no denying the dude has GRIT. Something many of the players on this team currently do not have. More than anything that is why I will hate if he is traded.