What a night. A fight for the ages. A trade in the middle of the fight. I was on the phone with multiple friends and family discussing the fight and the trade that had been rumored to take place. I was yelling at the television. The bigger story is the EPIC three-team trade that took place.
On the surface it doesn’t look favorable for the Reds. The Reds traded both Yasiel Puig to the Indians and their top listed prospect, according to MLB Pipeline, in Taylor Trammell, to the Padres. Many felt if the Reds didn’t keep Puig than Trammell was going to be the person who eventually filled his role. In return the Reds got a great, and controversial, starting pitcher, in Trevor Bauer. The Reds who have had some of the best starting pitching in baseball, so why would they go after ANOTHER starting pitcher?
The overview of this shows the Reds front office trading away their most popular player in Yasiel Puig. He’s been one of the hottest hitters in baseball since mid June, after a slow start. He’s had a walk off hit and scored the walk off run earlier this month against the Brewers. The Red Warrior aka El Guerrero Rojo was willing to take on the Pirates by himself, and even did it after reports of him being traded. According to many, he was seen as the Reds biggest priority to resign for next season. He loved the community, his teammates, and is the reason social media was created.
Most people will read about the trade and only see the Reds trading away there top prospect in outfielder Taylor Trammell. Trammell, only 21 years old, had been the one man highlight reel at the MLB Futures game. In the 2018 game he hit a a massive home run and a triple in the game winning the MVP honors. This year he followed it up in the 2019 Futures game going 1-2 with an RBI and was caught stealing home (replay showed him to be safe). He’s young, confident, and very likable guy.
Trevor Bauer is a great, forward-thinking mentality, who always seems willing to learn how to improve. To many, though, he’s the guy who lost his mind Sunday and chucked a ball over center field from the pitchers mound out of anger from being removed from the game. He brings much more baggage, such as going after other people on Twitter, advocating conspiracy theories, and drone injury that messed up a playoff start to name a few things. While he’s not a rental player for a playoff push, he’s not far from it. Bauer only has team control through 2020. He’s eligible for arbitration next season making $13 million this year. That would make him the highest paid starter on the Reds for 2020. What does this mean for the rest of the Reds starting rotation, who have been one of the best in all of baseball this year? Castillo, Gray, Roark, Wood, Disco, and Mahle all vying for a spot.
Here’s the flip side of all of this. Taylor Trammell is presented as the Reds top prospects but has had two regressive years. His career slash line for the minors is .273/.367/.408. His 2019 slash line .236/.349/.336 in Chattanooga AA. Realistically at best he’d probably be an everyday starter not until 2021 or 2022 when he could make an impact at the major league level. That’s if he can figure out a way to improve his development. The Reds even with Puig gone have a bit of logjam in there outfield with Winker, Senzel, Ervin, and VanMeter. As a fan do you really want to bet your team being competitive again on a top prospect struggling in AA after four 90 loss seasons? I don’t.
Trevor Bauer was one of the bigger fish the Reds were rumored to be going after this offseason. 2018 he finished sixth in Cy Young voting and was an All-Star. He’s on pace to have pitched more than 175 innings for five straight seasons. He focuses heavily on improving his mechanics using high speed cameras. He’s actually developed new pitches in the past few years. He gives this staff a frightening front three in Castillo-Gray-Bauer for the 2020 season. If you want to know more about his focus on player development read MVP Machine because even if you don’t like him personally he’s definitely cutting edge when it comes to his insight on pitching. Most importantly I think the Reds are going to possibly flip him over to a team ready to win a World Series before the deadline tomorrow. They could get a haul for him by trading to him to someone like the Yankees.
Yasiel Puig was OUR dude. While his stent was short lived almost everyone loved him from the fanbase. As exciting as he has been to watch on the field these past two months Puig was still below his career numbers for .AVG, .OBP, and OPS+. Many also felt that he would try and test the free agency waters no matter what this offseason. The Reds only had two other options for potentially keeping him. A contract extension or a qualifying offer in which they were either compensated a draft pick if he didn’t sign or overpay him to stay an extra year.
Something not many people are talking about that is a real possibility being the Reds signing Yasiel Puig this offseason. Especially if they move Bauer. The Yankees moved Chapman to the Cubs. Chapman helped them win a World Series then he went back and signed with Yankees where he still remains. The Reds front office said they are looking to spend money to be competitive again. Meaning they should spend as much or more than they did in payroll this season. The Reds could have anywhere from $50-70 million to give out in contracts this offseason. So far the front office under the leadership of Dick Williams and Nick Krall haven’t disappointed. When I attended the photo day for season tickets I spoke with Dick Williams for about 30 seconds last Saturday. I told him that they haven’t really made a mistake in my opinion so far. His response “Then I’m sure you won’t be disappointed with what’s to come.” I think there is more to come. Trust the front office.
Who’s the Reds Third Best Pitcher?
The third best pitcher on the Reds in 2020 will not be who you are thinking.
Castillo, Gray, Bauer, DeSclafani, and Miley. A deep, veteran, proven rotation which, on paper, makes the Reds the NL Central favorites. You can argue over who the “Ace” is, but who cares. Gray and Castillo both showed incredible stuff each earning an all-star bid. Miley brings a lefty to the rotation while Bauer brings the big name on a contract year. However, the one pitcher that doesn’t have an all-star appearance on his resume is the one to keep an eye on. I think Anthony DeSclafani will be the third best pitcher behind Castillo and Gray.
In 2019, Anthony DeSclafani had a healthy season. Coming off a promising 2016 (3.28 ERA 130 ERA+), Disco missed the entire 2017 season and only pitched in 21 games during the 2018 campaign. With how fantastic Gray/Castillo pitched and the splash trade that landed Bauer, DeSclafani’s season flew under the radar. 2.6 War 3.89 ERA 117 ERA + 167 K’s in 31 starts pitching 166.2 innings. His last 8 starts he pitched to the tune of a 2.39 ERA. Just a lucky year? I don’t think so. DeSclafani has mentioned before how much working with pitching coach Derek Johnson has helped him. Now more of a veteran, coming off a healthy season and having another healthy offseason with DJ, just how good could DeSclafani be?
According to Baseball Reference Disco’s projections:
9-9 4.35 ERA 1 Sv (?) 155 innings 154 K’s
Zips projection: 1.6 (Bauer 3.8, Castillo 3.9, Gray 3.2, Miley 1.1)
First off, win loss record for a pitcher means absolutely nothing. However, I do think DeSclafani will set a career high in wins, which is 9 (9 wins 3 different times). Last season, his first with Derek Johnson, Disco set a career high in strikeouts while pitching 18 fewer innings than his career high in innings. Contrary to many pitchers, he pitched pretty well at GABP.
Home: 6-4 3.50 ERA 82.1 in 71 hits 86 K’s
Away: 3-5 4.27 ERA 84.1 in 80 hits 81 K’s
A healthy 2020 while pitching in a contract year is important. Earning $5,900,000 at 30 years old it is crucial for DeSclafani to pitch well and set himself up for another contract and payday before he gets older. If he can continue to build off last season and take a step forward the Reds could be around a 90 win team in 2020.
*Random stat: DeSclafani’s 2019 117 ERA+ is higher than Bauer’s ERA+ in 7 of his 8 seasons.*
Bounce Back and Breakout: Outfield
Looking to the outfield for a bounce back and a breakout candidate.
10 outfielders. TEN?!?!? On the 40-man roster? Well, let’s try to unpack this obscurity. The offseason started with a quick trade to acquire Travis Jankowski which has turned into the safety option after the Reds hit big on their free agent targets. Mark Payton was selected in the Rule 5 as a long shot to make the roster. Scott Schebler is still around and apparently healthy. Don’t forget he once hit 30 home runs but more recently hit .123/.253/.222. VanMeter is probably projected more as an infielder especially with the new additions. Ok, so now that we have trimmed the fat, we are left with the big question mark in Aquino, hits LHP Ervin, often injured Senzel, RHP only Winker, and the big free agents Akiyama and Castellanos. With at bats limited, who will bounce back and who will break out?
Bounce Back: Nick Senzel
Honorable Mention: Aristides Aquino
No one has ever questioned the talent. There’s a reason Senzel was drafted high and appeared at the top of prospect list. The issue has been health. Not to beat a dead horse, but he’s struggled to stay on the field. Once he arrived on the scene in May, Senzel hit .279/.347/.468 with 4 home runs 5 doubles and 2 triples. Those numbers started to slip and Turner Ward changing his batting stance didn’t help. Injuries once again were an issue. How Senzel will be used in 2020 is up for debate. Everyday centerfielder? Second if Suarez is injured? Super utility? Who cares, the most important thing is to get Senzel healthy, find a comfortable batting stance, and get him at bats. A season (well, 104 games) under his belt should help. Many rookies struggle. Hell, Mike Trout batted .220 in his first year (40 games). Senzel won’t be Trout, but if he can hit around .280, which I think he can, this team could catch fire in and take the division.
Baseball Reference Projection: .260/.324/.445 14 HR 10 SB 20 2B (These seem low to me)
Breakout: Shogo Akiyama
Honorable Mention: Phillip Ervin
The first Japanese player in Reds history comes with high expectations. Although a rookie, Akiyama will be 32 years old and has proven himself in Japan. Hitting 20 home runs or more the past three seasons while hitting over .300 and an OBP of .398, .403, .392 should cause fans to drool over what he could be. Many question if he can be a centerfielder in the MLB but the Reds think he’ll hold his own. Adjusting to the new country and a new league could lead to a slow start. Many assume he has an elite eye for the strike zone due to his OBP, but Akiyama has never walked more than he strikes out. Not many players do, we as fans have been spoiled with Votto doing just that a few seasons in his career (APPRECIATE VOTTO). Frankly, I couldn’t care less how he gets on base as long as he is on base. I think Akiyama will be a crucial part of the team’s success in 2020.
2020 Offseason Compared to Others
This offseason is definitely the best the Reds have had in the last decade.
$165 million dollar SPLASH offseason’ s are not common in Cincinnati. After years and years of subpar rosters and uninspiring managing, the Reds started to focus on the future last offseason with a few big moves. Sonny Gray was brought in help the top of the rotation while Puig in friends were brought in to jazz up the lineup. At least one worked. 2019 offseason has built a solid foundation for the years to come. If you thought that was exciting, 2020 blew it out of the water.
So, let’s run down some previous offseason’s. Here are some of the players the Reds acquired via free agency and trades:
2010: Chapman, Arredondo, Orlando Cabrera
2011: Ramon Hernandez and Edgar Renteria
2012: Mat Latos, Sean Marshall, Ryan Madson, Dioner Navarro, Ludwick, JJ Hoover, Wilson Valdez
2013: Jumbo Diaz, Broxton, Choo, Hannahan, Cesar Izturis
2014: Tim Adleman, Skip Schumaker, Jason Bougeois, Trevor Bell, Ramon Santiago
2015: Ivan De Jesus, Ramon Cabrerra, DeSclafani, Suarez, Marlon Byrd, Jason Marquuis, Burk Badenhop
2016: Blake Wood, Brandon Allen, Tim Melville, Schebler and Peraza, Alfredo Simon, Dan Strailey
2017: Stuart Turner, Josh VanMeter, Drew Storen, Luis Castillo, Scott Feldman, Arroyo, Scooter
2018: Kevin Quackenbush, Mason Williams, Phil Gosselin, Jared Hughes, David Hernandez, Cliff Pennington
2019: Tanner Roark, Farmer/Puig/Kemp/Wood, Sonny Gray, Derek Dietrich, Jose Iglesias
Man, that 2014-2018 was bad. The good players acquired were prospects. Obviously, during a rebuild that is what you do. But the MLB “talent” that was signed, well, yikes! (A couple of good players, I am being harsh.) The front office had no plans for winning. That is just how rebuilds work. But, you can see the foundation being built. The prospects take a few years and 2018 was the first aggressive push in years. The Reds window for success is now. By going out and signing offensive players in Moose and Castellans to pair with OBP machine Akiyama the city of Cincinnati is ready for excitement. Lack of spending has been the gripe of patrons each offseason. They were finally silenced. Interestingly, previous improvements had been made via trade, mostly. The opposite happened this offseason with signing talent and holding on to future assets. What do we make of that? I’m not really sure. Does it say the Reds have something up their sleeve to pull off a spring training trade? Could be. Too many outfielders will have to play itself out. Although this offseason has been the biggest yet, it’s possible it’s not even over yet.