The Reds aren’t known as big-time players in free agency, but president of baseball operations Dick Williams tells John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he expects to have “significantly” more spending capacity than he’s had in previous offseasons, though he added, “It still only goes so far, unfortunately.”
Cincinnati’s offseason spending over the past two years has checked in around a total of $15MM, with modest two-year commitments being made to David Hernandez ($5MM total) and Jared Hughes ($4.5MM), plus one-year pacts for Drew Storen ($3MM), Scott Feldman ($2.3MM) and Yovani Gallardo ($750K). In fact, the Reds haven’t spent more than $5.5MM on a free agent since signing Ryan Ludwick (two years, $15MM) and Jonathan Broxton (three years, $21MM) in the 2012-13 offseason under former general manager Walt Jocketty.
Fay notes that starting pitching is, unsurprisingly, going to be Cincinnati’s top target this winter, but it doesn’t seem plausible that they’d play for the most in-demand names available; Clayton Kershaw (if and when he opts out), Patrick Corbin and Dallas Keuchel are among the headliners on the open market this season. Each figures to be far too pricey for a Reds team that will still have budgetary restrictions to which it’ll need to adhere.
[Related: Cincinnati Reds depth chart and payroll info]
In fact, it’s at least somewhat surprising to hear that the Reds have the means to significantly bolster their spending. The team is facing an attendance drop, per the figures tallied at Baseball-Reference (1.837 million in 2017, 1.542 million in 2018), and there are no significant contracts coming off the books this winter. To the contrary, there’s been some speculation of an extension for Scooter Gennett, which would come with a pay raise, and their arbitration class should yield raises for Anthony DeSclafani, Scott Schebler, Michael Lorenzen, Billy Hamilton, Gennett (if he is not extended) and closer Raisel Iglesias (assuming he opts into arbitration this winter, as is his contractual right).
However, the Reds are at last seeing a light at the end of the tunnel in terms of Homer Bailey’s albatross contract, which expires following the 2019 season (after he’s earned a $23MM salary and been paid a $7MM buyout on his 2020 option). That contract’s expiration could make the club more amenable to adding some modest multi-year commitments to the books in an effort to supplement an increasingly intriguing core of position players that includes Eugenio Suarez, Jesse Winker, Jose Peraza, Tucker Barnhart, Gennett and stalwart Joey Votto, to say nothing of one of the game’s top prospects in Nick Senzel.
The Reds will need to address the rotation aggressively if they have any hope of competing next year. Many of the arms the team has acquired over the course of its rebuild have not yet panned out (e.g. Brandon Finnegan, Rookie Davis, Cody Reed, John Lamb), while drafted/developed prospects like Robert Stephenson, Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano have also struggled. Heading into next season, DeSclafani and Luis Castillo seem the best bets to turn in average or better seasons, though certainly the Reds have a number of young internal options who could yet emerge.
Still, the group as a whole lacks certainty, and to that end, Fay writes that he expects Williams & Co. to make a run at re-signing Matt Harvey, whose career rebounded after being traded to Cincinnati (128 innings, 4.50 ERA, 7.8 K/9, 2.0 BB/9, 4.14 xFIP). The free-agent market has a fair number of other serviceable arms and upside plays in its second and third tiers (full list), and The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans tweeted recently that Williams said the team will consider Asia more than in the past. The Reds, of course, watched the division-rival Cardinals strike gold on righty Miles Mikolas in his return from Japan, and it’s worth noting that there have been rumors of 27-year-old Seibu Lions lefty Yusei Kikuchi being posted for Major League teams this winter as well.
It’s far too early to forecast specific targets for the Reds, but it’s nonetheless notable that the organization’s top decision-maker has expressed confidence in his ability to spend more aggressively as the team’s long-term lineup begins to come into clearer focus.
Kershaw would be a fool to opt out. Teams should be wary of volatile pitchers.
Two year deals with options?
Teams need to bring up the rookies. Quantity through quantity as Branch Ricky said. Hey, who names their baby Branch?
Isn’t it Quality through Quantity?
He who dies with the most toys wins
It’s short for Branchfordious.
“Hey, who names their baby Branch?”
His mother Willow and father Lief?
You’re barking up the wrong tree buddy!
I guess we seriously scarred the that kid. You big bully!
Branch was his middle name. His first name was Wesley.
When he was younger he was the dread pirate Roberts.
Opps…never mind that was Westley not Wesley.
Reds should just trade Bailey. They can use that money to sign a starter.
No one will take Homer Bailey.
This team might…https://goo.gl/images/FAF5nh
Package him with Suarez and I’m sure you can find a taker.
Why in God’s name would they trade Suarez,he’s one of their best players and they just locked in up to an extension
Because Bailey is worthless at his cost and if you add in Suarez’s salary + Baileys then you probably come to about what Suarez is worth on the market.
Suarez’s positive value far outstrips Bailey’s negative value. For as bad as Bailey is- and at this point, they should just release him- it’s only one more year. Suarez is a star locked up for 6 years at well below market rates.
They wouldn’t, but assuming that they could just free up 23MM by simply trading Bailey is just as ridiculous of a statement. Bailey isn’t going anywhere unless you attach some serious value to him.
Joeypankake wins dumbest comments off the week award
Clearly the sarcasm was lost on you.
They aren’t moving Suarez
If only the reds thought of the idea to just deal bailey.
Sorry the reds would not only have to pay all the contract they’d need to send more bailey is so bad teams will need to be paid to roster bailey
Reds should just trade Bailey… lol. Wonder why nobody in the front office has thought of that.
I’m always amazed when fans say, this player sucks, his contract sucks let’s trade him.
If he sucks why would anyone trade for him? Quit saying stupid things.
The only way Bailey gets traded is if the Reds attach a prospect and take back a fringe major leaguer. I am thinking of the Bronson Arroyo/Touki Toussaint for Phil Gosselin deal. Maybe if they attached a high upside low A player, they might find a deal. I am thinking someone like Jeter Downs. He is fairly replaceable as a MI prospect for the Reds, but has enough value that someone could pay Bailey to get him.
If the Mets trade deGrom and/or Syndergaard, I could see them being interested. Something like Bailey and Downs for a utility guy like Phillip Evans.
Sad how a once great organization has fallen to this level. Mr commissioner push for a salary cap during the next CBA, or move aside.
“Mr commissioner push for a salary cap during the next CBA,”. What makes you think the MLBPA would accept one? They haven’t before and won’t now.
If the owners out wait them it will. Let them walk if not.
Because that worked so well in 94?
MLB has tried a cap before. They tied at cap and floor in the 1990-93 CBA (with some caveats attached) and it was rejected. They then unilaterally implemented a salary cap system during the 94 strike. Do you think the MLBPA has forgotten?
“Do you think the MLBPA has forgotten” Let them walk then. Most will buckle after a couple months, and if they want to drag it out, let them. Most aren’t making the money the few are. Hold firm!
“Most will buckle after a couple months, and if they want to drag it out, let them. Most aren’t making the money the few are. Hold firm!”
You really believe the strongest union in the US would buckle that easily? Can I have some of what you are smoking.
If the owners offered something like a large chunk of all MLB gate and network and local broadcast revenues to players’ salaries and the players’ pension plan like they did in 1990 (without the “play for performance” system to replace salary arbitration) it may work. A cap, unless, very high, won’t pass.
Salary caps do nothing but increase owner profits. Always amazed at those who side with billionaire owners.
By your handle I’d assume you’re a Yankee fan. The Reds and other mid or small market teams may have a different perspective than yours. When you have a team that can double or triple your payroll, it creates an unbalanced league. There should be salary max and mins in the league. The PA will not go for it right away. Some will finally buckle, some players will retire, but the minor leagues, colleges, and high schools are full of future stars.
We can’t find a way to win, so let’s changes the rules to make it “fair”.
Sounds about right for Cincinnati.
How on earth will the salary cap help Cincinnati. It works great in the nfl right? Can you look up and tell me how many times the New England Patriots have won their division and made the playoffs? Ok let’s look at the nba surely their salary cap works. Takes a look at the nba playoffs from the last 4 years. Hmm that’s not good for this guy’s narrative. Ok maybe the nhl. Nope nhl has had less overall teams win the championship than Mlb. Salary caps are actually horrible for cities like Cincinnati where players aren’t eager to flock to. Salary caps fail to calculate built in advantages warmer climate teams have or state tax. Salary caps are everything but fair.
You will never have a league where every team is 500, and why would you want to. Some organizations are ran better than others. The Steelers aren’t a great franchise because they spend more, it’s because they are better ran. If there was not a salary cap, the Larger markets would dominate.
Your point about tax havens, and warmer climates is B.S. Players are not flocking to the Dolphins, or Tampa Bay. The NBA is a different animal all together, because of the size of the rosters. You get 2 studs together and you can dominate.
Money shouldn’t be why 1 team is good and another is not. Yes it is a business, but these 30 teams are apart of 1 entity, the MLB, and having the kind of disparity of salaries between the teams hurts the MLB.
The front office has been waiting for a new copier for years!
The Fax machine they currently have is the model from Office Space.
First off I believe Bailey’s 2020 buyout is 5 million not 7 million. There are only 2 ways Bailey would be traded. 1) pay all of his 23 million salary and let the other team pick up his 5 million dollar buyout. it would be like when Brandon Phillips went to Atlanta and the reds covered all but 1 million of his salary and got 2 fridge players in return. Or 2 trade for another crappy contract. I thought of Mark Melacon from San Francisco but his contract will keep paying him till 2028. Maybe a reunion with Jay Bruce if the Mets want to deal him or another similar 1 or 2 year contract that would be close in price
KERSHAW ISNT OPTING OUT. No reason to
I don’t really follow the reds (aside from Votto as he’s from not far from me)… I know Bailey’s been a bust, but what went wrong? He used to be a fairly good pitcher. Injuries? Lack of effort after signing a big contract?
He had a torn UCL, that required Tommy John surgery and he had some setbacks (2015/2016)
Underwent surgery on his right elbow to remove bone spurs (2017)
Even this season, he went to the DL with right knee inflammation
He only really had two solid seasons and was expected to take a step forward in his development before many many injuries. He likely got his contract because of the two no-hitters he threw
He was worth the contract if he maintained his performance. Considering he was on the upswing it could’ve been a pretty good signing but that’s why multi year deals on pitchers are so risky. One injury could submarine everything and he’s had several
Right, he was worth that contract. People have 20 20 vision when the see how everything has unfolded. I am so tired of hearing that he got his contract because of his 2 no hitters. He got his contract because he improved year after year in 2012 and in 2013 he had an era in the mid 3’s, and pitched over 200 innings. His whip continued to improve over the years to, 1.47, 1.37, 1.28, 1.24, 1.12.
Now with my 20 20 vision I to wish we didn’t sign him to the contract.
The notion that the can’t afford Corbin or Keuchel is nonsense. They’ve been hoarding money for 5 years. It’s the willingness to spend, and the willingness for a pitcher to sign for a team who plays 81 games in a stadium the size of my closet.
I agree, Meso’s contract is off the books in 19 (13.125 million), Bailey’s contract is off the books in 20, plus his buy out (23 million + 5 million), and yes they have been operating the organization for several years under it’s ability to pay. So just to keep the status quo they have 33 million to sign a FA pitcher, or 2, and a modest increase in overall spending should help them sign the players that are in arbitration. Scooter is probably in line for a 3 mill bump, however if they trade Hamilton, as they probably will that will take 4 mill off the books. I can’t see Lorenzen getting more that 1 ti 1.5 mill more, which could eat up the rest of the savings of trading away Hamilton. Disco, Schebler, and Peraza will probably cost the team an additional 6 mill in total in 2019.
What a contract… 6/$105M to have 6.25 ERA / 5.13 FIP in 46 games (231.2 IP), 1.683 WHIP, 11.8 H/9, 1.5 HR/9 in the first 4 years. He averages 11.5 games/year with 58 IP/year
And then, there are people that criticize the owners for not spending
Pitchers are always risky investments. Bailey’s arm is pretty much shot at this point – he’s not the first nor last pitcher to have a career end because of injury.
Great team. …t pitching!!!