The Cincinnati Reds grabbed headlines this winter by announcing an increase in payroll and subsequently trading for an LA starter kit that included Alex Wood, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp and Kyle Farmer. In terms of on-field contributions, the move hasn’t exactly been a rousing success for the Redlegs. Wood has yet to pitch for the Reds because of a back injury. Puig’s .235/.280/.446 line has been accompanied by strikeout and walk rates moving in the wrong direction. Kemp chipped in -0.9 rWAR in 60 at-bats before his unceremonious release. In fact, whether by rWAR (0.6) or fWAR (0.3), Farmer has been the strongest contributor of the bunch.
And yet, while this buy-three-get-one-free deal brought Wood (~$9.65MM), Puig (~$9.6MM), and Kemp ($21.75MM) on relatively hefty deals, importantly, none carry financial obligations following the 2019 season. The players themselves may move on, but the payroll increase is likely to stay, per Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer. The Reds see a window of contention now, and they want to capitalize. With only a little more than $57MM currently on the payroll for 2020 (per Roster Resource), count the Reds as buyers in free agency. They entered 2019 with a record-high $133MM payroll.
Of course, the Reds top two offensive contributors in rWAR this season are two players brought in on minor league deals: Derek Dietrich and Jose Iglesias. They may be ready to spend, but as they found out last offseason, that’s not always as easy as it sounds. Still, along with this week’s earlier report that said the Reds were in the market for a controllable hitter, it seems the Reds are itching to make an impact move.