The Reds figure to be among the offseason’s most fascinating teams. They want to contend in 2020, plan to increase payroll, and have a few areas on the roster in need of upgrade. The lineup figures to be the main focus, as Cincinnati finished 25th in baseball in runs despite a hitter-friendly home park. More specifically, the Reds could look to bolster their catching, middle infield and corner outfield mix. Alternatively, they could return Nick Senzel to second base full-time, although they’d then be left parsing through a sparse center field market. With those needs in mind, the MLBTR staff forecast Cincinnati coming away with Yasmani Grandal and Didi Gregorius at the outset of the offseason. Grandal, of course, has since signed with the White Sox, although the Reds have been linked to Gregorius this month.
However, the club certainly doesn’t appear ready to pigeonhole itself into searching for offense. They were tied to Zack Wheeler, the number three starting pitching option on the market, this week. While bolstering a starting rotation that already projects as one of the league’s best might seem questionable for a team with so many offensive holes, there’s merit to the idea of acquiring the best players possible and sorting out the puzzle pieces later. Adding Wheeler, or one of the many other starting pitchers available, would make the Reds better, even if it doesn’t address the team’s most glaring weakness.
So where should the Reds turn? In addition to Gregorius and Wheeler, they’ve checked in on any number of free agents in the early going. To some extent, they were in on Grandal before he went to Chicago, although it isn’t clear if talks got very far. They’ve checked in on Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos, each of whom would be a conventional fit for an offense-needy club. Given the players to whom they’ve been linked, it’s little surprise Cincinnati isn’t overly concerned about forfeiting draft pick compensation to sign a player attached to a qualifying offer.
Speculatively speaking, even Mike Moustakas could make sense, assuming Cincinnati’s front office is comfortable with him as an option at second base. The Reds’ interest in Wheeler indicates we shouldn’t entirely rule out a starter like Madison Bumgarner or Hyun-Jin Ryu, either, even if neither hurler has yet been connected to the organization.
Options abound, but it seems likely the Reds will make some notable splash this winter. Where should they turn as they look to snap a six-year playoff drought?
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