The Reds have won three straight games to improve to a 14-17 record, putting them one game out of second place (and an automatic playoff berth) in the NL Central and one game out of the NL wild card race. With the postseason still within reach, Cincinnati isn’t planning to sell any meaningful pieces by Monday’s trade deadline, and if anything will be deadline buyers, according to MLB Network’s Jon Heyman.
SKOR North’s Darren Wolfson (audio link) has the same information, with the intriguing tidbit that “a Twins official” was recently told by the Reds that Trevor Bauer wasn’t going to be dealt. This would seem to imply that Minnesota had some interest in Bauer, and could now turn their attention at another front-of-the-rotation type if Bauer isn’t on the market.
Bauer will be a free agent after the season, though moving him would subtract from a rotation that has thus far been the Reds’ biggest strength. As for the rest of the team, as Heyman puts it, the “Reds mainly need to get hitters and relievers to play to their abilities.” Eugenio Suarez, Mike Moustakas, Joey Votto, Shogo Akiyama, and Tucker Barnhart have all yet to heat up at the plate, while the struggles of the normally reliable late-game duo of Raisel Iglesias and Michael Lorenzen have been a big reason why the Reds bullpen ranks 23rd in ERA and 29th in HR/9.
Adding a new arm to the relief corps seems like a logical move, though upgrading the lineup may be slightly more difficult, as so many of their struggling stars are entrenched in their positions (though longtime franchise icon Votto has been benched for the last three games). With Nick Senzel on the injured list, left or center field could be an area of need, as Akiyama and rookie Mark Payton have been getting the bulk of playing time with Senzel out and the scorching-hot Jesse Winker alternating between left field and DH. From a more speculative point of view, Cincinnati could also look to replace Barnhart with a more productive catching option — Red Sox backstop Christian Vazquez would cost the most in prospects, though other potential trade candidates include the Angels’ Jason Castro or the Mariners’ Austin Nola.