- Heyman also reports that the Reds may try to retain Zack Cozart in 2018 and beyond after holding onto him in July and August. Per Heyman, the Reds set an extremely high asking price on Cozart, asking the Orioles at one point for top outfield prospect Austin Hays in return. That’s a steep ask for a Cozart rental, considering Hays broke out with a .329/.365/.593 slash and 32 homers in 128 games between Double-A and Triple-A this season before making his MLB debut in September.
The Reds announced on Friday morning that they’ve signed catcher Tucker Barnhart to a four-year contract extension that will keep him around through at least the 2021 season. Barnhart’s new contract also contains a club option for the 2022 season.
Zach Buchanan of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports that Barnhart will be guaranteed $16MM (Twitter link). That sum will paid out in the form of a $1.75MM signing bonus and annual salaries of $4MM (2018), $2.5MM (2019), $3.5MM (2020) and $3.75MM (2021). The 2022 option is valued at $7.5MM and comes with a $500K buyout, per Buchanan.
If the option is exercised, Barnhart would reach the open market in advance of his age-32 season having earned at least $23MM over the life of his new contract. Escalators could push the maximum value of the deal to as much as $24.5MM over five seasons.
“Tucker has made us proud on the field with his play and off the field with his community involvement,” said Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams in a statement announcing the contract. “He worked his way up through our system, improving every step of the way, and has established himself as an elite defensive catcher and a productive offensive player. Switch-hitting catchers who can impact the game defensively are tough to find.”
Barnhart, a client of the Ballengee Group, was slated to reach free agency upon completion of the 2020 campaign, so this deal will lock in one of his free-agent seasons and give the Reds control over a second would-be free-agent year. He’d have been eligible for arbitration for the first time this winter, so Barnhart’s contract will also allow him to ever avoid needing to deal with said process.
While Barnhart is far from a household name, he’s quietly produced a quality 2017 season after emerging as the Reds’ primary catcher in 2016 due to Devin Mesoraco’s persistent injury issues. Barnhart batted a respectable .257/.323/.379 for the Reds in a career-high 115 games/420 plate appearances last season, and he’s elevated his offensive profile in 2017 with a .272/.349/.399 slash. While some of his OBP is undoubtedly a product of batting eighth in a National League lineup, Barnhart typically demonstrated keen plate discipline throughout his minor league career (10.7 percent minor league walk rate) and has struck out in just 16.4 percent of his plate appearances this season.
Looking at the defensive side of his game, Barnhart has been nothing short of sensational when it comes to controlling the running game. He caught a well-above-average 33 percent of potential base thieves in the 2016 campaign and currently leads the National League with a gaudy 44 percent caught-stealing rate in 2017. Baseball Prospectus feels that he’s been the most valuable catcher in terms of throwing arm and one of the three best in terms of blocking pitches in the dirt this season. However, both B-Pro and Statcorner.com peg Barnhart’s pitch framing as well below the league average.
The Barnhart extension gives the Reds four players under contract through at least the 2019 season, although Raisel Iglesias figures to opt into arbitration this winter and, in doing so, forgo his guaranteed salaries for more sizable year-to-year paydays. Cincinnati also has Joey Votto and Homer Bailey earning a combined $48MM in 2019, and Barnhart will now join Votto as the only Reds player signed to a guaranteed deal in 2020 and in 2021.
While there’s very limited financial risk for the team in the first place, the front-loaded nature of the contract further reduces some of that risk. Barnhart seems likely to handle the bulk of catching duties next year, given the uncertainty surrounding Mesoraco’s health, or at the very least split the load in a fairly even timeshare. But, he’ll earn closer to backup catcher salaries as the contract wears on, should the Reds look to augment their catching situation with a more formidable offensive backstop.
As for Barnhart himself, he’ll lock in the first significant payday of his professional career. The former 10th-round pick signed a $250K bonus out of the draft and has earned at scarcely more than a pro-rated league-minimum rate to this point in the Majors. That his value comes more from controlling the running game and getting on base than accruing counting stats (homers, RBIs, etc.) would also likely have suppressed his earning potential in arbitration, giving Barnhart extra incentive to lock in his first fortune as a big leaguer.
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.
The Reds have outrighted corner infielder D.J. Peterson after he cleared waivers, per a club announcement. Cincinnati had just claimed the former top prospect off waivers from the White Sox.
Clearly, the series of moves was designed to add Peterson without tying up a 40-man spot, which seems to have been successful. He will be Rule 5 eligible if another organization wants to take a look during camp, but Peterson will not be able to elect minor-league free agency at the end of the current season.
Chosen 12th overall in the 2013 draft, Peterson once rated as one of the game’s hundred or so best prospects. His stock has slipped, though, as it became evident he likely wouldn’t stick at third base and as his bat has failed to develop.
The Mariners ultimately gave up on Peterson after he slashed .264/.323/.414 at Triple-A to open the season. He hit even less upon landing with the White Sox, but became the latest stalled power hitter to land with the Reds organization on Sunday. It seems reasonable to expect that Peterson will at least have some shot at impressing his new employer in camp, assuming he’s still with the club come mid-February.
The Reds have claimed infielder D.J. Peterson off waivers from the White Sox. Cincinnati transferred reliever Drew Storen to the 60-day disabled list in a corresponding move. The White Sox also outrighted catcher Alfredo Gonzalez to Double-A Birmingham, reducing their 40-man total to 38, Colleen Kane of the Chicago Tribune tweets.
This is the second time this year a club has claimed Peterson. He previously went to the White Sox on Aug. 6 after the Mariners designated him for assignment at the end of July. For Seattle, moving on from the 25-year-old meant cutting ties with a 2013 first-round pick and a player who was once a highly regarded prospect. Peterson struggled this season with the Mariners’ Triple-A affiliate and did the same in his 97-plate appearance stint with the White Sox’s top farm team, giving him a .252/.315/.404 batting line in 518 PAs. The righty-swinger still hasn’t ascended to the majors, and he won’t report to the big league club upon his arrival to the Reds, according to C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer (on Twitter).
The 25-year-old Gonzalez also hasn’t gotten past the minors since signing with the Astros as an international free agent in 2008. This year, his first in the Chicago organization, the Venezuelan hit .208/.306/.301 in 249 trips to the plate with Birmingham.
Reds reliever Drew Storen will undergo Tommy John surgery, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports (on Twitter). A right elbow strain has prevented Storen from taking the mound since Sept. 1, which will go down as his final appearance of the year, and the injury led the Reds to place him on the disabled list a week ago.
In addition to ending his 2017 campaign early, the procedure is all but guaranteed to take Storen out of play for next season. The 30-year-old is due to hit free agency during the upcoming winter, but both the injury and his underwhelming production in recent seasons will work against him on the open market.
Storen, whom the Reds signed to a one-year, $3MM deal last January, pitched to a 4.45 ERA in 54 2/3 innings this season and posted some of the worst strikeout and walk rates of his career (7.9 K/9 and 3.79 BB/9). He also saw his velocity dip for the second straight year, which happened to be his second subpar season in a row. As a member of the Blue Jays and Mariners in 2016, Storen combined for 51 2/3 frames of 5.23 ERA ball. Only five qualified relievers have prevented runs at a worse rate than Storen’s 4.82 ERA over the past two years.
At his best, Storen was one of the game’s most effective relievers from 2010-15, when he worked as a setup man and a closer in Washington. Storen, whom the Nationals chose 10th overall in the 2009 draft, amassed 334 innings of 3.02 ERA pitching in D.C. and recorded 8.65 K/9 against 2.59 BB/9.
- Reds prospect Hunter Greene entered this year’s draft as a right-handed pitcher/shortstop, but the second overall pick is no longer eyeing a two-way career. Rather, he’s solely focused on pitching, C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. The 18-year-old revealed that he feels a “lot more natural” on the mound and suggested that working as both a pitcher and a position player in the pros would’ve been too physically taxing for him. “Big kudos to the guys in the big leagues who are playing every day, it’s a lot of work on the body, the arm and the feet. It’s a lot,” Greene said. “To be able to have rest days and recover and be able to have that day where you go out and perform and pitch at your best, it’s more comfortable for me.”
With just a few weeks left in the season, we have a pretty clear idea of which Rule 5 draft picks will stick with their drafting teams. At this point, having already carried the player this far and with expanded rosters easing any pressures, teams are quite likely to stay the course. Here’s how this season’s Rule 5 group has shaken out thus far:
It isn’t official yet, but these
- Miguel Diaz, RHP, kept by Padres (via Twins) from Brewers: As part of the Pads’ unusually bold Rule 5 strategy, the club kept three youngsters this year. Diaz, 22, has managed only a 6.21 ERA with a 31:22 K/BB ratio over 37 2/3 innings. But he is showing a 96 mph heater and will remain with the organization, quite likely heading back to the minors next season to continue his development.
- Luis Torrens, C, kept by Padres (via Reds) from Yankees: The youthful backstop — he’s just 21 — has struggled badly on offense in limited action. Through 133 plate appearances, he’s slashing just.169/.246/.212 — with just four extra-base hits, none of them home runs.
- Allen Cordoba, INF, kept by Padres from Cardinals: And then there’s Cordoba, who’s also just 21 years of age. He faded after a hot start at the plate, but on the whole his output — a .209/.284/.304 batting line and four home runs over 215 plate appearances — is fairly impressive given that he had never before played above Rookie ball.
- Dylan Covey, RHP, kept by White Sox from Athletics: Technically, owing to a DL stint, Covey has only compiled 83 of the minimum 90 days of active roster time required to be kept. But he’s going to make it there before the season is up, meaning that the Sox will be able to hold onto his rights and option him back to the minors in 2018. Covey, 26, has struggled to a 7.90 ERA with 4.9 K/9 against 4.4 BB/9 over 54 2/3 innings, allowing 18 long balls in that span.
- Stuart Turner, C, kept by Reds from Twins: Turner has seen minimal action, appearing in just 33 games and taking only 77 trips to the plate. And he’s hitting just .141/.184/.268 in that sporadic action. Clearly, though, the Reds have seen enough to believe he’s worth the trouble to hang onto.
Still In Limbo
- Kevin Gadea, RHP, selected by Rays from Mariners: Gadea has not pitched at any level this year owing to an elbow injury. He’ll remain with the Tampa Bay organization for the time being, but will still need to be carried on the 40-man roster over the offseason and then on the active roster for at least ninety days for his rights to permanently transfer.
- Armando Rivero, RHP, selected by Braves from Cubs: It’s the exact same situation for Rivero as for Gadea, though he has had shoulder problems.
- Josh Rutledge, INF, selected by Red Sox from Rockies: This was not your typical Rule 5 move. Boston snagged the veteran infielder after he signed a minors deal with Colorado. He ended up seeing minimal MLB time owing to injuries and his season ended recently with hip surgery. Rutledge is eligible for arbitration this fall and isn’t likely to be kept on the 40-man roster regardless.
- Anthony Santander, OF, selected by Orioles from Indians: Since he only made it off of the DL late in the summer, Santander can accrue only 45 days on the active roster. If Baltimore wants to keep him, then, it’ll need to put him on the Opening Day roster next year. Santander has seen minimal playing time thus far, recording two hits in twelve trips to the plate, though he put up impressive numbers on his rehab assignment.
Kept By Other Means
- Daniel Stumpf, LHP, signed with Tigers after electing free agency upon return to Royals: This is another unusual situation. As a previous Rule 5 returnee, Stumpf was eligible to elect free agency upon being returned to his original organization. That’s just what happened when Detroit sent him back to Kansas City; the southpaw then turned around and re-signed a MLB deal with the Tigers. He has ended up turning in a rather productive year, posting 32 1/3 innings of 2.78 ERA ball with 8.6 K/9 and 3.9 BB/9 at the major-league level and showing even more impressive numbers during his time at Triple-A.
- Tyler Jones, RHP, returned to Yankees by Diamondbacks: Jones has thrown rather well at Triple-A since going back to the New York organization, posting 10.7 K/9 against 2.8 BB/9 in 63 2/3 innings, though he has also allowed 4.38 earned per nine.
- Caleb Smith, LHP, returned to Yankees by Brewers: Smith ended up earning a 40-man roster spot and spending some time in the majors after showing quite well as a starter in the minors. But he has been knocked around in his 18 2/3 MLB frames on the year.
- Justin Haley, RHP, returned to Red Sox by Twins (via Angels): The 26-year-old didn’t stick with Minnesota, allowing a dozen earned runs in 18 innings before being returned to Boston. But he has thrown well since landing back at Triple-A Pawtucket, posting a 2.66 ERA with 7.2 K/9 and 1.4 BB/9 in 44 innings over seven starts.
- Tyler Webb, LHP, returned to Yankees by Pirates: Webb also gained a 40-man spot with the Yankees after showing some intriguing K/BB numbers at Triple-A. He was ultimately dealt to the Brewers.
- Aneury Tavarez, OF, returned to Red Sox by Orioles: Tavarez played his way back up to Triple-A upon his return to his former organization, but has hit just .244/.292/.400 in 145 plate appearances there.
- Glenn Sparkman, RHP, returned to Royals by Blue Jays: Sparkman was bombed in his one MLB appearance and has been limited to just 30 1/3 minor-league frames due to injury.
- Hoby Milner, LHP, returned to Phillies by Indians: Another player who has risen to the majors with the organization that originally let them leave via the Rule 5, Milner has turned in 24 1/3 frames of 1.85 ERA ball in Philadelphia. Of course, he has also managed just 15 strikeouts against ten walks in that span.
- Mike Hauschild, RHP, returned to Astros by Rangers: The 27-year-old righty struggled badly in his eight MLB frames. Upon returning to the rotation for Houston’s top affiliate, Hauschild has uncharacteristically struggled with free passes (5.3 per nine).
Next up in our Three Needs series: the Cincinnati Reds.
1. Don’t (completely) abandon the pitching strategy.
Wait, what?! The Reds’ pitching staff has been the worst in all of baseball since the start of 2016, handily pacing the league in the volume of walks, long balls, and earned runs allowed. Actually, that doesn’t quite capture it: the Reds’ pitching staff has essentially defined replacement level since the start of 2016, making it a true outlier. By measure of fWAR, at least, the 2016-17 Reds hurlers have turned in a two-year stretch of futility that is orders of magnitude worse than any other organization of the past two decades, falling well shy of the dreadful 2004-05 Royals and 2002-03 Devil Rays units.
It goes without saying that there’s work to be done if the Reds hope to win at any point in the near future. But Cinci was largely justified in its recent approaching, having accumulated a significant number of interesting-enough pitching prospects at the upper levels of the farm. While few were seen as sure things, the club correctly assessed its chances of contention (not good) and declined to dole out significant contracts to back-of-the-rotation veterans. (Compare to the Braves and Phillies, who spent quite a lot of money on veteran pitching and ended no closer to contention than did the Reds.)
Clearly, the pitching hasn’t developed as hoped; there’s quite a lot of room for self-assessment and improvement. But injuries to Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, Homer Bailey, and even Scott Feldman — the rare player the Reds did sign into the rotation — played a major role in the dreadful performance, too. The first three of those hurlers will have an offseason to rest up. Luis Castillo — acquired for Dan Straily, who was found last year as part of the budget-friendly strategy — looks like an arm to build around. And the Reds have seen enough moments of intrigue from a few younger arms to hope that one or more can round out the starting unit. Others will become affordable relievers, perhaps with some capacity to make longer relief appearances (an approach the organization has stressed, with some success thus far).
At this point, there’s little reason for the Reds to suddenly begin investing in expensive, aging starters. It would be nice to see some stability added into the mix over the winter — the Feldman signing could provide a guide, or the team could perhaps spend a bit more and take a shot on a higher-upside arm — and the Reds have enough talent on the position-player side to be a plausible contender as soon as next year. But continued restraint would be preferable to a move that ties the organization’s hands in future campaigns.
2. Shop Raisel Iglesias.
What do you do with the best pitcher on a historically awful staff? Trade him, of course! Sounds odd at first glance, I’ll admit, but the Reds could be in a position to cash in on the talented right-hander.
Iglesias could be the centerpiece of a big trade after turning in 71 1/3 innings of 1.89 ERA pitching (so far) with 11.0 K/9 and 3.2 BB/9. The 27-year-old is guaranteed just $14.5MM over the next three seasons, though he can choose instead to opt into arbitration and would qualify next year as a Super Two. Iglesias can also be tendered arbitration in 2021, meaning the Reds control him for four more campaigns at what ought to be quite an appealing rate (though his outstanding pitching and saves tallies will boost his earning power in arbitration).
For organizations that will be looking into veteran free-agent closers, or that otherwise have interest in a multi-inning relief ace (and who doesn’t?), there ought to be a real willingness to part with significant young talent. Teams will no doubt notice that Iglesias has thrown harder and generated more whiffs than ever this year, elevating his trade stock to what may well be an all-time high. Given the risks inherent to any pitcher, let alone a flame-throwing reliever, it’s quite possibly an opportune time for the Reds to cash him in.
To be sure, it would be foolish to give up such a talented, controllable asset for less than a compelling return. But the guess here is that the club should have a good chance of prying loose some quality, near-MLB assets — all the better if that includes a young starter — that could be of greater long-term impact and help set the stage for a sustainable run of contention. Earnestly shopping Iglesias will at least give the organization a strong sense of his market value, and might just drum up a great trade opportunity.
3. Bid a fond farewell to Zack Cozart.
It’s unfortunate that the Reds were never able to cash in on the strong play of their veteran shortstop, who has turned from a light-hitting defensive whiz to an all-around star in 2017. Injuries and thin market demand make the failure to strike a match largely understandable from the front office’s perspective.
Now, though, the club is left with a decision to make — one that’ll be due just five days after the end of the World Series. Should the club choose, it can dangle a qualifying offer to the free-agent-to-be. If he declines, and signs for more than $50MM elsewhere, the Reds could score an extra draft pick just after the end of the first round. Of course, if Cozart falls shy of that amount in free agency, the team would receive only a choice after the second round.
When polled recently, MLBTR readers were split as to how the team should proceed, but most felt a QO was in order. Count me among the minority on that decision. Cozart is already 32 and has battled quite a few injuries in recent years. We have already seen the dearth of shortstop demand leaguewide; while he’ll no doubt land a solid, multi-year deal, Cozart likely won’t earn enough (with draft pick compensation required of a signing team) to earn the Reds the highest-possible pick. And he will need to strongly consider taking the ~$18.1MM payday for one year of work.
As good as Cozart has been, and as hard as it may be to see him walk away with nothing coming in return, the Reds simply can’t afford to take the chance that he takes the offer. The team already has over $60MM on the books and will owe some reasonably significant arbitration salaries. Rather than potentially adding an expensive veteran to the left side of the infield, Cincinnati should be anticipating how to clear the way for top prospect Nick Senzel, who destroyed Double-A pitching this year but is blocked at third by Eugenio Suarez — who has spent plenty of time as a professional at short.
The Reds announced on Tuesday that they’ve designated right-hander Barrett Astin for assignment in order to clear space on the roster for righty Deck McGuire, whose contract has been selected from Double-A. Cincinnati has also reinstated outfielder Jesse Winker from the 10-day disabled list and recalled right-handed pitching prospect Keury Mella, who will be making his MLB debut when he first takes the hill for the Reds.
Astin, 25, was acquired along with fellow righty Kevin Shackelford in the 2014 trade that sent reliever Jonathan Broxton from Cincinnati to Milwaukee. The former third-rounder out of Arkansas enjoyed a terrific 2016 campaign in Double-A (2.26 ERA, 8.4 K/9, 2.2 BB/9 in 103 1/3 frames) but has posted an ERA north of 6.00 in both Triple-A and a brief Major League stint this season.
In eight big league innings, Astin allowed six runs on nine hits (two homers) and seven walks with just a pair of strikeouts. Astin does have a pair of options remaining beyond the 2017 campaign, so a club that is intrigued by his quality 2016 output could conceivably claim him, bring him to camp next year and option him without first needing to expose him to waivers.
The 28-year-old McGuire is a known name to some thanks to his No. 11 overall selection out of Georgia Tech by the Blue Jays back in the 2010 draft. He’s yet to live up to that draft billing, struggling greatly in Triple-A for the Jays, Athletics, Dodgers and Cardinals before landing in the Reds organization this past winter.
While McGuire spent the year in Double-A rather than the minors’ top level, he notched a strong 2.79 ERA with 9.1 K/9 against 3.1 BB/9 with a 38.8 percent ground-ball rate through 168 innings (27 starts). McGuire has never made it to the Majors, so this call-up represents a payoff after seven minor league seasons working toward that end.
As for Mella, the 24-year-old as billed as the centerpiece in the 2015 trade that sent right-hander Mike Leake to San Francisco, though left fielder Adam Duvall, who was also in the deal, has since proven to be a high-quality return on his own. Mella ranks 21st among Reds farmhands, per Jim Callis and Jonathan Mayo of MLB.com, and has pitched to a 4.30 ERA with 7.3 K/9, 2.9 BB/9 and a 46.3 percent ground-ball rate through 134 innings for Double-A Pensacola in 2017.
An ill-timed injury that landed Zack Cozart on the disabled list from July 26 through Aug. 6 may have prevented the Reds from trading their shortstop prior to the non-waiver trade deadline. The Reds placed Cozart on revocable trade waivers last month and reportedly pulled him back after the claiming team placed the claim more to block other contenders from acquiring Cozart than to work out a trade themselves.
That effectively eliminated the possibility of the Reds trading Cozart at all, leaving general manager Dick Williams and his staff with somewhat of a dilemma. Cozart has played at star level on a per-game basis over the past three seasons — never more so than in 2017 — but has also dealt with injuries in each of those three seasons. The rebuilding Reds, then, are faced with the choice of either letting one of their best players walk as a free agent with no compensation or making a one-year qualifying offer that is reported to be in the $18.1MM range, which would net them draft pick compensation. There’s an argument to be made in favor of either decision.
Those that feel a qualifying offer is too great a risk have an understandable vantage point. Cozart is 32 years old and, assuming he remains healthy through season’s end, will have averaged about 100 games per year over the past three seasons. In that time, he’s been sidelined by a torn ACL, some knee troubles in 2016 and quadriceps issues in 2017. There will also likely be clubs that wonder if this year’s offensive breakout is sustainable; while he’d shown much-improved power in both 2015 and 2016, Cozart’s offensive output has never approached his 2017 levels in the past.
There’s also a lack of contending clubs or expected contenders with clear-cut shortstop needs this offseason, creating the potential for the same limited market the Reds found when seeking trade partners in both 2016 and 2017. And, Cozart has only earned about $12MM in his career, so the prospect of increasing his career earnings by 150 percent in a single season will make it tempting to accept — especially since the new CBA prohibits the team from making a second QO the following offseason.
On the other hand, a one-year deal for Cozart at $18.1MM isn’t necessarily a bad outcome. He’s been worth considerably more than that this season even with his injuries, thanks to his perennially elite defense and his career-best .304/.397/.549 batting line. Cozart’s offensive improvement doesn’t appear to be due entirely to BABIP luck, either. He’s more than doubled his career walk rate (6.4 percent career, 13 percent in 2017), his strikeout rate remains strong (15 percent — well below the league average) and his 31.4 percent hard-hit rate is largely a continuation of last year’s solid pace.
Like many others throughout the league, Cozart has increased his fly-ball rate a bit, and he’s also benefited from a not-outlandish uptick in his 2015-16 homer-to-flyball ratio. The Reds can probably expect some degree of regression in his career-high .324 BABIP, but even a return to his career level of .281 would render the new, ultra-patient and more powerful version of Cozart a decidedly above-average bat. Cozart will enter this offseason as a markedly better offensive producer than J.J. Hardy was when he signed a three-year, $40MM deal to remain with the Orioles at the same age.
There may not be a lengthy list of teams eyeing shortstop upgrades, but there are plenty of clubs that could work Cozart into the mix. The Cardinals could deploy Paul DeJong at third base and play Cozart at shortstop. The D-backs have some uncertainty and were often a speculative Cozart suitor this summer, though they do have Chris Owings and Nick Ahmed both controllable beyond the current campaign. The Padres aren’t contending but have long been seeking stability at shortstop, while the Royals will be on the lookout for an Alcides Escobar replacement. Trevor Story has taken a step back in Colorado. Both Troy Tulowitzki and Devon Travis have injury concerns in Toronto. And, as ever, offseason trades and injuries, will alter every free agent’s market.
Were Cozart to accept, the Reds wouldn’t be able to trade him without his consent until mid-June of 2018. However, he could also once again command interest at the 2018 non-waiver deadline, particularly if he maintains his breakout and the Reds show some willingness to pay any of the contract. (Cincinnati did pay the bulk of Brandon Phillips’ contract this past offseason, and Cozart’s deal almost certainly wouldn’t require the Reds to pay such a significant portion, even at $18.1MM.)
All of that said, I’ll open this up for public input (link to poll for MLBTR app users)…
Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.