After a rough start to the regular season, the Reds went on a late-year tear to finish 31-29 and earn their first playoff berth since 2013. But the postseason didn’t go well for the Reds, who failed to score a run in 22 innings during a two-game sweep against the Braves. The Reds’ offseason is now underway, and president of baseball operations Dick Williams discussed their plans with reporters (including John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer, Bobby Nightengale of the Enquirer and Mark Sheldon of MLB.com).
In the wake of a pandemic-shortened season, the Reds aren’t sure how their payroll will look in 2021, as Williams said, “Unfortunately, as you go into next year, I think we’re all still dealing with some very large unknowns.”
Re-signing NL Cy Young candidate and pending free-agent right-hander Trevor Bauer would presumably drive the Reds’ payroll way up, but they’re nonetheless hopeful they’ll be able to bring him back. If not, though, Williams said the Reds could turn to Tejay Antone, Tyler Mahle, Michael Lorenzen or Jose De Leon as replacements in a starting group that could also lose Anthony DeSclafani on the open market. And they do have veterans Luis Castillo, Sonny Gray and Wade Miley already locked in for next year.
Turning to the offensive side, Williams said he expects Tyler Stephenson to compete for a regular catching role prior to 2021. Stephenson, the 11th overall pick in the 2015 draft, posted outstanding numbers during his Double-A debut last year and logged a .294/.400/.647 line with two home runs in his first taste of MLB action this season, though he totaled just 20 plate appearances and struck out nine times. He figures to compete with Tucker Barnhart and Curt Casali for a job in a few months.
Meanwhile, the Reds could lose right fielder Nick Castellanos to free agency, as he has the ability to opt out of the remaining three years and $48MM on the four-year, $64MM deal he signed last winter. Williams, though, does not expect Castellanos to leave. That’s not surprising news, considering Castellanos’ numbers plummeted after he began the season on a hot streak. The 28-year-old ended 2020 with a pedestrian .225/.298/.486 line and 14 home runs in 242 plate appearances.