Cincinnati Reds State Of The Union For 2016

The Reds management started off the rebuild project nicely with the midsummer deals of Leake and Cueto. They also got a nice haul for 2 years left of Todd Frazier. However, due to a 10/5 rule for Brandon Phillips, and a domestic dispute killing potential other deals, Cincinnati has been stymied in completing the quest. Our own Jordan Gluck ranked them as the 27th worst prospects team in 2015, and it has only slightly improved since the spring. It is going to be a long arduouas process for the brass to pull themselves out of thi predicament.

The Reds management started off the rebuild project nicely with the midsummer deals of Leake and Cueto. They also got a nice haul for 2 years left of Todd Frazier. However, due to a 10/5 rule for Brandon Phillips, and a domestic dispute killing potential other deals, Cincinnati has been stymied in completing the quest. Our own Jordan Gluck ranked them as the 27th worst prospects team in 2015, and it has only slightly improved since last spring. It is going to be a long arduous process for the brass to pull themselves out of this predicament.  Jesse Winker and Robert Stephenson join Jose Peraza as the top 3 prospects that could make the 2016 club.

Hunter Stokes (Chief Writer/Part Owner) 

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The Reds finished 64 – 98 in 2015 and the situation is going to get a lot worse before it gets any better.  I predict 100 losses for the Cincinnati club for 2016, and they could really rack up some L’s especially past the trade deadline of next year if they do their job right in managing the squad.

I like the path the management has taken for trading players, unfortunately a domestic dispute cost the chance to flip Aroldis Chapman to the Dodgers, and the 10 – 5 rule cost them another opportunity to deal Brandon Phillips to the Nationals.

Obviously there is still hope they can trade these guys before they can’t do so anymore.

Last season the club dealt Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake in separate deals at the deadline, and have 3 players on the current depth chart to show for it (Adam Duvall, Brandon Finnegan and John Lamb, while they have 2 more Minor League prospects in Keury Mella and Cody Reed.)

Cincinnati finished just 1 win ahead of the Phillies for the worst record in the Major Leagues.

There is no polite way to go about this rebuilding process.  Jay Bruce, Devin Mesoraco, Jumbo Diaz, J.J. Hoover, Tony Cingrani, Zack Cozart and Homer Bailey should all be considered to be traded in addition to Chapman and Phillips.

The only real players the club should keep are Joey Votto, Billy Hamilton, Anthony DeSclafani and all other players they traded for last season – or are in their Minor League system.

One only has to look in which Division they play in to realize that their Roster is overmatched and there is no short term solution to fix this organization.

The Cubs are set for an awesome 4 – 5 years stretch of play as all of their young offensive stars are groomed by their recent Free Agent signings over the last 2 winters.

St. Louis has reset their roster among the veteran core that aged together with Adam Wainwright, Yadier Molina and Matt Holliday.

Homer Bailey has stuff to be a #2 starting pitcher on a good baseball club. Despite having two other starters ahead of him in the Depth Chart, this extension boiled down to timing. His name would have been first as a Free Agent before Cueto and Latos. The team will pay him $88 MIL from 2016 - 2019 - after a team friendly start of $17 MIL for the 1st 2 years of the deal.

Homer Bailey has stuff to be a #2 starting pitcher on a good baseball club, but is listed as the #1 starter for the club.  He is currently recovering from Tommy John Surgery and is suspect for his ability to help the squad in the 2016 season.  It is a bleak rotation at best right now.  This team clearly has to trade all available veterans in the next year and build through the Draft.  Any effort of a retooling to compete in the NL Central would be futile with the competition right now, and considering the franchise is doling out $45 MIL a year to both Joey Votto and Bailey combined.  There is not enough money left in the budget for a quick fix.

Pittsburgh may have the best young Outfield in the game of baseball right now, and have about 3 years of competitive baseball left in them before Andrew McCutchen either leaves, or takes enough dollars out of the owners pockets that they wont be able to surround the team with any more additional players.

Milwaukee is just in the same position as the Reds, and should go the route of a full scale rebuild.

The Brewers sort of have a franchise player like Votto in Ryan Braun, but he is only signed through 2021 and not 2023.  Milwaukee is going to bottom feed with Cincinnati for a few campaigns as well.

These clubs can look to what the Houston Astros did as a template for what they should do.  Build through the draft, and keep payroll down.  Then try to lock up their young stars to long extensions out of the gate.

When you are a small market team like the Reds, you can look to their nice little run under Dusty Baker as the team’s window. 

Last year, and a few subsequent seasons after are the result of a core nucleus all aging – or hitting the Free Agency market – nullifying the teams ability to resign them going forward.

Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Homer Bailey and Jay Bruce received their money to stay for the squad while the well was dry for Mike Leake and Cueto.

You can see the team really took off when Aroldis Chapman came in for his 5 YRs/$30 MIL offer.  It is brilliant moves like this that can change the trajectory of your club when a valued contract for a world class players can level the playing field against larger market clubs.

I liken this effect to how the Pirates momentum shifted after they extended McCutchen, Arizona with Paul Goldschmidt, Madison Bumgarner with the Giants and the Orioles with Adam Jones.  These are some of the best valued contracts over the last decade.

To further show this, the Blue Jays were better once they extended Jose Bautista and Edwin Encarnacion to multi-year deals after breakout campaigns. 

Their foresight still sees the two only make a combined $24 MIL this year despite providing what could be double the output.  This gave them financial flexibility to bring players in 2015 midway through the year to their ALCS appearance.

Since the time the Reds signed Votto to his mega extension from 2014 – 2023, worth $225 MIL, it has hampered the ability to provide that type of value.

A real pivotal point was also the Homer Bailey contract, and having him need Tommy John Surgery.  These two gentlemen are also another reason why the team can’t retool on the fly.  With $45 MIL committed a year for the next 4 years, it has killed the financial flexibility to sign other good players via Free Agency.

Dealing Todd Frazier for Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler and Brandon Dixon is also a decent maneuver with Peraza a highly touted prospect.  Peraza was ranked as the 92nd best prospect in the MLB in 2015 – and is now the #1 prospect for the Reds.

Peraza is as seasoned as they come from the Minor Leagues, riding the busses for 5 years – and featuring a .302/.342/.387 3 slash line, but more importantly he swiped 210 bases.

If he can somehow improve to be a #2 hitter, coupled with Billy Hamilton as an emerging leadoff hitter, you could see the two combined for well over 100 Stolen Bases every year.

It could also be that Hamilton could bat 9th and Peraza may project as a #1 hitter.  Hamilton had a sophomore slump in 2015 – after seemingly figuring out how to hit Major League pitching from April to August of 2014.

One thing the 25 year old did was steal at a higher rate for ABs – and also percentage.  Hamilton stole 56 bags in 412 AB during 2015, while only being caught 8 times – while he was caught 23 times among his 57 bags thieved in 2014, which came in 562 AB.

The unfortunate part was a .226 Batting Average and dismal .274 OBP, which were not as good as the 2014’s .250 and .294 marks comparably.

I would hire Rickey Henderson as a tutor for the club in Stolen Bases.

Provided Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce start the season with the club, they should  probably still hit in the top 5 of the lineup somewhere around Joey Votto.

I  believe Phillips better days are behind him, but if he can hit for a .280 Batting Average and provide some thump, there will be several teams line up for his services via a trade.  Whether he lets the team flip him is another matter.

Jay Bruce still has 25+ HR power, still walks and strikes out a ton, and his batting average has really fallen below his previous career numbers.  Look for a team like Baltimore to seek his services if they lose out on the Chris Davis market.

Bruce only makes a guaranteed $13 MIL on his contract this year – which is $12 MIL, plus there is a $1 MIL Buyout -or a $13.5 MIL Club Option for 2017 on the table.  He should be another enticing player.

Votto, who had a renaissance year of health and numbers is probably going to hit his .280 – .290 with a near .400 OBP and .500 Slugging Percentage.  Quantifying Home Runs and RBI with him is a moot point.

 

Joey Votto had his best year since 2010 at the plate in 2015. It couldn't have come at a better time. The Canadian Slugger will make $199 MIL min over the next 8 years and will be counted on to help with a rebuild. With so many years left on his deal it is unlikely a team will want to trade anything for his services and owe him that kind of cash. He is guaranteed $199 MIL over the next 8 years. The good news is he should still be productive for Cincinnati in 3 - 4 years should they have a successful rebuild.

Joey Votto had his best year since 2010 at the plate in 2015. It couldn’t have come at a better time. The Canadian Slugger will make $199 MIL min over the next 8 years and will be counted on to help with a rebuild. With so many years left on his deal it is unlikely a team will want to trade anything for his services and owe him that kind of cash – at least for a few years. The good news is he should still be productive for Cincinnati in 3 – 4 years.  Much like with what Freddie Freeman will do in Atlanta, Votto will be a veteran among a load of young players the next half a dozen years.

Devin Mesoraco could really help his trade stock well if he can stay healthy for the 1st half of the year.  At this point in his career, he is a better candidate to flip, as he will be north of 30 when the club is relevant again.

Even if Mesoraco is just mediocre, with the limited amount of Catchers available, he could help the Reds out of his 3 YRs/$25.6 MIL remaining on his contract.

Backing up Mesoraco will be Tucker Barnhart and Ramon Cabrera.

Ivan De Jesus is listed as their #1 Third Baseman on the depth chart but I have to figure the club will throw Peraza over there if Brandon Phillips starts the year at 2nd.

Beyond the grass is a scary situation with Adam Duvall listed as the #1 Left Fielder, with Jake Cave, Tyler Holt and Scott Schebler as the backups listed for Bruce and Hamilton.  None of these guys have a credible Major League resume.

The Bullpen should still be decent if the club retains Chapman to start, with Hoover, Diaz and Cingrani all in the Relief Core, however the pickings after that are really slim.

The Starting Staff is also quite marginal if Homer Bailey can’t make it back for the start of the season.

Anthony DeSclafani, Raisel Iglesias, John Lamb, Jon Moscot and Brandon Finnegan are all listed as the Starters on the Depth Chart. 

It would be foolish to spend money on any Free Agent Pitching right now.  Grin and bear it with what you got, and maybe 1 – 2 surprises will emerge from your system.

All I have to say is yikes!  This team really needs to flood the Minor Leagues with players.  Don’t worry about 100 loss seasons for several years.  It might take that to produce the kind of young talent they need to rise up in the NL Central once again.

By about 2018, the Pirates likely will not field as a competitive team as they are now, the Cardinals will probably still be good, but Molina, Holliday and Wainwright should be gone, and maybe the Cubs will see several of their players start costing too much money. Walt Jocketty has his hands full. Oh boy! On the bright side, it will only cost about $6 a game to get the cheapest ticket at the Great American Ball Park for the next 3 - 4 years.

By about 2018, the Pirates likely will not field as a competitive team as they are now, the Cardinals will probably still be good, but Molina, Holliday and Wainwright should be gone, and maybe the Cubs will see several of their players start costing too much money. Walt Jocketty has his hands full. Oh boy! On the bright side, it will only cost about $6 a game to get the cheapest ticket at the Great American Ball Park for the next 3 – 4 years.  It looks to be a lean couple of years for Cincinnati coming forth up the pike.

*** The views and opinions expressed in this report are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of mlbreports.com and their partners***

A Big thanks goes out to our chief writer Hunter Stokes for preparing today’s feature post.

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Posted on December 28, 2015, in MLB Reports, MLB Teams State Of The Unions and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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