It’s an ugly thought—especially after the exciting baseball the Cincinnati Reds have played over the last week. This is a topic that organizations dread in a close postseason chase.
While the Reds have only 18 games left—there’s still time for the Washington Nationals to make a push.
The Nationals are eight games behind the Reds for the second Wild Card spot. Even though the Nationals only have .05% chance of making the one of the Wild Card spots (per BaseballProspectus.com), crazier things have happened.
The Reds have 12 games remaining against teams with losing records and nine home games left in the season.
The Reds would have to suffer an epic collapse, but what would be the fallout to the organization if such a tragedy happened?
Let’s take a look at the possible aftermath if the Cincinnati Reds missed the postseason.
All statistics are courtesy of MLB.com unless otherwise noted.
Shin-Soo Choo has finally given the Reds the leadoff hitter they’ve been looking for, and his adjustment to center field hasn’t turned out so bad.
Choo’s NL second-best .425 OBP and 97 walks gives him the edge in free agency. And with his eligibility coming this offseason, it’s going to be hard to bring him back at a fair price.
Choo’s value has only increased. Over half of MLB teams are hitting under .268 while batting first.
His versatility and decent play in center shows teams he can fit anywhere in the outfield. If the Reds miss the postseason, 2014 is going to need some drastic changes. Unfortunately, Choo will likely not be around to witness it.
As a Scott Boras client, Choo is going to walk away with a healthy contract. There are already rumors that the Chicago Cubs are going to heavily pursue the Korean outfielder this offseason (per MLBTradeRumors.com).
If the Reds fall short, Choo might want to try his luck with another team. However, it will most likely come down to the almighty dollar. And if the Reds are already pinching their pennies with the expiring contact of Bronson Arroyo, it will make it that much more difficult to sign Choo long-term.
The Reds are going to have to show Choo that they are a serious playoff contender for the next few seasons.
It’s pretty simple for the organization—the more the Reds win, the bigger the crowd. The attendance has risen from 2.06 million in 2010 to 2.34 million in 2012 (per ESPN.com). The Reds are also on pace to slightly raise their yearly attendance once again.
However, if the Reds somehow missed the 2013 postseason, attendance for 2014 could see it’s first drop since 2009 when it was 300,000 less than the 2008 total.
The Reds are already in deep concerning payroll with contracts to Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto (per Baseball-Reference.com). A lower attendance in 2014 could make it difficult to keep other key players in the long run.
The Reds are also seeking a new television deal in 2016 (per Cincinnati.com). If there’s a slip in attendance, it could effect the contract and how much money the Reds obtain.
To keep a sustainable payroll, the Reds will have to continue winning baseball. The organization will certainly be in a better position if they can avoid a bad year in attendance and make it to the playoffs again.
It’s not going to be pretty if the Reds blow a great opportunity to make it into the postseason.
The first thing the organization might be cautious about is the collective team payroll. The club would understand the consequences if the Reds fell short.
It would be a huge disappointment in a year where the Reds seemed to have everything in line. The organization would likely go back to the drawing board to see what changes could help.
Again, Choo will probably not be a Red in 2014—especially if they miss the playoffs in 2013.
Although this will free up some payroll, the Reds will likely avoid any major contracts to keep from over loading the payroll.
The Reds already have $78 million in total salary toward 10 players for next season.
The club made a drastic leap from $87 million to $110 million in the last season. If the Reds missed the playoffs, it would be tough to imagine them going past $110 million in total salary for the 2014 season.
The most expected consequence from a botched season would come at Dusty Baker’s expense.
Baker has one year remaining on his two-year contract. The Reds front office quickly awarded the extra years to Baker after the heart-wrenching 2012 NLDS loss.
Baker has a ton of critics and is often blamed for mismanaging good teams. The Reds front office has put a lot of faith in Baker.
However, if the Reds fall short, Baker will have to be the scapegoat of the situation. The Reds have not had back-to-back postseasons since 1975-1976.
Baker has had six seasons to turn this club around, and another missed opportunity might make it his last.
The Reds have a 76.5% chance to make one of the Wild Card spots. The media would have a field day with Baker’s managerial status if the Reds witnessed a historic collapse.
While the majority of Reds fans would enjoy seeing Dusty Baker out of his manager’s job, the aftermath is what could hurt the team.
If Baker were to be released from his two-year contract, the other contracts of hitting coach Brook Jacoby and bench coach Chris Speier would likely be terminated as well.
However, the biggest blow to the organization would be losing pitching coach Bryan Price. If Baker and the rest of his crew are gone in 2014, it would be hard to imagine Price sticking around.
Price has completely turned the Reds rotation around since joining as the pitching coach four years ago.
Even in his first three seasons with the Reds, he finished with a rotation ranked seventh, 12th and third in team ERA. This came after a lackluster seventh, 13th and fifth ranked team ERA in the previous three Reds’ seasons.
Price was also in control of one of the best rotations in Reds history. The 2012 Reds rotation had a club record 1,248 strikeouts.
The rotation ranked first in the Major Leagues in relief ERA (2.65), saves (56) and first against NL opposing batting average (.219).
The last thing the Reds want to do is lose one of their best pitching coaches in recent years. The best way to do that is avoid a September meltdown.
The Reds have a tough—but certainly not impossible—hill to climb to win the NL Central. The Reds would have an even harder time ruining their chances at reaching the playoffs in 2013.
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