The early postseason exit seemed to be the last straw for the organization. It’s not even November yet, and the Reds have named Bryan Price as their 61st manager.
The Reds are now under a fine microscope and have to see some sort of improvement next season. The money isn’t there to make huge deals, and the free-agent market is bleak for the Reds’ specific needs.
There are some realistic moves that the Reds could make before the start of spring training.
Here are six moves the Reds should consider for the 2014 season.
All statistics courtesy of Baseball-Reference.com unless otherwise noted.
Probably one of the most obvious moves the Reds will make this winter is avoiding extensive contact talk with workhorse Bronson Arroyo. Although Arroyo will consistently throw 200 innings each season and keep his ERA under 4.00, the Reds should look internally.
Arroyo made more than $16 million in 2013 and is becoming an expensive veteran to keep in the rotation. If they let him walk, the Reds will certainly lose one of their most dependable starters. However, Arroyo has admitted that the Reds will likely not offer the years or salary he’s looking for (per CBSsports.com).
While Arroyo has serviced the club well, there are much cheaper ways to look for a replacement.
Tony Cingrani will be heavily considered for the rotation after posting fantastic rookie numbers for the Reds. Cingrani had a 10.3 K/9 rate this season with a 2.92 ERA. Between NL rookie pitchers with more than 100 IP—only Jose Fernandez posted a better ERA (per MLB.com).
Cingrani is a solid No. 4 or No. 5 pitcher. Chasing after Arroyo would only hurt this club financially since the Reds have more issues outside the pitching rotation.
The Reds need to keep their bullpen strong, and one of the first orders of business should be re-signing Manny Parra. Even though this is a realistic move for the Reds, he might come at a steep price after his incredible 2013 season.
Parra has never made more than $1.5 million in a season, and the Reds are likely going to give him a decent contract. However, Parra will prove to be worth it—especially for this club.
The Reds need to keep left-handed help in the bullpen to go along with Sean Marshall. He held lefties to a .167 batting average with 14 hits in 84 at-bats. Parra was best used in the seventh inning, when he held an inning-low 1.84 ERA and .258 BAbip.
The Reds are going to have a difficult time finding a lefty reliever in free agency who can put up these numbers. Parra might be hard to keep in Cincinnati, but the Reds should do their best to keep him in their bullpen.
While many won’t want to read this slide, it should certainly be considered one of the most realistic moves for the Reds.
I get it. Signing Shin-Soo Choo should be one of the Reds' biggest priorities this winter. His unbelievable on-base percentage set up Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips and Jay Bruce extremely well this season.
If the Reds can get any sort of deal done with Choo that doesn’t cost them an arm and a leg, it should be a no-brainer. However, the odds of that happening are getting slimmer as more teams show interest in Choo (per MLBTradeRumors.com).
The Reds are certainly not going to be able to find similar numbers in free agency or within the organization. On the other hand, one of the biggest mistakes the Reds could commit is signing Choo for too much money.
Choo will be 31 in 2014 and in the prime spot for one last big contract. Even though it’s very unlikely, his agent (Scott Boras) wants Choo to earn more than $100 million on his next contract.
The Reds already have enormous contracts to Phillips and Votto. Signing a third huge contact could put the Reds in a financial limbo.
There are talks (according to MLBTradeRumors.com) of trading Phillips this offseason to clear some room for the payroll. However, I explained last week that doing this would only free up so much money, and finding a replacement would be impossible.
Avoiding a large contract with Choo could help the Reds in the long run and even next season.
If the Reds let Choo walk, the club can afford to look at a possible left or center fielder for help next year.
The Reds might not be as anxious to hand over center field to Billy Hamilton. He impressed everyone with his speed at the major league level, but he has to prove he can hit.
Another major concern is Ryan Ludwick in left field. He’s coming off a major shoulder surgery and will turn 36 next season. The Reds should pursue a solid platoon option in case Ludwick still can’t find his bat speed or if Hamilton needs more time in Triple-A.
If the Reds were to sign Choo, they immediately have a jammed outfield and could prevent Hamilton from flourishing in the majors.
MlbTradeRumors.com speculates that the Reds might look at possibly trading for Peter Bourjos or signing free-agent outfielders Rajai Davis or Franklin Gutierrez.
While none of those names are sexy, it could be an answer for Hamilton to gain major league playing time and avoid sending Ludwick to the bench.
The Reds have to be happy with the Juan Francisco and J.J. Hoover trade. In his first full season, Hoover was able to put up impressive numbers like a 0.00 ERA through 34 at-bats in the month of July.
Hoover has the stuff to be the Reds' next closer. Hoover had a 9.1 K/9 rate, 62 percent strike rate and a decent 18 percent swinging strike total. He was also able to keep a 0.00 ERA while pitching in the ninth inning.
Hoover’s pitches aren’t nearly as deceptive as Aroldis Chapman’s, but he can still get important outs with consistent strikes and without giving up multiple runs.
If the Reds are able to sign Parra and if Jonathan Broxton comes back healthy, the bullpen will be set with:
Seventh inning: Marshall, Sam LeCure, Alfredo Simon
Eighth inning: Parra, Broxton
Although the Reds would be turning away from one of the best closers already in the game, there’s another spot for the Cuban flamethrower.
It was one of the most controversial questions moving into the 2013 season, and with the new manger Bryan Price at the helm, it might resurface.
Price was immediately asked about Chapman’s role on his formal introduction and would only agree that he believes pitchers get better with secondary pitches by throwing innings (per Chicago Tribune).
There’s one thing that is certain entering next season, and that is the fact the Reds don’t have a lot of money to spend on free agents. This should be nothing new to Reds fans, but one realistic move that could save the club money is moving Aroldis Chapman to the rotation.
With a rotation consisting Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Homer Bailey, Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani and Chapman, there can be wiggle room to trade one of their starting pitchers.
MLBTradeRumors.com recently reported that the Los Angeles Angels are open to moving Peter Bourjos or Mark Trumbo for starting pitching. While it might not be in the Reds best interests to quickly trade one of their quality pitchers, this could be a trend entering the offseason.
The Reds are going to have their best luck filling the roster holes with a trade, and if Chapman can be a rotation guy, there’s room to move someone else.
While Chapman still had a great year at the closer position, his numbers were not as solid as 2012. Chapman gave up more earned runs, runs, home runs, hits and walks this season, which should be noted since closers typically have short shelf lives.
Chapman is still young, and his numbers show he could be used in the rotation. Hitters were a little more cautious this year, as his strikes-swinging percentage went down three percent and his strikes-looking percentage went up the same amount.
However, Chapman’s total strike percentage increased again in 2013. According to FanGraphs.com, Chapman did decrease his use of his changeup from 6.5 percent to 2.7, but his slider usage increased 3.2 percent and his fastballs only gained one percent.
Moving J.J. Hoover to the closer's role will let the Reds afford to test Chapman in the rotation. More importantly, it will give the Reds a surplus of young pitchers, which might be the game's hottest commodity.