Grading the Cincinnati Reds' Moves So Far This Offseason
The team had needs on its bench, in the bullpen, in left field and possibly at the top of the batting order. While they've only filled two of those needs, the moves the Reds have made thus far should help to better the team in the 2014 season.
When analyzing offseason trades and signings, it's important to look at where the player fits into the team's overall scheme and how the move works out for the team financially.
Ahead, we'll assess those two main facets of player acquisition in an attempt to grade the Reds on their moves this offseason.
Contract information courtesy of Baseballprospectus' Cot's Baseball Contracts unless otherwise noted.
Signing Brayan Pena
The Reds' first big move this offseason came with the signing of backup catcher Brayan Pena. The 31-year-old signed a two-year, $2.275 million deal with the Reds and, at the time, became the third catcher on their big league roster.
Pena, an eight-year vet, is the owner of a career .258/.292/.359 slash line, 18 home runs, 57 doubles, 120 RBI, a .101 ISO and an OPS+ of 75 over 406 games played.
After signing Pena, Ryan Hanigan became expendable, and the team chose to flip him for a young, projectable left-handed starter in David Holmberg. Another plus to signing Pena is that the Reds will be paying less at the catching position, while not giving up much in terms of ability.
Pena offers almost nothing offensively, so this usually wouldn't be considered a major signing. However, he does present the Reds with a solid presence on Devin Mesoraco's off days.
Over his eight-year-career, Pena has thrown out runners at a 29 percent clip. The league average is 27 percent.
The Reds will take a little bit of a hit defensively, as it's hard to replace a catcher like Hanigan, who caught a career-high 40 percent of opposing base stealers last season. However, the move facilitated the Reds trading of Hanigan, which in turn contributed to payroll flexibility while also helping to re-build the team's shaky minor league depth charts.
There were better options on the market at the time, but given the Reds' financial constraints, Pena was a solid choice.
Trading Ryan Hanigan for David Holmberg
Ryan Hanigan served the Reds well over parts of seven seasons. The 32-year-old averaged a .262/.359/.343 slash line with 162-game averages of seven home runs, 16 doubles, 47 RBI and 17 runs scored.
Hanigan was never a great offensive player and got on base at a stellar .359 clip, but that was all he did. The veteran backstop was unable to secure full-time reps as the team's primary catching option, largely due in part to sub-par power production.
In his seven years with the Reds, Hanigan averaged a .081 ISO. Last season, that figure dropped to .063. To put that in perspective, Hanigan's ISO ranked as the third worst in baseball among catchers with 200 or more plate appearances.
Hanigan is a great defensive catcher, as evidenced by his having led the league in caught-stealing percentage over each of the last two seasons at 48 and 45 percent, respectively.
Somehow, the Reds were able to turn all of that offensive futility into what should prove to be a solid addition in David Holmberg, who was acquired via a three-team trade.
Holmberg, a 22-year-old lefty out of Port Charlotte, Fla., spent the last five seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks, serving in their minor league system. Holmberg made 102 starts at five different minor league levels—rookie league through Double-A—in his time with the D'Backs, allowing a 3.40 ERA and a 1.24 WHIP with per-nine averages of 8.0 K/9, 2.5 BB/9, 8.7 H/9 and 0.6 HR/9.
He even made a start at the big league level, but was beat up for three runs, six hits and three walks over 3.2 innings.
The lefty possesses a solid build at 6'3", 225 pounds and a great four-pitch mix—including a fastball, changeup, curve and a slider—that has the potential to feature three or four above-average offerings.
Holmberg immediately slotted in as the team's No. 8 prospect, and could slot in around No. 5 by midseason. Holmberg gives the Reds some much-needed depth in the farm system and should be able to step into the big league rotation sometime during the 2014 season.
Financially, the move favors the Reds and their efforts to secure funds for extensions for Mat Latos, Homer Bailey and several other key players.
Overall, considering the plummeting value of Ryan Hanigan as a trade chip, the Reds did very well in moving him.
Signing Skip Schumaker
Reds general manager Walt Jocketty has come under fire from fans recently over his acquisitions of several former St. Louis Cardinals. This list includes Ryan Ludwick, Cesar Izturis, Scott Rolen, Edgar Renteria and Miguel Cairo among others.
Though the moves have generally paid off, such as Ludwick in 2012, the lack of bench depth over the past two seasons has been a disappointment for a team that was regarded as a World Series threat in both 2012 and 2013.
Last month, Jocketty dipped into the pool of former Cardinals again, inking Skip Schumaker to a two-year deal on Nov. 18. Though two-year-deals for bench players aren't exactly the norm in free agency, Schumaker is a solid addition for the Reds.
Over nine seasons, Schumaker provided the Cardinals and Dodgers with a .285/.344/.372 slash line with 162-game averages of four home runs, 24 doubles, 42 RBI and 64 runs scored. He'll never offer the Reds anything in the way of power, but given the team's atrocious bench depth in 2013, Schumaker should prove to be a major upgrade.
Not including Ludwick last season, the Reds' bench players totaled a .257/.305/.332 slash line with 59 doubles, five triples and 20 home runs. While the extra-base hit totals sound like great contributions, keep in mind that those numbers are the combined product of 11 different players.
Given his ability to play second base and all three outfield positions, Schumaker will provide the Reds with some much-needed bench depth in 2014. If the team elects to move Brandon Phillips, he could even slot in as the Reds' everyday second baseman.
The Reds lose points here for signing Schumaker to a two-year-deal worth at least $5 million—possibility for $7 million with the team option for 2016. However, the contract begins to look better when you consider his age (33) and his penchant for getting on base.
Re-Signing Manny Parra
Signing Manny Parra seemed like a peculiar move last season. However, the 31-year-old provided the Reds with a welcome boost in the bullpen, especially after Sean Marshall went for an extended stay on the DL.
Over 57 appearances and 46 innings pitched, Parra compiled a 3.33 ERA with a 1.20 WHIP and per-nine averages of 11.0 K/9, 2.9 BB/9, 7.8 H/9 and 1.0 HR/9.
Most impressive were Parra's contributions to the team between June 11 and his final appearance on Sept. 28. Over that span, Parra appeared in 45 games, allowing a 1.78 ERA and a 0.79 WHIP while averaging 10.2 K/9, 2.8 BB/9, 3.64 K/BB and 4.3 H/9.
Parra's 45-game stretch of dominance was crucial to helping the Reds maintain control over the National League's final playoff spot. He was rewarded with a multi-year contract. The Reds chose to re-sign Parra to a two-year, $5.5 million contract that locks him up through the 2015 season.
If Parra is able to replicate his 2013 season, getting him for an average adjusted value of $2.75 million is an absolute bargain, given some of the salaries in the Reds bullpen. Marshall and Jonathan Broxton will earn $5.5 and $7 million, respectively, in 2014,per Baseball Prospectus.
Whether or not Parra can duplicate his 2013 success remains to be seen, but bringing him back to complement a healthy Marshall in 2014 is a big plus for the Reds moving forward.
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