Reds are interesting again..

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Reds are interesting again..

Postby T15D23 » Mon Dec 24, 2018 12:36 am

With one big trade, the Reds make themselves an interesting team again
C. Trent Rosecrans


CINCINNATI​ – The​ additions​ of​ Yasiel Puig,​ Matt Kemp and Alex​ Wood​ make the Reds​ something they​ haven’t been​​ for a while — interesting.

All three players, acquired in a seven-player deal with the Dodgers, and Tanner Roark will be free agents after the 2019 season, but that’s a problem for a different time.

The Reds of 2019 look better right now than the Reds of 2018. After five consecutive losing seasons, that’s something.

“It’s time to start competing, winning and adding players that can really help us go toe-to-toe with the teams in this division,” said Dick Williams, the team’s president of baseball operations.

And one more thing: “We’re not done yet,” he said.

Williams said the team has money to spend and also prospect capital. He said the team is primarily interested in pitching, but he wouldn’t rule out other acquisitions.

“There are some limits to what we can do in free agency, but we still have a very viable farm system that I think will enable us to access players in trades if that’s something that works itself out,” Williams said. “We’re still going to be very open to both, spending money in free agency and trying to do trades here.”

The Reds’ roster is undeniably better than it was a year ago. The team has added two starters (Wood and Roark), two outfielders (Puig and Kemp) and a backup catcher (Kyle Farmer) and given up one reliever (Tanner Rainey) who has more walks than innings pitched at the big-league level, another pitcher (Josiah Gray) who hasn’t pitched above rookie ball and an infielder (Jeter Downs) who finished the season at Dayton.

And the Reds unloaded Homer Bailey. They were giving serious consideration in spring training to eating the $28 million left on his contract. Bailey, with 10 years of service time and the last five with the same team, had to agree to any trade – and he did on Friday afternoon, allowing the complex deal to proceed. That $28 million and the $7 million sent to the Reds by the Dodgers essentially makes the money for the deal a wash.

None of those four impact names the Reds added are guaranteed to be a part of the 2020 squad, but neither were the three subtracted.

Wood and Puig would be candidates to receive qualifying offers if they end the season in Cincinnati – declining an offer and leaving would garner the Reds two compensatory picks. The Reds in the last two seasons have used similar bonus picks to take Downs in 2017 and Gray this year.

Downs and Gray are good prospects, to be sure. Downs hit .257/.351/.402 at low-Class A Dayton last year, but he’s still just 20. Scouts love his hitting ability and see him as someone who can hit at the big-league level. He’s played shortstop as a pro, but few scouts see him sticking there, instead envisioning a move over to second base. He was ranked by Baseball America as the team’s eighth-best prospect, but he could have been considered the team’s fourth-best second base prospect behind Nick Senzel, Jonathan India and Shed Long.

Gray, who turned 21 on Friday, put up a 2.58 ERA at Greenville with 59 strikeouts and 17 walks over 52 1/3 innings. He didn’t pitch until late in his college career but was well-regarded by scouts who saw him the Appalachian League.

Wood would be a headline for a team that declared its offseason goal was to “get the pitching,” if not for the enigmatic Puig.

Puig, 28, burst onto the scene in 2013 when he hit 19 homers in 104 games for the Dodgers, has struggled, been sent to the minors, but has hit 51 home runs over the past two seasons. He’ll be reunited in Cincinnati with hitting coach Turner Ward, who has been credited with helping Puig return to his status as an impact bat.

Even before Williams could speak to Puig on Friday, Puig had talked with his old coach, who left the reigning National League champions to join David Bell’s staff in Cincinnati in November.

“I just got off the phone with him a few minutes ago, he’s so pumped and fired up about coming,” Ward said Friday.

The prospect of Puig and his prodigious power in homer-happy Great American Ball Park makes this team more interesting than it has been in years. Penciling him in behind Joey Votto in the lineup? It’s appealing, to say the least.

Puig and Kemp are both right-handed hitters, supplementing the left-handed-hitting Jesse Winker and Scott Schebler, the incumbent outfielders. Schebler and Puig can play center, but Williams said the team may not be done adding.

Wood, who turns 28 next month, was originally drafted by the Braves out of the University of Georgia but went west as part of a three-team trade that also sent former Reds Bronson Arroyo and Mat Latos to the Dodgers as well as current Reds shortstop José Peraza. Wood’s gone 52-40 with a 3.29 ERA over his six seasons in the big leagues and was 9-7 with a 3.68 ERA last season. He was an All-Star in 2017 and finished ninth in Cy Young voting.

Kemp made his third All-Star Game last season, but after hitting .310/.352/.522 with 15 homers over 92 games in the first half, he hit .255/.313/.406 in 54 games in the second half.

With the additions, the team’s rotation looks better (Wood, Luis Castillo, Roark, Anthony DeSclafani and Tyler Mahle), as does its potential lineup (Winker, Eugenio Suárez, Votto, Puig, Scooter Gennett, Kemp/Schebler, Tucker Barnhart and Peraza). That’s something the team hasn’t been able to say since 2013, when it made its last playoff appearance.

Williams and General Manager Nick Krall were open about their long wish list this offseason, and it was met with some skepticism at times as other teams made big moves. The Reds’ aggressiveness was noted throughout last week’s Winter Meetings in Las Vegas, and they came back with just one big-league player to show for it. With probably the biggest trade since landing Ken Griffey Jr. nearly two decades ago, the team has at least shown a willingness to be bold and improve now, not just position for the future.

“We intend to continue to work throughout the offseason to improve the club,” Williams said. “We did trade some good prospects here. But we acquired four major-league players that address needs for us and make us better in short term. We feel really good about the way this came together.”
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