Cincinnati Reds


Having had enough of losing and falling attendance at Great American Ball Park the past four years, the Reds decided to do something about it over the winter. They overhauled their roster with a series of trades following four consecutive last-place finishes in the National League Central that included at least 94 losses each season.
The players aren’t the only new thing about the Reds. David Bell, who was the San Francisco Giants’ farm director, takes over as manager. Interim skipper Jim Riggleman, who replaced Bryan Price 18 games into last season, was not retained following a 67-95 finish.
What’s New
The Reds revamped their starting rotation with three winter trades, acquiring left-hander Alex Wood from the Los Angeles Dodgers and right-handers Sonny Gray from the New York Yankees and Tanner Roark from the Washington Nationals. They join holdovers Luis Castillo and Anthony DeSclafani.

Kyle Farmer, the fourth player acquired from the Dodgers in a seven-player deal, will be the backup catcher to Tucker Barnhart. Zack Duke was signed as a free agent to add a much-needed veteran left-handed reliever. Selected from the Dodgers in the Rule 5 Draft, rookie Connor Joe provides plenty of versatility as he can play catcher and both corner infield and outfield positions.The outfield will also have a new look as left fielder Matt Kemp and right fielder Yasiel Puig came over from the Dodgers with Wood. Scott Schebler will get first crack at the center fielder’s job after Billy Hamilton was not tendered a contract at the end of last season. Puig could also play center with Schebler starting in right.
Two rotation spots opened when the Reds dumped Homer Bailey and his $28-million salary on the Dodgers and fellow right-hander Matt Harvey signed with the Angels as a free agent. Utility player Brandon Dixon was claimed off waivers by the Detroit Tigers.
Despite spending last year in a front-office capacity, Bell is no stranger to the NL Central. He was on the St. Louis Cardinals’ coaching staff for four seasons from 2014-17.
What Could Change
Top infield prospect Nick Senzel will also be tried in center field during spring training and could beat out Schebler. Senzel is blocked at his primary positions by third baseman Eugenio Suarez and second baseman Scooter Gennett.
The stands should seemingly be fuller in Cincinnati following all the moves. Last year’s attendance of 1,629,356 was the Reds’ lowest since 1984 at Riverfront Stadium.
If the Reds aren’t in contention in late July, Gennett could be dealt at the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline along with such other pending free agents as Wood, Roark, Kemp, Puig and set-up relievers David Hernandez and Jared Hughes.
Right-handed pitching prospect Tony Santillan would likely get a look in the rotation if the Reds go into teardown mode.
What’s Coming
The Reds have their work cut out in a division in which the other four teams -- Milwaukee, Brewers, Chicago Cubs, Cardinals and Pittsburgh Pirates – all had winning records last season.
However, the starting rotation figures to vastly improved. while, Kemp and Puig should add thump to a lineup that includes the stellar infield of first baseman Joey Votto, Gennett, Suarez and shortstop Jose Peraza.
The Reds’ bullpen also showed vast improvement last season as Hughes and Hernandez, signed as free agent, proved to be a solid bridge to closer Raisel Iglesias.
"I think it's obviously notable what the Reds have been doing," Gray told reporters after signing a three-year, $30.5-million contract extension following his acquisition.. "I've got a really good feeling that we're trying to turn the corner here and we're trying to start winning a lot of baseball games."
The Reds might have a hard time contending in the stacked NL Central, but they should at least be much more competitive after increasing their payroll by $22 million to $123 million since the end of last season.
Best-Case Scenario: All the newcomers live up to expectations, some other NL Central teams sustain a dip, and the Reds go from worst to first.
Worst-Case Scenario: Many of the newcomers flop, and the Reds become sellers in July.


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