Cincinnati Reds Offseason Needs For 2020
Last season was supposed to be a major step forward for the Cincinnati Reds, however, the club was inconsistent all season long and they finished fourth in the National League Central standings. There were some promising parts of the year especially with Eugenio Suarez’ offensive outburst, the development of Luis Castillo into an ace, and the emergence of young prospects in Aristides Aquino and Nick Senzel. However, despite all the promising things that occurred in 2019, it was still a frustrating season in the Queen City. If the Reds are going to put together a strong team, here are some areas they will have to address or improve if they want to be serious contenders in 2020.
Cincinnati has a rotation that could be one of the best in 2020, especially with Luis Castillo’s development, Sonny Gray putting up great numbers in 2019, and Trevor Bauer for a full season. The fourth and fifth spots in the rotation might be held by Anthony DeSclafani and most likely Tyler Mahle, but it wouldn’t hurt to get one more starting pitcher in the offseason. DeSclafani has had a history of injuries and Mahle has regressed, so it would make some sense to get another reliable starter on the market.
Some candidates could be Dallas Keuchel, Matt Moore, Rick Porcello, or Tanner Roark. While the rotation isn’t necessarily a must need, getting another pitcher that could take them over the top is what could be the difference.
Tucker Barnhart had done an admirable job being a starting catcher and is an exceptional defender, but his bat has sadly regressed. While a very capable backup at this point in his career, an upgrade is a must at the backstop position. There really aren’t many options on the table. Travis d’Arnaud is a possibility, but Cincinnati will have to hope that a couple of other players who have options will become available. The two that come to mind are Yasmani Grandal and Yan Gomes, but Grandal would be a hot commodity. There is always the option of trading for a catcher, but the problem is that the Reds would have to give up something.
The bullpen looked like it was going to be a strength going into 2019, but with the struggles of Raisel Iglesias, David Hernandez, Wandy Peralta, Zach Duke, and Jared Hughes, it became their weakest part of their team. Hernandez, Hughes, and Dukes were let go and Peralta was demoted. There are some arms on the team to build around like Michael Lorenzen, Robert Stephenson, and Amir Garrett, but the team must look on the market for reliable bullpen arms.
Some options include Brad Brach, Steve Cishek, Daniel Hudson, Jeremy Jeffress, Joe Smith, Mike Dunn, Jake Diekman, or Brandon Morrow. The bullpen must be a priority this offseason, but maybe they have some in-house options who can fill the voids too.
Whichever Position Nick Senzel Doesn’t Play
There is some division in the Cincinnati Reds faithful over where Nick Senzel should play as he looked competent in centerfield, but he is a better fielder at second base. So, if he were to be the regular center fielder, then second base will need an upgrade. Sure Freddy Galvis played well enough there, but they need more productivity from that position.
There isn’t much on the market outside of Josh Harrison, Mike Moustakas, and Jason Kipnis, so the team is more likely to make a trade. If Senzel becomes the starting second baseman, the most likely option is them going after Starling Marte to play center field if he becomes available due to his option or they would have to trade for one. It will be interesting to see what Cincinnati does here.
Jose Iglesias played admirably at shortstop and might get another contract again for more of a backup role as he was productive at the plate and is a defensive whiz, but the Reds need an upgrade at that position. The most obvious player that’s available on the market is Didi Gregorius as he would fit the need perfectly. That being said, they might look to make a trade here too.
The team will also have to ask Jesse Winker to return to his 2018 performance, for Aquino to pick up where he left off, for Bauer to show that his 2019 second half was a fluke, and for Gray and Castillo to replicate their success and that’s not easy. There are a few other suggestions that the club could make during the offseason. If they do not trust Winker to return to form, then they will undoubtedly go out and grab a player either off the market or through trade and it depends whether they want to keep Aquino in right field or shift him to left field.
Another suggestion is to go after Anthony Rendon, but there are two ways they can go about that. The first is that the team shifts Suarez over to shortstop, his natural position, and have Rendon play third base. The second is to have Rendon play second base and keep Senzel in center field. Rendon will come with a high price tag that most Major League teams can’t afford.
The Cincinnati Reds will have to do a lot this offseason if they want to be serious contenders, but the club is closer than some might think. 2020 might not be the frustrating year some will expect, but the team could flounder if they don’t make the right moves. There might be a lot of hard moves that could be made this offseason, but the front office is going to be aggressive as they really want to win.