This is a project where 30 people got together to act as the GMs of the 30 MLB teams with the idea of conducting the offseason in one week. This is what happened in this simulation, not a prediction of what will happen in real life.
The 2017 Cincinnati Reds did not remind anyone of the feared mid 70s Big Red Machine, the current club never challenged for first and ended up last in the NL Central. There is plenty of potential with the club, however. The Reds have lots of promising young players, and a good minor league system, rated by Bleacher Report as the eighth best farm system.
The Reds are a small market team, and were given a very small budget of 95 million. Even worse though, is some very poor contracts are still in effect. I had to shed some contract money to meet contract obligations, if I kept all my arbitration eligible players I would have gone over budget. Joey Votto, perhaps the best batsman in the game makes 25 million, and he is certainly worth it…this year. But Homer Bailey makes 21 million in 2018, and in 2017 he pitched 91 innings with a 6.43 ERA. My backup catcher, Devin Mesoraco, hauls down 13 million plus and he hit .213 last season.
The Red’s team ERA was dead last in the NL in 2017 at 5.17, so a goal is to improve that. The team scored 753 runs, a mid-pack ranking of eighth in the NL, but I’d like to improve that also. Realistically I would like to see the team finish at .500 in 2018, secretly hoping everything can come together and they make a postseason run. Objectively 2019 would more likely be a time for a pennant drive for the Reds.
I made three trades. I contacted the Mets and offered third baseman Eugenio Suarez for Steven Matz. Suarez had a good year but he is in an expensive arbitration year and I have a hot young prospect in Nick Senzel who hit .340 in double A. I know Matz can pitch when healthy. He is coming off an ulnar nerve procedure, but Jacob deGrom had a similar injury and bounced back just fine.
I then parted with Scooter Gennett. The second baseman had a career season in 2017, with a slash line of .295/.342/.531, he too will get an arbitration salary. I dealt him to the Giants for young Christian Arroyo, a highly rated shortstop prospect.
My final trade was my favorite. The Braves were interested in Billy Hamilton, and we settled on a deal where the Reds sent CF Hamilton and relief pitcher Michael Lorenzen south in exchange for CF Ender Inciarte. He can field as well as Hamilton, and he is a much better hitter. I did not re-sign any of my free agents, I did make a bid for Zack Cozart that fell short.
My projected infield will have Joey Votto playing first and likely batting third, with hopefully more runners to knock in with Inciate now leading off. Jose Peraza will play second, he has been a top rated infield prospect with now two years of MLB experience. Christian Arroyo will get a crack at short. Nick Senzel will have a chance to claim third base. Depth was definitely needed, so i did sign FA Jose Reyes for utility purposes. He can play second, short or third. I just hope I get the Jose Reyes who finished the season, not the one who was dreadful for the first ⅔ of 2017.
The outfield will be the strength of this team, it may be the best young outfield in the game. Adam Duvall hit 31 homers in 2017 with good defense, he will patrol LF. In CF will be the newly acquired Inciarte. Scott Schebler pounded 30 homers in 2017, even though he spent a month or so in the minors. He’ll be in right, and is able to play center if needed. Young Jesse Winker will have the fourth outfielder role, his line last year was .298/.375/.529 in 47 games.
Luis Castillo was impressive as a starting pitcher after being brought up in August,he had 3.12 ERA in the Majors with average fastball velocity of 97.7. Matz will likely be in the starting rotation, as well as the expensive Bailey who did rebound a bit at the end of last year. Anthony DeSclafani, Sal Romano and Brandon Finnegan will be in the mix for the other starting slots or relief roles.
The jewel of the relief corps is closer Raisel Iglesias, with his 28 saves and 2.49 ERA in 2017. Other contributors include Wandy Peralta with his 97.0 FB average velocity, Deck McGuire and Robert Stephenson.
With a lot of young, promising players, there is hope for the future for the Reds. Available funds will increase significantly for 2019, as the Bailey and Mesoraco contracts will have expired by then. It is reasonable to expect some young prospects will mature by then as well.
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