By: Chris Larson
The Cincinnati Reds are coming off a season in which they finished the year with a, 67-95 record, good enough for last place once again in the NL Central. In case you were wondering, that gave the Reds four consecutive last place finishes, something that certainly hasn't excited their fanbase or made Reds fans excited about looking forward to the 2019 season.
Although the past four seasons have been painful for the Reds and their fans alike, there is plenty to start looking forward to and signs that the team could start to make some major progress forward in the right direction, as soon as this coming season. After all, the Reds have spent the last four years building up their farm system, giving them the 8th best farm system in baseball currently, according to MLB Pipeline. In addition, they still have an exciting young, core of positional players consisting of the likes of All-Star first baseman, Joey Votto, Jose Peraza, and Eugenio Suarez.
However, that doesn't mean that the team can't afford to upgrade in certain areas around the diamond or do what they can to bolster up their starting rotation with some veteran leadership. So far this offseason, there has been plenty of chatter about the big plans that the Reds have for this offseason and the potential targets that the team might be interested in. To this point, Cincinnati has been linked to free agents, A.J. Pollock, Dallas Keuchel, and Wade Miley. The connections on the trade market become even more interesting.
Over the past few days at the Winter Meetings, sources have indicated that the Cincinnati Reds are interested in trying to trade for current New York Yankees starting pitcher, Sonny Gray, as well as Blue Jays starting pitcher, Marcus Stroman. Both starting pitchers don't necessarily come with a lot of control (Gray through the end of the 2019 regular season and Stroman for the next two years), but both pitchers could severely upgrade an area of need for the Reds and show that they are serious about improving their chances of contention.
In fact, the Reds made the first move this afternoon to bolster their starting rotation by acquiring right-hander, Tanner Roark, from the Washington Nationals in exchange of relief pitcher, Tanner Rainey. According to MLB Trade Rumors, Roark projects to earn $9.8 million dollars during his final trip through arbitration, before he reaches free agency at the end of the season.
In the bigger picture, Roark might not necessarily be the next Clayton Kershaw, Corey Kluber, or Chris Sale or even be a massive acquisition, but he is someone that has a great overall pedigree and comes with plenty of durability, something that the Reds starting rotation has been in need of. Over the past three seasons, Roark has thrown at least 180 innings each year and gives the Reds someone that can mentor the team's young stable of starting pitchers. Furthermore, remember it was only two years ago that Roark recorded a 2.83 ERA over 210 frames, with 172 strikeouts.
Although Roark was a great addition, the Cincinnati Reds certainly aren't done and will begin trying to work at luring in one, potentially even two, of their other targeted starting pitchers. From the reports coming out of the Winter Meetings, it appears that the Reds are truly serious about trading from the aforementioned, Marcus Stroman. As has been widely reported all week, the Toronto Blue Jays expect a huge haul back in return for Stroman, as they should, which could force Cincinnati to end up turning to other lesser alternatives such as Sonny Gray or Wade Miley.
However, don't count out a serious pursuit of Dallas Keuchel either from Cincinnati, although it might seem extremely unlikely that they are able to outbid another team for his services. Great American Ballpark, the home of the Cincinnati Reds, has developed a league wide reputation of being a small ballpark, where the ball flies and pitchers have a hard time getting opposing team's hitters out. Well, as you can imagine, that makes it extremely difficult when the Cincinnati Reds are trying to recruit a large-named free agent and convincing that free agent that Cincinnati, could be the next team they, could excel with. With that being said, it seems more likely that Cincinnati ends up losing out on Dallas Keuchel, simply because of the amount of money Keuchel will command and the demand from the entire league overall.
Furthermore, the Reds have entered the discussion for highly sought after Miami Marlins catcher, J.T. Realmuto, according to several reports from today. Realmuto would be a significant upgrade for the Reds 25-man roster and would still provide a boost, even if the Reds fail to upgrade their pitching staff in some form or fashion, outside of the Tanner Roark acquisition. Regardless, you have to give a tremendous amount of credit to the Cincinnati Reds and their front office staff for setting their sights high and becoming very serious about upgrading their roster.
After all, following four consecutive losing seasons, the Cincinnati Reds have a lot to prove to their fanbase, as well as the entire game of baseball, meaning that now is the time for them to act and think boldly about the acquisitions that they make. If the right moves are made, the Reds could certainly find themselves sneaking into the Wild Card race, as soon as this coming season, and give their fanbase, a competitive team to cheer for, once again, something that hasn't been a staple at Great American Ballpark, since 2012, when the Reds last won the NL Central and made it to the postseason.
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