There are three things I admire about the Cincinnati Reds right now, if you can stomach hearing about it.
First, they’re trying really hard to win, and that’s always admirable in this era of MLB – the difference between planning to go all-in and actually doing it is big (ask the 2019 White Sox (but hey, kudos to the 2020 White Sox!)). Second, the Reds began this process over a year ago via trades, when many of us – including myself – couldn’t really see the bigger picture. I certainly thought they were making some mistakes.
And third: They’re improving (indirectly) by subtracting from or blocking their NL Central rivals (Shogo Akiyama, Nick Castellanos, Mike Moustakas, Wade Miley). It kinda just adds insult to injury, right?
- And they’re not necessarily done yet:
Reds are considering trading Nick Senzel. Have heard his name is out there on market.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 27, 2020
- Senzel, 24, was the sixth best prospect in all of baseball before last season, when he made his big league debut. And although he hasn’t hit his stride just yet (injuries), he does carry a ton of trade value. If the Reds were to flip his six years of control in a deal this offseason, thanks to an already loaded outfield (Akiyama, Castellanos, Aristides Aquino, Jesse Winker), they’d be able to land a *very* significant player. And with guys like Nolan Arenado, Mookie Betts, Francisco Lindor, Starling Marte, Kris Bryant, etc. all theoretically available on the trade market, I wouldn’t be surprised if they were able to get something significant done. Maybe you wouldn’t bet on it at this point, but it definitely shouldn’t surprise you.
- Aside from the landscape-altering moves, there’s always work to be done on the margins:
Reds have had monster winter but still could tweak pen depth. They’ve added Nate Jones and Tyler Thornburg as relief options so far.
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 27, 2020
- Fun. Fuuuuuun.
- On the flip side, the Brewers have lost a TON of players this offseason (Yasmani Grandal, Mike Moustakas, Jordan Lyles, Drew Pomeranz, Eric Thames, Junior Guerra, Travis Shaw, Chase Anderson, Zach Davies) while taking a 20% some-odd hit to their franchise-high 2019 payroll. Expectedly, fans were letting the team have it at their convention over the weekend, but … I don’t really get the consternation. Their payroll may be down and they may have lost a lot of talent, but they also did add Omar Narvaez, Luis Urias, Eric Sogard, Justin Smoak, Avisail Garcia, Josh Lindblom, and seven other players. It’s not a traditional roster in terms of sure-fire everyday starters at each position, but that’s also not the Brewers M.O. If you’ve been watching this coaching staff and front office over the last couple years, you know they can make something like that work.
- NOW, with that said, I still agree with Brett’s take earlier this morning, which amounts to the Brewers taking a lot of gambles in a lot of places (and pretty much everything riding on Christian Yelich continuing to be the 2018-2019 version of himself), but still. They didn’t just sit on their hands. They tried to make it work. They could be good.
- The Red Sox are still engaged with multiple teams (Padres and Dodgers) on a potential trade for Mookie Betts, with plenty of specifics to dissect. In short, the Dodgers have more financial flexibility to add Betts (or Betts and Price) in a straight up deal than the Padres. And in such an agreement, a big league outfielder plus any non-Gavin Lux, non-Dustin May prospects would be considered as the foundation (basically, that’s Alex Verdugo + 1-2 back-end top-100 prospects). The Padres, by contrast, would need the Red Sox to take Wil Myers’ contract back in any such deal, but could then be more open to a bigger prospect package.
- Call this extreme wishful thinking, but I GREATLY prefer the Padres to land Betts over the Dodgers, for two main reasons: (1) the Dodgers may still be an option for Bryant, if that’s even really a thing anymore, and landing Betts would take that off the table; and (2) I don’t want L.A. to have ANY help when Betts hits free agency next winter. That’s not to say Betts would sign an extension with the Dodgers so close to free agency, but obviously getting someone in the door, getting them comfortable, familiar, and selling them all season is a big advantage. And considering Betts is – far and away – the crown jewel of the next free agent class – the one in which the Cubs may have gotten under the luxury tax and thus may participate – I’d like the Cubs to have a shot at him.
- Speaking of which, Ken Rosenthal has an early estimate on Mookie Betts price tag and it’s gonna make you blush: “With the price for elite free agents soaring, a contract in the $375 million to $400 million range will not be out of the question. Mike Trout is the better player, but when he secured his $360 million in new money from the Angels last March, he was negotiating with only one team.” I know what you’re thinking at this moment: pretty hard to see the Cubs getting involved at that level. We’ll see.