There were a lot of high hopes for the Cincinnati Reds at the start of the season. Several shrewd offseason moves gave the Reds hope that this could be a breakout season. While things haven’t worked out as what was expected, a few experts have suggested that the Reds should be sellers at the trade deadline. With the July 31st deadline approaching, teams will be trying to make deals to give their team an edge over the final two months of the season. It makes sense for the teams at the bottom of their divisions to make some deals and give up a solid MLB player to focus already on the upcoming season. For the Reds, this has been the case in the past. But this year is different. Cincinnati should stand fast when it comes to dealing their better players.
The reason that the Reds shouldn’t be sellers is pretty simple. They’re not really all that bad. This year’s team has been a rollercoaster ride, but there’s been a lot of improvement in areas that were desperately needed. The rotation was the biggest area that needed an overhaul and the front office did just that. The Reds dealt for Sonny Gray, Tanner Roark, and Alex Wood in the offseason. They brought in pitching coach Derek Johnson as pitching coach and it didn’t take long to see the improvements. Cincinnati currently ranks fifth in team pitching. They were ranked 24th last season. A lot of that improvement reflects on the starting rotation. Luis Castillo has flirted with Cy Young Award numbers. Sonny Gray and Tanner Roark have pitched very well. Anthony Desclafani has had some hiccups, but he’s pitched better than last season. Alex Wood has been out with a back injury, but Tyler Mahle has done a good job at filling in. Wood is now back and the rotation could take things to a new level if he can pitch at top form.
Roark is a good candidate during the trade deadline because of being a free agent at the end of the season. But with the 2020 free agent pool being somewhat deep, the Reds can afford to risk not being able to extend the 32-year old instead of dealing him. If that’s the case, there are about ten pitchers in free agency that could fit in with the Reds between performance and salary demands. Cincinnati has built a solid foundation in their rotation and they need to keep it solid. There were rumors of the Yankees being interested in Castillo, but they need to remain just rumors. Keeping the rotation intact for the most part should be a priority. Since Wood has spent over half of the season injured, he wouldn’t bring in much (if anything) in a trade. If he pitches well, he could be a pitcher that the Reds could resign at a bargain.
The bullpen needs to be overhauled. This was one area in the offseason that wasn’t touched on much. Again, that doesn’t mean that the Reds need to get rid of everyone. Amir Garrett and Michael Lorenzen have proven their value to the team. Raisel Iglesias has been mentioned in trade talks and did show disdain in the role he’s been put in. His numbers haven’t been that great, but they are misleading. Iglesias is 18 of 20 in save opportunities this year in spite of his 4.60 era. Like the rotation, these three guys are a solid foundation that you want to build around. Adding a couple of relievers to hold runners better in the mid-innings should make this unit a good complement to the rotation.
The main reason that the Reds are struggling this season is due to the offense. Overall, they just haven’t been able to produce when needed this season. Even with the struggles, Cincinnati has a group of hitters between everyday starters and youth. Yasiel Puig has been a good addition and the Reds should focus on resigning him instead of dealing him. He’s hitting around where he was expected to and he has a strong arm in the field. While Joey Votto has also been a victim of a sub-par season offensively, his numbers are slowly creeping up. He still sports the best OBP. among everyday starters. The Reds are actually building depth within their bench as well. Phil Ervin and Josh Van Meter have been studs in limited time this year. Even with their lack of production, this is an offense with a lot of upside.
For the most part, the Reds just need to stay quiet during the trade deadline. If the front office starts selling off their better pieces, they’ll take two steps back in their efforts to get this team back to contention. It doesn’t make sense to get close to finishing a rebuild just to move valuable pieces that are under team control for a few years. The front office fixed the starting pitching, got rid of Homer Bailey, and brought in Puig, Gray, and Roark who have been good contributors to this team. So I would like to see the roster mostly intact going into the offseason. With the deals, they did this past offseason, trusting the process is the best way to go.