The 2015 Cincinnati Reds and a Potential Fire Sale


A couple of weeks ago, Karl Buscheck , a Featured Columnist for Bleacher Report authored a take on the five teams he predicted could execute a full-blown fire sale. The first team listed (his fifth most likely) was the Cincinnati Reds. Buscheck placed odds at the Reds undergoing such at 3:1. As much as I don’t want to even think this is possible, I honestly cannot rule out this could occur.

The first sign we could take as precursor is the trades involving Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon. Now, those that are familiar with the situation surrounding those former Reds is evident. Both Latos and Simon were dealt primarily due to their impending free agency after this season. To piggyback off that was a report that the Reds were severely over budget for the upcoming season. With both pitchers due to receive significant pay raises, it was almost a given that an arm or two were going to be dealt some time prior to the beginning of the 2015 season.

But the Reds still hold viable assets should they choose to go this route. Johnny Cueto, Aroldis Chapman and Mike Leake are all arms all of the other teams would love to have of their pitching staffs. Cueto’s agent had said that after spring training, there will be no more negotiations for a long-term extension. There hasn’t been any recent news regarding Chapman or Leake in regards to agreeing for 2015 and avoiding arbitration. Leake will be heading to free agency after 2015 should he and the team be unable to find a meeting of the minds.

Yes, you have to wonder.

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And we can spin the trade for Marlon Byrd any way we want. He’s due $8 million for 2015, but in the trade, the Reds received half of that. Cincinnati will only be investing $4 million for Byrd’s services for the upcoming season. There’s also a 2016 option hanging in the balance as well ($8M). I have previously stated that acquiring Byrd was a two-fold deal. One was to provide Jesse Winker and/or Kyle Waldrop a little more time to develop in the minors. The other reason is that Byrd can bring them another asset should the team find themselves well out of the playoff hunt come mid-season.

The Reds have a few deals that make certain players untradeable. Not sure there would be any disagreement that Joey Votto, Homer Bailey and Brandon Phillips may not be able to be traded due to issues such as recent injury, declining performance, remaining dollars on their current deals, and finding a team likely to want to take on those dollars. Sure, they may discover a team or two that might not mind adding significant payroll dollars (you know, the usual suspects: Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox and possibly the Cubs along with “new spenders” the White Sox), but the other issues could prove to be the wrench.

And there is always potential for a hang-up of fitting the right personnel to make the trade doable for both teams.

There are a couple other assets the Reds hold. Brayan Pena could be one. What team wouldn’t want an experienced backup catcher? And believe it or not, Skip Schumaker could prove to be a minor piece for a team that needs an experienced bench player that is able to play multiple positions.

So where does all of this leave the 2015 Cincinnati Reds? Is a fire sale eminent? Obviously, we must wait to see how the season unfolds. No question that the Reds must get off to a good start in order to put any talk of a fire sale to bed. But should the good guys struggle early on, those two words will surface and loom over Great American Ball Park.