Cincinnati Reds – a look at the team a month out from spring training


The Cincinnati Reds start spring training on Valentine’s Day and look to break our hearts again.

Looking at the team that the Cincinnati Reds have put together for 2017, you see a team good enough to be exciting, but bad enough to lose.  In what many hope is the last rebuilding year, the Reds lack talent to make a run even in the best case.  They should win their fair share of games, though.

Offensively, the team has an interesting combination of upside players, OBP disadvantaged players, and veterans.  A true rebuild would want to have all upside players.  The Reds just never completely bought into the rebuild.

The two players that will start at the beginning of the season with the greatest upsides are third baseman Eugenio Suarez and right fielder Scott Schebler.  Suarez was third in home runs and second in strikeouts, but was able to maintain an OBP of .317 in his first full year in the majors.  Schebler got off to a bad start, but came back from Louisville to end the season with an OBS of .762.

The most OBP disadvantaged player is left fielder Adam Duvall.  He got on base at a .297 clip while making the All-Star team and leading the Reds in home runs.  The catching duo of Tucker Barnhart and Ramon Cabrera ran into a wall in the second half, but the Reds reinforced the catching corps with Devin Mesoraco and Rule 5 draftee Stephen Turner.

The Cincinnati Reds’ greatest chance for improvement is from a pitching staff that has been reimagined.

The Reds’ 2017 pitching starts with the Big Three in the rotation and the Dynamic Duo in the bullpen.  The Big Three of Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan, and Dan Straily combined to help the Reds play .500 baseball down the stretch despite allowing home runs to left and right (and center for that matter).  The Dynamic Duo Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias reset a bullpen at its backend that was by far the worst in the National League during the first half of 2016.

To the bullpen the front office has added Drew Storen to close.  The Reds also brought in Louis Coleman, Lucas Luetge, and Kevin Shackelford on minor league deals.  They are among ten non-roster pitchers competing for roster spots.

They’ll be up against some prospects that want a roster spot.  The marquee name is Barrett Astin, who dominated in the Arizona Fall League.  Blake Wood and Tony Cingrani avoided arbitration and hopefully will avoid high leverage situations in baseball games in 2017.

In the end, though, it all boils down to the last two spots in the rotation.  Homer Bailey and Robert Stephenson could pitch as advertised.  Then the rest of the starting rotation competition will end up fighting for the last role in the bullpen.

Next: Reds have tenth best farm system in MLB

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That is the best case for the Reds to compete in 2017.  They won’t make a run at the playoffs.  They will let us fall in love with them all over again.