Cincinnati Reds improve over the winter, despite disappointing off-season

(Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)
(Photo by Corey Perrine/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Reds were in a great place to turn the corner on their long rebuild.

The Cincinnati Reds aren’t quite done with their off-season or at least they shouldn’t be.  Their laundry list was help the bullpen, sign some veteran pitching depth and look for a back-up shortstop.  The bullpen is rebuilt, but the other two items remain undone.

The Reds signed a pair of 30-something year-old relievers to help set-up for Raisel Iglesias.  David Hernandez and Jared Hughes both came over on two year deals.  They should make the Reds’ bullpen better even if they regress to closer to the MLB reliever norm.

The Reds have done almost nothing to support a starting rotation that had to use sixteen different pitchers in 2017. Their only signing was Vance Worley and his days as an MLB starter are likely over.  That puts all of the pressure on the big three of Homer Bailey, Anthony DeSclafani, and Brandon Finnegan.

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On the defensive side of the ball, Jose Peraza is the center of attention.  He failed as the everyday starting second baseman in 2017, after looking like a great super sub the second half of 2016.  The Reds’ defensive plans all require him to be solid at short as the roster stands now.

Despite these holes the Cincinnati Reds are better heading into 2018, than they were in 2017.

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This isn’t a case of addition by subtraction.  This is a case of addition by experience.  Compared to the end of last season knowing what they have in new ace Luis Castillo is worth losing a season of service from Dan Straily.

Not only do the Reds know what they have in Castillo, but they know what they have in Austin Brice, the other player from that deal.  He looks like a middle reliever with closer upside.  Likely, he will start the season either in Cincinnati or closing for Louisville.

The addition of Hernandez and Hughes will also help.  In addition to being short on starting pitchers for much of the season, the Reds had to use starting prospects Cody Reed and Robert Stephenson in the bullpen to start 2017.  Now any extra starters will begin the season in Louisville’s starting rotation.

Next: When will the next group of prospects arrive?

Only time will tell if the Reds have really improved since last season.  Experience will help six of the eight position players be better professionals.  However, the real test will be how the pitching performs day in and day out.