The Cincinnati Reds front office has made some pretty big moves in the last couple of weeks. We attempt to answer one question; what do these trade deals mean for the 2019 starting rotation?
Cincinnati Reds fans are used to receiving empty promises from the front office. We have seen fruitless trades and deals that haven’t payed off yet. It would seem, however, that things are changing in Reds Country. In the last two weeks the Reds front office has made big trades.
The first came during Winter Meetings, when the Cincinnati Reds sent pitcher Tanner Rainey to the Washington Nationals in exchange for right-hander Tanner Roark. Roark will be added to the Reds starting rotation and is expected to be a middle-of-the-rotation guy. With 148 strikeouts in just over 180 innings pitched and a 4.34 ERA last year, we can expect that Roark will be a solid addition to the rotation.
The second trade, finalized last week, was a blockbuster of a deal. The Reds acquired pitcher Alex Wood, as well as position players Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Kyle Farmer. The Dodgers secured prospects Jeter Downs and Josiah Gray, along with veteran pitcher Homer Bailey, who has since been released.
Puig, for obvious reasons, is the acquisition that most people seem excited to see come to Cincy. However, the addition of Wood to the starting rotation should not be undersold. Wood went 9-7 last year in LA and posted a 3.68 ERA with 135 strikeouts over 151.2 innings.
These two moves fill two of the three open spots in the rotation. So, if the Cincinnati Reds do not make any other pitching moves this off season, we can project that the 2019 rotation will look something like this:
- Alex Wood
- Luis Castillo
- Tanner Roark
- Anthony DeSclafani
The fifth spot is still up for grabs and could be filled a few different ways there is a chance it could be filled in house by most likely either Tyler Mahle, Cody Reed, or some combination of the two. But, it’s only December. There is still a chance that another move could be made.
This will already be a much stronger rotation in 2019 than it was last season. But if another experienced pitcher can be added to the top of the rotation this team will become a force to be reckoned with. There are a few valuable free agents left on the market.
The most talked about and desired is the lefty Dallas Keuchel. Keuchel is a two-time All Star, a Cy Young Award winner, and a four-time Gold Glove Award winner (including 2018). He posted a 3.74 ERA last season with 153 strikeouts in over 204 innings.
Keuchel only allowed 18 home runs this season, an important factor to consider with Great American Ball Park being the hitter’s paradise it is. He also has potential to be the left-handed ace the Cincinnati Reds have been looking for against division rivals.
The only big problem with Keuchel is the high price tag that will come with him. Shedding Bailey’s $23M contract and Billy Hamilton’s salary (likely $6M-plus) will help with that, but they also picked up four new salaries in that deal with the Dodgers. The Reds would probably have to move another player off their roster to afford Keuchel.
The best deal they could make, in my opinion, to get another pitcher would be to jump in on the trade talks with the Cleveland Indians. It has been rumored that the Indians have entertained offers for starters Corey Kluber and Trevor Bauer. Either of these pitchers would be an excellent addition to the Cincinnati Reds rotation. There are several teams who have reportedly expressed interest in both of them, including the Dodgers.
Reports have said that the Indians inquired about Nick Senzel and Taylor Trammell in trade talks. The Reds will more than likely not be willing to part with their two top prospects for one pitcher, but I could see them sending one of the two to Cleveland. If I were in the Reds front office, I would put together a package of Taylor Trammell, Matt Kemp, and Brandon Finnegan in exchange for either Kluber or Bauer.
Kemp is a excellent bat, but there is already a lot of talent in the Reds outfield. Winker in left, Schebler in center, and Puig in right would be a very strong outfield and a very strong presence at the plate. Throwing in Finnegan would just be clearing a spot on the roster after his less than thrilling performance last season.
I think that no matter how the Cincinnati Reds fill the final spot in their starting rotation, be it in-house or otherwise, we are going to be seeing a very different Reds team in 2019. There is a new energy and confidence in Reds Country that we haven’t seen in a while. I for one cannot wait to see what the new season will bring.