Cincinnati Reds: New approach offers hope for the future

CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 09: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts after a two-run home run in the second inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on August 9, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - AUGUST 09: Aristides Aquino #44 of the Cincinnati Reds reacts after a two-run home run in the second inning against the Chicago Cubs at Great American Ball Park on August 9, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)

The Cincinnati Reds have made some atypical moves throughout the offseason and during the 2019 season as well. This new approach is a breath of fresh air.

The Cincinnati Reds designated David Hernandez for assignment yesterday. While most will say that the move was necessary, and I tend to agree, it’s definitely not the typical approach we’re used to seeing from Cincinnati’s front office. Have you noticed a change in the way the Reds have done business this year?

Okay, hear me out. I’m not saying that David Hernandez should have remained with the team. His production had fallen well below what could be deemed acceptable. Over his last 10 appearances, Hernandez had allowed 20 hits, including 5 home runs, and his ERA over that span was 24.43.

However, did you really think that the Reds were going to release Hernandez? Be honest. The Reds track record suggests that the team will often hang onto an unproductive player because he’s either a great “clubhouse guy” or a fan favorite. But that notion seems to have taken a turn of late.

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Already this year, the Reds have non-tendered Billy Hamilton, released Zach Duke, traded Yasiel Puig, and sent their top prospect to the San Diego Padres. That doesn’t sound like the Cincinnati Reds that I know. However, it’s a breath of fresh air.

Again, I’m not saying any of those moves were unwarranted. In fact, I love every single one of them. Hamilton, while a fan favorite, was atrocious at the plate. While Nick Senzel, the Reds top prospect entering the 2019 season, does not have Hamilton’s elite speed, he’s more than capable of playing the position. How many fly balls has Senzel missed that Hamilton would’ve caught?

Both Duke and Hernandez, by all accounts, are good guys and soldi veterans that any team would love to have in their clubhouse. However, if you’re not producing, how much does being a “great clubhouse guy” mean? Hernandez had a 8.02 ERA and a -1.9 WAR on the season. In 30 games this season, Duke had as many strikeouts as walks and owned a 5.01 ERA.

Puig being traded to the Cleveland Indians at the trade deadline was a bit of a bummer to several fans. The right fielder brought a fun and flare to the game and his antics were amusing. He also produced at the plate with 22 home runs and 61 RBIs. Puig’s arm was also very intimidating to opposing base runners, most of whom would not test it.

However, Puig was in the final year of his contract and was to be a free agent this coming offseason. Were the Reds going to shell out a boatload of cash to keep Puig in Cincinnati? Obviously not, or else they would not have traded him to the Indians. In return, the Reds landed Trevor Bauer who proved last night that he can be a big part of the Reds rotation this year and next.

Since Puig was traded to Cleveland, the Reds seem to have found a nice replacement in Aristides Aquino. The 25-year-old has burst onto the scene and is hitting .417 with 4 home runs and 10 RBIs in just 24 at-bats. Though it’s early, Aquino looks like a star in the making and will not become a free agent until 2025.

Even if Aquino is not the long-term answer in right field, the Cincinnati Reds have two other former first-round picks that could answer the bell. Jesse Winker and Phillip Ervin are capable corner outfielders and both are under team control for the foreseeable future. Don’t forget about Josh VanMeter, the recently promoted Brian O’Grady, and another up and coming prospect in Jose Siri.

Speaking of prospects, one of the biggest moves the Cincinnati Reds made this season was the trade deadline deal that sent Taylor Trammell, the team’s top prospect to the Padres. When was the last time you remember the Reds giving away a top prospect? Sure, Yasmai Grandal was part of big trade in 2011 and infielder Didi Gregorius was traded in 2012, but neither was the team’s No. 1 overall prospect.

Trammell is projected to be a sure-fire major league player with star potential. He’s a Top 30 prospect according to MLB Pipeline and was thought to have been a big part of the Reds outfield in the coming years. But Cincinnati sacrificed the potential future for the winning now. Trammell was a key part of the deal that brought Bauer to Cincinnati.

The approach of the Cincinnati Reds front office is vastly different this season than we’ve seen in years past. We’ve seen the Reds hang onto players like Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce, only to miss out on a big return. The Reds kept Matt Harvey past the deadline last year and netted nothing in return. All too often we’ve seen the Reds approach fall short of fan’s expectations.

This season has a different vibe. For the first time in a longtime, Reds Country is on the edge of their seats in August as the Reds sit just 4.5 games back in the hunt for the Wild Card. Baseball in August means something this year.

While a run at the postseason seems a bit unlikely, 10.4% according to Baseball Reference, it’s still out there. With the Cincinnati Reds current starting rotation, they can go toe-to-toe with anyone in the National League. If the bats stay hot, we could still be watching meaningful baseball into September.

Aquino is showcasing his star potential. Next

The moves that the Reds front office has made this season are very different than what we’ve seen in year’s past. These moves are aggressive and while they may help with the team’s short-term success, there’s an eye towards the future as well. Get excited folks, it’s August, and the Reds are still in this thing.