After a record-breaking spending spree last offseason, the delayed 2020 season may cause the Cincinnati Reds to cut payroll in 2021.
According to ESPN’s Buster Olney, at least one ownership group has already instructed its front office to cut payroll for the 2021 season. This should be expected, as the coronavirus pandemic has caused Major League Baseball to hit the pause button, causing a loss of revenue for every major league club. It’s a good bet that the Cincinnati Reds would cut payroll in 2021 as well.
No one yet knows when or if the 2020 baseball season will get underway. It’s been rumored that we may see baseball as soon as early-July, but owners and the Player’s Association still must meet and discuss the parameters of such a restart. Chief among the concerns is the health of the players and those present at games, but also the financial impact of a shortened-season.
Now, if the Reds decide to cut payroll, there’s a few different options. Cutting a player gives them no financial relief, so for the small cluster of fans thinking that releasing Joey Votto would cut Cincinnati’s payroll, think again. Unlike the NFL, Major League Baseball offers guaranteed contracts.
Trades are certainly a way that the Reds and other clubs could lessen their financial commitments. Some players who have a higher salary could be deemed expendable and shipped to another team for a young prospect that might not be as expensive.
Who might those players be? Well, Mike Moustakas, Sonny Gray, Wade Miley, Raisel Iglesias and Eugenio Suárez definitely fit the mold of tradable assets that would give Cincinnati financial relief. However, I don’t see that as a viable option for the Reds. Players like Moustakas, Gray and Suárez are vital to the long-term success of the club.
The most likely way that a team like the Cincinnati Reds could tighten the pursestrings is to non-tender a few players looking for a pay raise come next fall. That list would include any players who are arbitration-eligible. Michael Lorenzen, Jesse Winker, Phillip Ervin and Luis Castillo fall into that category.
Again, those specific players are unlikely to be non-tendered because of their long-term value to the club, but a player like Matt Bowman or Curt Casali may not be so lucky. Bowman is a reliever, and with so many options in the farm system, the front office could deem him expendable. Casali has young catching prospect Tyler Stephenson nipping at his heels.
While it’s unclear what the Cincinnati Reds or any major league franchise may have to do in order to make their budget work in 2020 and beyond. The most likely scenario for Cincinnati to shed salary would be a trade, but that means another team would have to take on the salary. It’s unlikely there’ll be many takers.