Cincinnati Reds window of contention goes beyond 2020

CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 30: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds is congratulated by Nick Senzel #15 (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - JUNE 30: Eugenio Suarez #7 of the Cincinnati Reds is congratulated by Nick Senzel #15 (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Don’t be so quick to dismiss the Reds chances to contend beyond 2020.

Fans of the Cincinnati Reds are starved for their team to be competitive. After six straight seasons of missing the postseason, Reds Country was eager to see winning baseball. The coronavirus pandemic has caused some fans to bemoan the fact that Cincinnati may miss out on a golden opportunity, however, the team is built to contend well beyond 2020.

Let’s first look at the Reds core. You have to first begin with the starting pitching. Luis Castillo earned his first trip to the All-Star Game in 2019 and was joined by teammate Sonny Gray. Both Castillo and Gray will both be in Cincinnati through at least 2022. Gray has an option for the 2023 season, after which both he and Castillo can become free agents.

While both Anthony DeSclafani and Trevor Bauer are free agents after his year, who knows what the market is going to look like this winter. There’s a good chance that Bauer and Disco may have to settle for one-year deals due to the economic impact the pandemic has had on the baseball world. While both may not return, one, or perhaps both could.

The Reds would still maintain the services of left-hander Wade Miley. A sturdy veteran presence, Miley will be with Cincinnati through at least next season. Add to the stable the likes of Tyler Mahle, who started 25 games last season, and the Reds have a talented group of hurlers.

Then you have to look that the farm system. Cincinnati’s top two talents are starting pitchers. Nick Lodolo may see a major league field this season, but more likely next season. If Hunter Greene’s rehab goes as planned, one of the most electric young players in the Reds organization could be on the mound come 2022.

The Reds also have youngsters Tony Santillan, Tejay Antone, Lyon Richardson, Vladimir Gutierrez, Jacob Heatherly and Packy Naughton ranked among their Top 20 prospects according to MLB Pipeline. The Reds have invested in their pitching, and could add another top-level pitching talent during June’s draft as well.

Looking at the other side of the ball, Cincinnati has Venezuelan slugger Eugenio Suárez on a sweet deal that keeps the Reds third baseman in the Queen City through at least 2024. Mike Moustakas, a three-time All-Star and big-time free agent pick up, will be in Cincinnati through at least 2023.

Freddy Galvis is a free agent after this season, but Jose Garcia opened some eyes this past spring and could find his way to Cincinnati in the next year or two. His future looks very bright, as does another one of the Reds top prospects, Tyler Stephenson. After a breakout season at the dish in 2019, Stephenson is looking to find a spot behind the plate for the Reds.

Regardless, Tucker Barnhart will still be in Reds uniform through 2021, and perhaps 2022. Joey Votto, the Reds $25-million man, is under contract through 2023. While his production has taken a dip the past two seasons, Votto is still a leader in the clubhouse and capable of owning an on-base percentage of .375 or higher.

Cincinnati’s outfield is overflowing with talent. After adding centerfielder Shogo Akiyama to a three-year deal, Dick Williams and Nick Krall also brought in right-handed slugger Nick Castellanos on a four-year deal. While Castellanos can opt out after the 2020 season, given the current economic climate in Major League Baseball, that may not be a wise choice.

The front office has big hopes for last year’s rookie Nick Senzel, who won’t become a free agent until after the 2025 season. The same can be said for last year’s surprise rookie Josh VanMeter and Aristides Aquino, who wowed Reds fans with his power-packed performance in August.

Jesse Winker and Phillip Ervin will still be on the Reds roster beyond 2020, as will utility infielder Kyle Farmer. None of those three players had a major impact on Cincinnati’s performance in 2019, but all three would be solid pieces on a winning team.

Aside from Pedro Strop, everyone in the Reds bullpen can return after 2020. Amir Garrett will enter arbitration for the first time and Michael Lorenzen will be one year away from free agency. Robert Stephenson, one of the biggest surprises for Cincinnati last year, doesn’t become a free agent until after the 2023 season.

Next. Gutierrez is a solid option for the Reds taxi squad

No need for doom and gloom folks. The Cincinnati Reds, while definitely set to be competitive this season, are built for the long haul. The Reds have four players (Bauer, DeSclafani, Galvis and Strop) set to hit free agency next winter, but otherwise return the majority of this year’s roster.