Cincinnati Reds: Recent transactions show commitment to winning now

MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 27: Phillip Ervin #6 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on against the Miami Marlins. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
MIAMI, FLORIDA - AUGUST 27: Phillip Ervin #6 of the Cincinnati Reds looks on against the Miami Marlins. (Photo by Michael Reaves/Getty Images) /

The Reds designated Phillip Ervin for assignment yesterday.

This is not the typical reaction we’re used to seeing from the Cincinnati Reds ownership, coaching staff and front office. Normally quite content to let things “play out”, several transactions over the last week or so have illustrated that the Reds are serious about their commitment to making a run at the postseason this year. Let’s hope it’s not too little, too late.

Yesterday, the Reds designated Phillip Ervin for assignment. The Cincinnati outfielder is out of minor-league options, so Ervin will have to clear waivers in order to remain with the team. Given the former first-round pick’s success against left-handed pitching last season, it would not be surprising for another team to take a flyer on the 28-year-old from Mobile, Alabama.

I expect Ervin to be claimed or traded in the coming days and his career with the Reds to be over. Ervin was unable to carry over the success he had from 2019 into the first month of this abbreviated season. After crushing left-handed pitching (.349/.411/.628) last season, Ervin snared only three hits in just 35 at-bats this season with no extra-base hits.

Phillip Ervin hasn’t been the only casualty over the past several days. The Reds traded Cody Reed last night after designating the left-hander for assignment just a few days ago. According to C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic, Cincinnati swapped Reed for the Tampa Bay Rays’ No. 20 overall prospect Riley O’Brien.

Reed, like Ervin, was out of minor-league options. After giving the southpaw chance after chance to make an impact in the rotation, Reed was moved to the bullpen last season. A key piece of the puzzle that sent Johnny Cueto to the Kansas City Royals, Reed never got going this season. In nine games, Reed’s ERA was 5.79 and his WHIP of 1.929 is less than ideal.

Don’t forget Pedro Strop. The right-handed reliever was brought in the offseason after spending the better part of his big league career with the Chicago Cubs. Strop pitched in four games, earning three strikeouts in just 2.1 innings of work while walking six of the 15 batters he faced this season.

We’ve also seen the Reds keep last summer’s sensation Aristides Aquino at the alternate site, move on from veteran infielder Christian Colón and option left-handed slugger Josh VanMeter and speedster Travis Jankowski to Prasco Park.

Perhaps the most earth-shattering news over the past couple days was the benching of six-time All-Star Joey Votto. Votto sat and watched the Cincinnati Reds dispatch of the Milwaukee Brewers during Thursday’s doubleheader and was a nonparticipant in last night’s 6-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs.

The Reds are 6-0 when Votto is not in the lineup. Let me be perfectly clear; he’s not been the only problem for this Cincinnati offense. Until recently, Eugenio Suárez was mired in a slump, Mike Moustakas has yet to break out and Shogo Akiyama has yet to show the level of skill at the plate that he displayed in Japan. However, Votto recognizes his faults, as he explained to

"“My tone may sound frustrated, but I’m responsible for that. We’re in the performance business, we’re in it to win. I’ve been a part of too many losses, and I need to be better for sure. It’s a new experience for me. I’ve played poorly before.”"

Expect to see Votto back in the lineup over the weekend. When he’s right, the Reds are a better team with him in the lineup. No, he’s not the Joey Votto of 2010 or even 2017, but his leadership, work ethic and plate discipline are necessary for this team to succeed.

Some fans have been overly critical of David Bell, Dick Williams and Nick Krall over the years for a lack of urgency. I’d say the transactions that we’ve seen the past few days illustrate how committed this year’s team is to winning.

Next. Does David Bell have the guts to make this move?

The Cincinnati Reds are riding a three-game win streak and have three important games over the next two days with the Chicago Cubs. Winning the series would put the Reds just two games back of the division lead, and a series sweep would put Cincinnati on the doorstep leading the NL Central themselves. The time is now and the Reds front office knows it.