There seems to be this overwhelming feeling throughout Reds Country that the Cincinnati Reds have no hope in 2021 because of an ineffective offseason. While the pursuit of a starting shortstop has fallen woefully short of expectations, all is not lost.
The Reds have yet to find their starting shortstop for the 2021 season, but it looks as though Cincinnati’s front office is closing in on signing Jonathan Villar. While it’s not the splashy free agent signing many were hoping for, the Reds will still field a competitive team during the upcoming season.
Don’t be so negative, Reds fans.
Sure, losing Trevor Bauer hurts, but there was no way he was ever going to return following his Cy Young-winning season. While every Reds fan would have loved to see Bauer back in a Reds uniform, it was a pipe dream.
Personally, I’m happy Cincinnati received draft compensation, and Bauer’s absence paves the way for Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene to enter the starting rotation. While I don’t expect either to crack the 40-man roster out of spring training, I wouldn’t be shocked if either pitcher made their major league debut in 2021.
Trading away Raisel Iglesias for a lesser reliever seems like a salary dump, but let’s not pretend that you were confident the Reds were walking out of Great American Ball Park as winners when Iggy stepped onto the mound in the ninth inning.
Don’t forget, Iglesias was one year removed from a 12-loss season. Lucas Sims and Amir Garrett represent a much more cost-effective replacement for a closer who was due over $9M in the final year of his deal.
We’ve also seen a reluctance on behalf of the Cincinnati Reds ownership and front office to spend money this offseason. Welcome to Major League Baseball following a 60-game season with no gate revenue. Furthermore, don’t forget, Cincinnati spent big last offseason and got little to nothing in return.
The Reds dropped $166M on Nick Castellanos, Wade Miley, Shogo Akiyama, Mike Moustakas, and Pedro Strop last winter. That quintet combined for 0.8 WAR in 2020. Miley alone was responsible for double that (1.6 WAR) in 2019.
Since Akiyama was rookie, there’s no way to accurately measure his previous contributions, but the other four players combined for 6.2 WAR during the 2019 season. If I were in Bob Castellini’s shoes, after seeing the ridiculously poor execution on behalf of my prized free agent signings, I might be a bit gun shy about spending money this winter as well.
The bottom line is, last winter, you could make the argument that the Cincinnati Reds and Chicago White Sox were the clear “winners” of the offseason. Though adding Mookie Betts certainly helped the Los Angeles Dodgers to their first World Series title in over 30 years.
My point is, don’t get so caught up in the offseason. We’re hopeful to have a 162-game season in 2021. The Reds were the favorites among most pundits to win the National League Central in 2020. Cincinnati barely squeaked into the postseason, and only because of extenuating circumstances that led to an expanded playoff.
Heading into the 2021 season, the St. Louis Cardinals are the clear frontrunners to take home the NL Central crown. But don’t be so quick to anoint St. Louis as the runaway favorites. Just because the Reds haven’t won the offseason doesn’t mean they won’t contend.