The 2021 season didn't end how Reds Country had hoped. Their team was in the playoff hunt until the final week of the season only to see the St. Louis Cardinals claim the final Wild Card spot. But hey, at least they only lasted one game, right?
The Cincinnati Reds front office will have some very difficult decisions to make in the coming weeks and months. Will Tucker Barnhart and Wade Miley have their club-options picked up? Will Nick Castellanos return? What does the offseason budget look like?
In order to answer some of those questions, we'll have to wait until after the World Series. But there are some bright spots, regardless of what transpires this winter, that should excite the fanbase as the offseason is set to begin.
1. The Reds have a good, young core of players.
While players like Joey Votto, Sonny Gray, Mike Moustakas, Wade Miley, and Shogo Akiyama are on the wrong side of 30, the Cincinnati Reds allowed some of their young up-and-comers to take the field in 2021. And guess what? They had success.
Jonathan India is likely to be the first Reds position player since Chris Sabo in 1988 to take home NL Rookie of the Year honors. India was a breath of fresh air and a key piece of last year's high-scoring offense. David Bell should already have his leadoff hitter and second baseman penciled in for 2022.
Tyler Stephenson will likely become the everyday catcher for the Reds in 2022. Regardless of whether or not Tucker Barnhart returns to Cincinnati, Stephenson will get the lion's share of starts behind the dish next season.
Jose Barrero got a taste of the major leagues again in 2021 after making his debut during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season. It'll be interesting to see if the Barrero in center field experiment continues or if the 23-year-old supplants Kyle Farmer at shortstop next season.
Some young pitchers made their debut in 2021 as well. Reiver Sanmartin, Vladimir Gutierrez, and Tony Santillan all look to be important pieces of the Cincinnati pitching staff heading into 2022.
There's also rookie hurlers Dauri Moreta, Riley O'Brien, and Ryan Hendrix who could all important parts of the Reds' bullpen next season.
The Cincinnati Reds will undoubtedly have to rely on the likes of Votto, Jesse Winker, Luis Castillo, and Tyler Mahle in 2022, but having a good young core is important. Not just for next season, but for the next several years as well.