Grading Reds' offseason moves after start of 2024 season

The Reds made a lot of moves this past winter.
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Frankie Montas
Cincinnati Reds pitcher Frankie Montas / Tim Nwachukwu/GettyImages

Unlike the past few offseasons, the Cincinnati Reds targeted a large number of free agents this past winter. And we're not talking about a bunch of non-roster invitees on minor-league deals, the Reds actually invested over $100 million in free agency this past offseason.

Now, we're in the infancy of the 2024 season, and a lot can change between now and the dog days of summer, but Reds fans have to like most of what they've seen from the club's new additions, right?

Though not every offseason addition has had the chance to make a major impact, the Reds have received some type of contribution from all the new (and some not-so-new) faces in Cincinnati's clubhouse. Let's put an early-season grade on all the Reds' offseason moves.

Reds sign RHP Emilio Pagán to two-year, $16 million deal

Grade: C

Emilio Pagán was one of the first free agent signings the Reds made this past offseason. After the 2023 campaign that saw the Reds exhaust the relief corps down the stretch, adding a plethora of veteran arms was obviously a point of emphasis for Nick Krall and Co. this past winter.

Pagán has made a few appearances this season, and the home run has been a problem. Pagán's 36.4% strikeout rate is among the best in the league, and though that number is likely to come down a touch in the coming weeks, the right-hander is striking opposing batters out and not letting them reach via the walk. Those are two good things to have in a reliever. But the veteran needs to keep the ball in the ballpark.

Reds sign RHP Frankie Montas to 1-year, $16 million deal

Grade: A

What more can you say about Frankie Montas? Arguably the biggest need the Reds had coming into the 2023 season was a veteran starter. Cincinnati got that with the addition of Montas. The Reds Opening Day starter has been everything the team expected, and more since his debut on March 28th.

Reds fans will love watching Montas pitch this season. The former Oakland A's ace has a strong desire to control the at-bat in three pitches or less. That should lead to a lot of six and seven-inning outings for the veteran as the season moves along.

Reds re-sign C Luke Maile to one-year, $3.5 million contract

Grade: B+

This signing was so long ago that many Reds fans probably forgot that Luke Maile was a free agent. The Reds backup catcher became a true leader on the field and in the clubhouse, and the Kentucky native was rewarded with a one-year contract extension that will keep him in the tri-state area for at least another year.

While the bat has yet to come around, Tyler Stephenson looks much improved defensively this season. But having Maile as your No. 2 has to be very reassuring for Reds manager David Bell. Maile's value to this team will only increase as the season progresses.

Reds sign 3B Jeimer Candelario to three-year, $45 million deal

Grade: B-

This signing has yet to pay major dividends, but Jeimer Candelario has been slowed by an elbow injury. Thankfully that didn't end with Candelario's placement on the injured list, as Cincinnati can ill-afford another infielder to hit the IL.

Candelario's bat was rather quiet during the Reds' first series against the Washington Nationals, but has been heating up of late. Don't sleep on the Candy Man turning into a doubles-machine as the summer heats up in Cincinnati. At the very least, Candelario is helping to offset the early-season losses of Matt McLain and Noelvi Marte, but the Cincinnati faithful will want to see his bat get going in the coming weeks.

Reds trade for Blue Jays 2B Santiago Espinal

Grade: C+

This was an unexpected, but necessary trade on the part of the Reds front office. Before the final details of McLain's injury were divulged, the Reds decided to be proactive and swing a trade for Santiago Espinal. The former All-Star had become expendable on a Toronto Blue Jays roster loaded with infield talent.

Espinal is still getting his feet under him, so it's a bit unfair to be overly critical of the 29-year-old seeing as how he's probably only had a conversation half of his teammates and coaches to this point. Espinal will be an important part of the Reds roster until McLain and Marte return.

Reds sign RHP Nick Martinez to two-year, $26 million deal

Grade: B-

By the end of the season, Reds fans may be referring to the contract offer to Nick Martinez as the biggest offseason move the Reds made. Martinez is a Swiss Army knife of sorts, but at the moment, he's part of the Cincinnati starting rotation. Don't let Saturday's performance distract you; Martinez was one pitch away from getting out of a base-loaded jam, and it ended in a four-spot. That's baseball.

How Martinez and Andrew Abbott fare in their next starts will go a long way toward deciding how Bell will add Nick Lodolo back to the rotation. The former first-round pick is expected to return on April 12th. When Lodolo is added back to the roster, either Martinez will join the bullpen or Abbott will be optioned back to Triple-A. But no matter where he pitches Martinez will be an important piece of the Reds roster this season.

Reds sign LHP Brent Suter to one-year, $3 million deal

Grade: B

Brent Suter has had some up and down, but it's good to have the Cincinnati native back in the Queen City. Bell has used Suter more than any other reliever to this point in the season, and the southpaw has had mixed results.

Suter will take on that role that Derek Law had the past two seasons. Expect to see Suter continue to operate in multiple roles, and when (not if) Bell decides to use an opener this season, Suter or Fernando Cruz is likely to get the call.

Reds sign 2B Jonathan India to two-year, $8.8 million contract extension

Grade: A-

Jonathan India is seeing the ball well to begin this season. While the former NL Rookie of the Year doesn't have as many results to show for his performance, India is hitting the ball harder, he's not striking out, and he's drawing a lot of walks.

Did the Reds need to sign India to a two-year extension? Not really, but it was important for India to see how much he is valued by the ownership and front office. It was also a signal to his teammates that India was not going to be traded this offseason. Without McLain and Marte, the Reds and their fanbase are certainly glad to have India back in the fold.

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