3 backup plans if the Reds don't trade for Tyler Glasnow or Shane Bieber

How can the Reds move forward this offseason if they miss out on one of their top trade targets?

Cleveland Guardians pitcher Shane Bieber
Cleveland Guardians pitcher Shane Bieber / Jason Miller/GettyImages
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The Cincinnati Reds have added two pitchers through free agency, but one would assume that president of baseball operations Nick Krall is not done adding to the roster.

Cincinanti has been a rumored destination for two of the top hurlers on the trade market - Tyler Glasnow and Shane Bieber. Both players are free agents after the 2024 season and would be short-term solutions for the Reds rotation.

But what if the Reds fail to land Glasnow or Bieber? In the event that Cincinnati is incapable of adding either pitcher, what is the team's backup plan?

1. The Reds turn their attention back to the free agent market

If the Cincinnati Reds fail to acquire either Tyler Glasnow or Shane Bieber, the front office can quickly turn their attention back to the free agent market. In fact, some would argue that signing a free agent starter is a better strategy in the first place.

Signing a free agent starter would eliminate the need for the Reds to give up anything in return. While Glasnow and Bieber, both of whom are essentially one-year rentals, wouldn't come with a huge price tag, the Reds are still in the early stages of rebuilding their entire roster and may not want to sacrifice any of their top prospects.

There are several free agents still available who could perform as good, if not better than Glasnow or Bieber. Eduardo Rodriguez, Jordan Montgomery, and Shota Imanaga are three names that could provide added depth to the Reds rotation without sending assets to Cleveland or Tampa Bay.

It is, of course, costly to sign any of the top-flight starters currently on the open market. But Tyler Glasnow is owed $25 million next season and Shane Bieber is likely to take home north of $12 million. The Reds might be best served just investing in a free agent starting pitcher instead.

2. The Reds stand pat and enter 2024 with what they've already got

This has the potential to be an extremely unpopular opinion, and yet, there are several fans throughout Reds Country who would absolutely love this concept. After adding Nick Martinez this past week, have the Cincinnati Reds already done enough to bolster their rotation heading into 2024?

Seeing as how fans were clamoring for the Reds to just add a starter at last year's trade deadline in order to turn Cincinnati into a playoff team, the short answer is, yes. But, there's a HUGE cavaet that is attached to this concept.

The Cincinnati Reds, with the addition of Marintez, have seven pitchers who are capable of starting for the team on Opening Day next season. However, none of those players have gone over 150 innings pitched in a single season.

Can the Reds really rely on Martinez, Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Graham Ashcraft, Connor Phillips, Andrew Abbott, and Brandon Williamson to get them through a 162-game season? That's certainly a gamble.

If the goal is to get an average of six inning per start out of the those seven pitchers, each of them would have to surpass at least 135 innings of work in 2024. Last season, only Ashcraft logged over 135 innings pitched in the major leagues.

There are others like Lyon Richardson, Carson Spiers, and Levi Stoudt who could contribute as well. This backup plan may not be as popular as adding a free agent, but it would allow the Reds to perhaps take the savings and address the bullpen instead.

3. The Reds swing for the fences and trade for Dylan Cease

This would be a costly, yet potentially franchise-altering trade. The Chicago White Sox are known to be shopping nearly every player on their major league roster. That includes slugger Eloy Jimenez and starting pitcher Dylan Cease.

The biggest advantage that a deal for Cease has over trading for Tyler Glasnow or Shane Bieber is the additional year of team control. Glasnow and Bieber will be free agents next winter while Cease doesn't hit the open market until after the 2025 season.

However, that additional year comes with a cost, and that cost is a much more lucrative trade package. The Cincinnati Reds know all too well what those type of deals look like.

Remember how much the Reds got in return for Luis Castillo at the 2022 MLB trade deadline? If you don't think Dylan Cease is as good as Castillo, how about Tyler Mahle? That trade yielded the Reds Spencer Steer, Christian Encarnacion-Strand, and a pitcher who'd later be dealt in exchange for Will Benson.

If you were Nick Krall, would you give up a package of Steer, Encarnacion-Strand, and Benson for two years of Cease? If not, you'd better think long and hard about whether or not it makes sense to pivot from Glasnow or Bieber to Cease.

But the possibility of trading for Dylan Cease is definitely on the table, and the Cincinnati Reds have the assets to get a deal done. It's just a matter of whether or not pulling the trigger on such a trade is wise.