The Cincinnati Reds are likely to make a few moves at this year's MLB trade deadline. But fans shouldn't look for the team to break the bank when it comes to sacrificing some of their top prospects.
One area the Reds should certainly target before August 1st is the bullpen. While a starter could also be on Cincinnati's radar, relievers are typically less expensive in terms of the prospect capital required to pull off a deal.
Many Reds fans advocated for the front office to add former closer Aroldis Chapman, but unfortunately, the left-hander was dealt to the Texas Rangers. The Kansas City Royals still at least one reliever remaining in the bullpen that may pique the Reds' interest.
With Aroldis Chapman off the board, Royals reliever Scott Barlow should be on the Reds radar.
The biggest hole in the Cincinnati Reds bullpen centers around the lack of a left-handed reliever, but that isn't the only area of this team that could use an upgrade. Kansas City Royals relief pitcher Scott Barlow will be on the move at the trade deadline and should definitely be on the Reds radar.
Barlow would be a significant upgrade over current Cincinnati relievers like right-handers Daniel Duarte and Fernando Cruz. The Royals closer was tremendous in Kansas City in his previous two seasons, posting an ERA of 2.42 in 2021 and 2.18 in 2022.
This season, however, Barlow has seen his ERA rise to 4.09, but the 30-year-old has 44 strikeouts in just 32 outings. Barlow's 3.25 FIP is a difference of nearly one run, and his xFIP, according to FanGraphs, is sitting at 3.18.
Adding another high-leverage reliever like Barlow to bolster the back end of the bullpen would take a lot of pressure off the shoulders of Lucas Sims and Alexis Diaz; both of whom have been overused throughout the first half of the 2023 season.
Scott Barlow is under team-control for one more season, but his $5.3M contract is more than affordable for the Cincinnati Reds. If the right-hander recaptures the level of success he enjoyed in 2021 and 2022, the Reds could retain Barlow through arbitration.