Before you lose your mind and go on a 20-minute rant about Bob Castellini's lack of spending, David Bell's ineptitude, and Nick Krall's incompetence, just give me a minute to explain.
Yes, the Cincinnati Reds are bad. Heck, I'd go as far as to say they're absolutely awful and sometimes even unwatchable. But this team is not "tanking".
No, unfortunately, the Reds are doing something entirely different. They set out this offseason to sell off some of their best talent with an eye toward saving money and acquiring talented prospects. At the same time, in an attempt to remain relevant, they made some unwise investments on the backside.
Despite their win-loss record, the Reds are not tanking.
If the Cincinnati Reds were actually tanking, Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle would have been traded before the 2022 season began. Both right-handers were rumored to be on the trade block, but after ridding themselves of both Sonny Gray and Wade Miley, that seemed to make enough of dent in the payroll to satisfy Bob Castellini.
Now, will we see Cincinnati look to deal both Castillo and Mahle before the trade deadline? You bet your bottom dollar we will. By that time, the Reds might be 30-plus games out of first-place and it wouldn't make any sense whatsoever to hang on to either one of their talented starters.
In a move that made absolutely zero sense and shows that Cincinnati isn't tanking, the front office traded Amir Garrett to the Kansas City Royals in exchange for Mike Minor. Why? I have no earthly idea.
But if the Reds were tanking, they would not have traded one of their young relievers who still had two years of team control remaining for an aging veteran pitcher who's yet to even toe the rubber in 2022. Even worse is the fact that Cincinnati took on Minor's $10M salary. A team that's tanking doesn't take on salary, they make trades in order to get it off the books.
Finally, if the Cincinnati Reds really were tanking, they would have manipulated the service time of both Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene. Instead, both pitchers were on the Reds Opening Day roster. Well, Lodolo came along a few days later, but for all intents and purposes, he was on the Opening Day roster.
According to Cot's Baseball Contracts, the Cincinnati Reds payroll of $114M ranks 21st out of all 30 MLB teams. If the Reds were tanking, they'd have a payroll approaching that of the Pittsburgh Pirates ($55.7M) or the Arizona Diamondbacks ($90.6M).
Unfortunately, what the Reds are doing isn't tanking. I think the fans would actually be more receptive if that's what it was. Nope, this is just an absolute failure on the part of ownership, the front office, the coaches, and the players.