The Reds should use the Bengals offseason as a template

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) delivers in the first inning of a baseball game
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Sonny Gray (54) delivers in the first inning of a baseball game / Kareem Elgazzar via Imagn Content

With many fans and organizations are waiting for the Player's Association and Major League Baseball to come to an agreement, Reds Country will be speculating whether or not their team will be aggressive or conservative after the MLB lockout

Before the owners locked the players out, the Cincinnati Reds made many questionable and surprising moves such as trading two-time Gold Glove Award-winning catcher Tucker Barnhart and the head-scratching move that saw Wade Miley claimed off waivers by the Chicago Cubs.

Perhaps the Reds should take notes from their neighbors down the road. After years of futility, the Cincinnati Bengals are primed for run at the AFC title. Maybe Nick Krall needs to give Katie Blackburn and Dick Tobin a call.

The Bengals offseason should be a template for the Reds.

In 2020, the Cincinnati Bengals drafted quarterback Joe Burrow with ther first-overall picked and then complemented the signal caller with a weapon in the second-round; wide receiver Tee Higgins. Last year's draft saw the Bengals forgo adding an offensive lineman and select Ja'Marr Chase with the No. 5 overall pick. All Chase has done is shatter rookie and team receiving records this year.

In 2020, the Bengals had trouble on the defensive side of the ball, so over the offseason, Cincinnati added cheap, quality cornerbacks in Chidobe Awuzie and Mike Hilton. Awuzie is the second-highest graded corner in the league according to PFF and Hilton has been a quality starter this season.

The Bengals also made the questionable, yet shrewd addition to their defensive line with the four-year/$60M contract handed out to Trey Hendrickson. The former Saint has lived up to the billing and is now a Pro Bowler and among the best sack artists in the game.

The Bengals also shed some dead weight last season when they let go of past performers Carlos Dunlap via trade and released long time defensive tackle Geno Atkins. Both were stellar performers during their time in Cincinnati, but the glory days had passed them by.

How can the Reds mimic the Bengals offseason strategy?

So how can the Cincinnati Reds follow suit? Let's start by dumping infielder Mike Moustakas and Shogo Akiyama. Moustakas hasn't lived up to the four-year/$64M contract he signed in 2020. Moose been unable to stay healthy which has contributed to his -0.8 WAR. While also putting up a miserable 22% strikeout percentage.

Akiyama became the first Japanese-born player to wear a Cincinnati Reds uniform, but that's about where the accolades stop. While some of Akiyama's struggles can be chalked up to lack of playing time and the COVID-19 pandemic that shutdown spring training in 2020, in his two seasons, Akiyama only has an OPS of .594 and no home runs over 300 at bats.

If the Reds can shed the $24M worth of payroll tied up in those two underperforming and aging players, Cincinnati would have the cash available to dole out a nice contract to last year's best player; Nick Castellanos.

The Reds could also go after some lesser names on the free agent market. Perhaps pitchers like Zach Davies and Carlos Martinez, both of whom have familiarity in the division, could be had for a relatively inexpensive price. Martinez may be the most overlooked pitcher on the market with 62 career wins and a 3.74 ERA.

Martinez, in his career, holds a 22.5% strikeout-rate and a 52.3 ground ball rate. Davies could be a nice addition to the back of the Cincinnati rotation. During his career, the 28-year-old has posted a solid, but not spectacular, 4.14 ERA. Davies was a finalist for the 2021 Rawlings Gold Glove Award, but lost out to Atlanta's Max Fried.

The Cincinnati Bengals solved their problems from a year ago with underrated free agent additions, smart draft choices, and shedding payroll by dumping large contracts that no longer brought value to the team.

Next. 5 minor league predictions for the Reds in 2022. dark

Baseball makes it a bit difficult to jus move on from a player's salary, but it's doable. Cincinnati would just have to include some upper-level prospects in a potential trade. It's time for the Reds to follow the Bengals lead; wow that feels strange to write.