Reds are walking fine line between competing for the playoffs and evaluating young talent

The Reds are trying to thread the needle. Will it work?

Cincinnati Reds shortstop Matt McLain and manager David Bell
Cincinnati Reds shortstop Matt McLain and manager David Bell / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

Coming into the season, the Cincinnati Reds were expected to be one of the worst teams in the league. After losing 100 games in 2022, many fans and pundits expected the same, if not worse, in 2023. But surprisingly, the Reds are ahead of schedule and are actually one game back in the NL Wild Card race.

The Reds sudden emergence as a playoff contender has caused some within the fanbase to become very anxious - seeing this season as the team's one and only chance to make a run at the postseason. After all, you never know when you're going to be this good again, right?

While there's some truth in that sentiment, that's not the focus of the Cincinnati Reds front office. Fans saw just one addition at the trade deadline, and an all-rookie starting infield on Sunday afternoon. That's not something that teams who are looking to make an aggressive push for the postseason typically do.

Reds are walking fine line between competing for the playoffs & evaluating young talent.

The Cincinnati Reds optioned Nick Senzel to Triple-A last month. While Senzel has struggled against right-handed pitching, are T.J. Hopkins, Henry Ramos, and Stuart Fairchild really better options? At this point in their careers, I tend to think the answer is no.

The Reds added Michael Siani for the upcoming roadtrip instead of the aforementioned Senzel, Jose Barrero, or even Matt Reynolds. While Siani is fast, he's a below-average hitter and will likely only contribute as a pinch-runner or defensive replacement late in games.

The Reds are walking that fine line between competing for a playoff spot while also trying to give their young players experience. While it's great to see Noelvi Marte get his feet wet in the big leagues, he was hitting just .204 during the month of August, and the team's infield was clutter before adding him to the active roster.

The Cincinnati Reds did not add a starting pitcher at the trade deadline because they knew that both Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo were on their way back from the injured list. While Greene's start was rough, there's every reason to believe he'll bounce back.

And for all those fans who were clamoring for the Reds to add another starter at the trade deadline, who in the rotation would you suggest they replace? Unless there's an innings-limit placed on one of their young arms, Greene, Lodolo, Brandon Williamson, Graham Ashcraft, and Andrew Abbott will look to finish out the season.

The Cincinnati faithful are excited to see their favorite team, for the first time in a long time, offer hope in terms of developing good, young talent. No matter how this season ends, it's a net-positive for the Reds organization and the fanbase.

That's not to say that the Cincinnati Reds are not playing to win this year, but they're not playing to win only this year. General manager Nick Krall and the Reds front office are looking for sustained success, and are going to use the remainder of the season to evaluate the team's young talent while also making a postseason push.