Reds standing fairly pat in offseason may have been prudent decision
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - With Reds spring training games underway it's probably hit Reds' fans hard that the team made very few offseason moves and certainly none of any major significance to improve the team.
"They should have done something ... anything," they say.
That's an understandable sentiment for a team coming off a 68-94 season and for a franchise that has had three straight 90-plus loss seasons and hasn't posted a winning record since 2013.
That doesn't mean making major moves this offseason would have been the right thing to do.
The 2018 season should be one for some final discovery on which players to build around moving forward.
It's time to find out what some of the young starting pitchers are really capable of doing.
Can Anthony DeSclafani stay healthy enough to be a solid contributor to the rotation that he appeared to be in 2015 and 2016?
Can Brandon Finnegan not only bounce back from his injury issues that led to him missing almost all of the 2017 season and take a step forward from his solid 2016 season?
Can Luis Castillo be as effective as he was in 15 starts last season (3.12 ERA, 1.075 WHIP and 98 strikeouts in 89 innings) over a full 30-start season? If he can he will quickly evolve into a No. 1 starting pitcher and arguably one of the best young pitchers in all of Major League Baseball.
Can Robert Stephenson and Sal Romano pitch the way they did down the stretch in 2017? Stephenson, a former first-round pick, was superb over his final eight starts going 5-2 with a 2.74 ERA. Romano also finished strong posting a 3.17 ERA over his final eight starts.
There's also promising Tyler Mahle, who did OK in his four starts (2.70 ERA) after dominating in Class AA and Class AAA, and Amir Garrett, who was excellent in five of his first six starts, but a dud thereafter.
That's a lot of potential quality pitchers from which to choose, and doesn't include Homer Bailey, who is a complete wild card as he works his way back from Tommy John surgery and arm issues that plagued him in 2015 and parts of 2016 and 2017.
The bullpen should be very solid with Raisel Iglesias coming off a tremendous season and the additions of veterans David Hernandez and Jared Hughes to go along with Wandy Peralta and Michael Lorenzen.
Adding Hernandez and Hughes were the type of moves the Reds should make: low-cost middle relievers who are coming off solid seasons with other teams. Perhaps the Reds can catch lightning-in-a-bottle with veteran left-hander Oliver Perez, who was signed to a minor league contract on Saturday.
The bullpen should already be a major strength, but if the hard-throwing Perez shows he has something left in the tank then it gives them a second left-hander along with Peralta.
Among the position players this will be the year to find out of Jose Peraza can be an everyday shortstop defensively and just what kind of offensive player he can be.
It's also the time to figure out if Jesse Winker is a long-term solution at the top of the order. He showed in the minors he is capable of getting on base and did the same in a limited sample size late in the season (.375 on-base percentage in 137 plate appearances), and now it's time to give him everyday at bats from the start of the season.
Is Scott Schebler capable of being a consistent 30-home run hitter, and can he do more at the plate than just that (although his .791 OPS last season is basically the same as Jay Bruce's career OPS of .790)?
Is Eugenio Suarez going to continue the improvement at the plate he made from 2016 to 2017? Because if he does he has a chance to be an All-Star.
The everyday lineup has a legitimate chance to score 800 runs in 2017 and we are still likely a year away from the arrival of top prospect Nick Senzel with the No. 2 position prospect - outfielder Taylor Trammell - possibly ready in a couple of years.
No, the Reds didn't make a splashy move this offseason, but perhaps they really didn't need to make one, and definitely the time wasn't right to make one, either.
This is the year we should find out a lot of answers about some key players moving forward, and believe it or not along the way this team has a legitimate chance to push for a winning record.
If they do that then the 2018 offseason will be the time to add a final piece or two to make a run at the playoffs starting in 2019.
Standing basically pat this offseason may be frustrating for fans, but it was the right thing to do.