The Reds knew before the season that they were in for another tough year. A rebuild is going on in Cincinnati and it isn’t going to be an extremely quick one. The Reds finished with the exact same 68-94 record that it did in 2016.
The offense improved in 2017, but the starting pitching was worse. A lot of that was due to injuries to their top three starting pitchers, but the young guys also didn’t step up for the most part. By the end of June, the Reds were 11 games under .500 and were never really in the race for anything all season. They did get a career year from Zack Cozart and an MVP quality year from Joey Votto, but it just wasn’t enough to make them a good team.
The offense was above average for the Reds this season. They finished eighth in the national league in runs scored per game, sixth in home runs, eighth in on-base percentage, seventh in slugging and sixth in OPS. Cozart and Gennett had the best year of their careers and Votto had arguably the best offensive year of his. Suarez and Duvall both had strong years as well. Hamilton again stole over 50 bases, but his OBP still isn’t anywhere close to where it needs to be. The offense still needs to improve, but it was far from the problem with the 2017 Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds had the worst ERA in the national league at 5.17. They also gave up the most home runs and walked the most batter in the NL. There weren’t a lot of bright spots when it comes to the Reds pitching, but Luis Castillo was one of the few. Castillo was brought over in the Dan Straily trade and after his first season, he looks like he could be an ace for the Reds. Outside of that, Raisel Iglesias was the only really good pitcher the Reds had. Wandy Peralta had a solid season, but the rest of the bullpen and starting rotation really struggled. Had the Reds pitching been even average, they would have been considerably better.
Projected 2018 Lineup:
1. Billy Hamilton, CF
2. Jesse Winker, RF
3. Joey Votto, 1B
4. Adam Duvall, LF
5. Eugenio Suarez, 3B
6. Scooter Gennett, 2B
7. Tucker Barnhart, C
8. Jose Peraza, 2B
Starting Pitching: The Reds had the most runs allowed per game, while also having the fewest quality starts and the fewest innings pitched per game in the National League last season. They only had two starting pitchers go over 100 innings. However, neither broke 125 innings and neither look to be in the long-term plans for the Reds. Sixty percent of the Reds rotation in 2018 will be coming off of serious injury. Anthony DeSclafani, Brandon Finnegan and Homer Bailey pitched a combined 94 innings last year, but the Reds look to lean on the trio as their top three pitchers. The one real bright spot in the Reds’ rotation last year was Luis Castillo. Castillo has the makings of a real ace for the Reds, but they still need help. The fifth spot is likely up for grabs for a veteran signing or a guy like Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett, Rookie Davis or Tyler Mahle who take the job in spring training.
Relief Pitching: The Reds’ bullpen had a few bright spots in it, but overall it was again a poor unit. It had the second-highest ERA in the N.L. for a bullpen and the second-highest number of innings pitched. The bright spot, young closer Raisel Iglesias. In 2017, Iglesias showed off much of the dominant form that gained him league-wide trade interest this offseason. But given Cincinnati’s asking price, he should remain locked in as the Reds’ closer in 2018.. Outside of Iglesias, Wandy Peralta was another bright spot.. Drew Storen is a free agent and Blake Wood has already been signed by the Los Angeles Angels. The Reds will likely put the young guys who don’t win the fifth starting job in the bullpen, but they also need to bring in some relief pitchers in free agency.
Utility Infielder: The Reds’ offense will be almost the same as it was last year, just without Zack Cozart as shortstop. However, their utility infielder Jose Peraza will likely take over that job. Cincinnati’s other utility infielder, Arismendy Alcantara, isa free agent this offseason. The Reds need someone who can give guys like Peraza and Gennett a break when they need a day off. They could bring up a young guy like Alex Blandino, who played in AAA last yea, or Dilson Herrera, who they got from the Mets in the Jay Bruce trade. If they don’t think either of those guys are ready at the beginning of the season, a cheap free agent utility guy is a likely signing by the Reds.
Jose Reyes, Utility IF: Reyes would be the typical kind of Reds signing, but a good one all the same. Reyes played SS, 3B and 2B for the Mets last year. While his overall slash line of .246/.315/.413 isn’t overly impressive, his second half slash line of .288/.356/.472 looks a lot better. Reyes hit 15 home runs and stole twenty-four bases on thirty attempts. Reyes would bring in a veteran SS who could work with Peraza, as well as play all over the infield for the Reds. He will be 35 next year, he won’t cost them a ton and he would help teach the young middle infielders the Reds will have coming up soon. He fits all the needs the Reds would have from their utility infielder.
Bud Norris, RP: Norris has a very good start to the 2017 season before the wheels fell off the bus in the second half of the year. He was a starter with 185 games started before moving to the bullpen this past season. Norris would give the Reds a veteran in the bullpen, but he would also give them a guy who could start some games if injuries hit and they need him too. If he could get return even near to the formhe was in the for first half of the 2017 season, he would be a steal for the Reds. Even if he doesn’t, he could be an innings eater and a veteran out of the bullpen.
Clay Bucholz, SP: Bucholz missed the entire year with a torn flexor tendon, but should be ready by spring training. Bucholz has had an up and down career, but when he has been good, he’s been great. This is the kind of signing that has little risk, but could be a huge deal for the Reds if Bucholz can come back from this injury and pitch even close to what he is capable of. He won’t cost much, so if he gets to spring training and just doesn’t have it, the Reds can move on with little trouble. He would be able to slot in as that fifth starter for the Reds and let them bring along some of their young pitchers slowly.
Jhoulys Chacin, SP: If the Reds want to spend a little bit more for a pitcher that pitched well last year, Chacin would make a lot of sense. Chacin could eat a lot of innings while the Reds are getting their young starting pitchers ready for the majors. He had a strong year for the Padres in 2017, posting a 3.89 ERA in 180 innings. Chacin isn’t a guy who is going to come in and be an ace for the Reds, but he is a guy who can come in at a low cost and eat innings for the Reds. That’s all they are going to be looking for this offseason.
Ryan Hanigan, C: A Hanigan reunion isn’t the most exciting signing, but with Chad Wallach being claimed by the Marlins and Mesoraco’s questionable health, the Reds will need a third catcher on the roster. Hanigan has always been a good defensive catcher and would be a great third catcher for the Reds. He’s going to be cheap and give the Reds exactly what they want. If Mesoraco can stay healthy, Hanigan can still be a defensive replacement for him on the days that he starts. If Mesoraco gets hurt, Hanigan can be the backup catcher without losing much defensively at least.