The World Series is still in the works, while the Royals have a pretty impressive 2-0, you never know how many games will be played. Major League Baseball frowns upon teams doing much during the championship games because it's their crown jewel of the season, obviously. However, many teams have been busy during the last couple of weeks. Mostly, they have been firing managers, hiring managers, getting rid of coaching staffs, and a playoff team lost their GM (Alex Anthopoulos) which was a great surprise.
My point is the wheels are in motion for the 2016 season, whether MLB wants it to be or not. Soon after the Series is over we'll start to hear about options being picked up and whether compensation for free agents will be filed. Basically, the hot stove season will be upon us. The past several seasons this has been a pretty boring time for Reds fans. We've used the phase, "We have no money and we're talking to no one" over and over again. While that phrase hasn't always rung true (Shin Soo Choo, Mat Latos trades, etc.), most of the time we sit watching updates while we twiddle our thumbs. Outside of a day or two, it sounds like Walt Jocketty isn't even working. I mean, come on, it's not like signing Skip Schumaker takes a whole lot of effort.
This offseason may be different, and if my gut feeling is correct, it could be one of the more exciting off seasons for the Reds in recent memory. While rumors are supposed to be quiet during the playoffs, we had this little juicy tidbit leak from Buster Olney during the Championship Series.
There is a lot of sentiment within the Reds' baseball operations for them to trade veterans this winter and go for HOU/CHC style rebuild.— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) October 22, 2015
The Reds could be looking to blow up the whole thing and hoard prospects like a squirrel hoards its winter supply of acorns. With the attrition rate of failed prospects this is usually a smart move. Acquire as many as you can, develop them, and hope for the best. Having the 2nd overall pick in the 2016 draft can also mean very big things for the Reds. I also just remembered that the Reds also get the first competitive balance pick after the first round. That's a lot of talent that can be picked in the first 40 picks or so. Acquiring and keeping young, homegrown talent is the best way to keep a good team around for more than a season or two. It's how the Reds originally came to being a good team in 2010, and it's been the Astros and Cubs plan for many seasons. If Walt Jocketty has zeroed in on this strategy it makes me feel good about the future for this club.
Many may not believe that Walt Jocketty is the man for the job. Like the article I wrote about Dusty Baker, he comes with a large amount of negative expectations. This time, I didn't want to call them myths because they may not be. He does like to sign a lot of former Cardinals. He can be a stickler about what kind of Free Agents, if any, he wants to sign. However, one thing he has been good at? Making trades that help the Reds, and in the past season making trades for quality prospects. If we're worried about Jocketty being too old, let's remember his predecessor in Oakland currently has the Mets in the World Series.
What encourages me about this future are the deals that Jocketty pulled off in return for Alfredo Simon, Mat Latos, and Johnny Cueto. He apparently was asking the world for Aroldis Chapman in July, but I'm sure that was just to set a market for Chapman this offseason. Current rumors have the Diamondbacks, Nationals, and Blue Jays lining up to deal for Chapman. Though, if Jocketty wanted to move into a President/Advisory role and throw money at Alex Anthopoulos to become the new GM of the Reds, I wouldn't mind that either. I'm not sure if Jocketty has much more than a year or two left, so lining up a new GM would not be a horrible idea, as long as it isn't Kevin Towers.
The problem is what does a blow up of this team look like? I'm sure the Reds will be looking at deals for Chapman, Phillips, Votto, and Bruce. I'd also expect Cingrani to be a player dealt. A lot of this is dependent on shedding salaries, but also picking up prospects. If we are trying to get as many prospects as possible, you should also deal Todd Frazier. It would have been better to deal him in July before he cooled off, but the player still holds tremendous value and many teams would love to have him. The only drawback is Todd Frazier is a fan favorite. You may not have their support. Do you trade all of these players or only some of them? I'm not sure. That's a hard question to answer.
Trading Joey Votto would be a travesty, and I would be incredibly sad. However, if the Reds can find someone to take his contract, they'd look stupid for not taking the deal. Think of it like when the Rangers traded Alex Rodriguez. I'd love to watch Votto play for the Reds his whole career, but will we be saying the same thing five years from now when he's making $25,000,000 a year? My heart says yes, but my brain says no.
The first course of business should be to trade Aroldis Chapman. This was the easy decision. Then, if they are serious about taking the path taken by the Astros and the Cubs, then they need to look into seeing what they can get for Votto, Bruce, Phillips, Cingrani, and Frazier. If they have any suitors for Mesoraco it would be a good idea to trade him too. However, I doubt that anyone will trade for him coming off of hip surgery.
The Reds are flush with pitching prospects. There are so many, I don't think they honestly know what to do with them. So many arms could transition to the bullpen because there is no room in the rotation. We started an all-rookie rotation for the last 2-3 months of the season, but that obviously won't happen this year. Jocketty has already been quoted as looking for some veteran arms to fill out the rotation. This is a good move to ensure that the young guys can continue to work out the kinks in the minors without keeping their service clocks running.
What the Reds do lack are impact offensive prospects. They have Jesse Winker and Alex Blandino in the minors, but outside of that there really isn't any impact talent close to the majors. Winker could see a promotion to the Reds in 2016, but that would also correlate with the loss of Jay Bruce. At least, that seems like the most likely scenario. It wouldn't be outside the realm of possibility to see a Jesse Winker, Billy Hamilton, and Yorman Rodriguez outfield. The concept makes me wanna vomit in my mouth a little bit, but in the sense of where the Reds are right now, it's smart. We need to see what we have in Rodriguez. There's no reason to sign a stop gap outfielder, especially if you are looking to trade Bruce. It just doesn't make sense.
When making these trades Walt Jocketty needs to target positional prospects. No longer can we just stock the cupboards with pitchers. Everyone has pitchers, and they all throw hard. Well, except for maybe the Twins? They still prefer guys that couldn't break a window with a well thrown fastball. The best teams need good pitching, but you also need players that can hit the good pitching. Major League Baseball is devoid of these types of players, and the ones that are running around have had their ups and downs. Sure, the Correa's, Bryant's, Schwarber's, Lindor's, etc. are lighting up the world, but those aren't the types of players teams trade. They are franchise prospects. You have to find the diamond in the rough, much like Jocketty may have found in Eugenio Suarez. You have to find players teams are willing to trade that can have a future impact. Though, if they can hold a bat in their hands, they'll be tough to find.
I do trust Jocketty to transition the Reds into a place where they can compete in the future. He's started doing it already, and it seems like Banana Bob has given him the go ahead to continue with the controlled burn. I see no reason that Jocketty wouldn't continue to oversee this process and then step down at the end of his contract for a younger GM. Maybe even someone he has hand picked. Maybe even someone that is more analytical. Again, someone not named Kevin Towers.
I believe that Walt Jocketty is going to ride out into the sunset dismantling the team he helped build into a playoff contender. In a certain way, he is finishing what he started, and I think he's up to the task. Hopefully, he can set up a team that can win in 2017 and beyond, and keep Votto, maybe, please?