When MLB's Winter Meetings began in Nashville on Monday, there may not have been a team in baseball with as much to gain from shedding established players as the Cincinnati Reds.
Four days and a flurry of failed negotiations later, that still appears to be the case.
The Atlanta Braves followed up on their Andrelton Simmons trade by shipping out Shelby Miller for a massive return from the Arizona Diamondbacks, and that kind of move was indicative of the majority of the transactions we've seen from early in the baseball off-season. Namely, it's been pitching, pitching, and more pitching that's been the priority teams have focused on first, and that's led to the likes of Miller, Zack Greinke, David Price, Jeff Samardzija, Jordan Zimmermann, and Hisashi Iwakuma - among others - being the first big dominos to fall as teams begin to reload for the 2016 season. At one point, that had the Reds centrally involved in one of the potential biggest trades of the meetings, as a deal was initially in place to send Aroldis Chapman to the Los Angeles Dodgers for two of the better prospects in their system, but that fell firmly on its face when allegations of domestic violence came to the surface on the same day the potential trade news broke.
Predictably, that put on hold a move of the biggest name pitcher the Reds have on the block this winter, and that marked the end of seeing the Reds' name in lights for the remainder of their time in Music City.
Teams, as they should, asked about Todd Frazier, but a trio of factors have him still as a member of the Reds at this point on Thursday afternoon. First, the presence of big name hitters on the free agent market such as Chris Davis, Alex Gordon, Justin Upton, Jason Heyward, and Yoenis Cespedes has the major trade market for established hitters in a bit of a logjam at the moment. Until the bigger pieces fall into place in that market, team's probably won't prioritize adding players in costly trades until their options become much more slim. That pairs with reason number two, which is that Walt Jocketty and Dick Williams are reportedly asking for the moon should they trade Frazier, and they've not yet seen a team willing to jump at their demands. Frazier's undoubtedly a solid asset, and his limited contract and team control is a perfect mix for teams that want to add an impact player without assuming a huge liability, but the market is flush with hitting options at the moment and few teams seem willing to include the high-end position prospects the Reds desire as of yet. Finally, there simply aren't that many teams looking to contend in the same 2-year window as Frazier's control that need a serious upgrade at 3B. The fact that the Kansas City Royals contacted the Reds about Frazier with presumptive eyes on him as a LF is telling, since good teams appear flush with corner IF talent, meaning the market for a huge return for Frazier may not be as large as Reds fans desire.
And if you think those factors have the market for Frazier in a holding pattern, forget about Jay Bruce being moved any time soon. The Reds are up against many of those same obstacles should they choose to move their stalwart RF, but with his value far lower and the glut of corner outfielders on the market right now, there's no chance that the Reds pull the trigger on a deal they deem worthy at this juncture.
So, we wait. They wait. It'll be an interesting holiday season for three of the most high-profile Reds, as their respective baseball futures weren't put on more concrete paths this week as many - including the Reds front office - may have scripted if they could. What's clear, though, is that the Reds have every intention of making waves with trades before pitchers and catchers report in a bit over two months, and that their desire to rebuild is clear and concise.
There will be fireworks. Big ones, too. But we're just going to have to wait out the market a bit longer.