We've heard a lot of discussion about who the Reds are shopping out of Cincinnati this offseason, and we've had a lot of discussion about who the Reds should (and shouldn't) shop out of town this offseason. For the long term health of the franchise, getting solid prospect returns for the players who are most assuredly nearing the end of their Reds career (or will be by the time this team is in the hunt again) is paramount. Aroldis Chapman, Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier, and Brandon Phillips, among others, are all available.
And that makes sense.
But the Reds still have to play baseball next season. Just to be sure, I checked the calendar. Sure enough, the Reds are scheduled to play 162 baseball games from April to October next year.
The Reds just declined to tender contracts to Ryan Matthues, Ryan LaMarre, and Pedro Villarreal. Earlier in the offseason, the Reds made several other moves to trim their roster down, and as a result, several players that had a role in 2015 are no longer around. Kristopher Negron, David Holmberg, Brennan Boesch, Skip Schumaker, Jason Bouorgeois, Manny Parra, Brayan Pena, Burke Badenhop, Sam LeCure, and Sean Marshall...
*gasps for breath*
Are all gone.
And it's not that anyone is really shedding a tear for those dearly departed former Reds. It's just that the Reds have to actually put players out onto the field. Blake Wood was signed on a major league deal a few weeks ago, and Brandon Allen and JC Ramirez were offered minor league deals, and those three names can help fill the body void on this roster. And guys like Yorman Rodriguez, Kyle Waldrop, Tyler Holt, and Adam Duvall could certainly step in and fill holes left by some of the more regular contributors. But the Reds still have five open spots on their 40 man roster.
And if some combination of Chapman, Bruce, Frazier, and Phillips are added to those missing, the Reds need some help.
Yesterday, Jonah Keri put together a wish list for every NL GM at the Winter Meetings. As he notes, the Reds obliterated the record for consecutive starts by a rookie pitcher. That is a good thing; we got good long looks at guys the Reds need to make decisions about. But as Keri (and Jocketty and Price) have also stated; they're in the market for a veteran or two to tackle some innings in 2016 that the rookies won't be able to munch.
Assuming all goes well, DeSclafani can be penciled in every fifth day for the entire season. But Raisel Iglesias isn't going to suddenly add 100 innings to his arm. Same goes for Brandon Finnegan. John Lamb could ramp it up to something close to 180 or so, if he factors into things, and we probably can't count on Homer Bailey until June. Keyvius Sampson showed he was no starting pitcher, and I suppose that Michael Lorenzen could get a shot, but it seems prudent that he keeps working things out in Louisville. Robert Stephenson seems a lock to be called up at some point, but I'd be surprised if he breaks with the big league club out of Spring Training.
So the Reds will be in the market for starting pitching. Keri suggests names such as Ian Kennedy and Kyle Kendrick. Kennedy is ranked 19th on MLBTR's power rankings list, pegging him worth a contract at 4 years, $52 million. An AAV of $13 million seems like more than the Reds would be in the market for, given their perceived log jam at the position in the minors, especially when Homer Bailey makes what he makes.
Kyle Kendrick, on the other hand, was basically garbage in his stint in Colorado, where he gave up 33 home runs and 100 earned runs. Pitching the majority of your games in the altitude has a tendency to make a pitcher look bad, and the eight years he spent in Philadelphia earned a not-so-horrible 91 ERA+. He's never pitched 200 innings, but he wouldn't necessarily need to for the Reds in 2016. If the price is right, I could see the Reds making a move like this.
John Lackey checks in as an older name, as he just turned 37 in October. Last season he pitched on a veterans minimum, prove it contract that he indeed proved, chucking 218 innings for the Cardinals good for a 143 ERA+. He's a former Cardinal, but he's not the type of former-Cardinal that Jocketty specifically looks for (that is, Jocketty didn't formerly work with him). It would probably take a two year deal to get Lackey (and I've seen some suggest with a player option for a third, which would almost assuredly not end well), which Walt & Co. love. I guess I could see the logic behind it, but John Lackey is in my top five least favorite players, and he's old. Hopefully, the Reds pass.
Bronson Arroyo is a free agent and has had discussions with the Reds about possibly returning. Arroyo is a fan favorite, and having him back in Cincinnati would certainly be, at least initially, a fun thing to happen. However, he hasn't pitched in over a year while rehabbing from Tommy John surgery, and will be 39 before Spring Training opens next March. Arroyo had always been a reliable innings eater, but no one can reasonably expect him, regardless of how cerebral a pitcher he may be, to be the same guy he was after major surgery. It's a very low risk signing, for sure, and wouldn't cause any major commitment in the future. But he's an early candidate for 2015 Jason Marquis, and that's not something I'd wish on anyone, especially Bronson Arroyo.
Kyle Lohse fell off a cliff last year with the Brewers, is 37 years old, and is a former Cardinal. So of course he's a candidate to be signed by the Reds this off season. He suddenly gave up a ton of hits last year (up +2 per 9 than the previous year) and walked one more per 9 as well, while striking out the same amount. Milwaukee was nearly as bad as the Reds last year (and at points in the season, worse) so it's possible that Lohse is due for something of a bounce back year. But, again, he's 37 years old, and it's very possible that 5.85 ERA is who he is at this point. Regardless, he should be cheap and can fill in for however long is necessary for the Reds in 2016. Plus, he's not John Lackey!
Aaron Harang is out there, which is SUPER sentimental, but he's been actually been serviceable the past two years and would certainly come cheap cheap cheap. He's also been good early the past couple of years (Harang owned a 2.02 ERA through his first 10 starts in 2015), which may really be all the Reds are really counting on in 2016.
Alfredo Simon is a free agent.
There are several other veteran free agent pitchers out there that should come cheap and with the experience that the Reds are seeking. So, who am I missing?
If there's a position that I'm certain the Reds will address in this offseason, it'll be grabbing a veteran, name-ish pitcher. So who's it going to be?