There is no real way around the fact that the Cincinnati Reds could really, really use a 4 WAR starting pitcher to front their rotation. For one, that’s obviously an extremely valuable player, one who only produces that kind of value with commiserate quantity of innings pitched, something all rotations would gladly soak up. However, in the Reds’ case, having an anchor like that keeps the number of open rotation spots at just four, meaning less peripheral arms get tasked with making starts.
Finding those kinds of pitchers isn’t easy in any regard. Doing so via trade or free agency is even more difficult, as those routes come with severe costs. The ability to scrounge one up from the depths of your own organization, though, is a literal ace in the hole move that teams often dream of, and there are a ton of folks - me included - that hope that’s exactly what the Reds can do with Anthony DeSclafani.
Disco, though, has been through an injury nightmare for some two years running. First, it was the oblique injury in 2016 that lingered longer than any of us expected and limited him to just 20 starts. Then, it was 2017’s elbow scare, with a strained UCL in his pitching arm and residual tendinitis that kept him from pitching at all. So, when you read the quotes that Disco gave The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan about being healthy and making 30+ starts in 2018, it’s OK to admit you instinctively cross your fingers, toes, legs, arms, and nose hairs in superstitious fashion.
On the one hand, a major question mark, albeit one that never actually had to go under the knife in ways other injury riddled pitchers have of late. On the other, though, is the 130 ERA+ Disco posted in 2016, his 3.28 ERA in those 20 starts leading to an impressive 3.0 bWAR. Alongside that is the 3.67 FIP he posted in his 184.1 inning debut season in Cincinnati, which FanGraphs both valued at 3.0 fWAR and suggested was a better season than his 2016 campaign. If - and it’s a big if - you can see the forest through the injury trees, there’s a chance that an elusive 4 WAR pitcher to anchor a rotation just might be in the cards for the Reds in 2018. When you realize the Reds might have that and Luis Castillo instead of just in Luis Castillo, that’s a damn fine concept to make you salivate.
(But still - keep all those body parts crossed, just in case.)
In other news, Redsfest kicks off today at the Duke Energy Center, and MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon has a rundown of what all you can expect if you choose to attend. Joey Votto will be there, and simply standing in the same area code with him is cool enough to make you want to attend, but there’ll be wiffle ball, jokes, and what have you as well to keep the entertainment going through the weekend.
Former Cincinnati reliever Blake Wood struggled mightily with the Reds in 2017 before being DFA’d and landing with the Los Angeles Angels, and was certainly a non-tender candidate had he stuck around. Well, the Angels apparently liked what they saw in Wood enough to sign him for 2018, as they avoided arbitration with the righty at $1.45 million, according to The Rag’s Jon Heyman.
With the new posting rules having been agreed upon by both Japan’s NPB and MLB, Shohei Ohtani will officially be posted today. Apparently the negotiating window is set at 3 weeks, meaning we’ll know within the next 3 weeks which team will land the two-way superstar. The Reds, of course, are legitimately interested in signing Ohtani, as well they should be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a ton given that every team in their right mind wants to sign him, too. It’s a different process and different era, of course, but nobody really expected the Reds to land Aroldis Chapman when he somewhat similarly emerged on MLB’s radar years ago - but, they did.
Finally, FanGraphs’ Travis Sawchik took an interesting dive into the ‘middle class’ of free agency - the players out on the market who aren’t the top-tier, bank-breakers. It’s an interesting look at a few theories on why that market has been so lukewarm of late, and is especially interesting given the Reds’ own pattern of avoiding that market almost entirely over the last handful of years. If you’re of a mind to always be trying to figure out what the execs in the game today are thinking, this is a read you’ll enjoy processing.