The Hot Stove season usually gets rolling around this time every winter, though usually there has been at least a bit of action on the MLB transaction market by the time the calendar turns to December. This year, however, things are a might bit different. That’s not to say that there haven’t been rumors, of course, it’s just that they all seem to be tied up in two of the biggest, most unique names in the game today.
Giancarlo Stanton hits more homers than anyone else, hits them harder than anyone else, and stands as both the National League’s MVP and the owner of the largest contract in the sport. Shohei Ohtani is a true two-way revelation, a pitcher with top of the rotation talent who swings a bat most lineups would adore, and is the biggest, most proven international talent MLB has stood to import in quite some time. Both are absolutely being sought after at the moment, yet since neither has picked their final destination, the rest of the market predictably has been on hold.
That will likely change next week, though, as the 2017 MLB Winter Meetings will begin in Orlando. Agents will be pitching their players to respective front offices, who in turn will be cutting deals with one another into the wee hours of every morning. Tires will be kicked, as MLB.com’s Anthony Castrovince details in full. And if previous years are any indication, the Cincinnati Reds will be knee deep in their offseason move-making.
Both Eugenio Suarez and Anthony DeSclafani joined the Reds in deals struck on the same day at the 2014 Winter Meetings, coming onto the roster as Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos exited, respectively. The Reds had nearly traded Aroldis Chapman at the 2015 edition before his domestic violence issues arose and scuttled a potential deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but those Reds/Dodgers negotiations had been thorough to the point where Todd Frazier was traded in a massive three-team deal featuring much of the same package just days later. Even if you date back to when the Reds were adding star-caliber players instead of shipping them off, Shin-Soo Choo arrived at the 2012 Winter Meetings from Cleveland in the three-team deal that also looped in Arizona.
These things, they make sense. The Reds have established for years that they’re a team that likes making their moves on the trade market, as diving into the deep end of the expensive free agent market simply isn’t their M.O. So, when all of the front offices are in the same place at the same time comparing notes and shaking hands, that’s when the Reds are in their comfort zone. And this time around, Dick Williams should have the chance to be a more opportunistic deal maker instead of the guy who everyone knows is there to sell off assets.
The Reds have not just one roster glut, but a series of them. Even with the loss of Zack Cozart, the Reds have the likes of Suarez, Jose Peraza, Scooter Gennett, Dilson Herrera, Nick Senzel, and Alex Blandino forming a lot of overlap aside Joey Votto. In the outfield, the trio of Adam Duvall, Jesse Winker, and Scott Schebler only have two corner spots in which to play - and on top of that, the latest update on Senzel has him expected to get practice reps as a corner OF as he tries to elbow his way on the active roster. Even on the pitching side, there is a veritable army of potential starters on the roster, though they’re much less proven and far more injury-riddled than we’d all like to see. Still, there are ample ways in which Williams & Co. could leverage their depth to bring in an impact player from another club, and the Winter Meetings perennially seem to be where those things go down.
At least, I sure hope something goes down. After three miserable years on the field that have featured established stars in mass exodus, it’s just about time for the Reds to make some noise in both arenas. The on the field improvement will have to wait a few more months to materialize, but making the type of aggressive commitment to roster building often takes shape in locales akin to what we’ll see in Orlando next week. Being bad on the field is tough enough to slog through, but being boring off the field simultaneously adds nearly as much wear and tear to the psyche.
Maybe, just maybe, that’ll start to change for the better next week.