The theme across Major League Baseball throughout the 2018 off-season has been the lack of free agent signings across the league. The Cincinnati Reds have been no different, as they have only made a couple of signings in order to shore up the bullpen, which was the team’s biggest deficit over the last two seasons. They signed Jared Hughes to a two-year deal back in December and then yesterday they inked 32-year-old reliever David Hernandez to a two-year, $5 million deal. Hernandez has spent time with the Orioles, Phillies, Angels, and most recently, the Diamondbacks.
While it isn’t exactly shocking that the Reds made another signing to strengthen a unit that put up a 4.65 ERA in 2017, it was a little bit surprising to hear that the Reds were most likely finished with signings to their major league roster, as The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan tweeted out after the Hernandez news broke. Even more interesting in that news is that they have Phil Gosselin pegged as the backup shortstop at the moment. Gosselin, as our own Wick Terrell noted yesterday, only has 5 MLB starts at shortstop (all in 2014) so in the case that something happens to Jose Peraza, the Reds won’t be relying on experience to fill that void.
Speaking of pitching, There is going to be quite the battle among young pitchers to see who is going to be filling in the back end of the rotation in 2018. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com caught up with one of those youngsters, Sal Romano, last weekend at the Reds’ Caravan. Romano nearly made the team out of spring training in 2017 but started the season in Louisville. He would still end up pitching for the Reds in 2017, putting up a 4.45 ERA over 16 starts last season. This year, he is hoping to be the one making the roster from the start.
In other off-season news, Major League Baseball announced yesterday their desire to start with runners on second base starting in the 11th inning in the All-Star game. This proposal would also be implemented in Spring Training games starting in the 10th inning. If you remember back to last year, this was used during the World Baseball Classic as well as Arizona League and Gulf Coast League games. Fret not though, baseball fans. Major League Baseball has no plans to use this rule in any regular season or post-season games. Yet.
If you were around yesterday, you heard the news that former General Manager Kevin Towers lost his 2-year battle with cancer and passed away at the age of 56. Towers had been serving as a Special Assistant to the General Manager in the Reds’ front office over the last few years, but was mainly known around baseball for his stints as GM of the San Diego Padres and Arizona Diamondbacks. By all accounts, he had an incredibly positive impact on those who worked with him and that impact was felt all around baseball. Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports posted a great article yesterday remembering Towers and the influence he had on him.
Last week, Chipper Jones, Jim Thome, Vladimir Guerrero, and Trevor Hoffman were all elected to the National Baseball Hall of Fame. As has been custom recently, the story has been as much about who didn’t get into the Hall as it is about who did get in. One of those players who did not get in, and barely stayed on the ballot, was former Reds’ third baseman Scott Rolen. Friend of the blog Jason Linden wrote a piece for Hardball Times not only making a case for Rolen to get into the Hall, but also why it is such an injustice that he only received 10.2% of votes in his first year on the ballot. Head on over to HBT and check it out when you get a chance, it will be worth your time.
Lastly, after a short retirement, John Fay is back on the Reds’ beat for The Enquirer. Fay has spent the last year covering local sports for WCPO.com, but is returning to replace C. Trent Rosecrans who will be covering the Reds for the Athletic. It's great to see John back on the beat and I look forward to seeing his twitter snark grace my timeline on the regular again. Welcome back, John.