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2018 MLB Winter Meetings: A Fan’s Expectations

What will the Reds do and how far should they go?

MLB: Cincinnati Reds - Press Conference The Enquirer-USA TODAY Sports

So, it’s the beginning of a long, cold winter, and the Reds have largely done nothing. I mean, I’m bored. Way more bored than usual. Unless you consider non-tendering Billy Hamilton addition by subtraction you may think the Reds have just been dead. We’re at the beginning of the MLB Winter Meetings which are always a hot bed of trades, signings, and, least importantly, rumors. While I mentioned above the Reds have done largely nothing, you’ll notice something different than in years past. Their name is coming up everywhere and with almost every move. The years of the Jocketty lock down on information is over. The Reds appear to be ready to make a move.

In the past, we’ve always had the joke “The Reds have no money and are talking to no one”, but it seems like that isn’t going to apply this year. Whether it’s the James Paxton trade, Dallas Keuchel, rumblings about Zach Greinke and Corey Kluber trades, JA Happ, or AJ Pollock the Reds have been busy, and it’s been noticed. Hell, even it being announced the Reds wouldn’t pay for Patrick Corbin is news in a weird way. News that hasn’t been leaked out there in years, and I think that’s an incredibly good thing. Not only are we sitting on our hands waiting for the Reds to do something, the national media is sitting on their hands and waiting. Does it mean the Reds are going to do anything? No. Does it mean the Reds are going to make a big splash? No. Does it mean we should expect them to? No. Does it mean that absolutely have to? Not necessarily, but it would be cool.

Take the AJ Pollock rumors out there. Does it make sense for the Reds to sign him? No. Not at all. Especially, if it’s going to be a 4 years $80 million type deal. It’s a move a desperate team makes. 3 years at $15 per? Maybe, I’ll listen to something like that, but that’s still a lot of money that should be going to improving the pitching staff. I don’t think it will matter anyway, I think someone is going to stupidly overpay for him.

Why? Well, there is a bunch of funny money that is going to be tossed around this season. While players and agents were yelling about collusion last year, it was much more likely that teams were just being careful with their handling of money, staying below luxury tax thresholds, and stocking up to overpay for the glut of stars available in the 2018-2019 off-season. Otherwise, it makes no sense for Pollock to make what Lorenzo Cain does. Cain is obviously a vastly superior player. Because of the differences this year, Pollock becomes someone’s consolation prize so he shouldn’t be the Reds big money item. He’s a big money team’s depth buy. Not a small market team’s big ticket. Not with each dollar and where it goes being so important. The Reds simply can’t afford something like that, and while big news, it would be a grave mistake in terms of resources.

Bob Castellini said they were going to get “the pitching”. I’m going to take him at his word, even if it was stupidly phrased. This is because signing a CF for a bunch of money, when you can probably just go with a collection of cheaper players being rotated (or maybe Senzel) for a year or two until Trammell is ready, would be insane. Especially one that lacks OBP skills and is on the wrong side of 30. Might as well have just continue to see if you can find lightning in a bottle with Hamilton. The biggest question is what should the Reds really do and how should they do it?

Do you spend money just for the sake of spending money because your owner made a statement? Eh, well, no. A smart team shouldn’t and wouldn’t, and I’m still in the belief that Williams and Krall are pretty smart dudes.

I think all the rumors being floated about are because Williams and Krall are fully in control, and they’re running things their way. Which means they’re being active and keeping all doors open. That’s what a good front office does. Nothing is off limits until it truly is. Having talks with Pollock now, opens up the possibility of getting him cheaper later on if his market falls. Having talks about Greinke, Kluber, and Keuchel make sense to get things done during the Winter Meetings or right after. You should have as many logs in the fire as possible. Keep that stove warm until you make the decision on which deal to jump at. These rumors are positives for the Reds and the fans because it shows they’re putting the work in, they’re serious, and we can expect something. However, what is too much for this team? Can they end up trying to do too much?

First, they do need to get a pitcher, at least one. It needs to be someone that you feel is reliably a #2 or #3 if you can pull it off. Ideally, that would be Keuchel because that costs nothing in the terms of prospects. It’s only money, a lot of money, but money just the same. But it also shouldn’t stop the Reds from spending prospects if they feel they can swing Kluber or Greinke, and get that #1. In fact, that would just be awesome. In the end, getting a quality starter and just pushing to shore up the bullpen even more (Soria) would go a long way. The offense can continue to survive with low price signings for depth and by relying on young players to fill in the gaps. The offense has never been the reason the Reds were failing. Relying on Ervin, Senzel, Schebler, and possibly even Peraza in spurts, in center field makes sense as long as it saves money and it’s used for “the pitching”. Signing Pollock is counter-intuitive to getting “the pitching”. Sure, the defense is a drop off without Hamilton, but not a big enough drop off with the gains you should have on offense with just about anyone else.

There is no reason to sell the whole farm, or to spend all the money, if the right/smart moves are made. While we want to be better, and possibly win in 2019, this can’t be a break the bank or Hail Mary situation for Williams and company because of desperation. Make stable and sound investments in this team, don’t go for broke. That’s how good teams are built and built for the long run. There’s more talent on this team than people give them credit for, but something has to happen with the pitching and that’s where the majority of the dollars should go. No matter how much is available.

That much is apparent, and I’ll be looking forward to what happens in the next week and month. I expect the Reds to be busy, but let’s hope they’re not aggressive just to prove a point. Don’t ruin the rebuild because Bob Castellini and/or the fan base is disgruntled and you feel the need for a major push. The rebuild has been hard enough but not a failure. Spending some of that banana stand money is probably in the works, but it needs to be spent smartly and not lavishly. Raising payroll only makes sense if it’s being raised for positive value and that means wins. Moves that make the Reds a .500 team and not a playoff contender will be a waste and result in another decade of obscurity. That’s how I see a speculative AJ Pollock signing.

Winter Meetings can be a beautiful thing because of unmitigated excitement that comes with it. If the Reds go all out and sign Keuchel and trade for Kluber, I’ll probably be shouting from the roof tops that it’s the coolest damn thing they’ve ever done. Actually, that would be the coolest damn thing they’ve done and if it blows up in their face, I wouldn’t even care. It’s scary as hell, and flies in the face of what I said above, but that’s the right kind of chucking it deep. By no means should they, or should we expect it, but if Dick Williams firmly believes it’s the thing that sets them over the top, they should just go for it. If not, keep the status quo and keep growing. God, that would be so cool.

Go Reds! They’re my favorite team!