Then end of MLB seasons has been a very mixed bag for Cincinnati Reds fans for most of my entire existence. For nearly three whole decades, the Reds have not participated in the final series of the season, most every year bowing out well before that time. And while it’s never fun to see baseball shut down for a handful of months, setting sights on how the Reds might put themselves back together in the future has become something of a rite of passage at this juncture each season.
There is, for now, always next year.
That will begin again in earnest in 15 or so hours from now, as the 2019 World Series will cease after one of the Washington Nationals or Houston Astros will run around like idiots dumping Gatorade on one another at some point before the sun rises on Halloween. There’s even a winner-take-all Game 7 on tap to send the 2019 season to the sleds, the best possible way for any season to finish for the casual fan.
As for our Reds, well, the 2020 season officially starts tomorrow. Considering the club has spoken fervently about making next season one in which they make the danged playoffs again, they’re a club with as much on their plate to accomplish this winter as any in the game. They’ll need to be proactive both on the trade market - where they’ve maintained relevance often in recent history - and in free agency - where they’re one of the biggest noobs on the block - to revamp this roster for their next 162 game slate. That will officially kick off in Jack-O-Lantern fashion, as all free agents to-be become free agents one day following the end of the World Series, and clubs get a five-day window to negotiate exclusively with their own free agents - meaning if the Reds do have legitimate interest in keeping Jose Iglesias around, the coming week will help tell that tale.
At the end of that exclusive negotiating period, clubs across MLB will then get to decide whether or not to issue Qualifying Offers to any of their free agents, which will in essence be something in the range of 1 year, ~$18 million offers. If those players who receive QOs decline them, they’ll face the burden of costing their signing teams draft picks based on their overall compensation, which has been an increasingly complicating factor in recent years. Also after the five-day wait period, teams will have to decide on any and all contract option decisions, meaning the Reds will simultaneously get to gauge Iglesias’ potential market while also deciding on the $5.5 million team option they hold on Freddy Galvis, putting the team’s incumbent shortstop options for 2020 immediately in the spotlight.
General Managers will meet from November 11th-14th in Arizona to discuss any rule changes - hopefully ones that make the idiotic out call of Trea Turner last night immediately irrelevant - while November 14th will also mark the day in which players issued QOs must accept or decline said offers. At that juncture, the free agency free-for-all you’re accustomed to watching will likely take off, with a star-studded class headlined by Gerrit Cole, Anthony Rendon, Yasmani Grandal, Didi Gregorius, and potentially Stephen Strasburg leading the charge.
December 2nd is the deadline for teams to decide whether or not to tender contracts to their controlled players, and for the Reds that’ll likely be a busy deadline. Kevin Gausman is the highest-paid player who we’ll be watching, as he’s set to earn some ~$10 million plus in his final trip through the arbitration process if the Reds choose to tender him a deal. The likes of Derek Dietrich, Jose Peraza, and Scott Schebler will also be borderline tenders to watch, too.
Next up will be MLB’s Winter Meetings, as San Diego will host the single biggest deal-making setting on the offseason calendar December 9th-12th. Wrapping up that week of expected fireworks will the the Rule 5 Draft, and the Reds (like all teams) will have a few very intriguing roster decisions to make in order to both protect their prospects who have enough MiLB experience now to need protecting and to free up any roster spot to make a potential Rule 5 selection.
After that, it’ll be roughly two months of settling in and watching the financial fireworks. The month of January and the first few weeks of February are largely dedicated to teams sorting out arbitration figures with their arb-eligible players, with hearings on-tap for February 3rd-21st should no agreements come to light beforehand.
As the calendar turns to February, though, we’ll have other things on the front of our minds, as Cincinnati Reds pitchers and catchers will officially report to their Goodyear, AZ complex on the 13th of that month, beginning the 2020 slate in more sentimental fashion. Hopefully, it’ll be with a roster overhauled enough to bring some legitimate excitement back to the fans, especially after the relative frustrations from 2019.
Tonight, though, enjoy the drama that will inevitably unfold in Houston, as former Cy Young Award winners Max Scherzer and Zack Greinke will square off in a mound matchup for the ages, with the backdrop of a winner-take-all Game 7 one of the better sports settings imaginable.