Though the Cincinnati Reds have yet to formally announce it, it’s widely known that they’ve come to an agreement with lefty starter Wade Miley on what appears to be a 2 year, $15 million pact, one that includes a team option for the 2022 season. Breaking down exactly what that move means, though, is a process that’s been thought provoking in and of itself, too.
I think the best way I can wrap my head around the idea is summed up like this: signing Wade Miley to a contract like this is perfectly fine if you’ve got the money laying around to do so, and for the first time in forever, it truly appears the Cincinnati Reds actually have the money to do so. What I mean here is that this is precisely the kind of low-risk, moderate cost move you make only if you’ve still got the financial wherewithal to keep making big, impactful moves. ‘Signing Wade Miley to be your fifth starter’ is a perfectly fine strategy, whereas ‘making Wade Miley the second biggest acquisition the winter after winning just 75 games’ is an awful one. If the Reds have just done the former - not the latter - then this is the kind of depth move that any team with the money should probably make. It’s just odd to see them finally playing that role in the MLB landscape.
My lone worry at this juncture is that in filling the rotation with a low-ceiling signing like this, the Reds have effectively left themselves with very few other options to land a high-ceiling player for 2020. They whiffed on catcher, and there aren’t any other high-ceiling catchers on the market. They filled 2B with Mike Moustakas, which is a solid enough, albeit high-floor signing. That effectively leaves SS and OF as the only spots where the Reds can add, and the free agent market at those positions consists only of good, not great options at this juncture. That means the only way to really make a major upgrade at those spots will be the trade market, and I’m not sure the Reds have the ability to out-duel some other, deeper farm systems to land, say, a Francisco Lindor or Mookie Betts should those names actually end up being shopped.
FanGraphs posted their reaction to the Miley deal, noting that the move to increased cutter usage and a year spent with current Reds pitching coach Derek Johnson while in Milwaukee in 2018 helped reinvent Miley and land him where he is today. Like us, they seem to be pretty comfortable with the signing at the cost it required, though also like us they’re tempering the upside.
The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosecrans also weighed in on the Miley signing, noting that adding a lefty to the rotation seemed to be a solid priority, as was getting a pitcher under team control beyond just 2020. Both Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani are set to be free agents at season’s end, after all.
Of particular importance will be making sure Miley begins his 2020 campaign in a much better fashion than his 2019 one finished, by the way. Despite cruising through August, Miley had a disastrous September, one bad enough to see him left off the Houston Astros playoff roster altogether. In a post back in September, our friends at Crawfish Boxes attempted to figure out why, exactly, Miley and his cut fastball were suddenly getting hammered, and it’s a thorough examination. The Reds are certainly putting a lot of faith in Derek Johnson’s ability to correct this, especially given that Miley, at age 33, certainly doesn’t have youth on his side at this point of his career.
In other news, the Reds announced that Joe Mather has been hired as the team’s assistant hitting coach, replacing Donnie Ecker, who previously left to become the hitting coach in San Francisco. MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon had the news. You’ll be unsurprised to learn that Mather, formerly a player with the Cardinals and Cubs, spent the last five seasons in player development with the Arizona Diamondbacks, whose farm director during that time was none other than Mike Bell, current Reds manager David Bell’s brother. In convenient timing, Mike was hired yesterday as the new bench coach of the Minnesota Twins, too.
Former Reds farmhand Ben Lively has re-upped to spend the 2020 season pitching in Korea, as MLB Trade Rumors noted. He’ll ply his trade again with the Samsung Lions.
Finally, the Reds released the dates and locations for their January Reds Caravan, all of which you can read about here. Frankly, I love that they do this every year, and that’s likely because I grew up a Reds fan who didn’t actually live in Cincinnati. Making it to RedsFest was a bit more difficult from an hour or so away, but knowing the caravan would be making a stop in my city every year meant I still felt like I could keep up with the offseason developments in a somewhat similar fashion.