The last calendar year has sure been something for the pocketbooks of the Cincinnati Reds.
They gave away Archie Bradley rather than tender him a contract, and Bradley eventually signed for $6 million with the Phillies, signaling he actually had market value. They gave Raisel Iglesias to the Angels, who promptly rewarded them with a season so good he received a Qualifying Offer. They plowed through a 2021 season shorthanded after failing to spend to replace either, and within moments of the end of that campaign gave away both Tucker Barnhart and Wade Miley.
In Miley’s case, it was quite literally a giveaway, as he was waived - waived - after a 6 bWAR season.
As the Reds continue in their epic quest to ‘align their payroll to their resources,’ it’s clear that carving off pieces of this once-promising roster just two years after a five-year run of the roster being a complete disaster is the priority for this ownership group. Not winning, not living up to the legacy of the previous hundred years of sport, but trying to make the most goddamn money they possibly can at the expense of winning, at the expense of their fans.
More is coming. You just know it.
The other teams certainly know it. They’re circling like vultures already, and as Jon Morosi of MLB Network reported on Wednesday morning, wheeler-dealer extraordinaire Jerry Dipoto is the latest, with the Seattle Mariners having interest in Reds ace Luis Castillo - a player who has been good enough for long enough to actually be owed around $7.5 million for the upcoming season.
Trade market update: The #Mariners are among the teams to check in with the #Reds on right-hander Luis Castillo. Seattle has one of the industry’s top farm systems, and Jerry Dipoto isn’t shy about making major trades. @MLBNetwork @MLB— Jon Morosi (@jonmorosi) November 10, 2021
This article isn’t about Seattle’s robust farm system, or trying to coax Jarred Kelenic out from under their nose (they won’t). This is merely a mostly objective look at the obvious - there are going to be more culls of our Cincinnati Reds, with the players making the most money the ones being led to the door in the fastest carts.
It could well be Sonny Gray. He’s got the most guaranteed money on his contract among the pitching staff for 2022, after all. San Francisco just lost their entire starting staff to free agency, more or less, and that entire staff consisted of former Reds arms anyway, showing that Farhan Zaidi obviously appreciates pitchers in the same way the Reds and Derek Johnson have. Hell, Curt Casali is even catching for San Francisco these days, and Sonny already knows the Bay Area quite well. That could be the next move, or at least the one that comes right after the Reds dump Castillo for something cheaper.
What we can only hope, at this juncture, that the bullshit ‘reboot’ label the previous iteration of firesale was given actually applies to whatever it is the Reds are doing this winter. That is, that they aren’t going to gut every last standing vestage of that that rebuild put together, and hold tight at a certain distinct fall-back point on the payroll that is greater than whatever 26 times the league minimum adds up to.
Given what this ownership group has shown us so far in the last decade in a half, though, do you really trust them to stop once they get started?