Though it’s something we hoped to ignore, tried to shield our eyes from, this Cincinnati Reds season has long been unraveling. The eight consecutive series losses, many against teams that have already hung up their boots for this season, was the most glaring example from a bottom-line perspective, but a quick glance at the team’s roster showed this was simply something that wasn’t going to be sustainable.
Long gone is Nick Senzel, with Jesse Winker’s one-game cameo his lone appearance over what will end up being the season’s final two months. Shogo Akiyama and Tyler Naquin are sidelined indefinitely, too, Tyler Stephenson temporarily hit the mystery IL in the middle of the COVID pandemic, and Wednesday’s news from the Reds didn’t get any better.
In fact, it pretty well cemented what we’d seen earlier this month - that Mike Moustakas, the team’s record free agent signing, was hurt. As it turns out, he’s now back on the IL with the same plantar fasciitis injury that sent him to the 60-day IL earlier this season.
The #Reds today placed on the 10-day injured list, retro to Tuesday, IF Mike Moustakas and designated for assignment RHP R.J. Alaniz. The Reds have selected from Triple-A Louisville the contract of RHP Dauri Moreta.— Cincinnati Reds (@Reds) September 22, 2021
There are technically 11 days left in this season, but surely this means Moose is shelved for the remainder. If so, that leaves him with a .208/.282/.372 line in just 206 PA.
Since signing with the Reds, the now 33 year old owns a .217/.304/.413 line in just 369 PA, and his backloaded contract means he’s still owed a minimum of $38 million on his contract (assuming the Reds buy out the option on his contract for 2024). Guessing that’s not exactly what either side had in mind when the deal was inked prior to last season.
It’s a frustrating reality facing the Reds now, and one that will define their business this offseason. In theory, Moose was going to play 2B this year with Eugenio Suarez entrenched as the everyday 3B, but the emergence of Jonathan India threw the first big wrench into those plans. Pair that with Geno’s prolonged poor performance, and the Reds now have some $73 million tied up in a pair of 3Bs who don’t add much anywhere else defensively and haven’t produced up to par offensively. Even the potential addition of a DH to this roster doesn’t truly unwind that problem, since at this juncture finding ways to get them both out of the lineup seems more productive than finding ways to get them both into it.
That’s a lot of time, money, and effort tied up in 3B when they will need to address up to three different positions in the OF this winter, too. Nick Castellanos is as good as gone given his ability to opt into free agency, and even though Winker is brilliant when healthy, he’s never once been healthy for anything close to a full year. Nor has Senzel or Naquin, while Shogo will be 34 and still hasn’t proven anything at this level.
I don’t know where any of this goes. I can pretty firmly suggest it won’t get solved by a cash infusion from the frugal owners, and they stubbornly won’t acknowledge sunk costs even when they stare them in the face. So, this will probably end with them holding on to what they’re already paying for, hoping and crossing fingers it just gets better, and not investing any money elsewhere since it’s tied up in something else.
These are our Cincinnati Reds, after all.