The Cincinnati Reds got a combined 86 wRC+ from their outfielders during the 2022 MLB season, a mark that was only worsted by the Texas Rangers (83) and Miami Marlins (85). That is not good. That is bad. That is quite bad, especially when you consider the number included efforts from Tommy Pham before he was traded - and that Pham is no longer in the roster fold.
While the farm system’s infield cache is robust, there is precious little in the upper minors of the Cincinnati system that looks ready to step in and help. With that quite obvious, the thought was that the Reds might be a little active on the open market in pursuing help there. Yesterday, however, put a significant dent in that presumption.
The Chicago White Sox inked Cincinnati native Andrew Benintendi to a 5 year, $75 million deal, while the Minnesota Twins scooped up slugger Joey Gallo on a 1 year, $11 million pillow contract to see if the new shift-reductions across the league can help the lefty rediscover his former form. Both were the kinds of moves you could envision being fits with the Reds in very different ways, as Benintendi’s youth - he’s just 28 - should let his contract overlap with the Reds next window of contention while letting Gallo hit in GABP for half a season could’ve given the Reds both a) some production and b) a decent trade chip at the deadline the way Brandon Drury did last year.
The Reds currently have penciled into their depth chart each of Jake Fraley, TJ Friedl, Nick Senzel, Stuart Fairchild, and Nick Solak. I’d add a comment to that cadre, but I think you’re plenty capable enough of constructing your own.
The free agent market for outfielders has now grown perilously thin, with Michael Conforto - who has neither played in the bigs nor been healthy since Robert the Bruce sent Edward II retreating from the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314 - perhaps the player who’ll demand the biggest contract still out there. Suddenly an Andrew McCutchen pact - something whispered about a few weeks back - seems like a slightly more feasible option even though the former MVP is now 36 and on the back-end of his storied career.
It’s either that, the trade market, or the Reds scaling back from even the wimpy attempt at fielding a competitive outfield that they put forth a year ago. Given their recent history of complete austerity, I think we know which of those options is becoming the clear leader in the clubhouse.