The Cincinnati Reds have some work to do, either to once again defy projections and run differentials or to actively improve their own roster. That’s based on the latest numbers run by the group over at FanGraphs, who have both the current depth charts and projections for said rosters now available.
Mike Petriello of MLB.com took a closer look at each club’s current roster based on said projections and ranked them for all to see. And while the feel-good youth movement we saw from the Reds for most of 2023 was hopefully a harbinger of better things to come, it’s clear that Nick Krall & Co. have a ton of heavy lifting to do if they’re going to scratch and claw their way to the top of the National League Central in 2024.
The Reds check in at spot #22, for the record. That’s behind each of the St. Louis Cardinals (#12), Milwaukee Brewers (#16), and Chicago Cubs (#19) within their own division. Petriello’s analysis is both stark and spot-on, too, as he notes the Reds have a lot of young infielders but need help at every other facet of the game - starting pitching, relief pitching, and a righty to balance out the outfield.
That’s a lengthy shopping list for Krall, one that should, in theory, be helped by both a lot of wiggle room within the budget and by a farm (and crop of rookies) who can be used in trades. Of course, that’s also a pretty tall mountain to climb from day one of the season, especially since we’ve already seen how anxious the Chicago Cubs are to make waves within the division and how the Cardinals have already announced to the world their intentions on landing three starting pitchers to vault back into contention.
Is it impossible to think the Reds are criminally under-projected here? It’s not, though it’s pretty reasonable to think this is a pretty accurate representation. Is there a chance their youth turns the corner quicker than these projections anticipate and they blow the doors off the league in 2024? Sure!
Is there, though, reason to think the Reds - for all their initial success within the rebuild - might actually have more work to do than they’ve already done to get over the hump? I think you can make a very good argument that is the case, which makes how they navigate this hot stove season that much more under the spotlight.