Daniel Corrigan | March 1st, 2020
Next up in our 2020 MLB season previews are the Cincinnati Reds of the National League Central. There was a lot of buzz around this team last season after they traded for Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, and Alex Wood in the off-season. It ultimately ended in disappointment.
Make sure to check out our other Team Previews here.
The Reds are once again interesting after some mid-season trades and free agency signings. Before we look at the 2020 season, lets recap last season for the Reds.
The Reds finished the season with a record of 75-87 and finished fourth in the NL central. At the trade deadline, the Reds acquired Trevor Bauer from the Cleveland Indians that sent Puig back to Cleveland. The Reds saw an even bigger emergence of Eugenio Suarez who hit 49 bombs on the season. Aristides Aquino was a rookie who hit an MLB record of 13 home runs in his first career 100 plate appearances.
They showed some talent, but just had that feel of a team that was a few years off. That was until the great off-season that the Reds had.
Make sure to check out our other Team Previews here.
Catcher: Tucker Barnhart
One interesting thing about this group is that Barnhart was a switch-hitter. Notice how I said WAS. He started to make the Switch last season to a full-time left-handed hitter. But this may be the most open spot for this team. On one hand, Barnhart is a former Gold-Glove catcher who is still a wall behind the plate. On the other, Curt Casali is a little bit better at the plate. This is going to be a revolving door at who will be catching every game. It most likely will be depending on who is going to be pitching that day.
First base: Joey Votto
Votto has been one of the most underrated players in his era. However, He has had two straight down seasons at the plate. In 2017, Votto slashed .454/.578/1.032. Which is very good. He finished 2nd in MVP voting. From 2018-2019, Votto slashed .387/.415/.803. This is not bad for a 36-year-old player, but you would like to see more out of him. If he can get back to his old form, even just a little bit…..watch out.
Second base: Mike Moustakas
Moustakas was one of the biggest signings of the off-season. He signed to a four-year, $64 million contract. Moustakas is moving from third base to a less familiar spot in the middle of the infield. He posted his third all-star appearance last season and his first since 2017. The former World Series MVP will bring that veteran leadership, as well as some pop and a good glove to a young team.
Shortstop: Freddy Galvis
The Reds looked to upgrade this spot in the off-season, but couldn’t make any moves. Galvis is no horrible player by any metric, but he is not what a team fighting for the playoffs should want at the premier position. He has a decent glove and some power, but I could see the Reds upgrading the position at the deadline.
Third base: Eugenio Suárez
One of the most underrated players in the league. He was an all-star in 2018 with 34 HRs, a WAR of 4.2, and a slash line of .366/.526/.892. The next season he hit 49 HRs which was second in all of baseball. He also had a WAR of 4.5 and a slash-line of .358/.572/.930……He was not an all-star.
Outfield: Shogo Akiyama, Nicholas Castellanos, Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker
There is a ton of talent in the outfield for the Reds, including two high-priced free agents in Akiyama and Castellanos. Many may be asking where Aquino is? Well, the Reds are not rebuilding at the moment and a 25-year-old Aquino still has some minor league options left. There is no point in having him not get regular playing time in Cincinnati while he can get constant reps in Triple-A.
We could see Senzel become a utility man, but he will be primarily running out to center to start games. This kid is a superstar in the making who also could be moved to shortstop or even moved for a big-time shortstop. Either way, the Reds have options with what to do with Senzel.
The obvious headliner here is Castellanos, who was a big name at the deadline last season and a big name in free agency. He has some serious power in his bat but is pretty awful, to be blunt, in the field, which may cause him to be subbed out late in tight games.
Rotation: RHP Trevor Bauer, RHP Luis Castillo, RHP Sonny Gray, RHP Anthony DeSclafani, LHP Wade Miley
The biggest question is who will be the ace of this squad? I think Castillo is awesome, he was arguably the best pitcher for the Reds last season. But I am giving the nod to Bauer. He is the Veteran who has the experience of pitching in the big games. I think he had a down season and will have a bounce-back this year.
But Gray will have a ton of expectations this season. After some horrible years with the Yankees, he had a big bounce-back year with the Reds. He posted a 2.87 ERA with a WAR of 5.6. If he is as good as he was last season, this could be a deep and very dangerous rotation.
Dare I say…..one of the best in baseball?
Bullpen: LHP Amir Garrett, RHP Michael Lorenzen, RHP Pedro Strop, RHP Robert Stephenson, LHP Cody Reed, RHP Lucas Sims, RHP Nate Jones, (Closer) RHP Raisel Iglesias
Iglesias posted a career-worst 4.16 ERA in 2019 that saw his H/9 spike to a career-worst 8.2. He will still be the closer but the Reds are desperate for him to get back to his old form.
Lorenzen is not only a really good reliever, but he could very well get some reps in the outfield. There is a very rare rule where a pitcher can take over for someone in the field and go right back in and pitch with a new player coming to play that defensive position. Lorenzen has versatility.
Garrett will be the back-end lefty. He managed a 142 ERA+ last season while showing the kind of top-end potential that a manager would love with a lefty reliever.
Overall, they have some very solid players, but I would love to see this team hit the trade market and pick up a big-name if they are still in the hunt.
Players To Watch
Nick Senzel: I think that Senzel could be the Reds center fielder for now and the future. But he could also be used to acquire a big-name player. As I said earlier, the Reds have some options as to what to do with him. But if he becomes the player that the Reds think he will be this season, he may be here to stay and someone like Aquino could be moved instead.
Trevor Bauer: I had big expectation for Bauer last season. In 2018, he suffered a broken leg that derailed a potential Cy Young season. He was my prediction to be the 2019 AL Cy Young, but he just went back to his 2013-2015 performances. I expect a huge season from him and get back into the discussion of the best starters in the game.
Prediction: 89-73, 2nd in NL Central, Just misses wildcard
They will juuuust miss a division crown and a wildcard spot. I think The Cubs will steal this division and the Phillies and Mets will be the two wildcard teams. But for both cases, it will be very close. The Reds are one year away. But if they make some moves at the deadline, this prediction may change. For now, they are going to be good enough to compete, but not make the playoffs.
Questions and comments?
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Main Credit Image:Embed from Getty Images