Cincinnati Reds Preview
With the first team in the final division in baseball, the National League Central, I will be previewing the team that is in the worst shape among the division, the Cincinnati Reds. A team that truly rebuilds trades away most of their top talent, and a lot of their veteran talent as well. While the Reds have traded the likes of Jay Bruce, Aroldis Chapman, and Todd Frazier, they still have a lot of veteran talent that has no purpose being there. Joey Votto won't go anywhere, but they still have Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart, Billy Hamilton, and numerous of starters that are trade bait. The Reds haven't fully committed, and that's why they are going to be stuck at the bottom for a while.
PROJECTED ROTATION: Anthony DeSclafini, Brandon Finnegan, Homer Bailey, Scott Feldman, Tim Adleman
The Reds pitching staff is full of borderline big league starters, and a lot of them have been converted into relievers. The two youngsters that have earned a spot in the rotation the most are DeSclafini and Finnegan, and in DeSclafini's 20 starts, he was clearly the best on the team. Homer Bailey is a veteran, and he struggled last year after returning from an injury that kept him out of the league for more than a year. He has enough veteran status and sway with the organization to have him penciled in at the very least into the rotation. New addition Scott Feldman has pitched like an ace at times, but also has pitched like a minor leaguer the rest of the time. Tim Adleman gets the nod for the last spot, but he really is hanging on for dear life. Robert Stephenson, Bronson Arroyo and number two prospect Amir Garrett are the main competition for a rotation spot.
BULLPEN: Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani, Michael Lorenzen, Jumbo Diaz, Drew Storen, Blake Wood, Robert Stephenson
The Reds don't have a guaranteed closer yet, Drew Storen is the only one in the bullpen with satisfactory experience but he has struggled since the Nationals, his former team, traded for Jonathan Papelbon to close instead of him. Iglesias, Cingrani and Lorenzen have all been starters in the past, and are now competing for the closer's spot. Cingrani has the most saves, but Iglesias might be the best of them. Jumbo Diaz was a good reliever for the Reds last year, Blake Wood had the most appearances, and Robert Stephenson is the long man. Cody Reed, Wandy Peralta and non-roster invitee Louis Coleman are contending for spots as well.
CATCHERS: Tony Barnhart, Devin Mesoraco
There was a time, when the Reds were actually in contention, when Devin Mesoraco looked like he could become an elite catcher in baseball. Injuries (at least temporarily) derailed those hopes, but he still can salvage enough trade value to be worth something to this team. Tony Barnhart is going in as the starter, because he hasn't spent the last few seasons being off and on from the 60 day disabled last, but Mesoraco is the better player. Stuart Turner and non-roster invitee Rob Brantly are the main competition for a roster spot.
INFIELDERS: Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Zack Cozart, Eugenio Suarez, Arismendy Alcantara, Dilson Herrera
All four of these infielders should be traded for prospects, but at the same time Joey Votto is never going to leave Cincinnati and Cozart is young enough to be around for a while. I'm not sure when Brandon Phillips will be traded, it's not an if, it's a when, but that will open up a starting spot for either Scott Schebler or Dilson Herrera. Eugenio Suarez is a good hitter, but he is a mere placeholder. Arismendy Alcantara can play all over the diamond, and thus will get a roster spot, along with prospect Dilson Herrera.
OUTFIELDERS: Adam Duvall, Billy Hamilton, Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, Desmond Jennings
This outfield situation is unique, because the Reds desire to get the first four players listed above regular playing time. Adam Duvall came out of nowhere to hit 33 home runs and drive in 100+ runs, and he might be a key part of the future in Cincy. Billy Hamilton has supposed to have been that as well, but his bat and injury history have kept him from being the Rickey Henderson many thought he could be. Still, 58 stolen bases in 119 games is a ton. Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler are essentially fighting for the last outfield spot, and since Schebler is basically a poor man's Duvall, Peraza is the guy here. Desmond Jennings has spent a lot of time on the DL over the past few seasons with the Rays, and he is an intriguing low-risk, high-reward signing.