Cincinnati Reds – MLB Trade Rumors 2018-06-23T21:02:49Z https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/feed/atom WordPress Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Reds Prospect Nick Senzel To Have Season-Ending Surgery]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125611 2018-06-23T15:23:32Z 2018-06-23T14:47:11Z The Reds have announced that their top prospect, third baseman Nick Senzel, will undergo season-ending surgery in order to repair a torn tendon in his right index finger.

It appears as though Senzel suffered the injury while making a defensive play during the top half of the first inning in a Triple-A matchup against the Norfolk Tides. Although he initially remained in the game for the Louisville Bats, he was removed in the bottom half of the inning, and now it appears the Reds are facing one of the worst-case outcomes, as a player who seemed ready to contribute in the majors at some point soon will instead miss the remainder of 2018.

The 22-year-old Senzel is a consensus top-flight young talent in the game, with all four of Fangraphs, MLB Pipeline, Baseball America and Baseball Prospectus labeling him as either the game’s sixth- or seventh-best prospect in their most recent rankings. A 6’1″ third baseman, Senzel has raked at a .310/.378/.509 clip in 193 Triple-A plate appearances this season while slugging six homers and swiping eight bags.

For what it’s worth, The Athletic’s C. Trent Rosencrans reports that the Reds expect Senzel to make a full recovery, and they believe the injury is unlikely to affect him moving forward. Furthermore, it seems as though he could still feasibly be ready in time for further development in the Arizona Fall League or in winter ball. Online research, at least, would seem to corroborate that last point, as a few sources suggest that a finger with said injury can handle heavy sports activities after about 12 weeks post-surgery.

Prior to this stunning turn of events, Senzel seemed to be on the brink of a potential major-league call-up, at least by basic logic. He was just coming off a two-homer game and had three in the past week in addition to his strong Triple-A batting line. Furthermore, a promotion at this point in the season would not have helped him qualify for Super Two status, as that deadline has almost certainly passed for the season. Though he would appear to be blocked at third base by a red-hot Eugenio Suarez, Senzel’s actually been getting some reps at the keystone this season in order to give him a more direct path to the majors.

For now, though, the young wunderkind will sit on the MiLB injury shelf, where he won’t gather any MLB service time. That means Reds fans will likely have to wait until at least three weeks into next season to see Senzel at Great American Ballpark, as Cincinnati will almost certainly look to manipulate his service clock in order to gain an extra year of team control over him.

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Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Select Kyle Crockett, Option Wandy Peralta, Release Tony Cruz]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=125507 2018-06-21T20:50:44Z 2018-06-21T20:50:44Z The Reds announced a series of roster moves Thursday, most notably selecting the contract of left-handed reliever Kyle Crockett and optioning fellow southpaw Wandy Peralta to Triple-A Louisville in his place. Cincinnati opened a spot on the 40-man roster for Crockett by releasing Triple-A catcher Tony Cruz. Additionally, the Reds placed Scott Schebler on the bereavement list and recalled outfielder Phil Ervin from Louisville.

[Related: Updated Cincinnati Reds depth chart]

The decision to option Peralta was likely a disheartening one for the organization. The hard-throwing 26-year-old looked to be on the path to establishing himself as a quality big league reliever last season when he tossed 64 2/3 innings with a 3.76 ERA, 7.9 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.1 HR/9 and a 54.2 percent ground-ball rate. Most encouragingly, Peralta showed minimal platoon splits (.287 wOBA vs. lefties, .298 vs. righties).

Unfortunately for Peralta, the 2018 campaign has been nothing short of a nightmare. He has more walks (25) than strikeouts (21) in 29 1/3 innings so far in 2018, and he’s hit a pair of batters as well. He’s allowed just one homer on the season, but his awful control in 2018 has resulted in a 6.14 ERA. Things have been particularly bad of late, as Peralta has surrendered 11 runs over his past five innings of work; he was charged with five earned runs without recording an out in his final appearance before being optioned.

Cincinnati will hope that Crockett, 26, can step into the role they’d set aside for Peralta. The 2013 Indians fourth-rounder was somewhat improbably the first player from his draft class to reach the Majors, and he did so in impressive fashion, posting a 1.80 ERA with a 28-to-8 K/BB ratio in 30 innings for Cleveland as a rookie in 2014. Since that time, however, he’s managed just a 4.84 ERA in 38 MLB innings. Crockett pitched well for Cleveland’s Triple-A club in 2017 and has a 4.00 ERA with a 23-to-5 K/BB ratio in 27 Triple-A innings this season.

Cruz, 31, hit .154/.154/.308 in 26 plate appearances this season while serving in a backup capacity for the Reds. However, the Reds picked up Curt Casali in a minor trade with the Rays, displacing Cruz as the backup to Tucker Barnhart. In 73 plate appearances with Louisville this year, Cruz has batted .188/.260/.344.

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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Amateur Draft Signings: 6/13/18]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124912 2018-06-13T15:38:16Z 2018-06-13T15:35:12Z We’ll use this post to track Wednesday’s notable agreements from the top few rounds of the draft (rankings referenced are courtesy of Baseball AmericaMLB.comFangraphs and ESPN’s Keith Law — with the scouting reports from MLB and Fangraphs both coming free to the general public) …

  • Reds second-round pick Lyon Richardson scored a $2MM payday to forego his commitment to the University of Florida, per MLB.com’s Jim Callis (via Twitter). That’s nearly half a million over the slot value ($1,520,300) for a player who has only recently emerged as a high-end pitching prospect. MLB.com’s team was highest among major prospect outlets, ranking Richardson 67th on the basis of his ample upside as an athletic hurler who has shown big velocity despite unpolished mechanics.
  • The Yankees have announced a variety of signings, including deals with second-rounder Josh Breaux and third-rounder Ryder Green. These agreements were first reported by Callis (Twitter links), with the bonus values pinned down by Jon Heyman of Fan Rag (Twitter links). Breaux’s bonus of $1,497,500 handily tops his $1,086,900 slot value, while Green, too, receives an over-slot $997,500 bonus that exceeds his $576,400 slot value. All of the above lists include Breaux among the top 100 available prospects, with an increasingly promising bat and improving work behind the dish justifying the placement.
  • The Braves got second-round selection Greyson Jenista for a $1.2MM bonus that leaves them $250,500 of extra pool space to work with, Callis reports on Twitter. The Wichita State slugger received a fairly broad array of grades from prospect hounds, but the Fangraphs crew was highest. With big power and the ability to draw walks, but also plenty of swing-and-miss in his game, there’s a lot to like about the bat. One major question is whether Jenista will be able to work into being a reasonable defender in the corner outfield, or whether instead he’s destined for first base in the long run.
  • Second-rounder Alek Thomas will join the Diamondbacks rather than heading to TCU, as Callis also tweets. The deal includes a $1.2MM bonus that tops the $1,035,500 allocation that came with the 63rd overall draft slot. Law was quite bullish on the young outfielder, crediting him with “five-tool potential” and “an advanced feel on both sides of the ball.”
  • The Nationals have also agreed to terms with their second-round selection, UConn lefty Tim Cate, Callis adds on Twitter. It’s an at-slot, $986,200 bonus for the 65th overall choice of the draft. Best known for his big hook, Cate is an undersized hurler who has also had some worrying arm health questions crop up. Still, Baseball America ranked him 54th on its board, noting his “exceptional feel to land his breaking ball in the zone and bury it for swings and misses.”
  • Still another second-rounder, Florida Atlantic infielder Tyler Frank, will take home a $997,500 bonus from the Rays, per MLB.com’s Jonathan Mayo (Twitter link). That leaves the Tampa Bay club with some extra funds to work with, as the 56th slot came with a $1,228,000 allocation. Also going under-slot were Royals second-rounder Jonathan Bowlan ($697,500 bonus vs. $1,168,300 slot) and Twins second-rounder Ryan Jeffers ($800K bonus vs. $1,140,600 slot), according to Callis (Twitter links)
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Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Draft Signings: 6/9/18]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124596 2018-06-10T01:33:50Z 2018-06-10T01:33:50Z Check out some of the latest draft signings outside of the first round…

  • Fourth-rounder Mike Siani has agreed to terms with the Reds, tweets FanRag Sports’ Jon Heyman. The deal will pay Siani $2MM, which comes in over slot value. Siani, notably, is giving up a scholarship offer from the famed University of Virginia to join Cincinnati’s minor league ranks. He’s a catcher coming out of William Penn Charter High School in Pennsylvania; he’s been described by Baseball America as “a plus-plus runner with natural instincts in center field, [and] raw power and bat speed from the left side of the plate.” Indeed, the publication ranked him as the number 53 draft prospect headed in, but clearly he fell due to signability concerns. The Reds, then, will make great use of their fourth-round selection with the addition of Siani.
  • The Rays have officially signed second-round pick Tyler Frank out of Florida Atlantic, reports Marc Topkin of the Tampa Bay Times. The 185-pound shortstop was generally ranked around number 70 or so in draft rankings by Fangraphs, Baseball America and MLB.com.
  • Darren Wolfson of KSTP reports that the Twins have signed their second- and fourth-round picks. Catcher Ryan Jeffers, taken in round two, was ranked by Baseball America just inside the top 300 draft prospects; they described him as a below-average runner with an average arm behind the plate, though they did note his power as being impressive. Meanwhile, fourth-rounder DaShawn Kiersey Jr. is largely heralded for his contact skills. He came in 82nd in BA’s pre-draft rankings due to that skill. While some scouts worry that a gruesome hip injury suffered last year will cause him to decline faster, his “solid package of tools” give him great upside in MLB. With the above info in mind, perhaps it’s not entirely surprising that Jeffers signed for below slot value, while Kiersey Jr.’s deal exceeded his slot value (per Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press).
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Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Activate Anthony DeSclafani, Release Kevin Shackelford]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124210 2018-06-05T19:27:22Z 2018-06-05T19:11:32Z The Reds announced today that they have activated righty Anthony DeSclafani from the 60-day disabled list. Clearing the way for his long-awaited return, the organization optioned righty Jackson Stephens and released right-hander Kevin Shackelford.

DeSclafani’s return to action tonight represents the culmination of a lengthy rehab effort. The 28-year-old had been a noted success story for the Reds after coming over in the pre-2015 Mat Latos swap, working to a 3.74 ERA in 308 frames over his first two seasons in Cincinnati.

Successive injuries, however, put DeSclafani on the shelf. He was working back from a long absence owing to a sprained ulnar collateral ligament when he suffered an oblique strain.

In between those injuries, DeSclafani agreed to avoid arbitration with the Reds for $860K. That rate of pay obviously reflects the right-hander’s absence, but does also increase his potential value if he can get back to something approaching his prior form.

Thus far in 2018, DeSclafani has thrown 19 1/3 innings in the high minors on a rehab assignment. Though he has surrendered ten earned runs on five long balls, he’s also maintaining a healthy 22:3 K/BB ratio.

As for Shackelford, he sported an impressive 16.1% swinging-strike rate and 58.0% groundball rate in 30 2/3 MLB innings last year, though he also allowed a few too many long balls and a 4.70 ERA. But he struggled in limited action this and is now headed for elbow surgery, per C. Trent Rosecrans of the Cincinnati Enquirer (via Twitter).

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reds’ Anthony DeSclafani To Make Season Debut Tuesday]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=124018 2018-06-03T19:58:06Z 2018-06-03T19:55:18Z Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani will make his long-awaited return to the Reds’ rotation with a start on Tuesday against the Rockies, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports. It’ll be DeSclafani’s first major league appearance since Sept. 28, 2016. Given that DeSclafani’s currently on the 60-day disabled list and the Reds’ 40-man roster is full, they’ll need to make a corresponding move prior to activating him.

Injuries have beset DeSclafani over the past couple years, as a sprained ulnar collateral ligament kept him out for all of 2017 before a left oblique strain shelved him for the first two months of this season. DeSclafani was a quality mid-rotation starter before then, combining for 308 innings of 3.74 ERA/3.79 FIP ball from 2015-16 – the ex-Marlin’s first two seasons as a Red. Although, DeSclafani’s injury troubles began in earnest in the latter of those years, when an oblique issue cost him two months and limited him to 123 1/3 frames.

Now, if the 28-year-old DeSclafani is able to revisit his old form upon his return, it would be a boon to a rebuilding Cincinnati club that has struggled mightily to develop starting pitching. The Reds’ DeSclafani-less rotation has logged a league-worst 5.59 ERA since last season, and bright spots have been hard to find this year – especially with 2017 breakout starter Luis Castillo amid a disappointing campaign. Among the rotation pieces the Reds have used this season, only Matt Harvey (4.44) and Tyler Mahle (4.38) have managed ERAs under five, but even they’re well below the National League average for starters (3.98).

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Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reds Place Homer Bailey On DL]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123945 2018-06-03T02:35:27Z 2018-06-03T02:35:03Z
  • The Reds have placed righty Homer Bailey on the DL, retroactive to May 30, with right knee inflammation, Jay Paris of MLB.com relays. Interim manager Jim Riggleman revealed that Bailey has been dealing with a knee issue “for about a month,” though the club doesn’t regard it as a serious injury. In any case, the DL placement continues a tough week for Bailey, whom the Reds demoted to a relief role on Wednesday. To this point, all 204 of Bailey’s MLB appearances have come as a starter. Unsurprisingly, then, Bailey’s “not thrilled” about shifting to the bullpen, according to Paris.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Royals Claim Rosell Herrera]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123883 2018-06-02T19:50:16Z 2018-06-02T19:36:02Z The Royals have claimed utilityman Rosell Herrera off waivers from the Reds, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports on Twitter. Herrera was designated for assignment yesterday in order to make room for catcher Curt Casali on the Reds’ roster. In a corresponding move, righty Nate Karns has been transferred to the 60-day DL.

    Herrera was an international signing of the Rockies in July of 2009, and vaulted his way up the club’s prospect list over the next few years. At one point, a .343/.419/.515 in his age-20 minor league season earned him the number 86 spot on Baseball America’s top 100 overall prospects. He was highly regarded enough at one point to be added to the club’s roster in order to receive protection from the Rule 5 Draft.

    However, after a pair of dismal seasons in High-A ball from 2014-2015, the Rockies released him and re-signed him to a new minors pact; that very same thing happened again the following season. From that point on, he never really made any headlines until being once again released by the Rockies this past offseason and subsequently re-signed by the Reds in a minor-league contract. Even the rebuilding Reds, however, didn’t consider him to be worth a roster spot after watching him strike out in five of his first 13 major league plate appearances, even after the young outfielder managed to slug .500 across nearly a hundred plate appearances at Triple-A.

    It’s easy to think, though, that he could find playing time with a Royals club that seems content to look for hidden gems in the beginning stages of a rebuilding process. Herrera is capable of playing both the infield and the outfield, so he could very well earn a major league look in Kansas City with a strong minors performance over an extended stretch.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Acquire Tommy Bergjans From Phillies]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123779 2018-06-02T04:17:23Z 2018-06-02T03:33:40Z
  • The Reds acquired right-hander Tommy Bergjans from the Phillies in exchange for cash, also per Eddy. Bergjans, 25, went from the Dodgers to the Phillies in the 2016 Carlos Ruiz/A.J. Ellis trade. He struggled to a 6.57 ERA with solid control but just 7.1 K/9 and a whopping 2.37 HR/9 in 50 1/3 innings at the Double-A level last season. He’s allowed just two runs through seven innings this season but has failed to record a strikeout in that time.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Designate Rosell Herrera, Select Curt Casali]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123794 2018-06-01T19:20:13Z 2018-06-01T19:16:45Z The Reds have designated utilityman Rosell Herrera for assignment, per a club announcement. That move opens a 40-man spot for just-acquired backstop Curt Casali, whose contract was selected.

    It became clear yesterday that Casali would be moving right onto the active roster, as the team announced it was optioning Tony Cruz. Making things official still required another roster decision, though, and that waited until today.

    Herrera, 25, got his first brief taste of the majors with Cincinnati after joining the organization as a minor-league free agent over the winter. He has spent most of the year at Triple-A, where he posted a strong .280/.337/.524 slash with three home runs in ninety plate appearances.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Acquire Curt Casali]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123750 2018-05-31T21:56:04Z 2018-05-31T21:20:11Z 4:34pm: Casali has not been placed on the MLB roster to this point, per C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic (via Twitter). Presumably, though, the team will select Casali’s contract or otherwise bring another catcher up before its next game, which is tomorrow evening.

    4:20pm: The Reds have acquired catcher Curt Casali from the Rays, per a club announcement. Cash considerations are heading to Tampa Bay in return.

    Casali, 29, has seen action in four MLB campaigns. He’s a .199/.285/.385 hitter with 19 home runs in 466 career plate appearances. This season, Casali is off to a solid start to the year at Triple-A, where he’s slashing .283/.330/.467 in one hundred trips to the plate. He has also typically graded as a solid performer at framing pitches, blocking balls in the dirt, and handling the running game.

    It seems that the Reds will be adding Casali to the MLB roster, as the club announced that fellow backstop Tony Cruz has been optioned down to Triple-A. The 31-year-old Cruz has struggled in limited action this year at the MLB level, with 11 strikeouts in his 26 plate appearances.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Move Homer Bailey To Bullpen]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123609 2018-05-30T17:11:39Z 2018-05-30T17:06:53Z TODAY: Bailey will indeed move into the relief unit, MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon tweets.

    YESTERDAY: The Reds have had discussions with right-hander Homer Bailey about a potential shift from the rotation to the bullpen, per John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer (Twitter links). While nothing has been finalized, Fay characterizes the move as a fairly likely one. Righty Luis Castillo would be able to make a start on regular rest in Bailey’s place this Sunday thanks to an upcoming off-day on Thursday.

    Bailey’s six-year, $105MM contract extension with the Reds has proven to be a regrettable misstep for the organization, as the righty underwent Tommy John surgery in 2015 and a second elbow surgery to remove bone spurs in 2017. In all, he’s been limited to just 187 1/3 innings dating back to the 2015 season. In that time, he’s averaged fewer than five innings per start while recording a 6.59 ERA and allowing a .310/.384/.511 batting line to opposing hitters. The 2018 campaign has arguably been his worst, as he currently leads the Majors in allowing hits, home runs and earned runs.

    While it seems fair to question just how much of a leash Bailey has left with regard to hanging onto his roster spot, the fact that the team is exploring a move to a relief role suggests that he won’t be cut loose just yet. Bailey is still owed a whopping $14MM of this season’s $21MM salary, plus a $23MM salary in 2019 and a $5MM buyout on an option for the 2020 campaign. Given that hefty $42MM sum, it’s hardly a surprise that the Reds would exhaust their options in terms of salvaging some kind of value from the ill-fated deal.

    In the meantime, a move of Bailey to the bullpen would create an opening in the rotation behind Castillo, Matt Harvey, Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano. That spot could be earmarked for right-hander Anthony DeSclafani, who is on a minor league rehab assignment at the moment and is nearing a return to the Majors for the first time since 2016. A sprained ulnar collateral ligament in his right arm prevented DeSclafani from taking the hill last season, and he’s yet to pitch in the bigs this year thanks to an oblique strain.

    [Related: Cincinnati Reds depth chart]

    Of course, the rest of the Reds’ rotation isn’t exactly stable in its own right. Castillo has shown signs of rebounding after a rough start, but Harvey is still a ways from cementing himself as a viable big league rotation option just yet. Mahle and Romano have each had their own struggles as well, particularly the latter of the two. Certainly, further juggling of the rotation down the stretch is a possibility, as the Reds have several alternatives in the minors — many of whom are already on the 40-man roster.

    Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed, Brandon Finnegan, Jose Lopez and Keury Mella are the top names in that group, though only Mella has posted particularly strong numbers, and he’s registered those while pitching in Double-A. (The others have all been in Triple-A.) Stephenson has the best surface-level numbers of the Triple-A arms, with a 3.59 ERA in 47 2/3 innings, but while he’s averaged an impressive 10.6 K/9 this year, he’s also averaging more than five walks per nine innings pitched. Lefty Justin Nicolino is also on hand as a veteran option in Louisville, though he’s not on the 40-man roster at present.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Scooter Gennett Discusses His Future In Cincinnati]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123622 2018-05-30T14:27:11Z 2018-05-30T14:27:11Z Reds second baseman Scooter Gennett discussed his future with the ballclub after last night’s game, as MLB.com’s Mark Sheldon reports. While a mid-season trade seems possible, Gennett says he’d “like nothing more than to play [in Cincinnati] long-term.”

    Gennett’s comments are most notable, perhaps, for his discussion of one potential alternative to a trade scenario. The veteran infielder says that his agent made an offseason attempt at starting extension talks with the organization. That effort fizzled, however, when the team “shot it down.”

    A native of the area and childhood Reds fan, Gennett seemingly suggests he’d still be amenable to discussing a new deal. “The ball’s in their court,” he tells Sheldon. “I think it’s really up to Mr. Castellini [owner Bob Castellini] and the front office about where we go from here. I love the team and I’d love to be here.”

    It seems there isn’t any lingering negativity following the unsuccessful offseason contract negotiation efforts. Apart from the differing viewpoints on a long-term deal, the sides failed to settle on an arbitration number. Gennett ultimately prevailed in a hearing, taking down a $5.7MM salary rather than the $5.1MM that the team defended.

    Gennett is eligible for arbitration one final time after the present campaign. It’s certainly possible the Reds could decide to keep him and simply tender him a contract for 2019, though it’s still hard to see the organization as a likely contender next year. Holding Gennett without extending him would mean giving up a chance at achieving future value through a trade or a new contract. It’s not a straightforward decision, particularly with Eugenio Suarez locked in at third and top prospect Nick Senzel at or near MLB readiness and in need of a position.

    It seems at least plausible to think, then, that Gennett will be shopped at the deadline if the club does not view him as a long-term piece that they can extend at an appealing price tag. With a strong offensive track record dating back to the start of the 2017 season, Gennett has certainly earned consideration as a trade target for contending teams. Indeed, we fully examined his potential trade candidacy just yesterday, noting the excellent output at the plate along with some lingering concerns as to its sustainability.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Trade Candidate: Scooter Gennett]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123562 2018-05-29T17:38:01Z 2018-05-29T16:08:19Z The Reds don’t have much going on at the MLB level this year. Their 19-36 record is a bit disappointing, perhaps, but largely aligns with expectations after a winter that mostly involved acquiring some affordable pitching depth to supplement a returning roster filled with question marks.

    There have been some recent front-office wins, though. Offseason additions David Hernandez and Jared Hughes have been nice bullpen buys to this point; both could end up as deadline assets or useful pieces for the 2019 season. The extensions of Tucker Barnhart and Eugenio Suarez have worked out nicely so far. Reclaiming Matt Harvey seems to be a worthwhile, albeit still-uncertain venture.

    Perhaps the biggest score of late, though — setting aside the landing of Luis Castillo, at least — has come via the waiver claim of Scooter Gennett from the division-rival Brewers late in Spring Training last year. Gennett was very productive in 2017, but has now elevated his output yet further in the new season. With the picture of the 2018 trade deadline beginning to take shape, he’s a potential source of trade value for the Reds and an interesting player to examine.

    Avid readers of MLBTR may recall that, at times in the past, I have shed some doubt on Gennett’s merits as a trade candidate. His effort last year was not accompanied by any improvements to his plate discipline, he carried a somewhat elevated .339 batting average on balls in play with less-than-promising Statcast data (.367 wOBA vs. .322 xwOBA), and he continued to struggle against same-handed pitching (.248/.287/.404 vs. lefties).

    Entering the current season, then, my own expectations were not terribly lofty for the 28-year-old, who is playing on a reasonable, but not exactly cut-rate $5.7MM salary. That non-bargain pay grade also weighs down the value of controlling Gennett’s 2019 season via arbitration. It wasn’t all that surprising that he remained with the Reds when the season began, particularly given the relative dearth of demand at second base, a position that he has never fielded with particular excellence.

    Rumors of regression have to this point been greatly exaggerated, though, as Gennett is off to a fabulous start in the new year. Through 212 plate appearances this year, he’s slashing a healthy .340/.376/.558 with ten home runs. That’s good for a 156 wRC+. Despite typically middling defensive grades at second base, Gennett has already contributed 2.2 rWAR / 1.9 fWAR on the year.

    Basically, Gennett is performing right now like a post-breakout Daniel Murphy. The added benefit here, of course, is that he’s younger and cheaper. Gennett is even torching lefties thus far, with a .364/.375/.545 slash that quiets one of the most obvious critiques of his abilities at the plate.

    Impressive as Gennett has been, though, some concerns continue to nag. Surely, he won’t be able to sustain a .405 batting average on balls in play. Statcast numbers again indicate that he has been somewhat fortunate, grading him at a .349 xwOBA that substantially lags his actual .397 wOBA. Gennett certainly has not shown any leaps in the plate-discipline department, as he has an unremarkable combination of a 20.7% strikeout and 5.1% walk rate to begin the 2018 season. And these signals are all the more evident in his 57 plate appearances against southpaws (.514 BABIP, 18:1 K/BB).

    It still seems, then, that some regression is in store. But Gennett has shown signs of real change, too. He has quietly converted groundballs to line drives of late. In 2016, he put the ball on the ground 44.7% of the time and hit liners on 20.8% of his batted balls. Thus far in 2018, he’s at 37.3% and 26.6%, respectively. Though he’s not a particularly dramatic participant in the Launch Angle Revolution, Gennett has steadily elevated over time, moving from an average of 10.5 degrees (2015) to 11.7 degrees (2016) to 12.8 degrees (2017). This year, so far, he sits at 14.4 degrees on average. Of late, Gennett has maintained a lofty homer-per-fly rate (20.8% last year, 17.5% this).

    An optimist might argue that this interesting blend of data points suggests that Gennett has honed in on being the best version of himself. He’s hitting the ball sharply on a line while generating well-struck high flies when that’s what’s available. That it has come through steady development rather than an obvious change in approach should not necessarily represent a red flag. Pessimists, on the other hand, will cite many of the above figures in support of the proposition that Gennett’s skills simply don’t support this kind of output. By that view, while he’s going well over an extended stretch, Gennett still hasn’t provided good reason to believe it’s sustainable. Projection systems, for instance, generally anticipate that he’ll settle into producing in range of the league-average rate.

    We still have about two months of action left before the trade deadline, so the evidence is still being gathered. At some point, though, contending teams with a need at second base will need to decide whether it’s worth trying to pry Gennett loose from the Reds. Just how willing the Cincinnati organization is to deal, meanwhile, could depend in part upon whether and when top prospect Nick Senzel forces a promotion. But the biggest driver will likely be the quality of the offers.

    There are a few other second basemen that will surely be weighed as deadline targets — MLBTR’s Steve Adams recently listed a few — but Gennett is the one presently pacing all MLB second baggers in offensive output. It’s hardly certain that there’ll be broad demand at the position. That may not be entirely necessary if Gennett truly stands out, but that’s just where the core question lies. Clearly, he has proven since joining the Reds that he’s a quality MLB player who can help a contender. But unless one or more teams come to believe he’s truly an everyday, high-level type of performer, it’s fair to wonder whether an offer will come in that’s strong enough to pique the Reds’ interest.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images

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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Brandon Finnegan Unhappy With Demotion To Minors]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123326 2018-05-27T01:01:47Z 2018-05-27T01:01:04Z
  • Reds left-hander Brandon Finnegan tells Bobby Nightengale of the Cincinnati Enquirer that he’s displeased the team demoted him to Triple-A on May 10 to make room for Matt Harvey’s acquisition. Finnegan noted that he’s fine either starting or relieving in the majors, saying “whatever helps the team out is what I want to do,” but he believes he made a case earlier this season to continue in the Reds’ rotation. “I felt like I had two pretty good starts up in Cincinnati,” Finnegan said. “You can’t do anything about getting taken out of the game after 70 pitches. (Reds interim manager Jim) Riggleman loves using the bullpen; that’s his thing. That part was out of my hands. Besides that, two of my five starts I had, I thought were pretty good. I was attacking guys.” Notably, Finnegan added that he has no hard feelings toward Riggleman, per Nightengale. Regardless, Finnegan didn’t exactly make a case to stay in the Reds’ rotation during his five pre-demotion starts  – he logged a 7.40 ERA with 15 walks and 14 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings – though he still expected more leeway after missing most of last season with shoulder issues. The Reds, for their part, haven’t given up on Finnegan serving as a starter in the majors, and they sent him down so he’d work out of their their Triple-A rotation rather than the big league bullpen, Nightengale writes. Finnegan, meanwhile, is using his stint in the minors as motivation and “hoping to get back” to the Reds sooner than later.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Place Raisel Iglesias On Disabled List]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=123100 2018-05-23T20:43:29Z 2018-05-23T20:43:29Z The Reds announced this afternoon that they’ve placed closer Raisel Iglesias on the 10-day disabled list due to soreness in his left (non-throwing) biceps. Fellow righty Austin Brice is also headed to the DL thanks to an upper back injury. In their place, the Reds activated righties Michael Lorenzen and Tanner Rainey from the disabled list. The announcement didn’t include any expected timeline for either player’s absence.

    Iglesias, 28, struggled with his control early in the season but has corrected that issue lately and looked to be in excellent form since late April. He did issue a pair of runs and suffer his second blown save in his most recent appearance, but he’s gone 10 outings without issuing a walk and pitched to a 1.74 ERA with 12 strikeouts in that time. Overall in 21 2/3 innings this season, he’s notched a 2.08 ERA with 11.2 K/9, 3.3 BB/9, 1.25 HR/9 and a 36.2 percent ground-ball rate.

    Brice, meanwhile, has been scored upon in four of his past past five appearances, causing his ERA to balloon up to 4.67 despite largely promising K/BB and ground-ball tendencies. In 25 innings of relief this season, he’s averaged 9.4 K/9 against 2.5 BB/9 with a 50.7 percent ground-ball rate. He’s been too prone to the long ball, though, already serving up four homers on the season. That’s been an ongoing trend for Brice in the big leagues, as he’s yielded a dozen big flies in just 71 2/3 frames at the game’s top level.

    [Related: Cincinnati Reds depth chart | MLB closer depth chart at Roster Resource]

    It’s not yet clear who’ll step into the ninth inning for the Reds with Iglesias out of action. For all of the Reds’ flaws, they actually have several high-quality options in the ’pen, where Amir Garrett, Jared Hughes and Dylan Floro have all worked to a sub-2.00 ERA in 2018. Garrett has very arguably been the team’s most dominant relief arm, averaging better than 10 strikeouts per nine innings and notching a 1.67 ERA in his 27 frames this far. The veteran Hughes has shown the best control of the bunch and comes with the most late-inning experience in the big leagues, having spent several seasons as a setup man for the division-rival Pirates. Lorenzen, meanwhile, was the top setup man to Iglesias last season but has yet to pitch in the Majors this season due to a shoulder strain that caused him to open the season on the disabled list.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Select Brandon Dixon's Contract]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122964 2018-05-23T01:23:33Z 2018-05-23T01:23:44Z
  • The Reds selected the contract of infielder/outfielder Brandon Dixon from Triple-A, optioning Rosell Herrera to Triple-A in a corresponding move.  Dixon, a third-round pick for the Dodgers in the 2013 draft, was one of the three youngsters (along with Jose Peraza and Scott Schebler) dealt to Cincinnati as part of the three-team trade that sent Todd Frazier to the White Sox.  Neither Baseball America or MLB.com ranked Dixon among the Reds’ top 30 prospects, though he put himself on the map this season thanks to an impressive .326/.371/.527 slash line over 140 PA at Triple-A Louisville.  While he has spent much of his pro career as a second and third baseman, Dixon has made multiple starts as a first baseman and corner outfielder this season, giving him added versatility on the Reds’ roster.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds GM Nick Krall Discusses Rise Through Baseball Ops]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122962 2018-05-22T20:14:02Z 2018-05-22T13:41:41Z On his latest podcast, MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand chats with just-minted Reds GM Nick Krall, who took a grinder’s approach to getting into the game. The back story is an interesting listen and also provides some insight into Krall’s background with the Moneyball-era A’s. Of what he learned from Billy Beane, Krall says he was impressed by Beane’s scope of knowledge of players from outside the Oakland organization along with his certitude as to “what he wanted on his team.” From former Reds GM Walt Jocketty, Krall says he learned to exercise greater patience. (Krall describes himself as “a very impatient person” by nature.) It’s a worthwhile listen for fans who want to learn more about the most recent person to be named a major-league general manager.

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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Reds Unlikely To Spend Big On New Manager]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122872 2018-05-21T01:25:11Z 2018-05-21T01:25:11Z
  • The Reds have been playing better under Jim Riggleman, but if the team does still want to make a long-term change in the dugout, Heyman hears that the team isn’t going to be spending big on a managerial salary.  A new skipper will almost certainly make less than Dusty Baker’s $3.5MM annual salary when he was running the team.  This could rule out a star hire like Joe Girardi, who impressed Reds ownership when he interviewed for the job prior to Baker’s hiring.  Interestingly, Heyman believes that Girardi — an Illinois native — could be a candidate if the White Sox decided to make a managerial change, though there isn’t any indication that the Sox are considering moving on from Rick Renteria.  That scenario would have a strong echo of Renteria’s last managerial job, when he stewarded the Cubs through some rebuilding years before being replaced by another star manager in Joe Maddon.

    [SOURCE LINK]
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Anthony DeSclafani Progressing Toward Return]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122812 2018-05-20T18:28:38Z 2018-05-20T18:28:42Z
  • Like Kershaw, Reds righty Anthony DeSclafani is making progress as he works back from his own injury – a left oblique strain. DeSclafani, who previously missed all of last season with a sprained UCL, made a successful start at Double-A on Saturday and could be just two more rehab starts from returning to the majors, Brian Scott Rippee of MLB.com writes. Before injuries derailed his career, DeSclafani was an effective starter in Cincinnati, where he combined for 308 innings of 3.74 ERA/3.79 FIP ball from 2015-16. If the 28-year-old’s anywhere near that good upon returning, it would be a boon for a rebuilding Cincy club that has struggled to find quality starters. The Reds’ DeSclafani-less rotation has posted a horrendous 5.66 ERA dating back to last season.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Release Cliff Pennington]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122659 2018-05-18T21:48:07Z 2018-05-18T21:48:07Z The Reds have released infielder Cliff Pennington at his request, per C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic (via Twitter). He had recently been outrighted off of the 40-man roster.

    Pennington, 34, has been a fixture in the majors since he debuted back in 2008, though he has not been a regular since wrapping up his time with the A’s after the 2012 campaign. In recent seasons, he has functioned as a utilityman with the Diamondbacks, Angels, and (briefly) Blue Jays.

    Over the years, Pennington has compiled ample experience at short and second, while also lining up a fair bit at third base and seeing limited action in left field and at first base. (And, yes, he has also taken the mound.) Despite a marginal .242/.309/.339 career batting line, Pennington has rarely struggled to find work due to his respected glove.

    Last winter, though, it proved impossible for Pennington to land a MLB job. He won a spot on the Cincinnati roster to open the year, but managed only four singles and five walks (with 13 strikeouts) in his 34 plate appearances. Now, he’ll head back onto the open market in hopes of finding another organization that can offer a path back to the big leagues.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Release Ben Rowen]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122325 2018-05-14T19:21:28Z 2018-05-14T19:21:28Z
  • Right-handed reliever Ben Rowen was released from the Reds’ Triple-A affiliate, per Baseball America’s Matt Eddy.The 29-year-old Rowen has just 11 2/3 MLB innings under his belt (none since 2016), but the sidearmer has a lengthy track record of success in Triple-A. He allowed 11 runs in 10 2/3 innings to open the 2018 season, however, and his ground-ball rate, which has previously been well north of 60 percent, was just 41.9 percent so far this season. Rowen entered 2018 with a career 2.81 ERA with 6.9 K/9 against 1.8 BB/9 in parts of five Triple-A campaigns, so perhaps he’ll garner interest elsewhere.
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    Mark Polishuk <![CDATA[Minor MLB Transactions: 5/13/18]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122262 2018-05-13T22:43:55Z 2018-05-13T22:43:55Z The latest minor league moves from around the game…

    • The Reds announced that outfielder Tyler Goeddel was released from Triple-A Louisville’s roster to create room for recently-demoted southpaw Brandon Finnegan.  Goeddel has been in Cincinnati’s organization since being claimed off waivers by the Phillies in April 2017, and he was off to a tough start this season, batting just .229/.326/.349 over 96 PA for Louisville.  Picked 41st overall by the Rays in the 2011 amateur draft, Goeddel hit .192/.258/.291 over 234 plate appearances after the Phillies selected him out of Tampa’s system in the 2015 Rule 5 draft.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[Central Notes: Reyes, R. Rodriguez, Taillon, Senzel]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122101 2018-05-12T14:13:17Z 2018-05-12T14:13:17Z The presence of Rule 5 Draft pick Victor Reyes is somewhat of a strain on the Tigers’ roster. Evan Woodberry of mlive.com takes an extensive look at the topic, and notes that the speedy outfielder’s most definable job so far this season has been as a pinch runner for the aging Victor Martinez. While injuries mount for Detroit, other players have been forced to shoulder a heavier workload, including Mikie Mahtook, who had to start Wednesday’s game against the Rangers despite being jet-lagged and sleep-deprived. While Reyes certainly has a bright future, Woodberry points out that he’s clearly overmatched by big-league pitching in the present; he’s only managed to collect three soft singles so far this season and has an average exit velocity below 80 MPH. In accordance with the Rule 5 boundaries, Reyes must remain on the Tigers’ 25-man roster for the entirety of the season or be returned to his former club (the Diamondbacks). Few around baseball have any doubt that his future is bright, but rostering him for the entire season could prove a significant burden for a club that’s already going to have a hard time winning baseball games.

    Onto some items from the NL Central…

    • Travis Sawchik of Fangraphs writes that the Pirates found a winning lottery ticket in the form of recent minor-league free agent Richard Rodriguez. The 28-year-old right-hander has been just about as dominant as a pitcher can be, evidenced by his 15.53 K/9 and microscopic 0.16 FIP on the young season. He’s already been worth half a win above replacement, as Sawchik points out, which is remarkable considering we’re not even halfway through May. Sawchik has plenty of other interesting facts throughout a deep look into RichRod’s dominance, including the whiff rate on his fastball, his first-pitch strike percentage and the way he’s attacking hitters.
    • In other Pirates news, right-hander Jameson Taillon exited last night’s start with a finger laceration. According to Adam Berry of MLB.com, Taillon is frustrated at the freak accident and hopes it won’t cost him a start. “It just got worse and worse. It’s tough in the short term to come out of a game, but hopefully by coming out when I did, we’ve kind of mitigated it,” Taillon said. “Hopefully I won’t miss starts down the road.” The budding Pirates ace has had something of a Jekyll-and-Hyde season so far, allowing 15 earned runs in his three losses but permitting just three across his other five starts.
    • Nick Senzel’s vertigo is back, and the Reds prospect has landed on the 7-day DL as a result. Mark Sheldon of MLB.com notes that Senzel hasn’t played since being removed from a May 3rd game after just one plate appearance. Vertigo is a condition that brings on dizziness spells and causes the victim to lose balance. Reds president Dick Williams told reporters recently that the club is “being very cautious” with their top-ranked prospect, and at the moment there isn’t a clear timetable for when he’ll be able to resume playing. The club has been playing Senzel at both second and third base this season in hopes of increasing his versatility and finding him a spot at the big league level.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds To Option Brandon Finnegan; Matt Harvey To Start Tomorrow]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122029 2018-05-10T23:45:00Z 2018-05-10T23:45:00Z The Reds will option left-hander Brandon Finnegan to Triple-A Louisville tomorrow, and his spot in the rotation will go to the newly acquired Matt Harvey, the team tells reporters (Twitter link via John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer).

    [Related: Reds Acquire Matt Harvey]

    It’s been a rough start to the season for Finnegan, as the former first-rounder has issued more walks (15) than strikeouts (14) and yielded 20 runs (17 earned) in 20 2/3 innings out of the Cincinnati rotation. Of the 27 hits Finnegan has allowed, five have left the yard. He’ll head to Triple-A and look to hone his command as he looks to work his way back onto the big league roster and trim an unsightly 7.40 ERA.

    As for Harvey, he’ll be getting a fresh start after a dramatic and highly publicized end to his tenure in Queens. The righty has been rocked for 21 runs on 33 hits and nine walks with 20 strikeouts in 27 innings so far in 2018 as he still searches for his pre-thoracic-outlet-syndrome form. Moving to the hitter-friendly Great American Ballpark isn’t likely to do him any favors in curbing his home run problems — he’s yielded six in 27 innings — though the change of scenery and a lower-profile setting could perhaps provide a mental reprieve.

    Cincinnati flipped catcher Devin Mesoraco, whose own career has been derailed by injuries in recent seasons, to the Mets to acquire the rights to roll the dice on Harvey earlier this month. The Reds are reportedly still paying the entirety of Mesoraco’s $13.8MM salary, while the Mets are on the hook for what’s left of Harvey’s $5.6MM salary.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Promote Nick Krall To General Manager]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=122010 2018-05-10T20:32:42Z 2018-05-10T20:32:42Z The Reds announced this afternoon that assistant general manager Nick Krall has been named the club’s new general manager. President of baseball operations Dick Williams will continue to oversee the club’s entire baseball operations department, per the announcement. The Reds, then, will be employing the president/general manager tandem that has become increasingly popular throughout the game, with organizations such as the Cubs, Dodgers, Athletics and numerous others have adopted in recent seasons.

    It’s been a steady climb through the Reds’ ranks for Krall, who broke in with the organization in 2003 when he was hired to run the club’s advance scouting department. Since that time, Krall has been the team’s assistant director of baseball operations, the senior director of baseball operations and, most recently, a vice president and assistant GM. The LSU grad has been working in professional baseball since getting a foot in the door with the A’s back in 2001-02.

    “Moving forward, Nick will be more heavily involved in the decisions we need to make to improve our product on the field both at the Major League and minor league levels,” Williams said in a statement announcing the promotion.

    In addition to his advance scouting work earlier in his career, Krall’s previous duties as a VP and AGM saw him involved in a wide range of baseball ops responsibilities, including arbitration, contract negotiations, player acquisition and rules/waiver compliance. He’ll bring a wide range of experience to his newfound title, though it appears that final say on baseball operations decisions will still lie with Williams.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Mets, Reds Swap Matt Harvey For Devin Mesoraco]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121873 2018-05-08T23:10:34Z 2018-05-08T22:18:40Z The Mets and Reds announced on Tuesday that they’ve swapped right-hander Matt Harvey and catcher Devin Mesoraco. The Reds are sending cash to the Mets to offset the difference in salary, as Mesoraco is earning $13.125MM in 2018 to Harvey’s $5.6MM. Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports first reported the trade was close (via Twitter).

    Matt Harvey | Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

    Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic reports (via Twitter) that Cincinnati is paying the entirety of Mesoraco’s deal, while the Mets are paying all of Harvey’s contract. In essence, then, there’s no impact on either club’s payroll, and the move simply boils down to a change of scenery for two former stars who’ve fallen out of favor and dropped down the depth chart in their original organizations.

    New York also announced that Todd Frazier has been placed on the disabled list due to a strained left hamstring, while Anthony Swarzak has been transferred to the 60-day DL. The Reds, meanwhile, have selected the contract of catcher Tony Cruz from Triple-A in a corresponding move, and he’ll now serve as the backup to Tucker Barnhart, who has replaced Mesoraco in tonight’s lineup. The Mets and Reds are playing each other tonight, and Mesoraco is available to hit for his new club. Harvey will join the Reds later this week in Los Angeles, the team announced.

    For Harvey, the ace will get a clean slate in a low-pressure environment as he looks to return to form with a last-place Reds club that assuredly can afford to give him an extended look in what has been a dismal rotation. Harvey hasn’t been anywhere near the pitcher he was early in his career, with injuries derailing what was one of the more promising young careers among all MLB pitchers. Specifically, Harvey has undergone both Tommy John surgery and thoracic outlet syndrome surgery in the past four years, and his production has unsurprisingly plummeted as a result.

    Harvey, 29, pitched to a pristine 2.53 ERA with 9.5 K/9 against 2.0 BB/9 in 427 big league innings from 2012-15. Tommy John surgery in 2014 slowed his career, but he was able to return to prominence with a terrific 2015 season and a heroic postseason performance that was largely befitting of his “Dark Knight” moniker, even if his ninth-inning struggles in the decisive Game 5 of the 2015 World Series will live on in infamy.

    [Related: Updated New York Mets depth chart | Updated Cincinnati Reds depth chart]

    The 2016 season, however, was a struggle for Harvey, as he pitched just 92 2/3 innings of 4.86 ERA ball before ultimately succumbing to the aforementioned TOS surgery. The track record of pitchers returning from TOS surgery is not good, to say the least, and Harvey is one of the more prominent data points exemplifying that fact. Since returning from that surgery in 2016, he’s pitched to a 6.77 ERA with 6.5 K/9, 4.2 BB/9 and 2.0 HR/9 in 119 2/3 innings. Harvey’s average fastball velocity is a career-low 92.6 mph so far in 2018, and he’s also posted career-worsts in chase rate (21.1 percent) and opponents’ hard-contact rate (43 percent) while notching the second-lowest swinging-strike rate of his career (8.2 percent).

    Reds starters have posted an MLB-worst 5.68 ERA in 2018, and the team is unsurprisingly buried in the NL Central with an 8-27 record due in no small part to the inadequacies of its rotation. Young righties Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano have turned in ERAs in the mid-4.00s, but no other Reds starter has an ERA south of Homer Bailey’s 5.61 mark. Mahle, Romano, Bailey, Luis Castillo and Brandon Finnegan have been the primary starters for Cincinnati to date, though there’s been some suggestion that Finnegan’s spot could be in jeopardy. With an 8.27 ERA and more walks than strikeouts so far in 2018 through 20 2/3 innings, he’s been the worst offender in a stunningly bad collection of starting pitchers.

    Viewed through that lens, there’s a very low bar for Harvey to clear in his new environs. Without the expectation of contending, he’ll be able to start regularly with the Reds and try to get straightened out even if he initially struggles. However, it’s also worth noting that from a ballpark perspective, Harvey is landing in one of the worst spots possible for a pitcher that has had home run issues since TOS surgery. Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park is known as a hitters’ haven and is especially home-run friendly for hitters, so Harvey will have his work cut out for him in rebounding in a park with dimensions that won’t do him any favors.

    Devin Mesoraco | Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer via USA TODAY NETWORK

    Turning to the Mets, in Mesoraco they’re acquiring a former All-Star catcher who once looked to be a breakout star but is now a reclamation project in his own right following a brutal series of injuries. A former first-round pick (15th overall in 2007), Mesoraco long rated as one of the game’s top overall prospects. And while he took longer than most expected to realize that potential, he announced his presence as the Reds’ catcher of the future — or so they thought — in 2014 when he hit .273/.359/.534 with 25 homers and 25 doubles, making his lone All-Star appearance along the way.

    That season was enough for the Reds to sign Mesoraco to a four-year, $28MM contract extension that covered what would’ve been his first free-agent season (2018). However, a left hip injury in 2015 prevented Mesoraco from following up on that breakthrough season, limiting him 23 games and eventually necessitating surgery. A torn labrum in his shoulder prompted season-ending surgery in 2016, and a year later Mesoraco underwent surgery on his other hip in a third consecutive injury-ruined season. Along the way, Cincinnati entrusted defensive standout Tucker Barnhart as its new primary catcher, relegating Mesraco to the role of an expensive backup.

    Since playing in 114 games in that stellar 2014 campaign, Mesoraco has played in a combined 113 games from 2015-18, hitting just .195/.291/.318 in 316 plate appearances along the way. He’s off to a .220/.289/.341 start to his 2018 season through a total of 45 plate appearances, but he’ll likely receive ample opportunity to bounce back with his new club. Travis d’Arnaud has already undergone Tommy John surgery and is out for the season, while Kevin Plawecki remains shelved with a hairline fracture in his hand that he suffered upon being hit by a pitch late last month. New York has been relying on journeyman Jose Lobaton and rookie Tomas Nido to handle catching duties in the absence of d’Arnaud and Plawecki, but neither backstop has provided even a shred of offensive value. Lobaton is hitting .163/.265/.256, while Nido has slashed just .147/.197/.176.

    As for the remainder of the roster moves announced today, it’s not yet clear just how long Frazier will be sidelined with his injury. With Frazier out of action, the Mets seem likely to turn to Jose Reyes and Wilmer Flores to handle duties at the hot corner. The transfer of Swarzak to the 60-day DL doesn’t necessarily impact his timeline to return, either; he’s already been out of action since April 1 due to an oblique injury and has to go out on a rehab assignment. He’ll be eligible to come back to the active roster in another 22 days, having already spent 38 days on the disabled list.

    In Cincinnati, Cruz will get his first look in the big leagues since a brief cameo with the 2016 Royals. The 31-year-old is no stranger to the NL Central after serving as the backup to Yadier Molina in St. Louis from 2011-15. He’s a career .218/.260/.308 hitter in 638 MLB plate appearances. Cruz has a solid track record in Triple-A and hit .280/.341/.458 with San Diego’s top affiliate last season, though he was off to an ugly .170/.268/.255 start to his 2018 season in Louisville.

    Photos courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Mets Expect To Trade Matt Harvey]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121823 2018-05-08T21:22:27Z 2018-05-08T21:22:35Z May 8: The Mets have been trying to add a catcher in return for Harvey, per Mike Puma of the New York Post (Twitter link). Puma adds that the Padres are also in the mix for Harvey.

    May 7: The Mets are “confident” they will strike a deal involving righty Matt Harvey, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic (via Twitter). At this point, says Rosenthal, there are “four to five teams interested” in taking a chance on the former ace.

    Harvey was formally designated for assignment on May 5th, meaning his situation will be resolved one way or another by Saturday the 12th. If he’s not traded, Harvey would need to go onto waivers; if he were then to pass through unclaimed, he’d hit the open market (whether by release or by rejecting an outright assignment).

    We checked in earlier today on some teams with varying degrees of interest in Harvey. The Giants seem clearly to be involved, though their interest level isn’t clear. (Andy Martino of SNY.tv tweets there’s “very strong” interest, while MLB.com’s Mark Feinsand reports (via Twitter) that it’s much more tepid, with some significant roadblocks to a swap.) Martino adds the Reds as a possibility, joining the previously reported Mariners in that regard. And Mike Puma of the New York Post tweets that the White Sox are also in the mix. There’s some uncertainty about the status of the Orioles, but they are among the organizations that would make some degree of sense on paper.

    Of course, we’ve also seen plenty of reports of other teams that will not be in on the 29-year-old. It appears the Rangers have decided against pursuing Harvey in a trade scenario despite giving it serious consideration. Otherwise, the RaysTigersRed Sox, and Yankees are said not to be involved.

    If a deal does, in fact, get done, Rosenthal says not to expect the Mets to shave away much salary. With something on the order of $4.5MM still owed to Harvey for the rest of the season, the New York organization anticipates paying the “vast majority” in hopes of securing “something in return” in a deal.

    Reading the tea leaves, then, the Mets aren’t really looking for a MLB asset back that might offset some of the Harvey commitment. It’s possible the team will be able to find another organization willing to give a bit of young talent, but it’ll take deft work for GM Sandy Alderson to achieve significant value.

    Harvey, after all, has managed only a 5.93 ERA with 6.9 K/9 and 3.4 BB/9 in his 212 1/3 innings since the start of the 2016 season. His velocity has continued to trail off as the arm injuries have mounted. As outstanding as he was before a procedure to address thoracic outlet syndrome, Harvey has struggled badly ever since.

    Clearly, some front offices around the game still think that Harvey can at least deliver some useful innings from the back of a rotation. Just what they’ll give up to find out remains to be seen.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Riggleman: Finnegan Will Make Next Scheduled Start]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121803 2018-05-07T20:37:36Z 2018-05-07T20:37:36Z
  • Reds interim manager Jim Riggleman told reporters today that in spite of his considerable struggles, left Brandon Finnegan would make his next scheduled start (Twitter link via C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic). Finnegan, 25, has been hammered for 19 earned runs on 27 hits (five homers) and 15 walks against 14 strikeouts in 20 2/3 innings so far in 2018. He hasn’t lasted more than five innings in any of his starts this season and has allowed three or more runs each time he’s taken the mound. There was plenty of debate as to whether Finnegan was best suited as a starter or reliever even prior to Cincinnati’s acquisition of him in the 2015 Johnny Cueto blockbuster with the Royals, and he’s yet to establish himself as a viable rotation piece at the game’s top level. Rosecrans notes that Riggleman wouldn’t commit to anything beyond his next outing, so it’s possible that Finnegan’s leash is running out. Finnegan does have minor league options remaining for this season and next.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Release Patrick Kivlehan]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121775 2018-05-07T13:53:19Z 2018-05-07T13:53:19Z The Reds have released infielder/outfielder Patrick Kivlehan from their Triple-A affiliate, Matt Eddy of Baseball America reports in his latest transactions roundup. The 28-year-old had been with the organization since 2016.

    Kivlehan spent the entire 2017 season in the Majors with the Reds, tallying a career-high 204 plate appearances but struggling to a .208/.304/.399 batting line. He did manage to walk at a 10.8 percent clip and slug nine homers, five doubles and a triple while posting a quality .191 ISO in that time. However, Kivlehan also punched out in 29.9 percent of those 204 plate appearances as well.

    Thus far in the 2018 season, that power was nowhere to be found at the Triple-A level. Through his first 47 PAs, Kivlehan hit just .167/.255/.167 with 15 strikeouts against two walks. Kivlehan, a career .251/.306/.424 hitter in Triple-A, has extensive experience at third base, first base and in left field. He’s also spent more than 100 innings in center field and left field, and he made a quick two-inning cameo at second base with Cincinnati’s top affiliate in 2018 as well.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Rotation Woes Stalling Reds' Rebuilding Efforts]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121538 2018-05-04T03:58:58Z 2018-05-04T03:54:52Z
  • The fate of the Reds’ rebuild is in the hands of a group of starting pitchers that have yet to prove capable at the big league level or even, in some cases, in the upper minors, writes John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer. As Fay notes, the Reds have a fairly promising group of position players in the big leagues (plus an elite prospect on the cusp in Nick Senzel), but none of their pitching prospects have established themselves. As Brandon FinneganLuis Castillo, Tyler Mahle and Sal Romano endure struggles in the Majors, alternatives such as Robert Stephenson, Cody Reed and Jackson Stephens are floundering in the minors. Fay notes that the organization’s plan had been to expand payroll next offseason and fill some holes via free agency as the nucleus of the next contending Reds team emerged, but that of course won’t have any impact if the team can’t overcome an increasingly problematic inability to develop starters.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Braves Claim Phil Gosselin From Reds]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121498 2018-05-03T18:51:07Z 2018-05-03T18:21:23Z The Braves announced this afternoon that they’ve claimed infielder Phil Gosselin off waivers from the Reds and assigned him to Triple-A Gwinnett. Atlanta had open space on its 40-man roster, so there’s no corresponding move necessary with Gosselin’s claim.

    This will mark Gosselin’s second stint with the Atlanta organization, as the Braves were the club to initially select him out of the University of Virginia in the fifth round of the 2010 draft. Gosselin went on to make his Major League debut for the Braves three years later, and in parts of three seasons with Atlanta, he slashed .282/.321/.345 through 185 trips to the plate.

    Since being traded to the Braves in the deal that saw Atlanta effectively purchase pitching prospect Touki Toussaint from the D-backs by absorbing the remainder of Bronson Arroyo’s contract, Gosselin has spent time in Arizona, Pittsburgh, Texas and Cincinnati. All told, he’s a lifetime .263/.314/.361 hitter that’ll provide the Braves with some depth at second base, shortstop and third base while playing at the Triple-A level.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Release Dean Kiekhefer]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121193 2018-04-30T15:15:40Z 2018-04-30T15:15:40Z
  • The Reds parted ways with left-handed reliever Dean Kiekhefer, releasing him from their Double-A club. The 28-year-old tossed 22 innings at the big league level with the Cardinals in 2016, working to a 5.32 ERA with 14 strikeouts against seven walks (four intentional) and two hit batters in that brief time. Kiekhefer landed with the Mariners via waivers in the 2016-17 offseason but was outrighted off their 40-man roster shortly thereafter. Last year, he logged a 4.47 ERA with 8.5 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 0.61 HR/9 and a 46 percent grounder rate in Triple-A. He opened the season with eight innings of one-run ball in the Cincinnati organization, albeit at the Double-A level.
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Reds Working To Fix Luis Castillo]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121039 2018-04-29T00:53:42Z 2018-04-29T00:52:16Z
  • Righty Luis Castillo was a key part of a Reds-Marlins trade in 2017 that also involved Straily, and the former has struggled mightily this year after looking like a potential long-term cog last season. The Reds are now working to fix Castillo, Mark Sheldon of MLB.com details. “They all agree that his arm angle has changed a little bit,’ interim manager Jim Riggleman said of pitching coach Danny Darwin, bullpen coach Ted Power and coach Derrin Ebert. “His hand is maybe not getting on top of the ball like it needs to. What that does, is it causes the ball to flatten out instead of sink. Hitters love that when the ball moves [flat] across the plate instead of having some sink. It’s kind of running right into their barrel.” Hitters have indeed barreled up against Castillo, who has seen his ERA rise from 3.12 in 2017 to 7.85 this year. Along the way, the 25-year-old has experienced a velocity drop and allowed more hard contact, Sheldon explains in a piece that’s worth checking out in full. It’s been a discouraging development for the Reds, who haven’t had much success developing front-line pitching from within.
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    Kyle Downing <![CDATA[NL Notes: Bruce, Kang, Stratton, Panik, Gohara, Pennington]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=121014 2018-04-28T23:29:26Z 2018-04-28T18:30:10Z Mets outfielder Jay Bruce has been taking ground balls at first base, James Wagner of the New York Times reports. Wagner adds that the Mets may consider playing him there in order to open up room for Brandon Nimmo to receive everyday playing time again. First base incumbent Adrian Gonzalez has struggled mightily thus far, with just a .203/.300/.320 batting line on the season. It’s still only April, but in light of his struggles last year with the Dodgers, Gonzalez’s leash might be fairly short. That’s particularly true since Nimmo reached base in half of his 38 MLB plate appearances this season. It’s fair to think that the Mets are looking hard for ways to lock Nimmo into an everyday role.

    Other news out of the NL…

    • Pirates infielder Jung Ho Kang won’t receive any discipline from MLB, nor will the team dole out any punishment, Rob Biertempfel of the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette reports on Twitter. Kang was denied a U.S. visa for all of last year due to multiple DUI-related arrests. He’s finally able to return to the Pirates as of Thursday.
    • Today, the Giants reinstated Chris Stratton from the paternity list, optioning outfielder Austin Slater to Triple-A Sacramento in a corresponding move. Within hours, however, the club reversed its reported stance on Mac Williamson’s status, placing him on the seven-day concussion DL. The move allowed the Giants to recall Slater, who’s directly replacing Williamson. Stratton sports an impressive 2.32 ERA and 2.69 FIP across five starts this season, though the fact that he hasn’t allowed any homers despite a 37.8% hard contact rate suggests he might have been a bit lucky in that regard. Stratton will take his scheduled turn through the rotation today against the Dodgers.
    • In other Giants news, second baseman Joe Panik has been placed on the disabled list with a sprained left thumb. The club correspondingly purchased the contract of second baseman/outfielder Alen Hanson, who leads the Triple-A Pacific Coast League with a .403 batting average. The club moved Mark Melancon to the 60-day DL in order to clear room on the 40-man roster for Hanson.
    • The Braves have reinstated left-hander Luiz Gohara from the disabled list and optioned him to Triple-A Gwinnett, David O’Brien of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports. Gohara suffered a sprained ankle during a spring training outing, and had exhausted the maximum amount of time allotted for rehab starts. He’ll likely make a couple more starts in the minors before returning to help the Braves at the major league level. Gohara had figured to be a prominent part of Atlanta’s rotation before the season began.
    • The Reds announced that infielder Cliff Pennington has cleared waivers and accepted an outright assignment to Triple-A Louisville. Pennington, who signed a minors deal in the offseason, made the club out of spring training camp as a bench player. However, he’s struck out in nearly 40 percent of his plate appearances thus far and has yet to sock an extra-base hit.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Activate David Hernandez]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120986 2018-04-28T04:15:48Z 2018-04-28T03:57:36Z
  • A number of other players are already coming off of the DL. The Reds have activated righty David Hernandez and the Mariners have brought back first baseman Ryon Healy. Both were relatively significant offseason acquisitions for their organizations. Meanwhile, the Rays activated infielder Matt Duffy and the Rangers did the same with righty Tony Barnette.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Activate Eugenio Suarez, Select Rosell Herrera]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120876 2018-04-26T14:39:26Z 2018-04-26T14:38:33Z The Reds announced a series of transactions today spurred by the return of third baseman Eugenio Suarez from the DL. Cincinnati has also selected the contract of utilityman Rosell Herrera and optioned outfielder Phil Ervin and infielder Cliff Pennington to open active roster space.

    Suarez had been rehabbing a fractured thumb that put him on the shelf after just eight games of action. He’ll look to pick up where he left off after opening the season on a .296/.424/.630 tear after signing a long-term extension over the winter.

    Also coming to the MLB roster is Herrera, a 25-year-old switch-hitter who once rated as a significant prospect with the Rockies. He’ll get his first shot at the majors after joining the Reds organization on a minors deal last fall. Herrera was off to a strong start at Triple-A, posting a .311/.373/.607 slash in 68 plate appearances.

    Ervin and Pennington will head down to Louisville while holding onto their 40-man spots for the time being. The former has been viewed as a quality prospect in the past but will need to wait for another opportunity after struggling with his brief chance this year. As for Pennington, who limped out of the gates after being added to the roster out of camp, it’s not immediately clear whether he has accepted the assignment. An 11-year MLB veteran, he’d have the right instead to choose free agency.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Outrighted: Quackenbush, Adams, Brothers, Ravin]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120853 2018-04-26T00:46:29Z 2018-04-26T00:41:38Z Here are the latest players to be outrighted off of their teams’ 40-man rosters:

    • The Reds announced that righty Kevin Quackenbush has been outrighted after clearing waivers following a recent DFA. The veteran could have elected free agency but has instead decided to remain in the Cincinnati organization, MLBTR’s Steve Adams tweets. Quackenbush did not produce a very appealing stat line during his ten appearances with the Reds. He surrendered 11 earned runs, with a 7:6 K/BB ratio, in just nine innings of action. In over two hundred career innings at the game’s highest level, Quackenbush carries a 4.38 ERA.
    • Outfielder Lane Adams and relievers Rex Brothers and Josh Ravin were all outrighted by the Braves, the club says. Both Adams and Ravin had recently been designated for assignment, so had already been removed from the 40-man. As for Brothers, a 30-year-old southpaw, he’ll lose his spot after a rough start to the season. He has issued eight walks in his six Triple-A frames — an area that has long been a challenge — and does not appear to be in the team’s immediate plans. The Braves will pay Brothers at a lesser rate in the minors under the split contract he agreed to last fall. Adams, who has been productive in limited action at the MLB level over the past two years, will remain on hand as an outfield depth piece. Ravin, who was claimed over the winter, will likely be among the first pitchers considered if a bullpen need arises.
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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Designate Kevin Quackenbush For Assignment]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120745 2018-04-24T21:44:37Z 2018-04-24T21:29:39Z The Reds announced on Tuesday that they’ve designated right-hander Kevin Quackenbush for assignment. His spot on the roster will go to fellow righty Kevin Shackelford, who has been reinstated from the 10-day disabled list.

    Quackenbush, 29, was tagged for 11 runs on 13 hits and six walks with seven strikeouts in nine innings out of the Cincinnati bullpen this winter. He’d been in camp with the Reds on a minor league deal and made the club out of Spring Training, but his stay in Cincinnati looks like it’ll ultimately prove to be brief.

    Prior to the 2018 season, the entirety of Quackenbush’s MLB experience had come with the Padres. He was excellent in his debut season as a 25-year-old back in 2014 (2.48 ERA, 9.3 K/9, 3.9 BB/9, 0.3 HR/9) and pitched to a respectable 3.50 ERA in his first three big league seasons. Quackenbush struggled through a disastrous 2017 season, however, yielding five homers and issuing 16 walks in just 26 1/3 innings, en route to a 7.86 ERA.

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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Reds Release Barrett Astin]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120693 2018-04-24T13:22:36Z 2018-04-24T13:22:36Z The Reds announced that they have released right-hander Barrett Astin. He had been outrighted off of the 40-man roster last fall.

    The 26-year-old Astin is a former third-round pick who landed in Cincinnati as the player to be named later in the 2014 swap that sent Jonathan Broxton to the Brewers. Astin cracked the majors last year, but issued seven walks while recording only two strikeouts in his eight innings of action.

    Though he had a promising season at Double-A in 2016, Astin has largely struggled at the highest level of the minors. He carries a 5.91 ERA in 56 1/3 total innings for Triple-A Louisville and has surrendered over a dozen base hits per regulation game along with 7.8 K/9 and 4.0 BB/9.

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Release Adam Brett Walker]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120628 2018-04-23T14:22:43Z 2018-04-23T14:06:02Z
  • Also via Eddy, the Reds have released outfielder Adam Brett Walker from the organization. Walker, 27, was a third-round pick of the Twins in 2012 and boasts huge raw power but plenty of swing-and-miss issues as well as a limited defensive skill set. Minnesota removed him from the 40-man roster after the 2016 season, and he landed with the Brewers, Orioles (twice), Braves and Reds via a series of waivers claims and minor league signings in 2017 alone. Walker’s power is evident in looking at his career .232 ISO in the minors, but he’s whiffed in 30.9 percent of his minor league plate appearances — including an enormous 37.4 percent strikeout clip in Triple-A.

    [SOURCE LINK]
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    Connor Byrne <![CDATA[Latest On Reds' Managerial Job]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120573 2018-04-22T22:15:24Z 2018-04-22T21:39:14Z
  • Reds legend Barry Larkin “has always coveted” their managerial job, Nick Cafardo of the Boston Globe writes. Now that the team has fired previous skipper Bryan Price and is currently going with an interim option in Jim Riggleman, it’s possible Larkin will emerge as a candidate when the Reds’ search for a full-time skipper begins in earnest. Larkin, a Hall of Fame shortstop with the Reds from 1986-2004, currently works with the team as a special assistant. Former major league skipper and ex-Red Buddy Bell is also under Cincinnati’s employ (as a senior adviser), but the 66-year-old is uninterested in managing the club, John Fay of the Cincinnati Enquirer reports on Twitter.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Dick Williams On Firing Of Bryan Price]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120471 2018-04-21T02:31:33Z 2018-04-21T01:48:47Z
  • C. Trent Rosecrans of The Athletic breaks down the Reds firing of skipper Bryan Price in a subscription piece. As Rosecrans observes, it is in some regard actually more surprising that Price lasted this long, despite never overseeing a winning product, than that he was fired so early in the current season. Of course, the struggles during his tenure have hardly all been his fault, and it may be that the long-rebuilding team finally felt this was the time to make a statement. There were some internal hopes of improvement entering the year, making it all the harder to stomach an ugly start to the season. GM Dick Williams explained that “now was the right time to do something about” the fact that the team’s offseason work had gone so far south. At the same time, he acknowledged that “this is an organizational disappointment,” not something that falls only at the feet of Price and his staff. It’s certainly hard to escape that conclusion; as I documented in breaking down the Reds’ offseason just yesterday, Price was not exactly given a compelling roster to work with this year or in the past.
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    Jeff Todd <![CDATA[Offseason In Review: Cincinnati Reds]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120301 2018-04-19T23:37:31Z 2018-04-19T23:17:55Z This is the latest entry in MLBTR’s 2017-18 Offseason In Review series. Click here to read the other completed reviews from around the league.

    The Reds added a few role players but largely turned in a quiet offseason.

    Major League Signings

    Trades and Claims

    Extensions

    • Signed 3B Eugenio Suarez to seven-year, $66MM contract with $15MM club option ($2MM buyout) for 2025

    Notable Minor League Signings

    Notable Losses

    Needs Addressed

    The Reds entered this winter, much as the two previous ones, in something of a stasis at the major-league level. While there have been some encouraging signs from certain young players, the organization has not yet found cause to invest in high-quality veterans, both because it has yet to fully develop a new core of young talent and because the payroll is still burdened by several large contracts.

    There’s no doubt that the Cincinnati ballclub is in a rebuild. It has failed to top seventy wins or crawl out of the NL Central basement since 2014. Unlike many organizations that find themselves in such a position, however, the Reds have not been able (or, to some extent, willing) to drastically slash payroll, which has barely dipped below $90MM over the past several years — not that far off of the ~$115MM high-point reached in 2014 and 2015.

    On the one hand, that’s simply a product of circumstances. Several of the team’s most expensive players — Homer Bailey, Devin Mesoraco, and Brandon Phillips before them — have been essentially untradeable due to injuries, performance, and/or no-trade protection. But the team has also not found appealing opportunities to deal other expensive assets. Well-compensated superstar Joey Votto has full no-trade rights. Closer Raisel Iglesias — who’s relatively cheaper at this point but could opt into arbitration next fall — is rightly seen as a long-term asset, though certainly there’s risk in keeping a high-end young reliever. Center fielder Billy Hamilton was a frequent subject of trade chatter but ultimately was held over the just-completed offseason. And second bagger Scooter Gennett — who was a nice find last spring — is like Hamilton both increasingly pricey and nearing a final trip through the arb process.

    The club also decided not to deal third baseman Eugenio Suarez, instead declaring him part of the core moving forward with an extension. He’s valued for both his glove and bat by the Reds. If he can maintain the pace he sustained in 2017, the contract will prove a relative bargain, though it’s also another big commitment and thus obviously carries some risk.

    Those players, of course, are still in town. Former shortstop Zack Cozart, on the other hand, departed via free agency — leaving the Reds without any compensation. The club seemed in position to deal him at times, but evidently his ill-timed health issues and/or a lack of reasonable offers precluded a deal. While the Reds held out the possibility of extending Cozart, that never happened and the organization ended up not issuing him a qualifying offer at the end of the 2017 campaign. That decision is hard to fault, as Cozart may have felt it too risky to pass up $17.2MM for one season and carrying draft compensation onto the open market. Without knowing the precise offers that could have been had, it’s hard to second-guess the organization too much for its handling of that particular situation, but it’s certainly a less-than-desirable result in the situation of yet another quality veteran player.

    In the aggregate, then, the Reds have likely not pocketed significant amounts of cash even while they’ve put an unsuccessful product on the field. And the organization has reasonably substantial sums already committed into the future, including about $68.5MM for 2019, $49.5MM for 2020, and $40MM for 2021. Contemplating future spending capacity is all guesswork from the outside, but it seems reasonable to say that the Reds did not save as much money or clear as much future payroll space as quite a few other rebuilding teams have in recent seasons. And that likely left less to work with this winter.

    Given the situation, perhaps it’s unsurprising that the Dick Williams-led front office ended up turning in another quiet offseason. The organization took a budget-conscious approach to its two biggest needs — accounting for Cozart’s absence and adding some arms — and otherwise mostly elected to maintain the status quo in hopes of finding improvement from within in 2018.

    With the outfield and starting infield already accounted for from within, the Reds decided to pursue a few utility pieces to help carry the load while waiting for top prospect Nick Senzel. The club ended up giving Opening Day jobs to both Cliff Pennington and Phil Gosselin, providing a veteran presence but not much hope of significant output.

    On the pitching side, David Hernandez and Jared Hughes were both given low-AAV, two-year contracts to firm up the relief corps. Late-spring signee Yovani Gallardo was another addition, though it wasn’t long before he was cut loose. That trio was supplemented by a variety of claims and minor-league signees who’ll combine to add depth, but perhaps not much quality, to a Reds pitching staff that has been irredeemably awful over the past two seasons. Thus far in 2018, recent additions Kevin Quackenbush and Dylan Floro have stuck in the majors, while the team was also able to stash lefties Justin Nicolino and Kyle Crockett in the minors and off of the 40-man roster.

    Questions Remaining

    The resulting pitching unit is entirely underwhelming on paper. Unsurprisingly, perhaps, the staff has opened the 2018 season as the worst in baseball, continuing a pace of three-year futility that may rival any in baseball history when all is said and done. Of course, as I argued last fall, there wasn’t much sense throwing money at the problem at this point. Even significant spending likely would not have made this roster a contending one; any outside chance at staying in the hunt was likely snuffed out anyway with a 3-and-15 start.

    What the Reds are hoping, then, is that their slate of hurlers makes some strides that improve the future outlook. Veteran Homer Bailey is hoping to return to some level of health and effectiveness after three forgettable seasons. With $49MM still owed on his deal (including a buyout of a 2020 option), the best the team can hope for is to fill up some innings or perhaps save a bit of cash if there’s a team interested in a trade. It’s still anybody’s guess when Anthony DeSclafani will return from his run of injuries. He can be controlled for 2019 and 2020 via arbitration. Brandon Finnegan, who has one further year of control, is back on the hill after missing almost all of 2017. Each of these pitchers has succeeded at times in the majors, but whether they can do so again is questionable at best.

    There’s some promise from younger arms, too. Luis Castillo was a major bright spot in 2017 and is the most intriguing player the team has returned from its recent trades. Tyler Mahle is expected to turn into a solid MLB starter. But both of these pitchers still need to fully establish themselves at the game’s highest level. A host of other arms — Sal Romano, Amir Garrett, Jackson Stephens, and former top prospect Robert Stephenson among them — will get their share of opportunities. Some, surely, will end up dropping into relief duty (as Garrett has to open the year). Perhaps one or more will prove worthy of a starting slot in the future, though you’ll be hard-pressed to find strong believers among outside talent evaluators.

    Garrett has looked good in a relief role to open the season, potentially giving the team another late-inning piece while Hernandez and Michael Lorenzen work back from injury. Iglesias remains the anchor, while Wandy Peralta and Cody Reed provide two more lefty options to go with Garrett. Any contending team would have gone hunting for multiple upgrades over the winter. For the Reds, though, it’s more sensible to run out the pitchers they have to see what sticks.

    The situation on the position-player side is more promising, generally, but also comes with some concerns. Perhaps no area is of greater interest than the middle infield. With Suarez locked in at third (once he’s back to full health), it seems that Senzel will end up playing in the middle infield. If he’s capable of playing short, that could put even greater pressure on Jose Peraza, who has to this point wilted with the open opportunity he has received since the start of the 2016 season. Gennett could be a mid-season trade candidate, though rival teams are no doubt aware of the deeper history (including his lack of success against lefties) that preceded his excellent 2017 season. First base (Votto) and catcher (Tucker Barnhart, Mesoraco) rate as strengths.

    The outfield unit also has some more established options, though none are foolproof. Hamilton is a defensive and baserunning whiz whose bat seems less and less likely ever to come around. He’s flanked by two powerful, OBP-challenged players in Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler. Well-regarded youngster Jesse Winker is also slated to receive a lot of playing time after showing well in a 47-game stint last year. Phil Ervin, himself a former first-round pick, rounds out the major players in this arena. There’s talent here, but it’d be hard to call this a first-division unit. If things break right, though, the Reds could build from this group without further additions.

    Overview

    The real problems with the Reds’ current situation began not with any decisions this winter, but with whiffs in years past on moving veteran assets. A combination of questionable decisionmaking (especially, holding some veterans at the 2015 deadline) and poor prospect outcomes, along with injuries and some bad fortune, largely left Williams and co. without appealing options for moving things forward over the just-completed offseason. Unfortunately, that means another season of waiting and hoping that the young talent in an increasingly well-regarded farm system will develop — and do so in time to join Votto while he’s still one of the game’s best hitters.

    How would you grade the Reds’ offseason efforts? (Link for MLBTR app users.)

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    Steve Adams <![CDATA[Reds Fire Bryan Price, Mack Jenkins]]> https://www.mlbtraderumors.com/?p=120361 2018-04-19T13:59:49Z 2018-04-19T12:38:53Z The Reds announced this morning that they’ve fired manager Bryan Price and pitching coach Mack Jenkins. Bench coach Jim Riggleman will assume managerial duties on an interim basis, while Triple-A skipper Pat Kelly will take over Riggleman’s duties as bench coach. Double-A pitching coach Danny Darwin has been added to the Major League coaching staff as well. The Reds will conduct a search for a permanent managerial replacement “later in the year,” the team added.

    Bryan Price | David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

    Entering the season, Price was widely speculated to be on the hot seat. The 55-year-old former Reds pitching coach was entering his fifth season as manager in Cincinnati, but the Reds had opted only to exercise his 2018 club option rather than extend him to a longer team deal.

    That decision came on the heels of four consecutive losing seasons, and while one can hardly blame the manager for not piling up wins on a clearly rebuilding club, Cincinnati also didn’t seem to demonstrably improve under Price’s watch. The Reds won 76 games in his first season as skipper back in 2014, and since that time they’ve won 64, 68 and 68 games in the respective seasons to follow.

    This year’s Reds have been all the more disastrous, opening the year with a 3-15 record with a -46 run differential that easily ranks as the worst in the Majors. The Cincinnati front office clearly felt it was time for a new voice to guide the club, though it’s fair to question why that decision wasn’t simply made before exercising Price’s option, as not much has changed since last September. It’s also worth pointing out that Cincinnati hired former Red Sox and Blue Jays manager John Farrell in a scouting capacity this past offseason, and he’ll almost certainly join the list of managerial candidates when the Reds begin searching (if he doesn’t already top their list).

    As for Jenkins, he took over for former pitching coach Mark Riggins back in July 2016, but Reds hurlers haven’t improved much, if any, under his tutelage. The Reds, to be sure, have had their share of meaningful injuries in recent seasons — perhaps none more notable than Anthony DeSclafani, who has not pitched since 2016 — but that doesn’t explain the general lack of development among the team’s more promising young arms. As MLBTR’s Jeff Todd wrote last September:

    By measure of fWAR, at least, the 2016-17 Reds hurlers have turned in a two-year stretch of futility that is orders of magnitude worse than any other organization of the past two decades, falling well shy of the dreadful 2004-05 Royals and 2002-03 Devil Rays units.

    The 2018 Reds staff hasn’t done anything to correct that tailspin. Cincinnati’s 5.42 ERA, 4.64 xFIP and 4.91 SIERA marks all rank second-worst in the Majors, while their 5.26 FIP as a collective unit is the highest mark of any team in baseball. Cincinnati pitchers rank near the bottom of the league in strikeout percentage and have also posted one of the highest walk percentages of any team in baseball this season.

    Photo courtesy of USA Today Sports Images.

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