It has been a long time since the Cincinnati Reds made the postseason, eight years in fact, when they were knocked out of the National League Division Series round by the eventual World Series Champions, the San Francisco Giants. The Reds have been extremely busy this offseason, as they look to change their fortunes and make a push for the playoffs in 2020.
Earlier this week, they were able to win the Nicholas Castellanos sweepstakes, signing the 27-year old to a four year, $64 million deal. He was one of the most sought-after position players on the free agent market, so the fact that Cincy was able to bring him in is a huge boost.
The Reds also signed infielder Mike Moustakas to a four-year, $64 million deal. In adding two impact bats in Castellanos and Moustakas, the Reds are a better ballclub. But it’s more than just their offense that has the ability to put up solid numbers in 2020.
The Reds have one of the most talented trios in the game at the top of their starting rotation in Luis Castillo, Trevor Bauer, and Sonny Gray. Castillo broke out last year as one of the most dominant arms in the game, using his outstanding changeup and mid 90s heater to his advantage, finishing the year with a 15-8 record and a 3.40 ERA in 32 starts. He has emerged as Cincinnati’s ace, but Gray and Bauer are also proven arms.
Gray went 11-8 with a 2.87 ERA last season, continuing his dominance at the big-league level. The 30-year-old has a career 3.53 ERA and is a reliable starter who has many years left in him. Bauer, who the Reds acquired from the Cleveland Indians before last season’s Major League Baseball trade deadline, struggled in 10 post-All-Star starts with Cincinnati, but he has had a relatively decent big-league career, as he sports a career 4.04 ERA.
The Reds also added Wade Miley, providing their rotation with a proven left-hander, while youngster Lucas Sims will fight for a rotation spot. Anthony DeSclafani also had a great year last season, posting a 3.89 ERA in 31 starts. As a staff, the Reds were pretty good last year, posting a 4.18 team ERA, which was eighth in the majors.
Their bullpen was also relatively decent, with guys like Amir Garrett and Michael Lorenzen providing length in the late innings. The Reds added reliever Pedro Strop, a hard-throwing righty with experience, who can compete with current closer Raisel Iglesias, who converted 34 saves in 40 opportunities last season.
The pitching wasn’t the problem 2019; it was their offense. Yes, they had a few guys who could really swing it, but as a lineup, there wasn’t enough consistency. But it looks to be different this season with several key signings.
The Offense Looks Electric
In 2019 the Reds averaged just 4.3 runs per game, 25th in the bigs. Only two players on their roster hit 20 or more home runs, with Yasiel Puig slugging 22 and Eugenio Suarez cranking 49, which was second in the majors to Pete Alonso. Joey Votto also had a down year, hitting just .261 with 15 home runs. As a team, the Reds hit just .244, also 25th in the bigs.
But this season looks to be a different story. Rookie Aristides Aquino broke out on the scene in the second half of last season, hitting 19 home runs with 47 RBIs in just 56 games. Entering what will be his first full big-league season, it will be exciting to see how much damage he can do.
With Castellanos and Moustakas alone, the Reds offense has improved. Castellanos has slugged at least 20 home runs in each of the last four seasons while compiling a lifetime .277 batting average. He can hit for power and average, making him the complete package at the plate. When he joined the Chicago Cubs at the trade deadline last season, he hit .321 with 16 home runs and 36 RBIs in just 51 games. He went deep just 11 times with the Detroit Tigers in 100 games before being shipped to Chicago.
The change of scenery worked wonders for Castellanos, and with his future looking secure in Cincinnati, there’s a high chance that the slugger will pick up where he left off last season.
Moustakas hit .259 with 35 home runs last season with the Milwaukee Brewers, a common trend over the last few years for the 31-year-old. He has averaged 33.7 home runs over the last three seasons and will enter another hitter-friendly ballpark in Cincinnati. With Suarez at third base, it looks like Moustakas will patrol second base for the Reds, a position he played quite frequently last year in Milwaukee.
Youngsters Jesse Winker and Nick Senzel also profile to be long-term mainstays in the Reds outfield, but they still need time to develop. Winker went deep 16 times last year while hitting .269 in 113 games. Meanwhile, Senzel, who was the Reds second overall pick in the 2016 MLB Draft, hit 12 home runs in 104 games after making his MLB debut in 2019.
2020 Should be Exciting for Cincy
With numerous additions to their ballclub that are sure to make an immediate impact, the Reds look to be an intriguing team to watch next season. Moustakas and Castellanos will undoubtedly add offensive output, adding to the talent that Cincinnati already has. They may not make the playoffs right away, but with the combination of a solid rotation and numerous players who can produce at the plate, it’s only a matter of time until the Reds are once again relevant in the National League.