2. Free Up Short- and Long-Term Payroll
Beyond Aroldis Chapman, the Reds have several other players on both long-term and shorter-term contracts that they would be better off trading more immediately than waiting further down the line. The first tier of names that come to mind after Chapman are those of Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips. Jay Bruce will be a free agent after the 2016 season with Philips set to become a free agent after the 2017 season. It seemed fairly obvious that the Reds should move Bruce at the trade deadline last year, but ended up holding on to him instead. Philips, on the other hand, never seemed very close to being traded approaching last year’s deadline. Like Chapman, both players really have no business being on a team that will probably not compete for at least three seasons, which is after both of their contracts are up.
Trades of Chapman, Bruce and Philips this offseason could be seen as a logical endpoint, but the Reds do have the option of taking it one step further. The left side of the infield, in third baseman Todd Frazier and shortstop Zack Cozart, will both be free agents following the 2018 season, which may or may not be around the time that the Reds will look to be competitive again. While both guys don’t command too much in terms of salary, each will most likely get slight raises in arbitration. Trading one or both of them would be a great way to acquire long term assets to help in the rebuilding effort.
The final tier of potential tradable assets includes Joey Votto and Homer Bailey, who are signed through 2023 and 2019/2020 (with an option), respectively. While Homer Bailey does not have much current value, given his injury last season and the large sum still remaining on his contract ($81 million over the next four years), Joey Votto may be a piece that the Reds will be able to sell high on. Votto had arguably the best year of his career in 2015, after an abysmal, injury-riddled 2014 season. While the contract is quite a hurdle, given it’s total sum and length, the Reds will be able to sell high on a guy who likely has nowhere to go but down going forward. If the Reds hold onto Votto any longer his value may diminish completely. With a trade this offseason, the Reds can at least get some value out of him. If the Reds are able to trade most, or even some, of Chapman, Bruce, Philips, Frazier, Cosart, and Votto this offseason, they will be well on their way to competing in the future with a completely restocked farm system.