Cincinnati is not just coming off a seasonally bad year in 2015. The city’s beloved Redlegs had a historically bad year last season. Sporting a dismal 64-98 record, the Reds finished with the second-worst record in all of baseball (one game behind the Philadelphia Phillies), all while assembling a roster they thought was playoff-worthy. At least Philadelphia knew is was trashing its roster. But 2015’s 64-win effort left Cincinnati lurking around its record book — for plenty of repulsive reasons.
Only 10 other Reds’ teams featured a winning percentage worse than the .395 mark of the 2015 edition. Only one of those has come in the last 75 years, when Cincinnati finished 61-101 in 1982, the franchise’s only 100-loss season. The struggles forced the Reds’ hand at begrudgingly making some in-season moves.
After injuries to Homer Bailey, Zack Cozart and Devin Mesoraco all but put an end to Cincinnati’s hope of contention, the Reds dealt number one and two starters Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake in the final week of July in hopes of netting future big-league talent. They appeared to do just that, snatching four pitchers — some of which contributed to the Reds’ all-rookie rotation in last year’s second half — and a platoon possibility for this season’s third base and left field jobs.
Cincinnati’s moves didn’t stop in-season. Instead, the Reds reportedly agreed to trade radar-pumping closer Aroldis Chapman to the Dodgers before the agreement fell through for unknown reasons. It was later found out that Chapman had a possible domestic violence issue and fired eight gunshots inside his garage and is presumed to be at least a reason the trade didn’t materialize. That was until Cincinnati later agreed to send Chapman to the Bronx for a four-prospect package headlined by reformed pitcher Rookie Davis and offensive-minded infielder Eric Jagielo. Todd Frazier also saw himself out of Cincinnati and into the American League when the Reds rattled off a three-way deal with the White Sox and Dodgers to send Frazier to the Windy City while bringing in a trio of prospects from L.A.
The consensus on the Reds’ two offseason trades is that Cincinnati sold itself short, arguably dealing its two best players with Joey Votto still looming the first-base dirt. The Reds put themselves behind the 8-ball however by not electing to sell-high on both Frazier and Chapman in 2015. Stripping itself of any bargaining power, Cincinnati was all but forced to make some sort of deal to salvage value and continue setting itself for a competitive future.
You can argue either way on how the offseason has ultimately transpired for the Redlegs, but here’s how it grades out: