Cincinnati Reds Intro to Team
Since winning the World Series in 1990, the Cincinnati Reds have been to the postseason five times, including just once from 1991 to 2009 and again since 2014. The once-proud franchise that made it to the NLCS six times in the 1970s, who won World Series titles in 1975 and 1976, has fallen on hard times indicative of small market teams.
Cincinnati Reds Last Season Performance
The Reds went 83-79 in 2021 and finished third in the National League Central division, ending the season 12 games behind the Milwaukee Brewers. It was their best record since 2013 when they went 90-72 and made their third postseason appearance in four seasons, losing in the Wild Card game.
The Reds jumped out to an early lead in the division after 15 games. Still, a seven-game losing streak took them out of contention. Despite eventually getting back to 12 games over .500 on several occasions, they never seriously challenged for the N.L. Central lead. Milwaukee and St. Louis finished ahead of the Reds, primarily due to sporting better overall rosters.
Although the Reds failed to make the playoffs in 2021, they continued an upward trend that began with the arrival of manager David Bell in 2019 after four seasons during which the team failed to win more than 68 games and finished in the basement of the N.L. Central each year.
The team had the second-best batting average in the National League and banged out the fourth-most home runs in the senior circuit.
Right fielder Nick Castellanos led the way by hitting for an average of .309 with 34 home runs and 100 RBI. Despite numbers comparable to MVP Bryce Harper from the Philadelphia Phillies, Castellanos finished a distant 12th in the voting for the top player in the National League.
While the offense was at an elite level in the National League, the team was victimized by a pitching staff with a composite ERA of 4.40, ranking just tenth in the league. Starting pitching wasn’t as much of an issue as the bullpen, with no reliever with more than 35 appearances finishing the season with an ERA of less than 4.40.
Wade Miley led the pitching staff with a record of 12-7 and an ERA of 3.37, followed closely by Tyler Mahle, who went 13-6 and posted an ERA of 3.75 with 210 strikeouts in 180 innings pitched. The team struggled to find a reliable closer, with Lucas Sims the most promising as he went 5-3 with seven saves, but he still couldn’t manage an ERA of less than 4.40.
Cincinnati Reds Off Season Changes
Shortly before the end of the 2021 season, manager David Bell received a two-year extension to his contract that will keep him with the team through 2023, with the Reds retaining an option for 2024. The team also promoted a trio of bench coaches to new positions and brought in a couple more to fill other roles on the major league staff.
The Reds didn’t make any free agent acquisitions prior to the lockout, one of only three teams to fail to make any deals before major league activity ceased on Dec. 2nd. Speculation is that the Reds are shedding payroll to help profitability and embark on a rebuilding campaign fueled primarily from its farm system.
They traded catcher Tucker Barnhart to the Detroit Tigers, waived Wade Miley, and had Castellanos opt out of the final two years of his contract.
Almost all of the activity has been focused around signing players to minor league contracts and appear content to build a new starting lineup with whatever prospects come out spring training as likely contributors for 2022.
A few other players opted for free agency, the most notable relief pitcher Mychal Givens, who appeared in 25 games and recorded a mark of 1-1 with an ERA of 4.22.
Cincinnati Reds Key Additions
There were no major league caliber additions to the Reds’ roster before the lockout, with Barnhart getting traded for third baseman Nick Quintana who was immediately assigned to Cincinnati’s Daytona Tortugas farm team.
The Reds made over two dozen signings of players that will end up on minor league rosters and battle for a spot with the parent team during competitive spring training for the club.
Before the 2021 season, the Reds shed a lot of talent from their bullpen, and the moves ended up costing them a place in the playoffs. Whatever the team decides to do regarding the big picture going forward following the lockout, they’ll need to address the bullpen if they somehow want to compete for a playoff spot.
In October and November, Cincinnati had entertained trade offers for several other players, including Mahle. Still, they didn’t end up pulling the trigger on any of them, primarily because they weren’t getting the kind of return talent that they desired. Many of those players will still be on the block once activity begins again, so the Reds could end up stockpiling more prospects if that’s the direction they ultimately head.
Cincinnati Reds Key Subtractions
The most significant departure, of course, is that of Castellanos, who at the age of 29 has a lot of good baseball left for the rest of his career. He has yet to sign with another team, but the Reds didn’t mind getting off the hook for the $34 million left on his contract.
For a catcher, Barnhart had a solid batting average of .247 with seven home runs, 48 RBI, and 41 runs scored. He was set to receive $7.75 million in 2022, so once again, the Reds were pleased to be able to unload that obligation, regardless of who they received in return, and the Tigers definitely got the better end of the deal.
Another big signal that the Reds might be moving into rebuilding mode was the waiving of Miley, who at the age of 34 wouldn’t necessarily fit into a youth revival, despite his strong record and lowest ERA among the starting rotation.
For a team that needs to add depth to the bullpen, the departure of Givens might not be a huge blow, but the 31-year-old had a better ERA than any of the relievers who appeared in more than 30 games for the Reds. Once again, his age could also have been a factor for the team to pass on signing him.
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Cincinnati Reds Coach Analysis
David Bell was a 12-year major league player, at one time playing all four infielder positions during his career that was spent with six different teams, beginning with the Cleveland Indians in 1995. He was a lifetime .257 hitter and collected 123 home runs with 589 RBI in the major leagues.
Following his retirement in 2006, he embarked on a coaching career beginning as the Cincinnati Reds’ Double-A affiliate Carolina Mudcats manager beginning with the 2009 season. In 2012 he moved up to the Triple-A Louisville Bats for one season before moving to the Chicago Cubs as their third base coach in 2013.
The following year, he became the assistant hitting coach for the St. Louis Cardinals and was promoted to their bench coaching position from 2015-2017. In 2018, he served as the Vice President of Player Development for the San Francisco Giants.
Prior to the 2019 season, the Reds brought Bell on as their 63rd manager after the team finished with a record of 67-95 and came in last in the N.L. Central for the fourth season in a row. Under Bell, the franchise has improved every season, and he has an overall record of 189-195 with third-place finishes in the division the last two campaigns.
As the team heads in a rebuilding direction, Bell will be challenged to juggle a young, inexperienced lineup with a bullpen that will have difficulty getting hitters out consistently. At least he has some level of job security with his two-year contract extension.
If the Reds take a step back during the next season or two and decide to blame Bell, he’s likely to have plenty of suitors for his services. Given the job Bell has done since taking over the reins, ownership of the Reds will probably be forgiving, especially if a decline comes from front office moves.
Cincinnati Reds Injured Players at the beginning of the season
The Reds’ bullpen took another hit after it was determined that 27-year-old relief pitcher Tejay Antone would undergo a second Tommy John surgery, knocking him out of action for the entire 2022 season.
He was 2-0 with an ERA of 2.14 with three saves and 42 strikeouts in 33.2 innings over 23 appearances in 2021 before going down with an elbow injury.
Last year’s starting shortstop for the Reds, Kyle Farmer, was sidelined with a sports hernia in the last two games of the 2021 season. He didn’t have to undergo surgery after hitting .263 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI in 147 games. Farmer is expected to be at full strength at the beginning of spring training.
Relief pitcher Jared Solomon missed the entire 2021 season following Tommy John surgery. The 24-year-old is on the team’s 40 man roster and is listed as probable for the beginning of the 2022 campaign, which could be one bit of good news for their beleaguered bullpen.
Cincinnati Reds Prediction for 2022 Season
After diminishing a lineup that was only able to finish third in the N.L. Central despite strong hitting and solid starting pitching, the prospects for the Reds in 2022 MLB Lines, are not very good. The team will likely take a step back, but Bell is a good manager to have at the helm because of his player development background.
The job of a minor league manager is not to win but to get talent ready to play in the big leagues, and Bell will likely have some players on his roster that aren’t necessarily fully prepared for that level of play. If the Reds don’t trade some of their better players, like Mahle in particular, he might have enough of a nucleus to have a chance at coaxing the team to a record close to .500.
There is a real possibility that the club could have some early season success and then, as the Nationals did in 2021, start to trade their top performers to contenders for a slew of top prospects and take a longer-term approach to the rebuild.
Much will depend on what happens immediately following the lockout and if there will be much time to execute deals before what promises to be a truncated spring training.
On the upside, the Reds could keep some key players for the first half of the year, stay in contention and wait until the next offseason to make some moves. If that’s the case, they could finish as high as third in the N.L. Central and even contend for a wild card spot.
More realistically, they will probably struggle to keep up with the Cubs, Cardinals, and Brewers while falling to fourth place in the division with their eye on developing talent while preparing for a 2023 comeback. Check out their MLB odds for the season.
They face the dilemma of most small market teams trying to build a contender while being mindful of the bottom line and the limitations of a reasonable payroll.
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