The story of the week was all about the Dodgers, whose new front office pulled off a trading frenzy that dramatically re-shaped the look of one of baseball’s strongest rosters. Before the Dodgers took over, though, all the conversations had to do with the Cubs, who added Jon Lester, Miguel Montero, and Jason Hammel within a matter of a couple days. The Cubs moved to open their contention window early, and one of the possible side effects involved the plan of the Reds. There was thought that, with the Cubs loading up, the Reds would be more motivated to sell pieces off and build for the future.
Indeed, with the winter meetings wrapping up, the Reds made a couple of trades that dealt away members of the starting rotation. Though they might’ve gotten lost in the insanity, Cincinnati sent Mat Latos to Miami, and it sent Alfredo Simon to Detroit. Both are due to become free agents in a year, and the moves signaled to some that the Reds are ready to tear down. But in reality, the Reds are preparing to give contention one more go in 2015. With the two quiet trades, the Reds trimmed payroll and added to the long-term outlook, and the roster didn’t actually lose much of anything.
The Reds have occupied one of the most difficult positions in the game. It’s been pretty clear their window is closing. Yet, the roster contains a number of high-impact, quality players. There’s been too much talent to tear it all down, but the team hasn’t had the money to supplement the talent already in house. So they’ve been stuck in between, with almost an entire rotation looking at one final year of team control. The Reds had difficult waters to navigate.
And if you examine the team projections we have at FanGraphs, the Reds look like they might be the worst team in the NL Central. They’re projected for as many wins as the Twins, barely surpassing the Padres and Diamondbacks, so on that basis the Reds don’t appear like a team that should be focusing still on the one season ahead. But there are reasons for optimism here. Legitimate, short-term optimism. And the moves they made added longer-term pieces at the same time, helping the Reds stay relevant while improving 2016 and the seasons beyond.
Jeff made Lookout Landing a thing, but he does not still write there about the Mariners. He does write here, sometimes about the Mariners, but usually not.