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Reynolds Provides Power
The Cardinals have remained quiet over the course of the baseball winter meetings. While the Dodgers, Red Sox, Tigers, Marlins, Padres, Phillies and other teams are trading controllable players and veteran pieces, the Birds remain calm. The bench has been under scrutiny for several seasons with the team. Pete Kozama and Daniel Descalso simply cannot hit consistently enough, leaving Descalso to be tenedered. Tony Cruz rarely gets to play and Mark Ellis and Shane Robinson are gone, both being unproductive.
The Cardinals signed Mark Reynolds, the powerful right-handed hitter that launched 22 home runs in just 433 at bats. Reynolds is the big bat off the bench that the Cardinals have been missing. But, it’s not all good for Reynolds. He only managed to hit .196 last season and over his career he has hit .229. Reynolds has also led the league in strikeouts in four seasons, going over 200 in three of those. In 130 games and those 433 ABs, Reynolds struck out an abysmal 122 times.
Reynolds will most likely platoon with Mat Adams when left-handed pitchers force Adams to sit. The problem? Reynolds really doesn’t hit left handed pitching better than Adams. Last season he posted a .173 average with just 3 home runs. He managed to hit 19 home runs, still just hitting .204 against right handers. Reynolds can fill in and play 3rd base, but his defense is atrocious, which is why he rarely plays the position any longer. In reality, Reynolds is an interesting selection to platoon because he is not strong against leftys. Yet, his power cannot be denied and he’ll get plenty of opportunities to pinch-hit. The deal is worth $2 million so there is not much risk involved. While Reynolds will improve the bench it doesn’t solve all the issues.
The Reds Plan Becomes More Clear
Today the Reds got busy deciding on how they would play out their future. Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos are due to have a significant increase in salary in 2016. The money these players were going to be asking for was out of the Reds budget. Walt Jocketty had to reduce the salary and he did so by sending Alfredo Simon to the Tigers and Mat Latos to the Marlins. In these deals the Reds acquired Anthony DeSclafani, Chad Wallach, Eugenio Suarez and Jonathan Crawford. DeSclafani and Crawford are pitching prospects, while Suarez is shortstop and Wallach a catcher.
Look for the Reds to trade Zack Cozart as Suarez will look to be taking over at short-stop. The Reds also have some other pitching prospects that will need to develop. Tony Cingrani’s first experience with the Big Leagues did not work well, but look for him to become a reliable starter. Robert Stephenson, Michael Lorenzen and now Desclafani could help the rotation. Latos will be much harder to replace, but the Reds haven’t yet begun to completely sell. The Reds are not completely out of the NL Central race because of these trades.
If the Reds are clearing salary and looking to gain a large haul of prospects look for them to ship Jay Bruce, Todd Frazier and Brandon Phillips. With Latos and Simon gone it appears Johnny Cueto will be off the trading block. The Reds will make Cueto a large offer and look to extend him. If a deal cannot be reached with an extension, the Reds might try to trade him, but that will more than likely come during the season if the Reds are struggling and Cueto wants to test free agency.
The Reds certainly did not make their team better for 2015. They will be placing a lot of hope in some of their younger players, usually that does not work out as well. However, Jay Bruce is set to rebound and have a nice season. Billy Hamilton got better throughout 2014. They will still need a LF and for Votto to be healthy and produce. The Reds are not out of it yet, but look for them to decline and trade more pieces during the season.