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2017 Team Preview: Cincinnati Reds

The Reds finished last season as the cellar dwellers in the NL Central with a record of 68-94. After a window of contention with a core that included the likes of Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jonny Cueto, Todd Frazier and Jay Bruce. The team has undergone an overhaul and is in the midst of an all-out rebuild that started in 2015 with the trade of Jonny Cueto to the Royals. Since then, almost all of their core except for Joey Votto has been traded for prospects. The days are tough right now in Great American Ballpark. When Scott Feldman is your Opening Day starter your team isn’t great…Votto photo

As Reds’ fans can attest, rebuilds are long and difficult. This team has set a course and is now taking a page out of the Philadelphia 76ers’ playbook – trust the process.

Notable Additions & Subtractions

With the exception of two trades, the Reds’ had a fairly quiet off-season. The highlight was the deal that sent Brandon Phillips to the Braves. The first deal that was in place was stymied when Phillips exercised his no-trade clause, but an agreement was finally reached later in the winter when Phillips finally accepted. The Reds received less of a return, two minor league pitchers, than the reported prospect haul in the first but are content as they now have the position available for to develop guys like Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera.

The other major subtraction from the team this offseason was the trade of Dan Straily to the Marlins in exchange for three prospects, two right-handed pitchers and an outfielder. The team also lost two other pitchers to free agency, righty Ross Ohlendorf who signed with the Toky0 Yakult Swallows of the NPB and Alfredo Simon who has yet to sign with another team. The team addressed these vacancies by adding veterans Scott Feldman, Drew Storen and Bronson Arroyo.

Projected Opening Day Lineup

  • Billy Hamilton (OF)
  • Zack Cozart (SS)
  • Joey Votto (1B)
  • Adam Duvall (OF)
  • Scott Schebler (OF)
  • Eugenio Suarez (3B)
  • Tucker Barnhart (C)
  • Jose Peraza (2B)

 

Game changing speed

Just one example of Hamilton’s game-changing wheels

 

Projected Opening Day Rotation & Notable Bullpen Arms

The starting rotation is the biggest question mark for the Reds headed into this season. At the start of the year, management expected a spring training battle for the fifth starter job, but the landscape since then has changed as sustained some serious injuries. The first bad news came in early February when Homer Bailey had surgery to remove bone spurs from his elbow. Then, a month later, Anthony DeSclafani was shut down due to a sprained UCL. Both will open the season on the disabled list. Also, veteran Bronson Arroyo was struck in the face by a throw to second base by Devin Mesoraco this weekend and is expected to miss time. 

Finnegan

Finnegan is a bulldog on the mound

The two sure things in the Reds’ starting rotation are young lefty Brandon Finnegan and newly acquired veteran right-hander Scott Feldman. Following those two, the other spots in the starting rotation are totally up for grabs. The collection of young guys vying for these jobs including Tim Adleman, Cody Reed, Rookie Davis, Robert Stephenson, Amir Garrett and Sal Romano. All have a chance to prove themselves to the big league club in camp this Spring Training, and while only three of them will start the season in the rotation they’re all likely to see innings for the Reds throughout the course of the season.

 

The expectation in Cincy is that they will employ a two-closer system with the save opportunities split between lefty Raisel Iglesias and veteran Drew Storen. This feels like a prime chance for one of them to run away with the job if they throw lights out, but until one of them proves himself the two will split time. To set them up, the Reds have Michael Lorenzen and Tony Cingrani pegged for the seventh and eighth innings.

Prospects to Know for 2017

Robert Stephenson

Once deemed as a future top of the rotation starter, Stephenson has seen his prospect stock plummet in the past two season. He features a straight four-seam fastball in the mid to upper nineties and was known for a power curve which has supposedly taken a step back in the last year. His third pitch is a changeup that is very much a work in progress. With a lack of a true third pitch, some evaluators think he’s destined for a future in the bullpen, but the Reds will give him every chance to succeed as a starter before making that decision.He got a cup of coffee last season without much success and is fully competing for a starter’s job this spring. This is a crucial year for Stephenson.

Amir Garrett

Former two-sport star in both basketball and baseball at St. Johns, Garrett’s development is behind due to the fact he only started focusing exclusively on baseball a few years ago. fEhxd54His fastball sits in the low to mid-nineties and is complemented by an erratic yet sharp slider and a developing changeup. Garrett is an elite athlete that is still learning how to pitch and has the ceiling of a number three starter with more development. He’s a streamer option in deeper leagues if he settles into the back end of the Reds’ rotation, and strong keeper and dynasty league candidate.

Rookie Davis

Davis was acquired as part of the Aroldis Chapmen and is vying for a spot in the backend of the Reds’ rotation right now. Davis doesn’t offer a high ceiling but profiles as a back of the rotation starter that savvy owners can use as a streamer option later this season if he settles in. He is more enticing for owners in dynasty leagues as he’ll likely need some time to mature before he really flourishes.

Jesse Winker

Winker is another Reds prospect, along with Stephenson, that has seen his prospect stock drop. He is a good hitter with an all fields approach but the power output has diminished due in part to nagging wrist injuries. Some evaluators are concerned about the injury history and lack of power from his corner outfield spot, but the Reds hope he’ll become a middle of the order run producer. For more details see my Minor League Marauders list here.

Dilson Herrera

Herrera was the prized return for Jay Bruce last summer. Some expected him to begin the season with the Reds after the Phillips trade, but he was recently assigned to minor league camp. He factors into the Reds’ long-term plans as a middle infielder and although his stolen base production has waned in recent years he offers some upside for owners in deeper OBP leagues once he gets called back up.

Nick Senzel

Senzel

The Reds hope this is the face of their future franchise player

Chances aren’t great that Senzel sees time in Cincinnati this season, but he is worth mentioning here because he’s seen as a cornerstone of the Reds’ future and isn’t too far away. He’s known as a mature hitter and he is a more than capable defender at the hot corner. The Reds have hopes that he’ll become their franchise player. There’s a chance he gets the call in September of this season but a more likely arrival time is mid-2018. He’s on the radar of all dynasty league owners and is worth a stash if you have a roster spot available in keeper leagues.

Fantasy Breakdown

The stud fantasy name in the Reds’ lineup is a model of consistency, Joey Votto. Not much needs to be said about Votto. He’s one of the best in the league and is especially valuable in OBP leagues. The other big fantasy contributor is Billy Hamilton who can single-handedly control your stolen base category with his prodigious speed. He may lack production in other categories but with the recent stolen base scarcity, his overall value remains very high.

The Reds’ pitching staff doesn’t have much to contribute from a fantasy perspective except for in NL-only or deep mixed leagues. It’s mostly streamer type guys with dynasty and keeper value that you’ll want to stash and study. However, the one guy that could break out this year is Brandon Finnegan. Last season he was caught by one of the worst pitch framers in the league, which had to hurt him over the course of the season, and he made an adjustment to his changeup at the end of last season that should help him. He’s not out of the question as a late round flyer in 12 or 15 team mixed, redraft leagues.

After Votto and Hamilton, it’s fairly slim pickings for solid fantasy targets. Adam Duvall can supply some pop but given the abundance of power around the league there is no need to pay up for him. Cozart is an unexciting but steady contributor at shortstop that is a decent middle infield option in NL-only or deeper mixed leagues. There’s also a strong possibility he gets traded to a contender before the deadline which could boost his counting stat production later in the season. The last name worth mentioning is Jose Peraza. He’ll get consistent at-bats now that Phillips is out of town and offers positional flexibility and quality stolen base production.

Overall, this isn’t an enticing team from a fantasy perspective. There are a couple diamonds mixed in amongst plenty of rust.

Final Thoughts

Votto and Hamilton are the most fantasy relevant guys on the Reds. After that, there is a serious drop-off in contribution but some value to be found if you play your cards right. The Reds still have plenty of work to do as a franchise before they’re ready to compete which is difficult for the casual fan but, for prospect junkies, this is a team to keep an eye on. The Reds have quite a few prospects knocking on the door and while none of them offer huge upside but they are expected to become relevant fantasy contributors. It time for the Reds’ fans to exercise excruciating patience through this rebuilding process. The bandwagon fans have already jumped ship and this is when we see who are the true diehards.

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Reds’ fans will miss DatDudeBP

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Major League Fantasy Football 2017 League Openings

(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 19th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #79 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will discuss player updates, players being overdrafted, and overall fantasy updates.

Our guest this week is Jon Merkel. Jon is a writer with majorleaguefantasysports.com in both baseball and football. His articles publish every Wednesday.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

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(Click the RED link below to listen)

Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio Show: Join Corey D Roberts, and Kyle Amore live on Sunday March 26th, 2017 from 7-9pm EST for episode #80 of Major League Fantasy Baseball Radio. We are a live broadcast that will take callers at 323-870-4395. Press 1 to speak with the host. This week we will discuss players in the draft going for nice bargains.

Our guest this week is Steve Hamilton. Steve is a writer, and editor with majorleaguefantasysports.com focusing on baseball. His articles publish every Saturday.

You can find our shows on I-Tunes. Just search for Major League Fantasy Sports in the podcasts section. For Android users go to “Podcast Republic,” then download that app, and search for “Major League Fantasy Sports Show”

Native Mainer. Ski the East. I enjoy dynasty league formats and am partial to Latin American prospects. Currently living in the Dominican Republic.

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Pingback: Through the Looking Glass. The MadProf looks back on week 1 and towards week 2

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