What in the world is going on in the land of the Big Red Machine? From where I stand, it looks like a 2021 Cincinnati Reds implosion will happen again. That should come as no surprise to Reds fans – it’s been happening for years.
Cincinnati Reds Implosion: 2019
Two years ago (December 23, 2018), the Reds shipped RHP Homer Bailey and minor league prospect (middle infielder), Jeter Downs, to Los Angeles for what looked to be quite the haul. In exchange, Cincinnati latched onto 2B/3B Kyle Farmer, OF Matt Kemp, OF Yasiel Puig, LHP Alex Wood, and cash.
That team looked like it had potential. In addition to the already solid staples on the Reds" roster, adding the bats of Puig and Kemp could only better Cincinnati"s offense, while Wood"s arm was sure to add wins to the standings for the Reds – but it never did – the Reds went 75-87 in 2019, finishing fourth in the National League Central Division. The team just never seemed to gel.
Where are they now? Puig was traded to Cleveland then sat out for 2020. Wood ended up going back to Los Angeles in 2020 after injuries had him sidelined for most of his time with the Reds. Kemp? Well, he was released by the Reds just a month into the season. Since that time, he spent six weeks with the Mets before being released on July 12, 2019, then spent the first two months of the 2020 season with Miami. After the Marlins released him on June 26, 2020, he caught a flight to Denver, finishing 2020 with the Colorado Rockies; he"s now once again a free agent.
Reds Implosion: 2020
This past season, it looked like the Big Red Machine was serious about contending, yet another Cincinnati Reds implosion occurred. The Reds went nuts on free agent signings last winter, landing 2B Mike Moustakas, OF Nicholas Castellanos, CF Shogo Akiyama, RHP (reliever) Pedro Strop, and topped it all of by inking right-handed wizard, and future Cy Young Award winner, Trevor Bauer.
Last winter, I wrote a piece about what I envisioned happening with the NL Central. I never saw the Cubs get off to the amazing start that they did, but I also never imagined that the best the Reds would do would be to claim third place (5.0 games back) while posting a 31-29 record. The Pirates finishing last was a given, but I certainly believed the Reds would contend with the roster they"d compiled, and not just get the better of the Brewers and Pittsburgh. Even when the Cubs hit the skids for a two-week stretch, the Reds failed to capitalize. Nobody could have foreseen the next Cincinnati Reds implosion, yet here it comes.
Impending Cincinnati Reds Implosion: 2021
Why will there likely be another Cincinnati Reds implosion in 2021? Well, let"s start with the mass exodus which occurred early last month. Declaring free agency were RHP Anthony DeSclafani, RHP Trevor Bauer, SS Freddy Galvis, and LHP Jesse Biddle.
Next, they signed some minor leaguers and traded RHP Robert Stephenson and CF prospect Jameson Hannah to the Colorado Rockies, in exchange for RHP Jeff Hoffman and RHP Case Williams. The Reds did pick up veteran 1B Wilson Garcia (free agent) but signed him to a minor-league pact.
The Reds did a little dealing here and there this month for some lower level players, but took even more damage to the roster, as RHP Archie Bradley and catcher Curt Casali declared free agency.
The next major move the team made is going to sting the Reds badly. On December 7th, they dealt RHP Raisel Iglesias and cash to the Los Angeles Angels, in exchange for RHP Noe Ramirez and future considerations. The general consensus among Reds fans? “What the hell are they thinking?"
Looking forward, it seems the Reds aren"t even trying to retain Bauer, and for anyone holding out hope, DeSclafani just signed with the Giants. Bauer recently teased Angels fans with a tweet, and for now, anyway, they look to be the frontrunners to land him.
There is certainly time for the Reds to add more pieces, but they"ll never be able to reassemble the team they fielded in 2020. Reports say the team is “saving money", so it"s not likely that they will be pursuing any top-tier free agents this winter. Trades? maybe, but they"ve already dealt (or let walk) a pretty good chunk of what should have been a quality lineup.
Fans can hope for the best, but for now, it looks like another Cincinnati Reds implosion for 2021.
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