Ranking Cincinnati Reds’ 5 Biggest Offseason Needs
The 5 Biggest Offseason Needs for the Cincinnati Reds
The likely departure of free agent Shin-Soo Choo this offseason will leave the Cincinnati Reds with a lot of holes to fill.
The Reds will have a lot of work to do in the offseason to fill these gaps. It is very important that they do. It’s too bad Choo didn’t accept the Reds' offer for a one-year contract, but many suspect that he will go to a team that can offer him a multi-year deal. Losing Choo will cause them to lose a great leadoff hitter; the best one they’ve had in a while. The center field position is now wide open as well, plus the on-base ability is now on the shoulders of just two returning starters in the Reds' lineup.
Left field is also up for grabs. The only outfield position that is certain is right field since that’s where returning starter Jay Bruce plays. Ryan Ludwick is the left fielder by default, but because of his age and his struggles offensively in recent years, the Reds are looking to upgrade in left field. They need someone who can produce more offensively and is proficient in the outfield. Will they stay within the organization to fill these holes or will they look outside the organization to some of the free agents that are available?
Newly-appointed manager Bryan Price is looking to make some pitching changes. It is unclear where on the pitching staff he will make these changes, so we just have to speculate what he’s planning on doing. Three of the Reds pitchers from the bullpen are free agents, as well as starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo. It is not likely that Arroyo will return for the 2014 season and no offers have been made to the rest of these pitchers, so the Reds could likely have quite a few holes on their pitching staff that they will need to fill. Price has also showed interest in moving closer Aroldis Chapman to the starting rotation, so if that happens, then there will be another hole to fill in the bullpen. Another concern is starting pitcher Johnny Cueto. He was injured for a lot of the 2013 season and the Reds have to hope that he will stay healthy next season. Cueto is one of their best starters, if not the best when he is healthy.
There are quite a few things the Reds will need this offseason, especially with the likely departure of Choo, but what are their five biggest offseason needs?
5. Starting/relief pitching
The Reds won’t necessarily need to sign anyone or trade for a new starting pitcher, but the fact that Cueto was injured most of this past season and Arroyo is a free agent makes this a need for them this offseason. They could potentially try to convert Chapman to a starter, which could help solve this problem. Price showed interest in converting Chapman in the 2013 season. The Reds already have a great starting rotation, though their depth chart at starting pitcher currently shows just four pitchers. Cueto is not currently listed on the depth chart but should be in that starting rotation on Opening Day, unless he is still injured. The Reds need an additional pitcher in that rotation in case Cueto suffers from injury again in the 2014 season. The starting rotation was the key to their success in 2013.
Chapman could be the answer, but if he is, then that will leave a vacancy in the bullpen. Sean Marshall has the potential to be a good closer. The Reds also have a few pitchers from the bullpen who are free agents, including Nick Masset, Manny Parra and Zach Duke. If they make this move with Chapman and lose these players to free agency, then they are going to need help in their starting rotation and in their bullpen.
4. Leadoff hitter
Choo was the Reds’ leadoff hitter in 2013, but will likely not be back for the Reds in 2014. He is a free agent, but turned down the one-year offer the Reds gave him. Choo is expected to seek a multi-year deal. Choo hit .285 with 21 home runs and 54 RBIs and a .423 on-base percentage for the Reds in 2013. The Reds need a good leadoff hitter like Choo who can get on base and who doesn’t strike out a lot. The ideal leadoff hitter for the Reds would have these abilities plus be a dependable outfielder.
3. On-base ability
The likely departure of Choo will leave the Reds with a lot of holes to fill. One thing that made Choo such a good leadoff hitter was his ability to get on base. Choo had an on-base percentage of .423. The only returning starters who had an on-base percentage above .315 in 2013 were Bruce and Joey Votto. If the Reds want to be one of the league leaders in runs scored again in 2014, then they need someone besides Votto and Bruce who can get on base.
2. Center field
Another hole that will need filled with the departure of Choo is in center field. Billy Hamilton, who is best known for his speed and excitement on the base paths, could get a shot at the center field job. However, there are questions about how much he would contribute on offense. Hamilton can steal plenty of bases but he would have to get on base first. He will need to prove himself offensively to get the center field job. The other current option in center field is Chris Heisey. He produces average numbers offensively and has only played part-time for most of his Reds career. He is a backup in every outfield position. We could see either one of them or possibly even a new face in center field for the Reds on Opening Day.
1. Left field
Veteran Ludwick is the left fielder by default. Heisey and Xavier Paul are his backups, though, Heisey is listed as the center fielder on the current depth chart. General manager Walt Jocketty would like to upgrade the offense and left field seems to be a good place to start. Why? Well, Ludwick’s age (35) and the fact that he has hit below average for two of the last three years are big reasons why they would like to upgrade in left field. Paul may be a good option, but he, like Heisey, has been an average hitter and has played part-time since joining the Reds. The Reds will need someone in left field who can produce more offensively. Like Hamilton, Paul may need to prove himself offensively to get the left field job, but we are most likely to see some new faces in the outfield come 2014.