For Cincinnati Reds, its a New Year, New Season

Cincinnati Reds NewsFor the second consecutive season, the Cincinnati Reds carried high hopes into the postseason last October. For the second consecutive season, they were dismissed from the playoffs earlier than expected.

Editor’s Note: This “New Year, New Season” post on the Cincinnati Reds is part of a series where Baseball News Source columnist Jeff Louderback chronicles each Major League team as spring training draws nearer.

After falling in the wild card game to Pittsburgh, the Reds fired manager Dusty Baker and replaced him with Bryan Price, the club’s pitching coach who has a rotation anchored by Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Homer Bailey; and a lineup featuring slugging first baseman Joey Votto, second baseman Brandon Phillips and right fielder Jay Bruce, who belted 30 home runs last year.

St. Louis and Pittsburgh expect to be playoff contenders once more in the National League Central. The Milwaukee Brewers and rebuilding Chicago Cubs should be improved. The Reds will have to replace the production of Shin-Soo Choo and veteran right-handed starting pitcher Bronson Arroyo to return to the postseason.

Who’s Elsewhere

The Reds were unable to bring back Choo, who inked a free agent deal with the Texas Rangers. Arroyo will likely pitch elsewhere in 2014, unless Cincinnati can trade Bailey, who can become a free agent next offseason. MLB Trade Rumors projects that Bailey will receive $9.3 million in the arbitration process. That could lead Reds GM Walt Jocketty to find a taker for the 27-year-old right-hander and re-sign Arroyo.

Catcher Ryan Hanigan was traded to Tampa Bay, clearing the way for Devin Mesoraco to claim the full-time catching role, though the Reds did sign veteran Brayan Pena.

Who’s Back/Who’s New

Phillips and Bailey have been mentioned in multiple trade rumors, but they remain Reds – at least for now.

Left-hander Manny Parra was signed to bolster the bullpen while Skip Schumacher was brought in to fill the utility infielder’s role. Veteran right-hander Chien-Ming Wang agreed to a minor league deal with an invitation to spring training.

Speedster and top prospect Billy Hamilton is projected to replace Choo in center field. Schumacher and Chris Heisey are versatile backups who can play all three outfield spots.

What Could Happen Before Spring Training/Opening Day

The Reds have been mostly quiet this offseason, opting to replace Choo with Hamilton. The lineup is solid with Votto, Phillips, Bruce, Ryan Ludwick and 2013 surprised Zack Cozart and Todd Frazier.

Mike Leake, Tony Cingrani and Wang are candidates for the final two rotation spots. Perhaps the Reds could land a young Major League ready starter by dealing Bailey, and also signing Arroyo.

 


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