The Cincinnati Reds had a long offseason to ponder what might have been. After jumping out to a 2-0 lead against the eventual World Series champion Giants, the Reds dropped three straight at home. Manager Dusty Baker was disappointed but sounds ready to go entering spring training.
Perhaps the biggest offseason question in all of baseball is what will the Reds do with the 106 MPH man Aroldis Chapman?
“This is an organizational decision,” Reds manager Dusty Baker said. “I’m not the whole organization. I’m one that has to speak about it.”
Entering spring training it appears the Reds are going to have Chapman transition to a starting role after closing in 2012. Last season he saved 38 games with a 1.51 ERA/.81 WHIP and 15.3 K/9IP. Since Chapman is under the Reds control for two more years, the Reds might as well max out the number of innings Chapman can give them.
Jonathan Broxton was re-signed to a 3 year $21 million deal to close for the Reds if Chapman starts. Broxton saved 27 games posting a 2.48 ERA between Kansas City and Cincinnati in 2012. If Chapman remains in the closers role, Broxton will be a valuable set-up man.
The Cincinnati Reds and GM Walt Jocketty were involved in a major three team trade in December. The Reds received outfielder Shin-Soo Choo from the Indians. Choo is a solid player sporting a career .847 OPS with 162 games averages of 19 HR and 20 SB. He will lead off and play center field, which he has rarely played in MLB career. The Reds parted with Drew Stubbs and shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius in the trade.
Left fielder Ryan Ludwick’s 2 year $15 million contract may have been the best value on the free agent market this offseason. After being banished by Tony LaRussa to sluggers hell, or Petco Park, Ludwick flourished in the Great American Small Park. He hit 26 HR, drove in 80 runs and had an OPS of .877 in 2012.
Many of Jocketty’s other transactions this offseason involved re-signed pitchers to avoid arbitration. Mat Latos was signed to a two year $11.5 million contract. Latos is 23-18 with a 3.47 ERA/1.17 WHIP and 8.3 K/9 IP the last two seasons. he is the Reds number two behind Johnny Cueto.
Homer Bailey ($5.35 million) and Mike Leake ($3.06 million) were both re-signed to one year deals. Bailey, the likely fifth starter, pitched to a 1.24 WHIP in 208 IP in 2012. Leake has a 28-22 record with a 1.33 WHIP in 485 IP over three seasons in Cincinnati.
Logan Ondrusek ($2.3 million/2 years) has been a valuable reliever out of the Reds pen since 2010. The past two seasons he has a 10-7 record with a 3.34 ERA in 116 IP.
Manny Parra spent five seasons as a Brewer. His offseason one year $1 million deal was based on his .229 batting average against left handed hitters in 2012.
The nucleus of a Cincinnati Reds team that came a game from beating the eventual World Series Champion Giants is back for another crack in 2013. The lineup, led by main threats Brandon Phillips, Joey Votto and Jay Bruce can match most in the NL. The tremendous depth and quality in both their rotation and bullpen gives the Reds the flexibility to use Aroldis Chapman however they choose. The Reds should be favored over the Cardinals in the NL Central and are a legitimate World Series threat.