The Cincinnati Reds won’t give up on a playoff berth just yet for the 2014 campaign, but they are decidedly on the edges of a crowded situation when it comes to the second wild card berth.
It has to feel unsatisfying from the Reds’ perspective to have struggled to gain traction so much this season. Yes, there were some lingering questions about this lineup and where their runs would come from over the long haul, but with the horses the Reds have in the rotation and the strength of the back end of their bullpen, they still appeared to have a head start on things.
With a record one game over .500 entering Monday’s action, the Reds have seen their season thwarted by injuries and a hint of ineffectiveness. However things play out in Cincinnati between now and the end of the season, the team has tough decisions looming when it comes to this off-season and some of their big names in the rotation.
Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Mike Leake are all approaching the ends of their respective contracts. Having already paid Homer Bailey with a handsome deal north of $100 million, the Reds’ front office will have to be a bit more choosy with that group.
As they navigate those decisions, an off-season trade or two becomes a real possibility. As noted by Anthony Castrovince of MLB.com:
With Cueto and Latos eligible for free agency at the end of ’15, the Reds might want to capitalize on their trade value before things come to a head. Mike Leake, entering his final round of arbitration, is another candidate to be dealt for this same reason.
Castrovince also writes that the team faces those decisions in the context of a payroll that is already the highest it has ever been.
The Reds weren’t much involved with trade rumors mid-season, but it sounds like they might be busy come the winter meetings.