The Cincinnati Reds have reached an impasse. Given the uncertain state of the franchise and the relative quality of the other teams in the National League Central, they might not be in a position to contend in 2015.
In the meantime, they have a number of high-profile players who are set to hit free agency at the end of next season. Could that lead them to proactively make some trades this off-season? Joel Sherman of the New York Post wonders if that might be the correct course of action with guys like Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, and Jay Bruce, guys they likely will not be able to afford once they hit free agency.
That could be true. But I think Cincinnati has to be proactive and shop Johnny Cueto and Mat Latos, and maybe Bruce, too. Even at full health, the Reds would not be the favorites to win the NL Central next year — maybe not even be picked for second or third. And going for it without trying to improve their payroll situation and farm system would very well cast them into irrelevancy for a while.
In addition to improving their payroll situation, these kinds of trades could help to improve a farm system that Sherman notes is depleted in comparison to the rest of the league.
The Reds might still believe they have a window in which to contend in 2015, and they might be right. They certainly do not need to wave the white flag and declare themselves as rebuilding, but they might be able to make some moves now to accelerate the process in their next championship window.
If the Reds do not make any moves this off-season, they could enter the season with their roster as currently constructed and then explore mid-season deals as they see where they are in the standings.
It’s an odd and challenging situation for the Reds, one that bears watching over the course of next season.
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