After another disappointing 90 loss season most reds fans agreed things had to change. Attendance and viewership has been declining. Reds fans were sick and tired of the same old same old. Tired of the same narrative that the Reds would field the same team with minor variations each year expecting different results.
Coming in to the offseason, Reds president Dick Willams promised fans that they were going to spend money. They were going to change the roster and fill needed holes in the pitching staff. Cincinnati fans didn’t believe him, they had heard this line before. The last four years Reds fans have watched miserable baseball. Each season started off strong and then by 50-60 games in, unless you were a die hard baseball fan, you gave up on following them. It was simply horrible baseball. After the World Series last season every major outlet that makes power rankings (ESPN, CBS Sports, Yahoo Sports, and MLB network) all had the Reds finishing last in the NL Central, by a long shot, and bottom 5 in the entire MLB.
During the winter meetings, the Reds surprised every fan out there when on the first day they were linked to just about every free agent. The first move that made a splash was not offering Billy Hamilton a contract. He had been an experiment for the Reds. He was defensively one of the best center fielders in the game of baseball, he could cover so much ground and made remarkable catches, but was horrible offensively. Sure, he was fast on the bases and could make something out of nothing, but that requires getting on base (which he did at a low rate). The next high quality move was adding Tanner Roark. He’s a really good back of the rotation pitcher who is able to go deep into games and eat innings, which is good because in the last four years there has been a lot of strain on the bullpen. Then came a move that no one in the entire baseball community was expecting. I remember when the news came across my phone from the CBS Sports app I was in shock. The Reds had managed to trade Homer Bailey. This contact was considered the second worst contract the Reds had on the books (the first being Joey Votto’s). The Reds were able to get Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and Alex Wood for Bailey. These are two great outfielders and another pitcher who will relieve the stress that has been put on the bullpen these last couple of years.
At this point the Reds had made moves and made the fans happy, they could have stopped here and regroupped. They have a new manager along with a whole new staff, two new pitchers, two new outfielders. They are in the process of converting their top prospect to the outfield. There are a lot of moving pieces. Instead, the front office wanted more. They wanted to make more moves, change the culture of the clubhouse, and bring a baseball town what it wants, a competitive baseball team in October. With the signings of Sonny Gray (who is really good outside of Yankee Stadium) and Jose Iglesias (major league production, minor league contract) they were able to do just that. Every MLB power rankings puts the Reds somewhere in the middle of the road, simply on the basis of the unknown. The Reds will be competitive this year. It just matters how healthy the starting pitchers stay, if the offense can be consistent, and most importantly, can a clubhouse full of new and young players change the culture of the Reds and bring excitement about baseball back to a city that wants a good team so bad. With spring training just a week into games its hard to tell, but from player statements and from the outside looking in, the first week looked really promising.