The Cincinnati Reds have been selling off big league talent over the last few years and building up a strong farm system in the process. Will 2023 be the year the big league roster starts to see some impact from all this young talent?
#26 - 4th in NL Central
MIH - Jonathan India
MIP - Luis Castillo
PTW - Hunter Greene
#27 - 62-100 - 4th in NL Central
Highest WAR (Position) - Brandon Drury
Highest WAR (Pitcher) - Luis Castillo
The Reds went from over .500 in 2021 to a 100 loss season in 2022. They saw their ace traded mid-season (Luis Castillo), as well as their best hitter (Brandon Drury). The offense struggled to score, but their young pitching showed some real bright spots, with phenom starters Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo having strong rookie seasons. Also, rookie Alexis Diaz emerged as their closer of the future. So amid a disappointing season, there was some hope.
Additions / Subtractions
As with many teams in rebuild mode, the offseason was about seeing if any of their veterans had value on the trade market while bringing in other veterans to be placeholders until the kids are ready. Much of the Reds' work was done mid-season in shedding big league talent, but the offseason also saw the departure of Mike Moustakas, Kyle Farmer, Donovan Solano, and Mike Minor. The new crop of veterans include starter Luke Weaver, shortstop Kevin Newman, and corner outfielder / first baseman Wil Myers.
Most Important Hitter
Not every prospect works out, and so far in his big league career, Nick Senzel is one of those prospects that just hasn't. The former #2 overall pick is now entering his age 28 season and 5th full season in the big leagues. So far, his rookie season (2019) was the most successful, where he posted a measly 87 OPS+ with 12 home runs. In 2022, he had a 64 OPS+ with only 5 home runs and 25 RBI's in 110 games. The good part about being on a rebuilding team is you are given more opportunities for playing time and development. Senzel is once again slated to be the Reds' everyday centerfielder, but with the youth movement moving through the minors, Senzel needs to start showing some progress, or he will no longer have a job in Cincinnati.
Most Important Pitcher
No one meant more to the future success of the Reds in 2022 than Hunter Greene. The flame-throwing phenom had a solid rookie campaign in his age 22 season, showing why everyone had been waiting for his debut since he was picked 2nd overall in the 2017 draft. Now it's his time to take the next step and show he is ready to be the new ace of the Reds. If Greene can solidify himself at the top of the Reds' rotation, then the Reds will be ready to contend sooner than anticipated. It would also mean they have a true superstar on their hands too.
Prospect to Watch
Elly De La Cruz
The Reds have a strong farm system, boasting 4 players in the Top 100 Prospects. Their system has a unique makeup though, with 7 of their top 8 prospects playing either shortstop or third base. However, the class of the group, and the player most ready to make a splash in 2023, is Elly De La Cruz. This 21 year old shortstop is ranked as the 10th prospect in baseball, and it's easy to see why. At 6'5", he's a towering presence with special speed and some real pop in his bat. In 2022, between Single-A and Double-A, De La Cruz hit 28 home runs and had 47 steals. I don't think the Reds can keep him out of Cincinnati much longer, and he has an outside shot at making the Opening Day roster.
5th in NL Central
The Reds are definitely headed in the right direction, but they are not ready to turn that corner yet. As some of these top prospects like Elly De La Cruz, Noelvi Marte, and Brandon Williamson join the big leagues throughout the year, the team will improve and become more and more fun to watch. Look for next year to be a big jump year in Cincinnati, but for now, the record won't be great.
This will be Joey Votto's last season.
It feels like it is time. Joey Votto has been the face of the Reds almost since the moment he arrived in 2007. He's a 6 time All Star, won a Gold Glove and an MVP. He has a chance at being a Hall of Famer. He's also entering his age 39 season, last year was the worst year of his career, and he's in the last year of his 10 year megadeal (which is the only reason he hasn't been traded like the rest of the team's veteran assets). He has a team option for next year, but there's no way it gets picked up. The production doesn't warrant a $20mil+ contract for his age 40 season. I could see Votto opting to retire than wear another jersey besides the Reds.