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With the MLB Trade Deadline on August 2nd rapidly approaching, this is a good time to take stock of where the Reds' roster is, who the cornerstones of the next competitive Reds team are, and which players are likely on the trade block. Given the Reds are in the midst of one of their worst seasons in years, it's likely this roster looks a lot different by the end of the year.
At the beginning of the season, the Reds' front office wanted all of us to believe this was a contending roster, despite the fact they had unloaded multiple former All-Stars and brought in almost nobody of note. So much for that plan, huh? Going into All-Star Weekend, the Reds remain in last place in the NL Central with a 34 - 57 record. They are 15 games back from the division-leading Milwaukee Brewers and 14.5 games back from a Wild Card spot. In other words, they're toast.
This ranking is an attempt to look at the Reds players in terms of their importance to the team long-term. Keep in mind: this is not a ranking of pure talent. Luis Castillo might be the best player on the Reds' roster, but between the fact that he's 29-years-old, heading into his third arbitration year and having a fantastic season, he may never have more trade value for the Reds than he does right now. In that sense, he wouldn't be the most important player for the Reds, long-term.
With that logic in mind, a player like Nick Lodolo - who has not had the career success of Castillo but is cheap, young, talented and under team control for much longer - would rank higher on this list. The Long-Term Player Rankings takes everything from age and potential to contract situation and injury history into account. This list includes every player currently on the 40-Man Roster (including those on the Injured-List or currently in the minor leagues). Without further ado, please enjoy the first ever Reds' Long-Term Player Rankings!!
The Bottom of the Barrell
50. OF Tommy Pham - 34 y/o
49. SP Mike Minor - 34 y/o
48. SS Donovan Solano - 34 y/o
47. RP Justin Wilson - 34 y/o, 60-day IL
46. IF Mike Moustakas - 33 y/o
45. SP/RP Luis Cessa - 30 y/o, 15-day IL
As the group suggests, this is the bottom of the barrel of the Reds' roster, maybe not in terms of pure talent, but in terms of what they mean for this franchise moving forward. Old, injured and ineffective pretty much sums up this group. None of these guys offers much in the way of current production, trade potential or a future-career upswing. Pham, in particular, seems more interested in fighting the Reds' opponents than helping the team win ball games. If they were all gone by the trade deadline, not one person in Cincinnati would miss them.
The Land of Misfit Position Players
44. OF Aristedes Aquino - 28 y/o, IL-10
43. OF Max Schrock - 27 y/o
42. IF Matt Reynolds - 31 y/o
41. SS Kyle Farmer - 31 y/o
Unlike the first group, which basically just consists of guys at the end of their careers, this group has a little more potential, although not much. It's fitting that Aquino's ranking matched the number he wears. Aquino can hit the ball a ton - if he ever makes contact, that is. He's already been designated for assignment this year, and no one would be surprised if he was cut to make room for a younger prospect. Schrock is young, but he's already bounced around the league and hasn't been productive at any stop. Reynolds has come out of nowhere to be a contributor, but he's nothing more than a nice piece off the bench. Farmer is a great story and has been one of the Reds' most consistent hitters in 2022, but he's 31 and would probably fit better as a super-utility player than an everyday shortstop. Basically, this group is a mixed bag.
The Old Hurlers
40. SP/RP Ross Detwiler - 36 y/o, IL-15
39. RP Hunter Strickland - 33 y/o
38. SP/RP Jeff Hoffman - 29 y/o
These guys have all been around the block in The Show. Each has been effective in spurts in 2022, but their age and lack of career consistency means they probably won't be around for the next competitive Reds team. Detwiler has value as a veteran and someone who's pitched as a starter and out of the bullpen, but he's a free agent at the end of the year and turned 36 in March. Strickland has filled in adequately at closer for the Reds, but like Detwiler, is older and will also be a free agent at the end of the season. Hoffman has been a pleasant surprise for the Reds after disappointing in 2021. He's only 29 and heading into his second year of arbitration. Of all the players that have been mentioned so far, he might be the most likely to fetch a decent return at the trade deadline as well.
Just a Bunch of Average Arms
37. RP Buck Farmer - 31 y/o
36. RP Ian Gibaut - 28 y/o
35. SP/RP Reiver Sanmartin - 26 y/o
34. RP Daniel Duarte - 25 y/o, IR-60
33. SP/RP Vladimir Gutierrez - 26 y/o, IL-60
32. RP Lucas Sims - 28 y/o, IL-60
31. RP Dauri Moreta - 26 y/o
30. RP Joel Kuhnel - 27 y/o
29. RP Art Warren - 29 y/o
Between injuries and ineffectiveness, none of these guys has the look of a player who will be around for the long haul. There's always potential, of course, but many of these guys have blown numerous chances to prove they can crack it in the MLB. Maybe one out of this group can have a decent year for the Reds in 2023, but I wouldn’t bet on it
The Toughest Call
28. 1B Joey Votto - 38 y/o
I struggled with where to put Votto. On one hand, it's obvious that his career is winding down at this point. He's not a dangerous hitter anymore and he makes far too much money for a Reds team that isn't going anywhere. That said, if Votto wants to retire a Red, then he deserves that privilege. He's been a model citizen in the locker room and in the community, he's a great teammate and he's become a sensation on TikTok - for those of you who know or care about TikTok. At the same time, if he had a chance to win a World Series and the Reds could get decent value for the former NL MVP, then I wouldn't be opposed. Either way you look at it, Votto isn't an important long-term player for the Reds
Young and Cheap, but the Ceiling is Low
27. RP Jared Solomon - 25 y/o, minors
26. OF Michael Papierski - 26 y/o
25. OF Jake Fraley - 27 y/o
24. OF T.J. Friedl - 26 y/o
23. 2B Alejo Lopez - 26 y/o, minors
22. C Mark Kolozsvary - 26 y/o
21. C Aramis Garcia - 29 y/o
20. SP Connor Overton - 28, IL-60
None of these guys has the look of an everyday or consistent ballplayer, though they are all still young. Players like Lopez, Garcia and Friedl have filled in as backups at times in 2022. Overton has been great in four appearances but is currently injured and he doesn't have a long track-record of success. Best-case scenario: one of these guys turns into a reliable contributor in a small role in 2023 and beyond.
Outfielders with Question Marks
19. OF Ronnie Dawson - 27
18. OF Stuart Fairchild - 26
17. OF Albert Almora - 28
16. OF Nick Senzel - 27
The positive: all of these players have high pedigree. The negative: production has been inconsistent or lacking. Dawson was a Rule 5 Draft selection by the Reds out of the Houston Astros organization; as a former second-round pick, he has potential, but there’s a reason the Astros didn’t protect him on their 40-Man Roster. Fairchild was the Reds’ second-round pick in the 2017 Draft but has been involved in three trades already in his short career. That's usually not a good sign. Almora has been a pleasant surprise since being signed as a free agent, but he is coming off two consecutive horrible seasons with the Cubs and then the Mets. Senzel has been coming on of late, but his overall production this year hasn’t been good. The Reds' former top pick has loads of potential, but he's running out of chances to prove he can be an everyday player in the big leagues.
Pitchers with Question Marks
15. RP Tejay Antone - 28 y/o, IL-60
14. SP/RP Justin Dunn - 26 y/o, IL-60
13. RP Tony Santillan - 25 y/o, IL-60
Like the previous group, all of these players are still young and talented, but injuries have been big concern. Antone hasn't pitched in 2022, but he was helpful last year and currently sports a career 2.48 ERA. Dunn was brought over from the surging Seattle Mariners to the Reds in the Suarez-Winker trade. He's a flamethrower and a former top pick of the New York Mets in 2016. However, he's struggled with a shoulder strain that has affected him since last year and hasn't been particularly effective as a starter. His future might be in the bullpen.
At the start of the 2022 season, it looked like Santillan might be the answer to the Reds' bullpen woes of 2021. That hot start didn't last though, and now he's out with a back injury. Still, of all the pitchers in the group, Santillan might have the best combination of age, pure talent, and proven effectiveness.
Talented, but Also Likely Gone
12. OF Tyler Naquin - 31y/o
11. 3B Brandon Drury - 29 y/o
10. SP Tyler Mahle - 27 y/o
Here's where we start getting into the real contributors - but also the players who could fetch a hefty return at the trade deadline if the right bidder comes along. In a different season, we might be celebrating these guys. Instead, we're holding our breath to see if they stick around after August 2.
Naquin is the oldest of the group. He's been an effective outfielder for the Reds over the past two seasons, but his age likely precludes him being around for the next competitive Reds team. His contract will also expire at the end of the season, so the Reds would be wise to recoup as much value for him as they can.
Drury has been the Reds' most consistent hitter in 2022. He's been a great story in a dreary season, but his trade value has never been higher than it is right now. The Reds are in great position to get a massive return on the $900,000 investment in Drury they made in spring training.
Of this group, Mahle is the most tenured Red and would sting the most if he were to be traded. Still, after looking like a potential ace in 2021, Mahle has regressed in 2022. He's also heading into his third year of arbitration and after playing on a $5.2 million contract this season, he will be looking for a hefty raise. He could certainly play a role on the next competitive Reds team, but the front office might also be wise to see if they can fleece another team for the 27-year-old hurler.
Guys with Potential
9. RP Alexis Diaz - 25 y/o
8. SP Graham Ashcraft - 24 y/o
7. OF Allen Cerda - 22 y/o, minors
6. SS Jose Barrero - 24 y/o, minors
This group is short on proven production, but long on potential. Diaz has been excellent in his rookie season, allowing a 2.16 ERA in 32 appearances in 2022. Ashcraft has also been a nice surprise as a solid rookie starter. Still, his propensity for giving up bunches of hits gives me pause as to whether he can ever be a top-of-the-rotation starter. Cerda hasn't had the best year since being promoted to AA Chattanooga, but he's got power to spare and runs the field well. He could be a contributor in the outfield next year.
Barrero is the key piece of this group. He could be the Reds everyday shortstop next year. If he can come in and claim that role, that would be a huge boon for a team that hasn't had a reliable contributor at the position since Zack Cosart signed with the Los Angeles Angels in 2017 (and arguably since Barry Larkin retired in 2005). Barrero has an excellent glove and can hit for power and average. If he can put everything together at the major league level, he will be a critical member of the next competitive Reds team.
The Trade (Blue) Chip
5. SP Luis Castillo - 29 y/o
After Votto, Castillo was the hardest Red to rank for this list. He was named an All-Star for the second time in his career this year and is in the middle of perhaps his best season to date. Add in the fact that he's only 29-years-old, and you have a recipe for a player that should be in Cincinnati for years to come. Alas, it's not that simple here in the Queen City.
Although baseball miracles can and do happen, odds are the Reds won't be in a position to compete in 2023. Castillo is playing on a $7.5 contract in 2022 and will be up for his third year of arbitration in the offseason. Like Mahle, Castillo is in line for a raise. Unlike Mahle, Castillo has the production to back up what will surely be a massive ask from the Reds' front office. Given the poor financial state the team is in (so they claim), it seems like a good bet that Castillo will be traded before the deadline. On the bright side, the Reds look to be in line for a massive return.
Every team that thinks it can compete for the World Series in 2022 should be on the phone with the Reds to see if they can secure the services of the Reds' righthander. He throws hard, generates lots of strikeouts, and keeps the ball in the park, as demonstrated by his career-low 0.6 homeruns allowed per nine innings. He had a masterful performance versus the MLB-leading New York Yankees last Thursday. The Reds should ask for the moon, and they'll likely get it.
The Untouchables/Future Cornerstones
4. 2B Jonathan India - 25 y/o
3. C Tyler Stephenson - 25 y/o
2. SP Nick Lodolo - 24 y/o
1. SP Hunter Greene - 22 y/o
This is the cream of the crop for the Reds' future. These guys all have potential to be top players at their respective positions.
I only ranked Stephenson above India because I value the position of catcher slightly ahead of second base, but they're both special talents who've made a big impact on the Reds at an early age. The best part? They both have already established themselves as team leaders and fan-favorites. Both India and Stephenson are playing on cost-controlled contracts for the next few years. The Reds need to get the right pieces around the two young studs, so they don't end up wasting their prime years.
At spots one and two, we have the Reds' best young prospects, the lefty/righty tandem of Nick Lodolo and Hunter Greene. While both have struggled at times during their rookie year, each has demonstrated massive talent. Lodolo generates lots of strikeouts and has reigned in some of the control problems he had earlier in the year. While he doesn't have the highest ceiling, he could easily be the teams #2 starter starting in 2023 and beyond.
Finally, we have Greene, who really needs no introduction. When you have a 100+ mph fastball, that tends to do a lot of talking for you. Greene has had his struggles, but he's also had moments where he's unhittable. The most exciting part is he's seemed to get better as the year has gone on, despite the fact that the team has, for the most part, been putrid around him.
These four players must be protected at all costs. If the Reds are going to build a roster that can compete for the playoffs and the World Series, then it starts with the quartet of India, Stephenson, Lodolo and Greene.