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Who Can Fix the Reds' Broken Bats?

Baseball is a funny game.  It often surprises you in ways you couldn’t expect.  Results can make you scratch your head – like the 84-win Diamondbacks reaching the World Series last year over two 100-win teams in the National League.  Sometimes, the results make sense, but they still leave you scratching your head – like the Orioles sweeping the Reds over the weekend, but not because the Orioles vaunted offense wreaked havoc on a hapless Reds rotation, but because their three worst starting pitchers did not allow one, single run.

Surprising.  Not the result, but how the Orioles got there.  And let’s be real: the Reds should have been licking their chops at the idea of facing Cole Irvin, John Means and Dean Kremer in order instead of either Corbin Burnes or Kyle Bradish.  The Reds avoided the Orioles best and still only collected eleven hits in the entire series – a mere six of which can be attributed to Orioles starting pitching.  The Reds are officially slumping.  Their bats are broken, and the approaching three-game tilt against the defending National League champions is, in a word, petrifying.

There’s plenty of blame to distribute concerning the demise of the Reds lineup.  I could go on and on about Jeimer Candelario not living up to his contract, or Christian Encarnacion-Strand looking overwhelmed at the plate, or Nick Martini being a black hole since Opening Day.  I could spend weeks explaining why the Reds were dumb not to trade Jonathan India when his value was high in the offseason (he has a .295 SLG%).  I would love nothing more than to harp on the high strikeout rates of Will Benson and Elly De La Cruz.

But I’m not going to do that.  This isn’t about looking at the past – it’s about making a better future.  The Reds can still live up to the hype, but they can’t sit pat.  The Padres unofficially shot the starting gun for trade season when they dealt for Marlins star Luis Arráez, and the Reds cannot afford to sit on the sidelines.  Here are five hitters that the Reds should look to poach from teams like the Marlins (and White Sox and Rockies), who may already be throwing in the towel.

Miami Marlins (10 - 27)

CF Jazz Chisholm Jr.

DH Bryan De La Cruz

Chisolm Jr. will be a popular name amongst Reds fans in the coming weeks, but De La Cruz might be the better fit for the Reds lineup.  If there’s one thing that the Reds desperately need (outside of, you know, everything), it’s power, and De La Cruz is a fountain of it.

His six home runs pace the Marlins, while his SLG% (.439) would rank second on the Reds behind only Elly De La Cruz…are you thinking what I’m thinking?  The De La Cruz…es?  De La Cruzi?  Des Las Cruz?

Anyway, the Reds could really use the power jolt that De La Cruz could bring, especially to a DH spot that has been abhorrent.  Chisholm is a nice player, and he was an All-Star just two years ago, but so was Santiago Espinal and I don’t think any of us wants another primarily-singles hitter taking more at bats in this lineup.  De La Cruz might not have Chisholm’s upside or pedigree, but at least adding him would mean fewer at bats for Martini.

Where does Chisholm fit in anyway?  Center?  What happens with T.J. Friedl then?  Second?  India is there.  And you can forget about Chisholm unseating Elly at shortstop.  Besides, the Marlins’ De La Cruz is still under team control until 2028.  He might not be excellent, but he’s cheap.  He might not even command a big trade package.  Come on, Reds, time to activate.

Chicago White Sox (8 - 27)

DH Eloy Jiménez

This would be risky for a few reasons, but if the Reds are serious about contending in 2024, then they have to start getting serious about the idea that they might not be good enough.  The season’s still young – and injuries have done the Reds no favors – but this lineup is not playoff-worthy at the moment.  Eloy Jiménez isn’t a star, but he hits the ball hard and would immediately elevate the Reds DH spot as they try to right this ship on offense.

There are reasons to be concerned.  One, Jiménez plays for the White Sox, who seem to be one of the most disinterested teams in recent MLB history.  Maybe a change of scenery does  Jiménez some good.  Maybe he brings that nasty White Sox juju with him.  Who can say?

What he does bring, though, is power.  If you haven’t picked up on that yet, the Reds really, really need some power in the middle of their order.  Jiménez can provide plenty – that is, if he starts hitting the ball in the air again.  He’s currently sporting the highest ground ball rate of his career.  If he can turn things around, his bat would be fun to project at Great American Ballpark.

Given the state of the White Sox and Jiménez’s pending free agency (and his relatively slow start to the season), the Reds may be able to acquire the 27-year-old slugger for a minimal trade package.  The upside is there – the Reds just have to be willing to pull the trigger.

Colorado Rockies (8 - 26)

C Elias Díaz

3B Ryan McMahon

Are you sick and tired of the Reds getting nothing out of the catcher’s spot?  Are you ready for a revival?  If you said yes, then you’re going to like Elias Díaz.

The 33-year-old was an All-Star for the first time last year, and is off to a great start in 2024.  His batting average would beat the nearest Red by almost twenty points (.308) and his OPS (.776) would tie for second on the team.  He’d be one of the best hitters on the team the moment he steps foot in the clubhouse.  This is almost too good to be true…but given David Bell’s proclivity for keeping three catchers, maybe it’s best not to put any ideas into his head.  If that’s the case, the Reds should turn their attention to Ryan McMahon.

I can hear some of you salivating – yes, McMahon could be a viable alternative to Candelario at 3B.  It would be a miracle!

Of course, nothing is set in stone.  It’s possible McMahon’s gaudy stats (.304/.395/.488, 5 HRs, 142 OPS+) are more a product of Colorado’s thin air than his big bat, but given the state of the Reds right now, who the hell cares?  The Reds need someone to put the ball in play consistently, and that’s what the 8-year vet is doing.  Plus, there’s a reason to think this production might be sustainable outside of Coors Field’s friendly confines – namely, Great American Ballpark’s confines are pretty friendly too.

Although McMahon’s traditional stats aren’t too out of line with his career numbers, he’s barreling the ball more than ever (60.2% hard-hit percentage), and hitting it with more authority too (career-best 93.8 mph average exit velocity).  The ball may not carry as well in Cincinnati as it does in Denver, but it won’t need to with the distance to right field being a measly 325 feet.

McMahon won’t be cheap.  The Rockies have been in a perpetual rebuild since 2019, and prying away their best player will be costly indeed.  They’re going to want a haul, but the Reds would be wise to give it to them.  The season may be young, but the Reds are going to have to get aggressive to fill the holes on their roster.  Some team out there is going to make an offer the Rockies can’t refuse – the Reds are going to have to beat them to it.

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