Hot stove predictions
Bolster rotation with Michael Pineda on one-year, $14M deal
While Wheeler would be an outstanding addition, limited payroll flexibility could mean not adequately addressing other needs. Pineda is older and carries more risk than Wheeler, but he is a potential steal in free agency.
After spending 2018 recovering from Tommy John surgery, Pineda started slow last season with a 6.09 ERA in his first seven starts. Across his next 20 starts, Pineda posted a 9.08 K/9, 1.69 BB/9 and a 3.46 ERA across 117 innings before serving a 60-game PED suspension. A one-year deal would allow Pineda to rebuild his value and work with a great pitching coach, while the Reds land an outstanding mid-rotation starter.
Address corner outfield with trade for Mitch Haniger
Plenty of the outfielders available in free agency can address Cincinnati’s outfield problem. Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos fit this team, but Haniger is a better option.
He offers the ability to play in right and center field. Moving Haniger to center would allow the Reds to play Nick Senzel at second base. Haniger is also arbitration-eligible for the next three seasons, so he’d be more affordable for the Reds. He does come with durability concerns due to playing in only 63 games last season after suffering a ruptured testicle in June and missing more than 50 games in 2016.
He’s proven he can post a .800-plus OPS with good power. Haniger’s contract, bat and defensive versatility make him an ideal fit for Cincinnati. Building a package around third base prospect Jonathan India and pitcher Tony Santillan, areas of strength on Cincinnati’s MLB roster, could entice Seattle to move Haniger.
Sign Howie Kendrick to a two-year, $15M contract
A theme of this offseason is versatility and that’s another tool Kendrick brings to the table. While there are obvious limitations with Kendrick — defense, durability, age — he’s a cost-efficient option that playoff-caliber teams want.
Kendrick struck out in just 13.2 percent of his plate appearances in 2019 and reached base 39.5 percent of the time. Even if he regresses to 2018 form, that’s a season when he slashed .315/.368/.475 with an .843 OPS. Kendrick can be the perfect No. 6 hitter in Cincinnati’s lineup, add a veteran presence with championship experience and extreme versatility. He fits everything the Reds need and should be a priority.
Bring in Robinson Chirinos on a one-year, $8M deal
While the Reds would have significantly benefited from signing Grandal, missing out on him doesn’t mean they can’t improve at catcher. While Chirinos is limited by his inability to create additional strikes with his pitch framing, that’s less of a necessity if the Reds have one of the NL’s best rotations.
The veteran catcher would provide the Reds with needed assistance in the lineup. He remains a high-end hitter at his position and his ability to drive in runs is needed in Cincinnati. Furthermore, a one-year deal allows the Reds to avoid a long-term financial commitment to an aging player.
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