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Updated: 2017-12-11T11:00:05-05:00


Can Jose Peraza be a long-term solution at shortstop?



He was a terrible hitter last season. What can he do to improve?

Back in late July, I asked the question “What if Jose Peraza doesn’t get better?” At the time, he was hitting a feeble .249/.275/.322 and I figured the Reds might be in a position to review his role in this here rebuild. He lost some playing time at 2B to Scooter Gennett, but he did hit better over the last few months of the season. From July 28th on, he slashed a stomachable .285/.354/.331. That was apparently enough to convince the Reds to stick with him as the starting shortstop (for now, anyway) and close the book on the Zack Cozart chapter of our story.

I’m still not convinced, though. His glove seems to be good enough to play passably well around the keystone, but his bat is very much in question. He is really, really good at putting the bat on the ball, as evidenced by his 13.5% strikeout rate (23rd-best in all of baseball). His thin 3.9% walk rate is also pertinent. But while he doesn’t swing and miss much, he was too often getting the bat knocked out of his hands. He led the leagu in soft contact percentage, an ignominious superlative. 26.6% of the balls he hit were hit weakly. His .324 slugging percentage was tied for second-worst in the league. A sharp skill for making contact isn’t really worth much if you can’t make hard contact. A harmless pop-up to the first baseman is an out nearly as often as a strikeout is.

The good news is that I don’t think he has to make a million drastic changes to get to good. His hitting profile looks very similar to that of the recently traded Dee Gordon. Here are his relevant numbers: He had a 13.4% K rate, a 3.6% BB rate, and a 24.7% soft contact rate. Those numbers are startlingly similar, but here’s the kicker: Gordon slashed .308/.341/.375. That helped create 2.1 offensive runs as opposed to Peraza’s -22.2. Gordon was two full wins better with the bat than Peraza was.

How could their component numbers be so similar while their results were so dramatically different? Let’s take a look at all that soft contact these guys are making. For speedy little fellas like Peraza and Gordon, the absolute worst thing they can do is pop the ball up. Harmless infield flies turn into outs more than just about anything else whether you are fast or not. Peraza’s infield fly percentage was a demoralizing 13.2%. Gordon, meanwhile, popped out to an infielder just 2.9% of the time. He kept the ball on the ground so much last season that he led the league with a 2.93 GB/FB ratio. Peraza’s was just 1.5. Gordon accumulated 40 infield and bunt hits, while Peraza did it just 20 times. Dee Gordon is one of the best in the business at hitting the ball on the ground and legging out base hits. Peraza is not, but I think he can get better.

A lot of folks wear themselves out yelling about how guys like Peraza and his teammate Billy Hamilton could be MVPs if they hit more grounders and bunted more. Of course, those skills are much harder to develop than these folks will let on, but that doesn’t mean they are completely wrong. Now, it would probably be impossible to teach a guy like Brian McCann to beat the ball into the ground and run out some base hits. Guys like him are way too slow to make it work. Peraza, on the other hand, is fast enough to open up the possibility. If he can fix his swing to trade a good number of those pop-ups for ground balls, it very well could be the difference between “Jose Peraza, Above-Average Major League Shortstop” and “Jose Peraza, Fastest Guy on the Tulsa Drillers Roster.”

Adam Duvall trade rumors - Cincinnati Reds ‘open to offers’ on outfielder



The Winter Meetings officially begin today.

Major League Baseball’s Winter Meetings officially begin today outside of Orlando, Florida, which means the already simmering Hot Stove should get plenty of fuel in the coming days. Of course, that’s if anyone can actually get to Orlando, since a winter storm has dumped snow across the Atlanta, Georgia area for days and seemingly half of baseball was attempting to make a connection through there.

The Cincinnati Reds aren’t actively shopping anyone, weren’t a finalist for signing Japanese superstar Shohei Ohtani, and never were in the mix to land Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton, but that apparently doesn’t mean they’re unwilling to do some business while at Disney. In a wide-ranging piece for the Boston Globe, Nick Cafardo laid out a Red Sox centric piece as somewhat of a reaction to the New York Yankees adding Stanton’s power, noting that Boston needed to add ample power to its own lineup as well. Of note in that column is that Reds OF Adam Duvall might well be available, and that the Reds are ‘open to offers’ on the 2016 NL All-Star. That sentiment was echoed by Cafardo in his Sunday notes column detailing each team’s priorities heading into the Winter Meetings, though no source was directly cited for either claim.

That’s not really a groundbreaking development on Cincinnati’s end, as GM Dick Williams has hinted for almost a year now that they’ll be active listeners while not necessarily shopping any of their current crop of players. Given the presence of Duvall, Scott Schebler, and Jesse Winker for only two corner outfield spots, it’s not at all surprising to hear that the Reds wouldn’t mind another club sending them offers for a bit of their outfield depth. The interesting part here, though, is that a Red Sox scribe thinks Duvall might be a fit in Boston.

Duvall’s player profile is pretty well established at this point, and at 29 years old, it’s not expected that it’ll change much at this point. Big power, an OBP just under .300, piles of strikeouts, solid corner OF defense, and a pattern of second half collapses pretty well describes Duvall, but with four years of team control and a 2018 salary expectation of just about league minimum, that’s got enough value to be a decently marketable piece in a baseball landscape that seems to be emphasizing dingers again in a big, big way. For a club that either missed out on Stanton or has nowhere near the financial wherewithal of the Yankees, adding Duvall could serve as a distant consolation prize - albeit one that would be conceivably cheap enough to allow for other additions aside him.

Need some cheap pop? Give ol’ Dick Williams a call.

Giancarlo Stanton on the New York Yankees doesn’t change a thing


It certainly doesn’t for the Cincinnati Reds. If you’ve mercifully been in a scenario where you had no phone and no internet access for the last day, it’ll be news to you that the Miami Marlins have struck a deal to send NL MVP Giancarlo Stanton to the New York Yankees for Starlin Castro and a pair of prospects who haven’t yet cleared A ball. FanRag’s Jon Heyman initially broke the news, while his New York compadre Joel Sherman later added some vital details to the inner workings of the deal. The Yankees, as you might expect, are taking on the entirety of $200+ million owed to Stanton on the game’s current largest contract, unless the slugger chooses not to exercise his opt-out clause after 2020 - then the Yanks will get $30 million in addition from the Marlins. If your first reaction to the trade was “nerbles, of course the biggest market with the biggest payroll splurges in history adds the biggest slugger in the game, because of course,” well, you aren’t alone. There was certainly an initial sentiment that the addition of Stanton to a Yankee lineup featuring Aaron Judge, Gary Sanchez, Didi Gregorius, and other young stars fresh off a playoff run in 2017 was the kind of Evil Empire deal that harks back to previous Yankee eras of domination. Really, that reaction isn’t wrong on paper, as the marquee team from the biggest city in the land just added a mammoth to their $200 million payroll as somewhat of a luxury, since they already sported a young core with playoff experience and ample depth at Stanton’s biggest strength - dinger power. A sigh and a beer or two later, I think I’ve already washed away that sentiment, though. Barely thirteen months ago, the Chicago Cubs won their first World Series in 108 years, and did so with a young core reeking of both talent and composure. It was enough of a breakout season to prompt ESPN to put ample effort and production dollars into a piece detailing how the Cubs were the class of MLB and had the potential for baseball’s next dynasty. Dy-na-sty. One season in the books later, and the Cubs are still a good club with a good balance sheet and the potential to add serious payroll. They also, likely, would sit below the World Champion Houston Astros, the powerhouse Los Angeles Dodgers, the freshened-up iteration of the Yankees, and somewhere mixed in with the Boston Red Sox, Cleveland, and Washington Nationals among the best clubs in the game. That’s an envious position in which to be - especially from a Reds perspective - but it’s a far cry from a dynasty, especially given the departures of Jake Arrieta and John Lackey from their rotation to free agency. In other words, the cyclical nature of baseball moves at a frantic pace these days, and adding Stanton to the Yankees certainly takes the cake for the moment. Even then, that move can’t exactly stand out on its own as one that looks to break that current cycle. Adding Stanton adds an immense talent, one who clobberd 59 dingers from a swing that every bit looks the part. Kudos to the Yankees for that move, especially given how relatively little it took other than money to make the deal. But when you think purely about that money, you’re forced to acknowledge that it was money that was already earmarked by the Yankees for future incredibly talented superstar. Stanton, to be sure, fits that bit, but so do the likes of Bryce Harper, Manny Machado, and Josh Donaldson, each of whom will be free agents after this upcoming season and figure to cash in with mammoth deals - Harper and Machado, of course, being much younger. The Yankees have long been rumored to be positioning themselves for another major addition thanks to that pending free agent class, and it doesn’t take a ton of mental gymnastics to see that adding Stanton, who just turned 28, in a trade accomplishes much of what was similarly planned from the outset. If anything, the somewhat earlier-than-expected breakout of the 2017 Yankees core just expedited things by a calendar season.[...]

Cincinnati Reds rumors - No shortstop for Eugenio Suarez?


A shortstop scarcity might now be a problem. Zack Cozart is a shortstop, and a damn fine one at that. Cozart, now 32, has spent each and every one of his 6207.2 career defensive innings played at the big league level at short, which can very well be interpreted as a clear sign the Cincinnati Reds found him valuable enough at that vital position to not need to move him around and potentially disrupt his play. What’s funny now, though, is that Eugenio Suarez - the ‘shortstop’ the club once used to take over for Cozart while the latter was injured - might carry a similar designation, albeit one that calls the club’s shortstop depth into question. In a thorough primer for next week’s Winter Meetings,’s Mark Sheldon spoke with Reds GM Dick Williams about a number of pertinent topics. It’s certainly a worthwhile read, so do that. That said, the remark that truly jumped out at me from Williams was this one regarding the overall shortstop situation. We do need to have someone on the roster that plays shortstop without having to move Eugenio Suarez over there temporarily," Price said. "I think we like the idea of him playing third base and continuing to become an elite player at that position. Suarez, of course, has emerged as not just an offensive force, but as a great-glove 3B since Todd Frazier’s departure. And even while top prospect Nick Senzel has impressed at every level at 3B since being selected 2nd overall in the 2016 MLB Draft, the club sure seems committed publicly to keeping Suarez at the position they both played most in 2017 - 3B. On top of that, Sheldon notes that while the still unproven Jose Peraza appears to be the obvious choice to play regularly at SS in Cozart’s shoes, the current club doesn’t have another player on the roster “who could step up and play shortstop on regular basis if something happened to Peraza.” If Suarez is indeed out of the shortstop shuffle mix, that could very well be the case. IF Alex Blandino was recently added to the 40-man roster after a solid 2017 between AA and AAA, but played only 13 games at short while profiling more as a 2B/3B at this point. Similarly, Dilson Herrera - who is out of options, too - is more of a 2B/3B at this stage of his career, and neither Shed Long or Scooter Gennett will play and SS while rounding out the current 40-man roster members of the infield (non Joey Votto edition). Billy Hamilton played short as he came up through the minors, but despite the recent decision by Seattle to convert veteran IF Dee Gordon to CF, I doubt the Reds have any inkling to move Hamilton. (And speaking of Seattle, they’ve now got Zach Vincej in their system after the Reds chose to waive that particular 40-man roster member and glove-first SS earlier this offseason.) That’s a bit of a predicament, especially given the lack of super convincing play from Peraza defensively at short in his early career performances. Factor in that the ‘top’ free agent SS options available aside from Cozart are J.J. Hardy, Alcides Escobar, and Erick Aybar, and how the Reds sort this roster crunch out becomes a bit tougher to truly decipher. There is one potential wild card in this, however. Sheldon himself reported last week that in Senzel’s quest to get ready to crack the 2018 Reds lineup in any way possible, the star prospect would begin getting reps at positions other than 3B - including at SS. And while that’s not likely to be the position where he’ll patrol for the bulk of his career, Hall of Famer Barry Larkin himself mentioned to manager Bryan Price that “if need be, [Senzel] could play shortstop at the big league level.” Of course, if 53 year old Rafael Palmeiro is convinced he can still play big league ball, perhaps the 53 year old Larkin could simply fill the roll himself. [...]

Cincinnati Reds rumors - Winter Meetings again the stage for trades


Baseball’s annual bazaar starts in less than a week. The Hot Stove season usually gets rolling around this time every winter, though usually there has been at least a bit of action on the MLB transaction market by the time the calendar turns to December. This year, however, things are a might bit different. That’s not to say that there haven’t been rumors, of course, it’s just that they all seem to be tied up in two of the biggest, most unique names in the game today. Giancarlo Stanton hits more homers than anyone else, hits them harder than anyone else, and stands as both the National League’s MVP and the owner of the largest contract in the sport. Shohei Ohtani is a true two-way revelation, a pitcher with top of the rotation talent who swings a bat most lineups would adore, and is the biggest, most proven international talent MLB has stood to import in quite some time. Both are absolutely being sought after at the moment, yet since neither has picked their final destination, the rest of the market predictably has been on hold. That will likely change next week, though, as the 2017 MLB Winter Meetings will begin in Orlando. Agents will be pitching their players to respective front offices, who in turn will be cutting deals with one another into the wee hours of every morning. Tires will be kicked, as’s Anthony Castrovince details in full. And if previous years are any indication, the Cincinnati Reds will be knee deep in their offseason move-making. Both Eugenio Suarez and Anthony DeSclafani joined the Reds in deals struck on the same day at the 2014 Winter Meetings, coming onto the roster as Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos exited, respectively. The Reds had nearly traded Aroldis Chapman at the 2015 edition before his domestic violence issues arose and scuttled a potential deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers, but those Reds/Dodgers negotiations had been thorough to the point where Todd Frazier was traded in a massive three-team deal featuring much of the same package just days later. Even if you date back to when the Reds were adding star-caliber players instead of shipping them off, Shin-Soo Choo arrived at the 2012 Winter Meetings from Cleveland in the three-team deal that also looped in Arizona. These things, they make sense. The Reds have established for years that they’re a team that likes making their moves on the trade market, as diving into the deep end of the expensive free agent market simply isn’t their M.O. So, when all of the front offices are in the same place at the same time comparing notes and shaking hands, that’s when the Reds are in their comfort zone. And this time around, Dick Williams should have the chance to be a more opportunistic deal maker instead of the guy who everyone knows is there to sell off assets. The Reds have not just one roster glut, but a series of them. Even with the loss of Zack Cozart, the Reds have the likes of Suarez, Jose Peraza, Scooter Gennett, Dilson Herrera, Nick Senzel, and Alex Blandino forming a lot of overlap aside Joey Votto. In the outfield, the trio of Adam Duvall, Jesse Winker, and Scott Schebler only have two corner spots in which to play - and on top of that, the latest update on Senzel has him expected to get practice reps as a corner OF as he tries to elbow his way on the active roster. Even on the pitching side, there is a veritable army of potential starters on the roster, though they’re much less proven and far more injury-riddled than we’d all like to see. Still, there are ample ways in which Williams & Co. could leverage their depth to bring in an impact player from another club, and the Winter Meetings perennially seem to be where those things go down. At least, I sure hope something goes down. After three miserable years on the field that have featured established stars in mass exodus, it’s just about time for the Reds to make some noise in both arenas. The on the field improvement will have to wait a few[...]

The Cincinnati Reds won’t be signing Shohei Ohtani



Predictable, yet still bummerrific.

For years, the hype around Shohei Ohtani alone made it highly unlikely he’d ever end up a member of the Cincinnati Reds. As the two-way superstar emerged as a dominant force both on the mound and at the plate in Japan, it became easy to assume that when he ultimately made his way to the US and MLB, some team famous for doling out big bucks would do just that, rendering the Reds again mere spectators of the top end of the free agent market.

Ohtani, though, did what he’s so often done on the field to that very market when he opted to be posted now, at age 23, falling under much more restrictive financial signing conditions. That curveball - that dollars alone wouldn’t be the deciding factor on where he landed - gave a glimmer of hope to the Reds, though it still seemed quite the longshot that he’d sign with Cincinnati.

As it turns out, that’s now a no-shot, as multiple outlets have reported that Ohtani’s camp has narrowed his choices down to just seven teams, and the Reds didn’t make that cut.

It’s a group consisting of a heavy West Coast flavor, with the Mariners, Giants, Dodgers, Padres, Angels, Rangers, and Cubs the lone clubs still in the running. Even the Rangers and Cubs, who obviously aren’t on the West Coast, have their spring training facilities in the Phoenix area, and it’s been mentioned repeatedly that Ohtani’s time spent training at the Padres/Mariners facility in Peoria, AZ was something he specifically valued - though Goodyear, AZ, obviously wasn’t enough of a selling point.

Also of note: while the Reds could only offer a signing bonus of $300K due to their previous forays into the international signing market in recent years, that’s the same max bonus that the Cubs, Dodgers, Padres, and Giants have available, too. Ohtani’s camp has hinted that his marketability and endorsement potential will be enough to make this move financially significant beyond how much MLB bonus money he receives, and this development certainly seems to emphasize that point, too.

Dick Williams and the Reds front office haven’t yet remarked on this development, and who knows if they will. It can safely be said, however, that their interest in Ohtani was certainly sincere, as it well should have been. Whether or not it was simply a unique chance to sign a singularly brilliant talent or a sign that the Reds are now actively seeking another bat and top of the rotation talent remains to be seen, too, though with MLB’s Winter Meetings just a week away we might find out more about that sooner than later.

Cincinnati Reds links - Anthony DeSclafani is healthy (we think)


Friday links! There is no real way around the fact that the Cincinnati Reds could really, really use a 4 WAR starting pitcher to front their rotation. For one, that’s obviously an extremely valuable player, one who only produces that kind of value with commiserate quantity of innings pitched, something all rotations would gladly soak up. However, in the Reds’ case, having an anchor like that keeps the number of open rotation spots at just four, meaning less peripheral arms get tasked with making starts. Finding those kinds of pitchers isn’t easy in any regard. Doing so via trade or free agency is even more difficult, as those routes come with severe costs. The ability to scrounge one up from the depths of your own organization, though, is a literal ace in the hole move that teams often dream of, and there are a ton of folks - me included - that hope that’s exactly what the Reds can do with Anthony DeSclafani. Disco, though, has been through an injury nightmare for some two years running. First, it was the oblique injury in 2016 that lingered longer than any of us expected and limited him to just 20 starts. Then, it was 2017’s elbow scare, with a strained UCL in his pitching arm and residual tendinitis that kept him from pitching at all. So, when you read the quotes that Disco gave The Enquirer’s Zach Buchanan about being healthy and making 30+ starts in 2018, it’s OK to admit you instinctively cross your fingers, toes, legs, arms, and nose hairs in superstitious fashion. On the one hand, a major question mark, albeit one that never actually had to go under the knife in ways other injury riddled pitchers have of late. On the other, though, is the 130 ERA+ Disco posted in 2016, his 3.28 ERA in those 20 starts leading to an impressive 3.0 bWAR. Alongside that is the 3.67 FIP he posted in his 184.1 inning debut season in Cincinnati, which FanGraphs both valued at 3.0 fWAR and suggested was a better season than his 2016 campaign. If - and it’s a big if - you can see the forest through the injury trees, there’s a chance that an elusive 4 WAR pitcher to anchor a rotation just might be in the cards for the Reds in 2018. When you realize the Reds might have that and Luis Castillo instead of just in Luis Castillo, that’s a damn fine concept to make you salivate. (But still - keep all those body parts crossed, just in case.) In other news, Redsfest kicks off today at the Duke Energy Center, and’s Mark Sheldon has a rundown of what all you can expect if you choose to attend. Joey Votto will be there, and simply standing in the same area code with him is cool enough to make you want to attend, but there’ll be wiffle ball, jokes, and what have you as well to keep the entertainment going through the weekend. Former Cincinnati reliever Blake Wood struggled mightily with the Reds in 2017 before being DFA’d and landing with the Los Angeles Angels, and was certainly a non-tender candidate had he stuck around. Well, the Angels apparently liked what they saw in Wood enough to sign him for 2018, as they avoided arbitration with the righty at $1.45 million, according to The Rag’s Jon Heyman. With the new posting rules having been agreed upon by both Japan’s NPB and MLB, Shohei Ohtani will officially be posted today. Apparently the negotiating window is set at 3 weeks, meaning we’ll know within the next 3 weeks which team will land the two-way superstar. The Reds, of course, are legitimately interested in signing Ohtani, as well they should be, but that doesn’t necessarily mean a ton given that every team in their right mind wants to sign him, too. It’s a different process and different era, of course, but nobody really expected the Reds to land Aroldis Chapman when he somewhat similarly emerged on MLB’s radar years ago - but, they did. Finally, FanGraphs’ Travis Sawchik took an interesting dive into the ‘middle class’ of[...]

Tim Adleman signs with Samsung Lions of Korea’s KBO



The righty lands the largest payday of his career.

The record books will forever show that Tim Adleman led all Cincinnati Reds pitchers in both innings (122.1) and strikeouts (108) during the 2017 season, though hopefully nobody spends too much time staring at 2017’s pitching stats as a whole years down the road. Adleman, who just turned 30, has a story you’re familiar with by now, one that included being a 24th round draft pick and spending multiple years in independent ball before the Reds finally brought him into their fold, at which point he saw marked minor league success.

Though the bulk of Adleman’s 2017 numbers weren’t rosy, they were apparently good enough for the Samsung Lions of Korea’s KBO to take notice, as the club agreed to a $1.05 million contract with the righty early this morning, as Sung Min Kim of The Sporting News relayed.

That payday is easily the largest of Adleman’s career, one that included a stint working at a grocery after the Florence Freedom passed on signing him, as The Enquirer’s C. Trent Rosecrans documented last May. Given that he’s already 30 and was part of a packed house of pitching potential with the Reds, it’s quite fair to concede that Adleman’s decision to take his talents overseas might have been pretty damn prudent.

The Reds had maxed out their 40-man roster with the move to claim Kyle Crockett from Cleveland earlier this week, but shedding Adleman again means they’ve got a roster spot open for flexibility’s sake - including for early December’s Rule 5 Draft at the upcoming Winter Meetings. And since Adleman was a member of the 40-man roster when the Lions came calling, the Reds almost certainly received some cash as compensation for letting Adleman go.

Those Lions, by the way, have claimed 8 Korean Series Championships, 7 of which have come since 2002. Former St. Louis Cardinals reliever Seung-hwan Oh originally came up with the Daegu-based club, and former big leaguers Anthony Ranaudo and Darin Ruf played for the Lions in 2017.

Best of luck, Tim.