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Three moves the Reds should make this offseason: Acquire an ace, replace Jonathan India with a slugging DH

Three moves the Reds should make this offseason: Acquire an ace, replace Jonathan India with a slugging DH

For a stretch in 2023, the best story in baseball was the oldest professional team: The Cincinnati Reds. The Reds were actually one of baseball’s youngest teams in 2023. Riding a wave of successful rookie seasons — such as those from Matt McLain, Andrew Abbott and Elly De La Cruz — the upstart Reds contended for a playoff spot just one year after losing 100 games. 

Faltering down the stretch and missing the playoffs after leading the NL Central as late as Aug. 2 had to be disappointing, but they won exactly 20 more games in 2023 than in 2022. There’s a strong foundation for the future, too, so the Reds need to have a big offseason to supplement the talent and make their first full-season playoffs since 2013. 

There’s good news for Reds fans hoping for a splash this offseason: Money shouldn’t be a concern. The only significant salary on the books past 2024 is Hunter Greene and it’s not a huge contract (six years and $53 million). Right now, the Reds are looking at an estimated $67.4 million in player salary heading toward 2024, per For reference, they’ve been over $135 million before. This doesn’t necessarily mean they can spend all the way up to $135 million — which would give them more $65 million to play with this offseason — but there’s certainly room to add. 

The position-player group appears to be in pretty good shape. De La Cruz only played in 98 games, McLain 89 and Christian Encarnacion-Strand, who flashed nice upside, only played in 63. Another highly-touted prospect, Noelvi Marté, saw action in just 35 games during which he hit .316/.366/.456. 

The Reds were fifth in the NL in runs and OPS last season and it seems like — even if they don’t upgrade from outside the organization — they already have a good offense in place. 

There should still be movement, though. The infield is full of players heading to their second year: Encarnacion-Strand at first, McLain at second, De La Cruz at shortstop and Marté at third. That enables the Reds to use Spencer Steer along with TJ Friedl, Will Benson and Jake Fraley in the outfield. Jonathan India doesn’t hit well enough to DH, so he’s trade bait and that’s been the word there for a while, to the point that he’s unlikely to hit Opening Day in a Cincinnati jersey.

The pitching end is where much of the discussion for offseason moves should take place. The Reds were 13th in the NL in ERA, ahead of…

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