The offseason grades are out over at The Athletic and at first glance many were left shocked at the grade given to the Cincinnati Reds. C. Trent Rosecrans took on the grading for Cincinnati and he gave them a C+. After a second glance, many were still left a bit shocked.
The Reds are coming off of a 100-loss season. After four months of the season the team traded Luis Castillo, Tyler Mahle, Tyler Naquin, Tommy Pham, and Brandon Drury. Following the season the team also traded Kyle Farmer. That means heading into the offseason the Reds were a significantly worse team than the one that actually lost 100 games.
Their offseason has consisted of one trade to acquire a big leaguer. And their signings of big leaguers (to big league contracts) have been for two catchers who struggled to hit their way out of a wet paper bag in Luke Maile (career .582 OPS) and Curt Casali (.657 OPS over the last two seasons). They made a trade for Kevin Newman, who improved in 2022 at the plate but still posted a .687 OPS (after back-to-back seasons under the .600 mark). Then they signed Wil Myers, who missed half of the season but was an above-average hitter – and a well above-average one after returning from his injury. The most recent signing was of Luke Weaver, who posted a 6.56 ERA last season as a reliever (and has a 5.58 ERA over the last three seasons – which includes 26 starts and 25 relief appearances).
One signing of a player who doesn’t look like a bench guy or a pitcher who you aren’t sure if he should be in Triple-A or not. On a team that lost 100 games and traded away two quality starting pitchers, their two best hitters during the year, the team MVP and starting shortstop, as well as Tommy Pham.
So how does that offseason get you to a C+ grade? Well, Rosecrans admits with his first sentence that maybe he was feeling generous and that not much was expected from the team and they did “more than not much”. Talk about faint praise. He wraps his write up by noting that he’s grading what the front office did, not what they were asked to do by ownership (which is an F [his words]).
Even grading on a curve because of what was expected, a C+ feels like a stretch. The team signed guys four players and three of them, in my opinion, should have been guys getting minor league deals. The Wil Myers signing seems like a good bet and signing. But we shouldn’t exactly be grading on a curve. The Reds offseason has been very bad. They are one of the worst teams in baseball and it’s tough to see how the team heading into the season is as good as the one that took the field last July.
The farm system may change things a little bit if a lot of things go right (Elly De La Cruz coming up and being a quality big leaguer immediately, Christian Encarnacion-Strand coming up and hitting dingers into the bleachers every few days, the pitchers who struggled in Double-A and Triple-A last year figuring things out and coming up and performing well). But those things going right doesn’t change what the team did in the offseason, which was a whole lot of nothing combined with bringing in players that you’ve got to squint and hope for to be below-average (with the exception of Wil Myers).
While there’s not a grade low enough for ownership, they get an automatic failure for failing to show up. And while the front office is one-million percent hamstrung on what they are able to do because of what ownership has given them to work with, this is a zero sum game and they didn’t really improve the team from where it was last year. You could argue that even if you only grade the offseason, that the team got worse.