Cost-cutting takes a bite out of offense for Cincinnati Reds


By MITCH STACY - AP Sports Writer



Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India catches a wild throw after Kansas City Royals' Andrew Benintendi, back, advanced to second on a single by Carlos Santana during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India catches a wild throw after Kansas City Royals' Andrew Benintendi, back, advanced to second on a single by Carlos Santana during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


Cincinnati Reds' Joey Votto celebrates as he enters the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell watches from the dugout during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)


CINCINNATI REDS

2021: 83-79, third place.

Manager: David Bell (fourth season).

Opening Day: April 7 at Atlanta.

He’s Here: OF Tommy Pham, LHP Mike Minor, RHP Chase Petty, RHP Hunter Strickland, OF Jake Fraley, 1B Colin Moran.

He’s Outta Here: 3B Eugenio Suárez, RF Nick Castellanos, LF Jesse Winker, C Tucker Barnhart, RHP Sonny Gray, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Michael Lorenzen, LHP Amir Garrett, RHP Mychal Givens.

Top Hitters: 1B Joey Votto (.266, 36 HRs, 99 RBIs, .938 OPS), RF Tyler Naquin (.270, 19, 70), 2B Jonathan India (.269, 21, 69, 34 doubles, .835 OPS, NL Rookie of the Year), C Tyler Stephenson (.286, 10, 45, .797 OPS), SS Kyle Farmer (.263, 16, 63).

Projected Rotation: RH Tyler Mahle (13-6, 3.75 ERA), RH Luis Castillo (8-16, 3.98), RH Vladimir Gutierrez (9-6, 4.74), LH Mike Minor (8-12, 5.05 with Royals), RH Hunter Greene (10-8, 3.30 with Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville), LH Nick Lodolo (2-2, 2.31, 78Ks in 50 2/3 IP with Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville).

Key Relievers: RH Art Warren (3-0, 1.29 ERA, 34 Ks in 21 IP), RH Luis Cessa (2-1, 2.05), RH Lucas Sims (5-3, 4.40, 76Ks in 47 IP), RH Tony Santillan (1-3, 2.91, 56 Ks in 43 1/3 IP), RH Jeff Hoffman (3-5, 4.56, 79 Ks in 73 IP).

Outlook: The Reds are a little banged-up already. Castillo and Minor experienced shoulder soreness this spring, which will delay their first appearances. Relief pitcher Tejay Antone likely is out for the season, and third baseman Mike Moustakas hurt his shoulder diving for a grounder and might not be ready for opening day. Cost-cutting by the Reds led to the departure of regulars Suárez, Winker, Castellanos, Barnhart and others. India, the NL Rookie of the Year, and Stephenson will be expected to shoulder more of the offensive load. Votto returns for a 16th season after one of the best years of his career. The Reds have high hopes for rookie pitchers Greene and Lodolo, who have been brought along methodically in the minors and likely are ready. But offense is going to have to come from new and different sources for Cincinnati to contend in the NL Central.

CINCINNATI (AP) — Cincinnati Reds corner outfielders Nick Castillo and Jesse Winker were All-Star Game starters for the National League last year.

Third baseman Eugenio Suárez slammed 129 home runs in the last four seasons and was a fan favorite.

They’re gone.

So are Gold Glove catcher Tucker Barnhart, starting pitchers Sonny Gray and Wade Miley, relievers Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett and Mychal Givens.

All were traded or sought better deals as the Reds trimmed the payroll after finishing third (83-79) in the NL Central in 2021.

The bottom line is that the Reds will need some guys to overachieve if they hope to compete with the Milwaukee Brewers and St. Louis Cardinals in the NL Central. They open April 7 in Atlanta.

“Definitely frustrated, for sure,” said second baseman Jonathan India, the 2021 National League Rookie of the Year. “I think most of the guys in here are frustrated, but hey, it’s a business. Now I’m seeing stuff like this, it’s really sad. All I can do is play my part.”

With Suarez gone, veteran Mike Moustakas, who missed 85 games because of injuries last season, will return to his natural position of third base.

“Mike has earned that,” Reds manager David Bell said of the 33-year-old Moustakas. “We know what kind of player he is. He was already factoring in there anyway.”

Kyle Farmer, who played slick shortstop last year and hit .263 with 16 homers and 63 RBIs, is the presumptive starter there again with José Barrero — considered the shortstop of the future for the Reds — sidelined for around six weeks after hand surgery.

NEW LOOK

Castillo and Winker will be missed. Pencil in injury-prone Nick Senzel in center field, and Tyler Naquin in right field after he hit a respectable .270 with 19 homers last season.

New Red Tommy Pham, who was with the San Diego Padres the last two years, is expected to start in left. Others who will play in the outfield — and fill the DH role — include Aristides Aquino, TJ Friedl and Jake Fraley.

“Defense is another part of our game by upgrading that it is going to help us win games,” Bell said. “We have a chance to be a better defensive team. If we can improve our athleticism, improve our defense, speed, it all adds up.”

ROOKIES TO WATCH

Flame-throwing rookies Hunter Greene and Nick Lodolo have been brought along slowly by the Reds, but this may be the year for both to crack the starting rotation — especially since starters Luis Castillo and Mike Minor will be delayed by injuries. Vladimir Gutierrez and Tyler Mahle also are presumptive starters.

SUPER SOPHS

India and catcher Tyler Stephenson hope to build on outstanding rookie campaigns. India hit .269 with 21 homers. Stephenson showed he could be an everyday catcher at the major league level and hit .286, leading the Reds to part with Barnhart after eight seasons. The pair split time behind the plate last year.

CAN VOTTO STILL BANG?

One of the great surprises of 2021 for the Reds was the resurgence of first baseman Joey Votto. The 38-year-old former MVP changed up his stance and started swinging for the fences again, slamming 36 homers and driving in 119 despite missing time because of the coronavirus and a broken thumb. He begins his 16th season just as the National League adopts the DH, which could extend his career.

“I’m looking forward to being on the field and seeing how we play together,” Votto said. “It was an odd (preseason) in terms of losing a lot of friends and personalities inside the clubhouse. The players that are coming in to replace them are going to bring their own personalities, have their own energy. I look forward to learning from them and playing with them.”

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Cincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India catches a wild throw after Kansas City Royals’ Andrew Benintendi, back, advanced to second on a single by Carlos Santana during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/04/web1_128494053-fd734ff1b68f426495fc9c38c039bb00.jpgCincinnati Reds second baseman Jonathan India catches a wild throw after Kansas City Royals’ Andrew Benintendi, back, advanced to second on a single by Carlos Santana during the first inning of a spring training baseball game Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Cincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto celebrates as he enters the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/04/web1_128494053-9f9b13f0e0274b9e87e648be9c646079.jpgCincinnati Reds’ Joey Votto celebrates as he enters the dugout after hitting a solo home run during the first inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

Cincinnati Reds manager David Bell watches from the dugout during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2022/04/web1_128494053-64960a2cf2c841d6a23816cc9eecd6ed.jpgCincinnati Reds manager David Bell watches from the dugout during the third inning of a spring training baseball game against the Kansas City Royals Thursday, March 24, 2022, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Charlie Riedel)

By MITCH STACY

AP Sports Writer

CINCINNATI REDS

2021: 83-79, third place.

Manager: David Bell (fourth season).

Opening Day: April 7 at Atlanta.

He’s Here: OF Tommy Pham, LHP Mike Minor, RHP Chase Petty, RHP Hunter Strickland, OF Jake Fraley, 1B Colin Moran.

He’s Outta Here: 3B Eugenio Suárez, RF Nick Castellanos, LF Jesse Winker, C Tucker Barnhart, RHP Sonny Gray, LHP Wade Miley, RHP Michael Lorenzen, LHP Amir Garrett, RHP Mychal Givens.

Top Hitters: 1B Joey Votto (.266, 36 HRs, 99 RBIs, .938 OPS), RF Tyler Naquin (.270, 19, 70), 2B Jonathan India (.269, 21, 69, 34 doubles, .835 OPS, NL Rookie of the Year), C Tyler Stephenson (.286, 10, 45, .797 OPS), SS Kyle Farmer (.263, 16, 63).

Projected Rotation: RH Tyler Mahle (13-6, 3.75 ERA), RH Luis Castillo (8-16, 3.98), RH Vladimir Gutierrez (9-6, 4.74), LH Mike Minor (8-12, 5.05 with Royals), RH Hunter Greene (10-8, 3.30 with Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville), LH Nick Lodolo (2-2, 2.31, 78Ks in 50 2/3 IP with Double-A Chattanooga and Triple-A Louisville).

Key Relievers: RH Art Warren (3-0, 1.29 ERA, 34 Ks in 21 IP), RH Luis Cessa (2-1, 2.05), RH Lucas Sims (5-3, 4.40, 76Ks in 47 IP), RH Tony Santillan (1-3, 2.91, 56 Ks in 43 1/3 IP), RH Jeff Hoffman (3-5, 4.56, 79 Ks in 73 IP).

Outlook: The Reds are a little banged-up already. Castillo and Minor experienced shoulder soreness this spring, which will delay their first appearances. Relief pitcher Tejay Antone likely is out for the season, and third baseman Mike Moustakas hurt his shoulder diving for a grounder and might not be ready for opening day. Cost-cutting by the Reds led to the departure of regulars Suárez, Winker, Castellanos, Barnhart and others. India, the NL Rookie of the Year, and Stephenson will be expected to shoulder more of the offensive load. Votto returns for a 16th season after one of the best years of his career. The Reds have high hopes for rookie pitchers Greene and Lodolo, who have been brought along methodically in the minors and likely are ready. But offense is going to have to come from new and different sources for Cincinnati to contend in the NL Central.