The Reds had a number of decisions to make coming into the non-tender deadline on December 2nd. Some players seemed like obvious tender candidates, like Trevor Bauer and Michael Lorenzen, while others, like Kevin Gausman and Jose Peraza, weren’t as obvious. Let’s take a look at the team’s decisions and how they are going to impact the roster moving forward.
As the return for the trade that sent away fan favorite Yasiel Puig, along with top prospect Taylor Trammel, the Reds have high hopes for Trevor Bauer going into 2020. Bauer struggled after joining the Reds: in 10 starts he gave up 40 earned runs, good for an ERA of 6.39. The Reds hope that by bringing Bauer back for 2020 he can come closer to replicating his 2018 season, when he finished 6th in AL Cy Young voting, pitching 175.1 innings with a 2.21 ERA. Heading into the 2020 season, Bauer will most likely slot in at number three in the pitching rotation, making him one of the better number threes in baseball.
Another player that was certain to be back was pitcher and outfielder Michael Lorenzen. As a pitcher, Lorenzen was one of the Reds most dependable relievers. Lorenzen pitched in 73 games last year, accumulating 83.1 innings out of the pen and a bWAR of 2.3. Lorenzen had a respectable 1.15 WHIP and even had 7 saves. What is most fascinating about Michael Lorenzen, though, is his versatility. Lorenzen made appearances as a late game defensive sub, pinch runner, pinch hitter, and even started six games in the outfield. Although his bat didn’t play as well as it did in 2018, he did accumulate 10 hits in 48 at bats, including a homerun and a walk-off double. His ability to hold his own at the plate and in the field allows the Reds to essentially have another backup outfielder without using a roster spot.
The thing to look out for in 2019 for DeSclafani was whether he could stay healthy. He answered that question by tying his career high in starts with 31 and posting an ERA+ of 117, meaning he was 17% better than league average. As long as he stays healthy, look for Disco to maintain the same role as last year, as a back of the rotation guy that will keep the Reds in ballgames.
Casali was the backup catcher for the 2019 season, and the Reds have tendered him a contract to fill that role again in 2020. Casali’s .741 OPS was pretty pedestrian, but as the backup catcher, pedestrian numbers will get the job done. There is a chance that Casali could step into somewhat of a platoon role, with Tucker Barnhart dropping switch hitting, if the Reds don’t upgrade at the catcher position this offseason.
Matt Bowman spent the 2019 season up and down between AAA and the MLB. While on the big league roster, Bowman pitched 32 innings with a 3.66 ERA and a 1.25 WHIP. Expectations for Bowman aren’t high for next season, but he will likely be a solid middle relief option for the Reds in 2020.
If you are a casual fan, this could be the first time you are hearing about Travis Jankowski. Jankowski was acquired via trade from the San Diego Padres in exchange for cash. The Reds and Jankowski came to a contract agreement before the deadline. The deal is for one year, $1.05M. This is actually a pay decrease for Jankowski, as he made $1.165M last season. It is likely that the Reds used the deadline to get Jankowski to take less money. As for 2020, Jankowski represents more outfield depth for the Reds. Travis has experience in all three outfield positions and has some speed that could be useful off the bench, but he isn’t very effective at the plate with a career OPS+ of 76. It is important to note that he doesn’t have to make the major league team; he could be stored in triple-A Louisville.
Gausman was acquired off waivers from the Atlanta Braves during the 2019 season. For the Braves, he struggled as a starter, with an ERA of 6.19. Once joining the Reds, Gausman was predominately used as a reliever, making 15 appearances out of the pen. Ultimately, what let to Gausman being non-tendered was his projected salary for the 2020 season. MLB Trade Rumors projected Gausman to get over $10M in arbitration, a price that the Reds decided was too steep. Don’t be surprised if the Reds are in the mix to bring Gausman back on a deal for less money, but now they will have to compete with other teams hoping that he can replicate his success out of the pen.
Jose Peraza was an interesting case this year. Coming off a 2018 season in which he seemed to really put things together, expectations were high entering 2019. Peraza was just never able to get it going at the plate. As a result, his OPS dropped over 100 points from 2018 to 2019. The fall off was partially due to a big decline in BABIP and partially due to his lack of plate discipline. MLB Trade Rumors projected Peraza to earn $3.6M in arbitration this year, money the Reds decided would be better spent elsewhere. It didn’t take the Reds long to find that place, as 15 minutes later, Jon Heyman reported that the Reds agreed to a 4-year deal with Mike Moustakas, later reported to be worth $64M, to fill Peraza’s position at second base.
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