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Should the Cincinnati Reds Be Buyers or Sellers at MLB Trade Deadline?
Thanks to a 15-12 record in June and a scorching hot July, the Reds are firmly in control of second place in the National League Central. However, is that enough of a reason to become a buyer at this month’s trade deadline?
Here are some reasons to buy, reasons to sell, and what the Reds should ultimately end up doing.
Reasons to Buy
General manager Nick Krall recently expressed optimism that the Reds could be in a position to buy at the deadline. And based on the fact that they will no longer have to play three teams who have given them trouble, his feelings shouldn’t change between now and July 30th.
Cincinnati has fared rather poorly against the Padres, Giants, and D-Backs, as they’ve combined to go a miserable 3-17 against that trio. Heading into Thursday, the Reds are 42-24 against the rest of the league, who they will play for the majority of their remaining schedule. In fact, the Reds are no worse than .500 against any team they’ve played, with the exception of those three.
Besides scheduling quirks, the Reds have a clear area to target should they become buyers. While their offense is in the top-10 of MLB and easily the best in the division, only the Pirates have a worse team ERA in the division than they do. If Cincy aims to move closer to the Padres in the second Wild Card spot than teams like the Nationals and Phillies below them, clearly the addition of pitching, particularly in their lackluster bullpen, should help them get there.
Another reason the Reds should buy has to do with the remarkable seasons of outfielders Nicholas Castellanos and Jesse Winker. Castellanos is the league leader in batting average, while Winker leads in homers. As the two of them will each start for the National League in Tuesday’s All-Star Game, Cincy shouldn’t waste the efforts of their two stars by not trying to go for it.
Reasons to Sell
Ultimately, teams who truly believe they are a piece or two away from contending are the ones who buy. That being said, are the Reds among that group of teams, or are they closer to the middle of the pack?
One of the biggest reasons to think about selling is Castellanos’ contract. Cincy’s best hitter has a $16 million player option going into next season that he could very likely decline in order to hit free agency, where he would no doubt earn a substantial pay raise. If the Reds feel like he is a goner, trading him while his value is sky high is at least worth consideration.
There’s also the possibility that their next few games don’t go as planned. Cincinnati finishes out the first half and opens the second half of the season with seven total games against the first-place Brewers. Failing to gain ground, and even losing ground, in the division race will certainly have Cincy think twice about how serious they are about a run towards the playoffs.
Buy or Sell?
Despite just being a small handful of games over .500 thanks to a great stretch to open July, there is zero doubt in my mind that the Reds should actively try to buy ahead of the deadline. Cincy has had many things go against them this year; sub-standard play from both Luis Castillo and Eugenio Suarez, injuries to Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas, and a league-worst bullpen, to name a few things. And yet, they have managed to be above .500 heading into the last weekend before the break.
If that isn’t a sign for Krall to get on the phone and inquire about how to improve this team, I don’t know what is. It’s time for the Reds to step up and make some moves to truly enter the playoff discussion.
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