The Cincinnati Reds are not expected to be a great team in 2017. They simply aren’t likely to be at the final destination yet. But we can see the plan in action. The team is building depth, and lots of it. Let’s just take a look at the depth chart (completely unofficial):
|C||Devin Mesoraco||Tucker Barnhart||Stuart Turner|
|1B||Joey Votto||Gavin LaValley|
|2B||Brandon Phillips||Dilson Herrera||Shed Long||Alex Blandino|
|3B||Eugenio Suarez||Nick Senzel||Brandon Dixon|
|SS||Zack Cozart||Jose Peraza||Zach Vincej||Calten Daal|
|COF||Adam Duvall||Jesse Winker|
|COF||Scott Schebler||Aristides Aquino|
|CF||Billy Hamilton||Phillip Ervin|
|SP||Homer Bailey||Cody Reed||Rookie Davis|
|SP||Anthony DeSclafani||Amir Garrett||Tyler Mahle|
|SP||Brandon Finnegan||Sal Romano||Vladimir Gutierrez|
|SP||Dan Straily||Nick Travieso|
|SP||Robert Stephenson||Jackson Stephens|
|RP||Michael Lorenzen||Tim Adleman||Zack Weiss||Ismael Guillon|
|RP||Raisel Iglesias||Tyrell Jenkins||Jimmy Herget|
|RP||Tony Cingrani||Wandy Peralta||Alejandro Chacin|
|RP||Blake Wood||Barrett Astin||Evan Mitchell|
|RP||Jumbo Diaz||Ariel Hernandez||Nick Routt|
When we look at that, you can see where the pieces of the puzzle may be able to come together in the near term future. There’s real talent all over the depth chart. It’s deep and at a lot of positions, there’s plenty of options.
Of course, when we get into the minor leaguers, we know that some of them simply aren’t going to work out for one reason or another. That’s just how the game works. Where the Reds have things working in their favor is the multiple options, which lets them play the sheer numbers game. At the same time, though, that means that it may take time to sort through it. If a guy doesn’t work out, that’s possibly a year or two of time before moving on to the next option (less time in some cases, of course).
The 2017 season is likely to be the next step in the working through the depth plan. In 2016 the team found out what they wanted to, mostly, with Brandon Finnegan. They found out, mostly, what they wanted to about Jose Peraza. They, unfortunately, seemed to find out that Michael Lorenzen and Raisel Iglesias are going to wind up in the bullpen.
This upcoming season they will probably be finding out more about starting pitchers Robert Stephenson and Cody Reed. They may get a better idea of what the next wave of starters can do depending on the opportunities that arise for Amir Garrett, Sal Romano, Nick Travieso, Rookie Davis and Jackson Stephens. Depending on how things go, they may get a good idea of what they can do with Dilson Herrera.
One of the bigger things is figuring out the corner outfield situation. Heading into the spring, it would seem that the team is going to give Adam Duvall and Scott Schebler every opportunity to keep the jobs they had in the second half of last season. Jesse Winker will be competing for a job, but given the service time issues involved there, it’s more likely that he doesn’t see time until the chance opens up (if it does) later on in 2017. That, however, is another place where the team could be looking to get answers moving forward in the 2017 season.
The bullpen is probably the biggest area where the team could be seeking answers, and there are a whole lot of arms to sort through. Bryan Price has said that Michael Lorenzen, Raisel Iglesias, Tony Cingrani and Blake Wood are locks for the bullpen to start the season (assuming there are no injuries). That leaves open 2-3 spots out of the gate that are open for the taking. Behind the four locks though, there are legitimately eight guys who could really be competing for those spots who are truly relievers. That doesn’t even account for any starter who may be pushed into the bullpen to fill a need in the short term.
While the fans would certainly like to see a more “certain” team for the 2017 season that may result in more stability and more wins, there are a lot of questions that need to be answered. The plan has been to build depth throughout the organization and see what happens. 2017 is getting to that next step of figuring things out at multiple positions and setting things up for that next wave.