Reds Fans Call for Pitching Upgrades and Right-Handed Hitting Power-Bat
Since the conclusion of the 2023 season, Cincinnati Reds fans have been vocal about their desires for the team’s offseason acquisitions. The top three items on their wish list include starting pitching, relief pitching, and a right-handed hitting power-bat, preferably an outfielder.
While all three additions would undoubtedly benefit the Reds heading into the 2024 season, one of them seems redundant and unnecessary. Instead of focusing on a power-bat, the team should prioritize bolstering their pitching staff, both in the bullpen and the starting rotation.
Bolstering the Pitching Staff
Last season, Cincinnati’s bullpen was overworked due to the starters frequently failing to pitch beyond the fifth inning. A combination of young arms on pitch counts and numerous injuries resulted in too many short outings from Reds starters in 2023.
To address this issue, Reds President of Baseball Operations, Nick Krall, should aim to acquire a middle-of-the-rotation starter and a pair of reliable relievers during the free agency period. This strategic move would alleviate the burden on the bullpen and provide stability to the starting rotation.
Right-Handed Hitting Outfielder
The Reds currently have three key contributors in the outfield, TJ Friedl, Jake Fraley, and Will Benson, who are all left-handed batters. While Friedl is expected to be an everyday player in 2024, both Fraley and Benson should be benched against left-handed pitchers.
With the departure of Nick Senzel, the Reds would benefit from adding a right-handed hitting outfielder with favorable splits against left-handed pitching. Players like Michael A. Taylor or Robbie Grossman could fill this void effectively.
However, it is worth noting that Cincinnati already possesses several right-handed power hitters. Christian Encarnacion-Strand, Spencer Steer, and Matt McLain have demonstrated their ability to generate significant power from the right side. Steer led the team in home runs last season, while McLain topped the charts in slugging percentage and weighted runs created plus (wRC+), according to FanGraphs.
Additionally, Noelvi Marte, despite appearing in only 35 games for the Reds in 2023, showcased his potential with a wRC+ of 120 and an impressive .456 slugging percentage. Over the course of a full 162-game season, Marte could emerge as the team’s standout player.
Another player to watch is Elly De La Cruz, a rookie who struggled hitting from the right side last season. However, as a switch-hitting shortstop, De La Cruz possesses the ability to tap into his power from both sides of the plate. His agent recently revealed that De La Cruz is focusing on improving his technique for right-handed at-bats this offseason.
Pitching Takes Priority
While adding a platoon bat would be a reasonable move, the Reds do not necessarily need to pursue big-name power hitters like Jorge Soler or Teoscar Hernandez. Instead, the team should prioritize pitching upgrades to address the bullpen workload and strengthen the starting rotation.
This holiday season, Nick Krall’s shopping list should be dominated by pitching, pitching, and more pitching. By securing a middle-of-the-rotation starter and a couple of reliable relievers, the Cincinnati Reds can position themselves for success in the upcoming 2024 season.