With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Reds squad each day this week. Today's topic: What's the vision?CINCINNATI -- The Reds have been determined to do an accelerated rebuild and carried a message that 2017 could be the season they
With Spring Training fast approaching, MLB.com will take a look at a different aspect of this year's Reds squad each day this week. Today's topic: What's the vision?
CINCINNATI -- The Reds have been determined to do an accelerated rebuild and carried a message that 2017 could be the season they put rebuilding behind them and become more competitive. Whether that mission is accomplished this season or next, what kind of team will Cincinnati be when it's done?
"In some ways, you have to let your prospects tell you what their strengths and weaknesses are going to be. These guys will evolve as players," Reds general manager Dick Williams said.
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Williams and his predecessor, Walt Jocketty, have spent the past two-plus years dealing established veterans for younger players or prospects. Players like left fielder Adam Duvall, Scott Schebler and Eugenio Suarez were regulars last season, and the club hopes talented middle infielders Jose Peraza and Dilson Herrera can do likewise this year.
Offensively, the Reds have moved past the approach of the previous decade, when they collected power hitters and tried to outslug their opponents.
"We focus more on good hitters than raw power, in a lot of cases," Williams said. "Given our ballpark, we think good hitters will play up."
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With the exception of Herrera, who mainly plays second base, the other acquisitions can also play multiple positions.
"One of the goals we have is to have an athletic team and break down some of the barriers that have existed with roles -- eight everyday players, four or five bench players with very specific skill sets," Williams said. "I think we'd like to evolve into a team that has more options for our manager, more flexibility, and I think the same thing could be said about the pitching, having relievers that can go multiple innings and able to face righties and lefties."
Last month, the Reds signed a pair of free agents they believe can bring some flexibility for manager Bryan Price. On a one-year, $3 million contract, reliever Drew Storen will join the bullpen and be one of four potential options for Price as a closer on a given day. Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and Tony Cingrani also will pitch in the late innings, as Price envisions a system in which pitchers work fewer games but more innings when they work.
Scott Feldman, who was signed to a one-year, $2.3 million contract, can work as either a starter or reliever.
One motivation for being more nimble is payroll. But it's not the only reason.
"You have to do more with less. You sometimes can't afford the luxury of role players," Williams said. "Another is the work we've done on player health. Giving everybody enough time for rest and recovery means you're getting away from eight players playing every day and getting to a more flexible lineup where guys are going to be given more rest and recovery time."
Regular players often bristle over the idea of sitting down for extra rest, especially if they're not injured. With an expectation of Peraza being able to start 4-5 times per week at up to four different positions in a super-utility role, someone will have to sit. The Reds were not able to trade shortstop Zack Cozart or second baseman Brandon Phillips to open up more playing time for others.
Will players who want to stay in the lineup accept being out?
"I think at the end of the day, you're trying to do what's best for the team," Williams said. "You can still leave a lot of manager discretion there. When a guy is hot, you don't want to do something that's counterproductive to a player's performance. But ideally, you'd have enough players you can cycle through to give the team its best chance to win on a given day."
Mark Sheldon has covered the Reds for MLB.com since 2006, and previously covered the Twins from 2001-05. Follow him on Twitter @m_sheldon and Facebook and listen to his podcast.