Montas completes Reds' offseason wishlist

January 3rd, 2024

This story was excerpted from Mark Sheldon’s Reds Beat newsletter. To read the full newsletter, click here. And subscribe to get it regularly in your inbox.

CINCINNATI -- Only two days into January, and with about six weeks left before Spring Training, the Reds look like they've already checked every box on their offseason wishlist. 

The total cost in free-agent spending by Cincinnati has been $105.25 million. That got the Reds and for the bullpen, and for the rotation and infielder for the lineup. 

"We're pretty much done. I think this is probably where we are," president of baseball operations Nick Krall said after the Reds finalized a one-year, $16 million contract with Montas on Tuesday.

"If we add a bullpen piece, bench bat or waiver claim, something like that, I don't want to tell you that we're not going to do anything. I think there's always that chance," Krall continued. "You can add a little bit, but I don't see us making a big move at this point."

With contractual obligations to Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas ending after last season, and just Hunter Greene under a multi-year contract going into this winter, there was financial room to maneuver for Krall as the Reds try to build from an 82-win season that saw them narrowly miss the playoffs in 2023..

Meanwhile, Cincinnati has outspent all of its National League Central rivals in the offseason. The Cubs have yet to spend any money at all on free agents.

Krall wasn't looking to make comparisons to the club's rivals, however.

"We have to look at ourselves and how we've improved with ourselves," he said. "Our goal was to add that pitching to our club, it was to add offensive depth to our club. Other teams are going to do whatever they're going to do and we can't worry about that.

"We looked at this as, 'How can we improve this club and our organization and keep moving forward?'"

The Reds aren't likely to make any trades leading up to Spring Training, as well.

"I honestly don't see us doing much," Krall said. "Look, I don't want to say never with anything; we could always end up doing something. I just don't see it right now that we're going to make any major moves at this point."

The acquisitions have set the stage for what could be some intense competition for roster spots.

The rotation mix now has Montas, Martinez, Greene, Graham Ashcraft, Andrew Abbott, Nick Lodolo, Brandon Williamson and Connor Phillips.

With Candelario's addition, the infield is loaded with Elly De La Cruz, Matt McLain, Jonathan India, Christian Encarnacion-Strand and Noelvi Marte. Another infielder, Spencer Steer, is expected to play the outfield but there will still be six infielders for five daily spots -- including designated hitter.

In the bullpen, Pagán and the returning Farmer join a reliever group that also has Alexis Díaz, Lucas Sims, Tejay Antone, Alex Young, Sam Moll, Ian Gibaut, Fernando Cruz and more. 

"Everybody’s going to come in and compete for a spot," Krall said. "We hope everyone is healthy. But the fact is the average team used about 15, 16 starters last year. So you’re going to have some guys that are going to end up being delayed into the season. That’s reality. It’s the same thing with the position players. We’re going to have some injuries." 

So while the Hot Stove speculation appears to be ending, the anticipation for camp battles is only just starting to sizzle.