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Reds' 5 biggest needs before Spring Training

December 20, 2018

CINCINNATI -- The Reds rolled into the holiday week with one of the club's biggest trades in years. President of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall often noted during the Hot Stove season that Cincinnati had money to spend and prospect capital to solve its identifiable needs

CINCINNATI -- The Reds rolled into the holiday week with one of the club's biggest trades in years. President of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall often noted during the Hot Stove season that Cincinnati had money to spend and prospect capital to solve its identifiable needs and make improvements.
Guess what? The Reds aren't done yet.
"We expect to continue to work through this offseason to improve the club," Williams said on Dec. 21, after the Reds acquired outfielders Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp, starting pitcher Alex Wood, utility player James Farmer and $7 million cash for pitcher Homer Bailey and two prospects.
That trade followed one during the Winter Meetings in which the Reds acquired another starting pitcher in Tanner Roark from the Nationals. The overhaul began in the fall when David Bell was hired as manager and the club assembled an almost all-new staff that includes pitching coach Derek Johnson and hitting coach Turner Ward, both of whom are coming from teams that made the postseason in 2018.

Still, some areas remain unsettled. Here are five things that the Reds need to get done before Spring Training:
1. Add another starting pitcher?
Wood and Roark are both viewed as solid middle-of-the-rotation improvements for Cincinnati, but could the Reds try for an ace or No. 2 starter? Several free agents remain available, including Dallas Keuchel, the top starter left on the market. Giovany Gonzalez, Wade Miley and Derek Holland are also still out there.
Rumored trade candidates like Corey Kluber, Sonny Gray and Marcus Stroman have yet to be dealt. That leaves Williams and Krall with some interesting options.
Hot Stove Tracker
2. Who will play center field?
When the Reds turned the page and non-tendered Billy Hamilton on Nov. 30, that immediately opened the need to find a new center fielder. It's possible that Puig, a right fielder for the Dodgers, could shift to center field without defense suffering since the outfield at Great American Ball Park is hardly expansive.
Cincinnati could turn to Nick Senzel, its No. 1 prospect according to MLB Pipeline, to make the move from the infield. Corner outfielder Scott Schebler is also capable of playing center field. But if they wanted to make a splurge, the best center fielder on the free-agent market is A.J. Pollock. Adam Jones and Denard Span are also available.
Talks were held with the Braves a couple of weeks ago about acquiring three-time National League Gold Glove Award winner Ender Inciarte.

3. Settle the corner outfield spots 
While the Reds sort out center field, it could affect the corners with Puig, Kemp, Schebler and Jesse Winker all in need of playing time. This could mean more dealing since there is now an area of depth to trade from if the Reds try to load up on more pitching or for a true center fielder.

4. Bullpen help coming? 
Although the rotation struggled mightily, the Reds' bullpen made progress in 2018, led by Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen and free-agent acquisitions Jared Hughes and David Hernandez. Depending on what else happens with the rotation improvement efforts, the Reds could look to bolster this area.
5. Figure out Gennett's future
Second baseman Scooter Gennett, who has had back-to-back superb campaigns in his first two seasons with the Reds, appeared to be in line for a multiyear extension over the summer. But it has been quiet since. Gennett is eligible for arbitration for the final time this winter and will be a free agent after the 2019 season.
When asked about Gennett, Williams said that no extensions would be looked at until the New Year begins. But he also noted, "We will be careful about a lot of extensions." Could that make Gennett a trade candidate? If Senzel isn't used in center field, he becomes a clear replacement at second base.
One thing that is abundantly clear: The wheeling-and-dealing Reds are still poised to remain an intriguing club to watch during the second half of the Hot Stove season.

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.