Reds classified as buyers as Trade Deadline approaches

June 21st, 2023

CINCINNATI -- It's a development that seemed unfathomable even a month ago. But the Reds have gone from rebuilding to contending so quickly that they can now be classified as buyers heading towards the Aug. 1 Trade Deadline.

Reds general manager Nick Krall made that clear on Tuesday afternoon, a few hours before the Reds extended their winning streak to 10 games with an 8-6 victory over the Rockies.

"Yeah. We’re in first place. We’re looking to win," Krall said. "That’s our goal. I think we want to do whatever we can for this team. We just need to continue to play well and see what’s out there. There obviously hasn’t been a good match to this point. I don’t see anything on the horizon, but you never know. We’re just going to keep working at it.”

There is also room in the budget, another sea change after the Reds slashed payroll while tearing down the roster in 2022 and spending little in the past offseason. Their costliest signing, outfielder Wil Myers for one year and $7.5 million, was designated for assignment on Tuesday.

"I have flexibility," Krall said.

Losers of 100 games last season and expected by most to face a similar fate going into 2023, Cincinnati has been the surprise of Major League Baseball. Even before the win streak started, a weaker National League Central division also played into the Reds' hands, giving them more than a good chance to compete.

Making the recent surge more impressive is that the Reds have done without strong starting pitching. Although rookie lefty Andrew Abbott has not allowed any runs through three big league starts and 17 2/3 innings since his call-up from Triple-A Louisville, the rotation is ranked 28th in MLB in ERA.

The expected "big three" starters -- Hunter Greene, Graham Ashcraft and Nick Lodolo -- are all on the injured list. While Ashcraft is expected to return this weekend, the absences of Greene and Lodolo could stretch into August. That makes acquiring starting pitching priority one for Krall.

"We’ve had some starters go down. It will be nice to get some of those guys back over the next few weeks," Krall said. "We’re just going to look at any avenue to improve our club.”

Reds relievers have done a nice job of picking up the slack from the rotation but there's also risk because they've pitched the fifth-most bullpen innings in MLB. Adding more relievers is also a possibility.

“You can never have enough," Krall said. "Even to protect against injuries and guys [can] go up and down, there’s a lot to look at. Pitching help and pitching depth is always at a premium.”

The Reds have a deep farm system in the Minor Leagues but also have depth at the big league level to deal from. The returns of Joey Votto, Jake Fraley, Nick Senzel and soon, Ashcraft, has created a roster logjam where playing time is getting harder to distribute.

Krall declined to comment on potential trade chips.

“I wouldn’t say I’d put anything out there at this point," he said. "I think we’re just trying to figure out what the cost is and who we would want to lose vs. not lose if we did something.”