CINCINNATI -- The Reds were not able to make another big move, yet, after starting pitcher Zack Wheeler officially signed a five-year contract with the Phillies on Monday.
But the bigger takeaway, perhaps, is that Cincinnati was involved in the high-stakes bidding for Wheeler. The Reds already have a very credible rotation projected for 2020, and their top priority this offseason was to upgrade the offense.
As recently as Tuesday night, a source told MLB.com that the Reds were among the clubs in close pursuit of Wheeler. The 29-year-old former Met set a career high with 195 1/3 innings last season while going 11-8 with a 3.96 ERA in 31 starts. Over his last two seasons, the right-hander is 23-15 with a 3.65 ERA, 3.37 FIP and 8.9 strikeouts per nine innings.
What remains to be seen, for now, is whether president of baseball operations Dick Williams and general manager Nick Krall will pivot and pursue another high-end free-agent starter.
That group -- along with Tanner Roark before he was traded on July 31 -- spent much of the 2019 season owning one of the best ERAs in the Major Leagues. It finished the year fifth in the National League with a 4.12 ERA, third in strikeouts and third in opponents’ batting average.
Bauer and DeSclafani are in their final offseason of arbitration eligibility and can become free agents after the 2020 season. That, and the team’s wish to contend after six consecutive losing seasons, could be reasons why the Reds were seeking additional help with a multiyear offer from outside the club.
So far this offseason, the Reds have not been linked to talks with Bumgarner, Ryu or Keuchel. The club showed interest in Keuchel last winter, but the former Astro went unsigned until well into the regular season, when he finally reached a one-year deal with the Braves on June 7.
While the Reds were unsuccessful in acquiring Wheeler, their efforts underscored that the club will be a team to watch closely during the Hot Stove season.