CINCINNATI -- As far as the Reds are concerned, the signing of Mike Moustakas could not have happened at a better time of the offseason. It gave them a brand-new present for fans just ahead of the start of Redsfest on Friday.
On Thursday, Moustakas and the Reds formally signed a four-year, $64 million contract -- the largest free-agent deal in franchise history -- for him to become the club’s new second baseman. The 31-year-old is a three-time All-Star and has averaged 34 homers with an .817 OPS over the past three seasons.
“It’s fun. This time of the year -- the past couple of years -- it’s been, ‘Who are we going to trade?’ This year has been different with, ‘Who are we going to add? How are we going to make our team good enough to win a championship?’ That’s pretty awesome,” Reds reliever/outfielder Michael Lorenzen said. “We’re all excited coming into Redsfest. We’re pretty excited to see each other. The energy is different for sure.”
As Lorenzen spoke, workers were setting up the displays and booths at the Duke Energy Convention Center and transforming the facility into all things Cincinnati Reds for the two-day event. Moustakas will be attending with his new teammates on both Friday and Saturday.
Certainly, the Reds believe that Moustakas can help them increase run totals and wins for 2020 and beyond. The front office also felt that he can be a box office boost as well.
“Any addition to this team that’s going to enhance the probability of success on the field is a huge thing for us on the business side -- not just for this event,” Reds chief operating officer Phil Castellini said. “Moving into our selling offseason, we’re bringing in some new spaces in the ballpark, all of that kind of momentum is a really good thing.”
Castellini compared the bump to last winter, when right fielder Yasiel Puig arrived from the Dodgers in a seven-player trade on Dec. 21. That move came after Redsfest, however.
“It’s always nice to get a little wind in the sails in the offseason for the business side,” Castellini said.
Besides Moustakas, the Reds are trying to make upgrades at other spots. They have been aggressive -- but ultimately unsuccessful -- at trying to sign two other free agents in starting pitcher Zack Wheeler (Phillies) this week and catcher Yasmani Grandal (White Sox) late last month. The team’s top priority has been to add more offense, but the Wheeler pursuit shows that an already decent pitching staff could be fortified some more.
Lorenzen believes that the added activity should give fans more to buzz about this weekend.
“We’re ready to win a championship. We know that,” Lorenzen said. “I think what’s going to happen is we’re going to feel the vibe and the excitement from the fans. That’s only going to just play into how we feel coming into next year. When we all disperse and go our separate ways for the rest of the offseason until Spring Training, I think this is going to be in the backs of our minds.
“The energy that we feel here is going to be a lot different. It’s going to be really motivating for me personally to go home and get better and be ready to show up and have a good year and help this team win a championship.”
Redsfest is scheduled from 3-10 p.m. ET on Friday and 11 a.m. until 6:30 p.m. on Saturday. More than 80 current and former players, coaches and broadcasters are scheduled to attend with team introductions slated for 5:35 p.m. Friday on the main stage. Tickets are available at the door and in advance at reds.com/Redsfest.
Lorenzen has been attending Redsfest since 2013, when he was still a Minor League prospect.
“I tell everyone my favorite part is how intimate it is with the fans,” Lorenzen said. “There’s no fence. It’s not we’re on the field and they’re in the stands. We’re all here together. It’s very personal. It’s really a good way for fans to really get to know you better as a person and not just from afar. They get to meet you, get up close and personal and you get to shake their hands, say hello and get a picture. I really love that stuff.”