Krall: Shortstop, pitching are Reds' priorities
CINCINNATI -- Like the 2020 season that ended last month, MLB's offseason is unique amid a pandemic. The General Managers Meetings, usually held in person, were conducted virtually this week. That will be the case next month during the annual Winter Meetings.
But business presses on as usual. The Reds have needs on their roster that GM Nick Krall is trying to address.
"We're having lots of conversations. I can run through my call log. I've had a lot of conversations with a lot of different people,” Krall said on Friday. "I haven't found it much different at this point.”
The biggest need for Cincinnati, according to Krall, is a new shortstop to replace departed free agent Freddy Galvis. That doesn’t mean that the club has lost faith in prospect José Garcia, who will remain in the picture.
“Garcia is a kid that we really like,” Krall said. “We brought him to the big leagues and knew he probably wasn’t ready to offensively be a top-end shortstop at this point, but it’s good that he was able to go through those growing pains. We think he’s going to be the shortstop of the future. With that said, we’re keeping our options open with who and what is out there. Look, he’ll come to Spring Training, challenge for a spot and see where that goes.”
The shortstop market has some strong options, with free agents including Marcus Semien, Andrelton Simmons and Didi Gregorius. Cleveland is reportedly interested in trading superstar Francisco Lindor, who is heading into his final year of club control.
The Reds could also need a starting pitcher to replace the innings of free agents Trevor Bauer and Anthony DeSclafani. Internal options include Michael Lorenzen, Tyler Mahle and Tejay Antone. But the door is not closed on bringing back Bauer, who won the National League Cy Young Award on Wednesday. Bauer declined the $18.9 million free agent qualifying offer last week.
“I've had some discussions with his agent, not substantial at this point,” Krall said. “I know we were waiting to get past the qualifying offer period. It was great to see him win the Cy Young. I'll be biased here: I think he deserved it, and I think it's great that he was selected on so many ballots, and he was awesome for us this year. I was really happy to see he got that.”
Bauer expressed positive sentiments about his tenure in Cincinnati multiple times, including on Wednesday. The feeling is mutual from the Reds' side.
“I can talk only for myself -- personally, I really enjoyed having him,” Krall said. “He was awesome for this team. I know he didn't have the success last year that he had this year, but both years, he's brought an open mind in [and] he's really worked well with our pitching coaches. It's been tremendous to watch him come and go about his work, and I really enjoyed having him here. I had no issues, whatsoever.”
Save for left-handed pitcher Robbie Ray re-signing with Blue Jays, there has been little major free-agent activity thus far.
Krall also identified wanting to add relievers who have Minor League options to get increased bullpen flexibility. The free-agent market is sure to get an influx of players in the coming weeks; teams must set 40-man rosters by Nov. 20, and the non-tender deadline for players under club control is Dec. 2. But Krall didn’t place much emphasis on it.
“Talk is talk. I think we're going have to see what actually happens on that day versus what's speculated this way or that way,” he said. “At this point we're just taking this one day at a time."