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Offseason checklist: Reds' needs and moves

@m_sheldon
January 15, 2020

CINCINNATI -- With a new manager in David Bell, a new coaching staff and several new players, the Reds had a 75-87 record and finished in fourth place in the National League Central in 2019. The four-year streak of 90 or more losses ended, but it was the sixth consecutive

CINCINNATI -- With a new manager in David Bell, a new coaching staff and several new players, the Reds had a 75-87 record and finished in fourth place in the National League Central in 2019. The four-year streak of 90 or more losses ended, but it was the sixth consecutive losing season since Cincinnati last reached the postseason in '13.

The front office has already signaled its intention to contend in 2020, as president of baseball operations Dick Williams revealed in early October that the club-record payroll would increase.

So what are the Reds’ biggest needs entering '20, and what moves have they made to address them? MLB.com is keeping track here. As the offseason continues, be sure to check back for updates.

BIGGEST NEEDS

Outfield
The Reds have Nick Senzel, Jesse Winker and Aristides Aquino, along with Phillip Ervin and Shogo Akiyama, whom Cincinnati officially introduced after the free agent signed a three-year deal that made him the Reds' first player from Japan. But could they keep adding? Following Akiyama's introductory press conference, general manager Nick Krall indicated that the club would remain “opportunistic” about further deals. Marcell Ozuna and Nicholas Castellanos are the top two free agents in this category, and both have been on Cincinnati’s radar all offseason.

Shortstop
This is a spot that Freddy Galvis could play, but there are some choices on the open market. The best free-agent option, Didi Gregorius, went to the Phillies on a one-year contract. The most familiar, of course, is José Iglesias, but he signed with Baltimore. Cincinnati could still explore a trade for superstar Francisco Lindor -- if Cleveland is still open to dealing him.

Five questions facing the Reds this offseason

Bullpen

There is a solid core in closer Raisel Iglesias, Michael Lorenzen, Amir Garrett and Robert Stephenson. But there were depth issues beyond them, and it was eventually exposed when Bell relied heavily on his relievers in the middle innings. The Reds need veterans capable of working multiple innings.

MOVES MADE

Jan. 15: Reliever with local ties added
The Reds signed right-handed reliever Nate Jones to a Minor League contract with an invitation to big league camp at Spring Training. If Jones makes the team, he can earn a base salary of $1.5 million with an additional $1 million possible in incentive bonuses. Jones, 34, was born in Covington, Ky., across the Ohio River from Cincinnati, and he lives in nearby Falmouth, Ky. He played college baseball at Northern Kentucky University.

Jan. 6: Akiyama signed
The Reds inked Akiyama, a nine-year veteran of Nippon Professional Baseball, to a three-year, $21 million deal. The left-handed-hitting outfielder, who turns 32 on April 16, will earn $6 million in 2020, $7 million in ‘21 and $8 million in ‘22. He was introduced on Jan. 8, and he'll sport a No. 4 jersey for Cincinnati.

Dec. 18: Miley signed
Finding another experienced starting pitcher was on the original list of Reds’ offseason needs. That box was checked off when left-handed free agent Wade Miley signed a two-year, $15 million contract with Cincinnati. The deal came with a $10 million club option for 2022 that carries a $1 million buyout. Miley will earn $6 million in 2020 and $8 million in ’21 with an additional $500,000 in performance bonuses based on innings pitched. The Reds' rotation is now comprised of 2019 All-Stars in Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray, a 2018 All-Star in Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani and Miley -- a 2012 All-Star.

Dec. 12: Outfielder added via Rule 5 Draft
On the final day of the Winter Meetings, the Reds selected outfielder Mark Payton from the A’s Triple-A roster. Payton, who hit 30 homers last season, must remain on the 26-man roster all season, or be offered back to Oakland.

Dec. 5: Moustakas signed to 4-year contract
Offense is Cincinnati’s biggest overall need and second base was one of the more unsettled spots, especially with Freddy Galvis moving to shortstop. The Reds showed just how serious they were about upgrading their lineup by signing Mike Moustakas to a four-year, $64 million contract, the largest free-agent contract in franchise history. Although a natural third baseman, Moustakas is expected to fill the vacancy at second base. The Reds already have Eugenio Suárez installed at third base and under a long-term contract.

Nov. 25: Shafer, Martini acquired
The Reds acquired right-handed pitcher Justin Shafer from the Blue Jays in a trade for cash. Outfielder Nick Martini was claimed off waivers from the Padres. Outfielder Brian O'Grady and reliever Jimmy Herget were designated for assignment. More >

Nov. 20 : Trade, plus prospects protected
The Reds acquired right-hander José De León from the Rays for a player to be named later and cash. Catcher Tyler Stephenson and righties Tony Santillan, Ryan Hendrix and Tejay Antone were added to the 40-man roster.

Nov. 4: Dietrich outrighted
The Reds sent utility man Derek Dietrich , infielder Christian Colón and right-handers Jackson Stephens and Keury Mella outright to Triple-A Louisville.

Nov. 1: Galvis' club option exercised
An August waiver claim from Toronto, the Reds picked up Galvis’ $5.5 million option. It gives the club some flexibility since Galvis’ primary position is shortstop, but he could also return to second base.

Oct. 31: Jankowski acquired
The Reds sent international cap space to the Padres to get outfielder Travis Jankowski. A plus-speedster who can play all three outfield spots, Jankowski only played in 25 games for San Diego last season because of a fractured left wrist, but he is a solid basestealer. He could be insurance for the team in case Senzel is not ready for Opening Day while recovering from right shoulder surgery.

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.