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Williams: Recent success affects Deadline moves

MLB.com @m_sheldon

CHICAGO -- The Reds could not have started much worse when they opened the season with a 3-18 record. Had they stayed on that trajectory throughout the first half, the front office would have been looking to tear it all down and start the rebuild over by making almost every player available for trades.

A lot has changed since April. Since interim manager Jim Riggleman took over, the club has a 36-35 record, and 17-7 over its last 24 games after Saturday's 8-7 loss to the Cubs. Cincinnati could still very well be sellers ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but maybe not entirely.

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CHICAGO -- The Reds could not have started much worse when they opened the season with a 3-18 record. Had they stayed on that trajectory throughout the first half, the front office would have been looking to tear it all down and start the rebuild over by making almost every player available for trades.

A lot has changed since April. Since interim manager Jim Riggleman took over, the club has a 36-35 record, and 17-7 over its last 24 games after Saturday's 8-7 loss to the Cubs. Cincinnati could still very well be sellers ahead of the July 31 non-waiver Trade Deadline, but maybe not entirely.

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"I think the recent success is something you can't help but take into account when you take stock of our situation," Reds president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. "It helps knowing these guys can perform at this level. It reaffirms the belief we had coming out of Spring Training that we had a team that was capable of competing this year. We didn't see it in April. Had that continued, you might have seen us go down one path. Knowing now we have a team that can compete, it will help us a little bit as we approach the Deadline."

The Reds have a few viable trade candidates. Starter Matt Harvey, acquired from the Mets in early May and a free agent at season's end, has had a strong stretch of games to improve his value. Relievers Raisel Iglesias, Jared Hughes and David Hernandez have club-friendly contracts. Former waiver claim Scooter Gennett, who can be a free agent after the 2019 season, is having a second straight great year as the club's second baseman. And outfielders Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall were pursued by other teams during the offseason.

But there isn't a robust market for second basemen, and perhaps other teams don't value Gennett as much as the Reds do for their lineup and clubhouse. Hughes and Hernandez have contracts that will pay a combined $4.6 million in 2019. It would be a challenge to sign comparable replacements for that price. The Reds did trade journeyman reliever Dylan Floro to the Dodgers this week for two Minor League pitchers, including No. 17 prospect James Marinan.

Even with the recent success, the Reds are still last in the National League Central and unlikely to make the postseason. That has Williams and general manager Nick Krall wanting to keep improving the club. However, they don't feel compelled to make trades if the returns don't add up.

"Really, almost the whole 25-man roster is controlled beyond this year other than Harvey," Williams said. "That puts us in a good position of not feeling like you have to do anything with guys. You can be opportunistic. We want to have a very successful second half. We believe we'll have the players here to keep this momentum going.

"We also know as stewards of the franchise, you've got to play the short game and the long game. The long game is important. We want to put ourselves in position to be even more competitive next year and beyond."

Manager search still going into offseason
Despite the Reds' success under Riggleman, Williams' timetable for naming a permanent manager hasn't changed.

"Not at this point," Williams said. "We're very pleased with the performance of Jim and the coaches. I still expect to do a search at the end of the year. That's dictated largely by when we can get permission on other candidates. That's part of the process we committed to doing when we named an interim manager. We feel it's important to assess the candidates that are out there."

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 and listen to his podcast.

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