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July 31 might have even more meaning for Reds

Cincinnati front office weighs impact of Trade Deadline changes
@castrovince
March 14, 2019

GLENDALE, Ariz. – As the Reds bid to leap from 95 losses to contention, their offseason largely revolved around short-term acquisitions. They added Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Tanner Roark, Alex Wood and Zach Duke to a group that already included pending free agents in Scooter Gennett and David Hernandez. If

GLENDALE, Ariz. – As the Reds bid to leap from 95 losses to contention, their offseason largely revolved around short-term acquisitions. They added Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Tanner Roark, Alex Wood and Zach Duke to a group that already included pending free agents in Scooter Gennett and David Hernandez. If the Reds shoot up the standings this season, great. And if not, they have the ability to change course midseason and unload as many expiring assets for as many controllable ones as possible.

A new wrinkle, however, arrived Thursday, when Major League Baseball and the MLB Players’ Association made official a wide variety of roster changes, including the elimination of the August waiver trade period. Shrinking the summer swap season down to a single deadline -- July 31 -- will impact all clubs. But the impact could be particularly pronounced in Cincinnati, given the complexion of the current roster.

“We’re not 100 percent sure how it will end up affecting our roster construction this year,” president of baseball operations Dick Williams said. “But we do know the rule, all the other teams are playing by that same rule and we’ll adapt. We do have a number of guys that are only under contract for this season. We’ll have to evaluate that as we get closer to July, knowing that July is the one deadline to make a decision on.”

In the past, the August trade period was an added opportunity for teams that perhaps were on the cusp of contention in late July before falling off to perhaps get a player cleared through waivers and move him to another club. Under the new rules, teams will still be able to place players on waivers, but they won’t be revocable and trades will not be an option with teams that put in a claim. If the player gets claimed, he and his remaining salary are gone, no questions asked.

Many iterations of a deadline adjustment have been discussed over the years, including moving the non-waiver deadline back from July 31 to mid-August. Williams said it is possible that a date other than July 31 will eventually be selected as the one Trade Deadline if this new arrangement reveals unintended consequences.

“I can tell you from having these conversations with my colleagues, they’re all really smart guys and people made tons of great points that you don’t think about,” Williams said. “There are a lot of factors that go both ways. At the end of the day, you’ve got to pick a date and go with it. If it works, we’ll stick with it. If it doesn’t, I’m sure down the road they’ll revisit it.”

Gray sharp against Dodgers
Nine up, nine down. Sonny Gray’s second Reds start -- three perfect innings in a 3-3 tie against the Dodgers at Camelback Ranch -- was efficient enough to necessitate him throwing 18 pitches in the bullpen after the fact in order to complete his workday.

“I felt good, attacked the zone, threw strikes and forced contact,” Gray said. “That’s all I’m trying to do.”

Gray’s Cactus League debut this month was delayed due to elbow stiffness, but he believes he is on track to be ready to start the season.

“I’ll be good to go whenever my name is called,” he said.

Worth noting
• Manager David Bell did not have much of an update on the status of Wood, who has been nursing a back issue that might render him unavailable for the Opening Day roster. “He’s out of the pain,” Bell said. “He was moving around well. I will update you when we have a day that he’s going to be able to be on the mound. I think we’re getting closer.”

• Because of Tuesday’s rainout of a scheduled split-squad with the Padres, the Reds had a “B” game against the Indians in Goodyear on Thursday so that players could get innings and at-bats. Lucas Sims, Amir Garrett, Matt Wisler, Jesus Reyes, Buddy Boshers, Matt Bowman, Robert Stephenson, Ian Krol and Jared Hughes pitched. Nick Senzel and Joey Votto took part, as well.

Up next
The Reds and Dodgers will face each other again Friday night at Goodyear Ballpark. Roark will make the 9:05 p.m. ET start opposite Dodgers lefty Julio Urias. The game is a sellout -- the Reds’ third in their history at Goodyear Ballpark.

Anthony Castrovince has been a reporter for MLB.com since 2004. Read his columns and follow him on Twitter at @Castrovince.