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Inbox: Should Reds add free-agent arm?

Beat reporter Mark Sheldon answers questions from Cincinnati fans
@m_sheldon
May 13, 2019

Should the Reds consider Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel? I know the Draft-pick issue with Keuchel -- if we got him, then would we send someone down and would Tyler Mahle go in the 'pen until Alex Wood comes back? -- T.J. As this is published on Monday, the Reds'

Should the Reds consider Craig Kimbrel or Dallas Keuchel? I know the Draft-pick issue with Keuchel -- if we got him, then would we send someone down and would Tyler Mahle go in the 'pen until Alex Wood comes back?
-- T.J.

As this is published on Monday, the Reds' pitching staff has the best ERA (3.36) in the National League and the second-best ERA in the Major Leagues behind the Rays (2.96). For the money it would cost to add either pitcher, and then have them get ready before they can pitch again in the big leagues, it really doesn’t make much sense. During the first six weeks of the season, the offense has been the issue. It really has been a remarkable turnaround for the rotation and bullpen following several seasons of struggle.

When Raisel Iglesias endured three straight bad outings recently and some iffy outings last month, the idea of Craig Kimbrel being signed to close games made more sense. But Iglesias has a track record, and his past three appearances have hewed closer to that history.

Do you think it was a good move dumping Matt Kemp? I know he was only hitting .200, but our team is only hitting .216 and we're still paying him $15 million.
-- James T.

I think it was the right move, because Matt Kemp didn’t seem like a good fit with the Reds. Besides not looking good at the plate, he didn’t run well in the outfield and didn’t get to the more challenging fly balls enough. He also lacked versatility, because he only played left field and wasn’t thrilled about not starting. Essentially, if Cincinnati had gotten great production from Kemp, it would ride with him as long as it lasted. But there was less downside to cutting him loose if he didn’t do well.

Keep this in mind: The Reds sent Homer Bailey and the $28 million he was owed to the Dodgers in the Dec. 21 seven-player trade. Los Angeles also included $7 million in the deal to pay for part of the $21 million Kemp is owed in 2019. In addition, the Padres were paying $2.5 million of the deal from his time there, and the Dodgers also kicked in another $3.5 million to pay part of his contract from the time he was traded to San Diego before the '15 season. Add it all up, and it’s about $8-9 million still owed and around $20 million less than what the Reds would’ve had to pay when eating Bailey’s contract.

How far do the Reds look into medicals? Since Wood hasn't pitched in a game this year, can they get someone else?
-- Zac L., Provo, Utah

The Reds have to be worried about when Alex Wood might return from lower-back spasms that have kept him out since his lone Spring Training start on Feb. 25. Originally, he was expected back in mid-April and after multiple setbacks, I can’t see him making his debut for the team until at least around the All-Star break.

These days, the medical background checks and physicals are extensive, and rarely do major trades get made without a physical and an MRI exam being done first. Wood was a key part of the trade with the Dodgers that also included Yasiel Puig, Kyle Farmer and Kemp. And Wood was healthy when the deal was done. He also had another physical before Spring Training started, and he was fine. To my knowledge, he has never had back issues before this year. So no, there will not be compensation coming from Los Angeles for Wood’s injury.

With both Derek Dietrich and Jose Iglesias playing so well right now, how do you see the middle-infield rotation sorting out when Scooter Gennett comes back, of course, assuming things stay as they are?
-- Matt E.

That’s a good problem to have, right? If Scooter Gennett comes back sometime next month or in July, he will be the everyday second baseman. I don’t see any way that José Iglesias doesn’t get to stay at shortstop regularly -- he is too good. Derek Dietrich has versatility and can be plugged in at third base, left field or first base when there is a need or if manager David Bell likes a matchup and uses him in one of those spots rather than the normal starters.

The one player who might lose out when Gennett returns in José Peraza. He first moved to second base when Gennett got hurt, and then he found his playing time diminish when he struggled and Dietrich impressed with 10 home runs and overall good play. Bell has used Peraza in left field sometimes to fit him in. But he needs to be hitting well when Gennett is ready in order to improve his chances.

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.