Cincinnati Reds: Three Moves the Reds Can Still Make to Improve for 2014

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Updated: January 21, 2014

When you take a look at the roster for the Cincinnati Reds, it is tough to see too many holes in it. However, when you take a closer look, you can easily spot these holes. There seems to be a few moves the Reds could pull off that will strengthen the roster for 2014.

Acquire a Right-handed Bat

Many people, myself included, think that the one major hole on this team is a strong right-handed bat. What would be ideal for the Reds is if they could solve this problem and the player they find can play left field as well.

Nelson Cruz is a name that has been available on the free agent market for some time now that would solidify this lineup. Many sites are reporting that Cruz is looking for a five-year deal, but you have to assume that with the amount of time he has been on the market that his asking price and number of years will start to go down the closer to Spring Training we get. Another hiccup on Cruz is that he is coming off of a PED suspension. This will cause teams to pause for a bit before investing a lot of money him, and that again will bring down his price and maybe make him more available for the Reds.

If the Reds decide to pursue a third baseman and move Todd Frazier, a guy that would fit the bill is Michael Young. Young and the Reds have been linked together for some time now, and you would think that now that he is a free agent it would be great timing for the Reds to grab him up. With Young coming close to the end of his fine career, he might be looking for one more chance at getting back to a World Series with the Reds.

Find a Fifth Starter for the Rotation

Tony Cingrani showed last year that he can be a viable starter at the major league level, but he threw his fastball 81.1 percent of the time. If he is able to improve upon this ratio and throw more off speed, he could be a great end of the rotation starter for the Reds in 2014. However, if he can’t improve upon this ratio, the Reds will need to acquire a veteran pitcher to fill in the back of their rotation. A familiar name could bring just that to this team in 2014.

Bronson Arroyo had a 14-12 record with a 3.79 ERA 32 games last season, and he has started 265 games for the Reds since 2006. Although Arroyo has lost some velocity on his pitches, he has become one of the most consistent pitchers in MLB. The Reds did just recently sign Jeff Francis but no one is looking for Francis to be a solid end of the rotation guy.

A couple of other names that haven’t really been talked about for the Reds are Tommy Hanson and Paul Maholm. Hanson was a promising young star when he broke into the big leagues, but has been hurt often now later in his career and struggled even more when he was sent to the Angels. Hanson could be a cheap addition for the Reds with plenty of upside, which was evident in his first few years as a starter. Maholm will never shock anyone with his talent, but he is similar to Arroyo in that they are both solid MLB pitchers. Among these names Arroyo is the best of the bunch for the Reds if Cingrani can not figure out a secondary pitch to compliment his fastball.

Keep Aroldis Chapman as the Closer

Obviously this is not a move to bring in an outside player, but it is still a move the team needs to make. Bryan Price was hired to be the Reds pitching coach in October of 2009 and was named the new Reds manager in October 2013. Price has been known to like the idea of moving Aroldis Chapman into the rotation.

On paper, you can make an argument that it this is a good idea, but if you watch the way that Chapman pitches it is hard to imagine him pitching the way he does for more than three innings. According to FanGraphs.com, his fastball has an average velocity of 98.3 MPH over his four-year career, and his average velocity of his slider is 87.4 MPH but can dip down as low as 76.5 MPH. When a pitcher is throwing that way for one inning at a time over a few days, he can maintain those types of speeds but trying to do that over multiple innings on five days rest could be extremely taxing on an arm.

Chapman is a max effort pitcher and it is tough to figure that he will be able to dial it back enough to be able to get to those types speeds on his pitches while also being able to be an effective pitcher during a complete season. Moving Chapman to the rotation not only jeopardizes his arm in the long run, but could very well jeopardize the bullpen as well.

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