One of the key stories in the last offseason was the extent to which the Reds would cut spending. General manager Nick Krall’s November quote of “adjusting our pay to our resources” was often repeated as Cincinnati parted ways with notable players such as Sonny Gray, Wade Miley and Jesse Winker in money-saving moves while making virtually no effort to keep free agent slugger Nick Castellanos.
The Reds reinvested some of the savings in modest one-year deals with free agents Tommy Pham, Donovan Solano, Hunter Stricklandand Colin Moranplus undertook more than $ 7MM in payroll expenses in Amir Garrett–Mike Minor swap with the royals. These actions, combined with a Cincinnati farm system that has seen the stock market rise in recent years, were included in the March decree of Red President and COO Phil Castellini to fans to “have a little bit of faith in what we do with your Cincinnati Reds.”
Fans were not at all happy with Castellini’s comments, as it on paper unit, which the Reds roll out in 2022, houses significantly less star power than the 2021 team. The team also entered the new season with a payout of $ 9 MM, which was lighter than the previous year (according to Cot’s Baseball Contracts). With several young pitchers forcing their way onto the team’s list at excellently affordable prices, it can be argued that they have retained at least one of the team’s deceased stars.
Early Tuesday, Phil Castellini joined WLW 700s Scott Sloan and Mo Egger and was asked why fans should retain confidence in Red’s management. Regarding this question, as well as some fans’ calls to sell the team, Castellini replied:
“Well, where are you going? Let’s start there. I mean, sell the team to whom? That’s the other thing – you want this debate? If you want to look at what would you do with this team to get it? to be more profitable, make more money, compete more in the current economic system in which this game exists – it would be to pick it up and move it somewhere else, so be careful what you ask for […] we are doing the best we can with the resources we have. “
It’s bizarre to see an ownership figure take such a defensive stance to criticism and almost threaten fans, especially on opening day when the Reds sold more than 43,000 tickets. (Wednesday attendance, about Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer, was 10,976 – although the weather certainly affected the total number.)
Castellini’s comments also come on the heels of another draftless offseason marked by transactions that are more oriented towards cutting the payroll than towards improving the on-field product. Asking Reds fans for patience is particularly cheeky given that the team’s recent rebuilding effort is still fresh in the fans. The Reds, from 2015-16, swapped away as Aroldis Chapman, Todd Frazier, Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake – generally comes empty on the vast majority of these agreements.
What followed was a series of three straight last-minute finishes in the National League Central from 2016-18, followed by a fourth-place finish in 2019. The Reds had an average payout of $ 95 MM below this series of last-placed finishes as 25th. , 25th and 22nd in league-wide salaries along the way. Cincinnati came out of this rebuilding / remodeling process and used aggressively in the 2019-20 offseason, signing Mike Moustakas, Nick Castellanos, Shogo Akiyama and Wade Miley. The scene seemed to be ready for the Reds, strengthened by a strong rotation and a collection of impressive sluggers, to switch back to a long-standing win-now mindset.
Instead, the Reds went 31-29 during the pandemic-shortened 2020 season, were swept in the off-season without scoring a run and immediately began taking another step back. Raisel Iglesias was traded to the angels in a pure wage dump, and the Reds canceled their two most important acquisitions with deadlines: Archie Bradley and Brian Goodwin. Krall talked about redistributing these resources to other areas of need. Months later, on opening day, Sean Doolittle turned out to be the Reds’ only Major League signing – in a year and $ 1.5 million. The free season 2021-22 subsequently started with the aforementioned “adjust salary for resources” comments from Krall, which preceded a further salary reduction.
Despite the frustrating sequence, Castellini further preached fans’ patience and loyalty throughout the day yesterday, making comparisons to the NFL’s Cincinnati Bengals, who surprisingly came out of a series of lost seasons en route to a Super Bowl appearance (and lit fanbase) two months ago. As for the team’s payroll, Castellini also added that it “is still significantly more than the revenue we generate to produce it. […] The last 16 years [we’ve] invested beyond our market size every single year.”
These comments caused a stir among Reds fans, who have not seen their team win a playoff series since 1995, and Castellini has since went them back. They also come in conjunction with comments from Castellanos to ESPN’s Jesse Rogers, in which he blows up Red’s ownership to “suffocate” baseball in a “big city like Cincinnati.” Castellanos came up with these comments for a piece that ran before Castellano made his comments on Tuesday, but while they are not a direct reaction, the timing is nonetheless impeccable.
In addition to stirring up the fan base, the club president’s comments may shed light on the team’s plans to move on. If the team actually operates with a deficit while in Cincinnati, it is unlikely that the payroll will increase very soon. Of course, there is no way to confirm the correctness of Castellini’s claims, as teams choose not to open their books to the public. But it’s worth noting that following MLB’s offseason streaming deals with Apple and Peacock, each club is now set to receive around $ 65 million. in national TV / streaming revenue alone. It does not take into account gate revenues, local broadcasting deals and countless other sources of revenue for Major League clubs.
Perhaps an additional signal to the organization’s future direction, Castellini name-checked the club’s “Big Red Machine” days in the 1970s, indicating that the best way to emulate the successful era of Red’s baseball was to invest in the team’s talent pipeline and grow from within. Emphasizing internal development is certainly a practical approach, but it will certainly draw skepticism from the fan base in connection with the fact that the Reds have narrowed the payroll at a time when they had already trained a significant amount of young talent for the big ones. Cincinnati has only $ 44.5 million on the books by 2023 and has no guaranteed contracts for the 2024 season.