The Pittsburgh Pirates didn’t want to fight for the National League Central Division title until the 2021 trade with Joe Musgrove. However, it’s also not as if any of their rivals have cemented themselves as favorites. If the Cincinnati Reds With a short short stop, they could easily be the best team on paper in NL Central.
NL Central was up for grabs in 2020, and in the pandemic-shortened 60-game sprint to an extended playoff, the Chicago Cubs won the division by playing three games against the Cincinnati Reds and St. Louis Cardinals. The Milwaukee Brewers, which ended under .500 (29-31), also made the postseason.
It looks like we’ll see more of this in 2021. Not a single NL Central team said, “We’ll try.” Instead, we’ve seen almost every team trying to lose payroll in one way or another. While the off-season was littered with trade rumors about some of Cincinnati’s top talent, a train could put the Redlegs in the driver’s seat.
Adding a short stop would make the Reds a favorite in NL Central.
It sounds almost too easy, but if the Cincinnati Reds added a starting caliber shortstop in the coming days or weeks, the team would likely be favorites to win the National League Central Division. The good news for Cincinnati is that there are still some free agents available.
It’s not like the Reds sifting through a bunch of discarded veterans with no hope of making a major league squad. Andrelton Simmons, Didi Gregorius and Marcus Semien all represent viable options, and Cincinnati has been rumored to be in contact with at least two of the three named players.
Both Gregorius and Semien have received some attention from the Cincinnati Reds front office this season. Just last week it was said that Cincy was in negotiations with Semien and earlier this off-season Gregorius said during an interview that His representative was in contact with the leaders of the Reds.
The rest of the division clears the way for the Reds.
Joe Musgrove was sold to the San Diego Padres last night. The Padres win the off-season with high pressure. But as we saw with the Reds last year, it doesn’t mean you will win the regular season or, more importantly, the postseason just because you win the offseason. Cincy was ricocheted off the wild card round without a single run.
However, no one in NL Central seems like they want to compete with the big boys. Sure, the Padres, Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Mets, and Atlanta Braves are the crème de la crème in the National League through 2021, but someone has to win the NL Central. It might as well be the Cincinnati Reds.
The Reds tell the teams that they want to hold onto Luis Castillo. They have tested the waters on Castillo and other stars but understand that they have an excellent shot to win their division as it is.
– Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) January 18, 2021
MLB insider Jon Heymanwho was all over the news about a possible deal between the Reds and the New York Yankees is a compelling case for Cincinnati after that Trade talks for Luis Castillo failed. Heyman said the Redlegs have an excellent shot to win their division with the front office now telling the teams they want to hang on to Castillo.
While the St. Louis Cardinals sacked second Baseman Kolten Wong and Yadier Molina and Adam Wainwright allowed entry into the free hand, the Reds did not advertise Archie Bradley and Curt Casali. While the Chicago Cubs gave Cy Young hopefully You Darvish to the Padres, Cincinnati traded Raisel Iglesias (one season away from 12 losses) for the Los Angeles Angels.
The Cubs also distributed Victor Caritini to the Padres and may be close to trading with Third Baseman and former MVP Kris Bryant. There are still rumors That way, the Cubbies got around to Willson Contreras, and Kyle Schwarber wasn’t advertised this off-season either.
This off-season may be about the move the Reds didn’t take.
I am absolutely confident that the Cincinnati Reds won’t start the 2021 season with Kyle Farmer or José García as the team’s starting shortstop. I wouldn’t be against the latterLast year’s rookie needs a little more time in the small leagues.
Will the Reds Gregorius or Semien land? I don’t know, but I think once one of the top shortstops in the free market signs a contract and sets the market, Cincinnati’s front office will step up its efforts to get one of the top three free agent infielder.
However, in order for the Reds to fight for the division in 2021, they will have to hold onto the players who have been rumored to be on the move. These include Eugenio Suárez, Mike Moustakas, Sonny Gray and Nick Castellanos.
Cincinnati was having its last major off-season and for the first time in a long time it looked like this franchise was going to battle for NL Central’s crown. If it were a normal 162 game season who knows how things would have turned out. As it is, the season was reduced to 60 games and the Reds fell short of expectations.
I don’t expect the core of Suárez, Moustakas, Castellanos and Jesse Winker to struggle as much as it did in 2020. Can Joey Votto be average? Can Nick Senzel stay healthy? Has Shogo Akiyama adjusted to pitching in the big leagues?
If the answer to those questions is yes, and the Cincinnati Reds add a shortstop on the free agency, the starting rotation without Trevor Bauer is still good enough to fight for the National League Central Division crown.