MLB Year in Review: Cincinnati Reds

Deconstructing the attempted rebuild of a historic franchise.

Primary mascot of the Cincinnati Reds, Mr. Red

IUAA Greater Cincinnati

Primary mascot of the Cincinnati Reds, Mr. Red

Matty Hauth

Sometimes, expectations fail to equate to reality. This was quickly realized by one of Major League Baseball’s most confusing franchises, the Cincinnati Reds.


In the 2021 off-season, the Reds were busy with plenty of moves, including signing veterans Tommy Pham and Hunter Strickland to MLB deals. 


Pham spent his 2021 season with San Diego, batting .229 with 15 home runs. Meanwhile, Strickland pitched for the Rays, the Angels, and the Brewers in 2021, allowing only 17 earned runs over 58.2 innings. Both were signed to 1 year deals, totalling less than $10 million combined.


They continued their aggressive off-season with trades ending the tenures of Eugenio Suárez, Sonny Gray, and Tucker Barnhart, three players who contributed greatly to the Reds’ successes in 2020 and 2021. In return, however, the Reds acquired key pieces to develop the team into strong contenders, including 2021 twenty-sixth overall pick Chase Petty.


This, however, was not enough for the Reds.


Following the MLB lockout during the off-season, the Reds began their season at an atrocious 3-22 mark, tying the second worst mark through a team’s first 25 games in MLB history.


Entering the month of August, the Reds had a record of 40-61, solidifying them as sellers for the season’s trade deadline. They parted ways with outfielder Tommy Pham, infielder Brandon Drury, and all-star pitcher Luis Castillo.


The Reds strengthened their minor league staff with the deals, bringing in 3 of Seattle’s top 5 prospects for Castillo. 


The Reds last made the playoffs in the shortened 2020 season which featured an expanded playoff bracket. The last time they made it to the second round of the playoffs? 1995, where they fell to the Atlanta Braves, who would go on to win the World Series only a couple of weeks later.


The Reds, despite their seemingly bleak future, definitely have promise.


The Reds’ farm system was ranked 4th following a re-ranking in late August, with 3 of their top 10 prospects being pitchers. Sophomore player Jonathan India provides a strong future for their infield, and with their top 5 ranked prospects all being infielders, the Reds have nearly answered all areas of concern.


The most challenging aspects of their rebuild remain developing their young pieces and making large splashes in free agency. If they can manage these critical goals, the Reds will be a force to reckon with in a relatively weak National League Central division.