3 questions loom for Reds during offseason

3 questions loom for Reds during offseason

CINCINNATI -- The World Series is over and the immediate transition into the Hot Stove season is underway for the Reds. Following a 94-loss 2017 season -- their third in a row of more than 90 losses -- there is plenty of work to do for general manager Dick Williams and the front office.

While Cincinnati featured a deep lineup that had a club-record six players with at least 20 home runs, the team's collection of pitchers fell well short of helping the team become more competitive.

The Reds' staff ranked at the bottom of the National League in ERA. The rotation produced the fewest innings pitched, while the bullpen led the National League in walks and hit batters.

Despite having a deep pool of young pitching, all indications are the Reds will look outside the organization for a veteran starting pitcher who can provide deep outings and guys who can shore up the bullpen. Let the Hot Stove intrigue begin.

Free agents: SS Zack Cozart, RHPs Scott Feldman, Bronson Arroyo, Drew Storen and Asher Wojciechowski

Arbitration-eligible players: 2B Scooter Gennett (second year), OF Billy Hamilton (second year), RHP Anthony DeSclafani (first year), RHP Michael Lorenzen (first year), 3B Eugenio Suarez (first year). RHP Raisel Iglesias will be eligible for the first time if he chooses to opt out of his contract, but that seems unlikely.

1. Which starters could the Reds land?
It's not expected to be a robust market for starting pitchers, but notable hurlers like Yu Darvish and Jake Arrieta will be out there. However, the Reds rarely jump into the deep end of the free-agent pool and will not enter bidding wars that would cost hundreds of millions of dollars. Perhaps Andrew Cashner, Doug Fister, Alex Cobb, Derek Holland or Jaime Garcia would fit the profile.

Amid injuries and poor performances, the Reds used 16 different starting pitchers in 2017. After a positive rookie season, Luis Castillo will be in the rotation, while Sal Romano and Robert Stephenson have strong chances. DeSclafani and Homer Bailey will be the veterans, but their injury histories makes it hard to assume they can provide 200 innings. That's where someone from the outside can help.

Castillo's 2017 development

2. How to shore up the bullpen?
In the Cincinnati bullpen, only closer Iglesias and left-handed setup man Wandy Peralta are locked in. Lorenzen led the staff with 70 games, but could get another shot at starting.

• Peralta secures key role with strong rookie year

The Reds liked what they saw from Kevin Shackelford and Deck McGuire late in the season, but there is definitely need for some veteran help. Some potential free-agent fits might be Sergio Romo, Jason Motte, Pat Neshek or Tyler Clippard.

3. Are there too many corner outfielders?
Rookie Jesse Winker made the most of his extended opportunity late in the second half, which could provide a way to acquire the talent they need. If the Reds install Winker in either left or right field, that could make former All-Star Adam Duvall or Scott Schebler potential trade chips, if they choose not to have a four-outfielder rotation with Hamilton in center field. Duvall and Schebler each hit 30 homers this past season.

Winker's line-drive solo homer

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 and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.