Orioles Preview - Page 54 - The Reds

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The Reds

Associated Press


During Yasiel Puig’s six seasons in Los Angeles, the Dodgers won at least 91 games and made the playoffs each year, reaching the World Series twice. The outfielder knows nothing but winning at the major-league level.


Hello, Cincinnati.


An offseason trade transplanted Puig to the other side of the country—and the other side of the standings.


He’s now playing for a Reds team that has lost at least 94 games for four straight years and has taken up full-time residency in the NL Central basement.


The weather is very different in Cincinnati. So is the chili. The baseball? Puig will soon find out if that’s palatable too.


“I’ve been with the Dodgers for six years, and six straight years we’ve been in the playoffs,” Puig said during a visit on a subzero winter day to look for a house. “I hope this is not a year we’re going to be out in October, you know? I come here to bring this team to the playoffs again.”


He’s got some reinforcements joining him. The question is whether they’ll be enough to make much of a difference.


The Reds are trying to morph from down-and-out rebuilder to overnight contender. They made three offseason deals, including one that brought Puig, Matt Kemp and left-hander Alex Wood from the Dodgers. They overhauled their rotation and their outfield in an attempt to become relevant again.


It’s an unusual strategy for a rebuilding team. Four of the players they acquired are eligible for free agency after next season, along with second baseman Scooter Gennett, their best hitter the last two years, so there’s no telling what comes next.


For now, the Reds are worth watching.


“We’re going to do something better,” Puig promised.


Familiar name and number: First-year manager David Bell gives the Reds a little nostalgia in the dugout. Bell’s grandfather, Gus, and father, Buddy, played for the Reds. He’s wearing their No. 25. Bell changed the players’ routines in spring training, and he explored using reliever Michael Lorenzen in center field, another indication he’s open to new things.


New faces: The rotation has been the biggest problem the last few years, and it has a whole different look with the addition of Wood from the Dodgers, Sonny Gray from the Yankees and Tanner Roark from the Nationals. Often injured Anthony DeSclafani and Luis Castillo are the holdovers.


Needing a rebound: Former NL MVP Joey Votto is coming off one of his worst seasons with only 12 homers, 67 RBIs and a .284 average. The Reds’ highest-paid player, owed $25 million annually through 2023, turns 36 in September. A return to his norm would help the offense significantly.


Rookie to watch: Infielder Nick Senzel was taken second overall in the June 2018 amateur draft, Cincinnati’s highest pick since 1983. The Reds are trying to turn him into a center fielder who could fill Billy Hamilton’s role. How quickly he settles in at his new spot will be one of their more interesting subplots.


What awaits? What will the Reds do when the trade deadline approaches? How much will their position in the standings dictate their financial decisions? It will be a very interesting month in Cincinnati.


Photo: Accustomed to the playoffs as a Dodger, Yasiel Puig hopes for the same as a Red.