The reigning NL Central champs are doing whatever it takes to revamp their approach for 2013.
Their swift postseason exit led them to seek out trade options that could spark their offense.
Cincinnati made a three team trade with Cleveland and Arizona to bolster their outfield.
They shipped shortstop prospect Didi Gregorious to Arizona and Outfielder Drew Stubbs to Cleveland, in exchange for Indians Outfielder Shin-Soo-Choo.
The Indians would also acquire Diamondbacks top pitching prospect Trevor Bauer in the deal.
Choo will be an immediate upgrade in center field for the Reds, along with being their everday leadoff hitter.
The biggest story to watch for in Reds camp this spring is the transition of Aroldis Chapman.
He was one of the more dominant fantasy closers last season, but will try his luck at being a starter in 2013.
There’s no question that Chapman can gun it, but he doesn’t have an arsenal of pitches.
He’ll start off at the back end of the rotation, with hopes of moving up the order down the road.
Cincinnati has one of the finalists for last season’s NL Rookie of the Year in Todd Frazier, they have an annual contender for MVP in Joey Votto, and have upgraded their offense significantly.
There’s still a lot of questions with their rotation, particularly with Bronson Arroyo and Homer Bailey, but their offense should be able to carry them.
The NL Central is no joke this season, which is why the Reds need to be firing on all cylinders in order to stay atop the competition.
They always seem to have issues with getting off to a slow start, but their offseason changes could fix that.
Let’s see if the reigning NL Central champs have done enough to go further in the playoffs…
REDS PROJECTED LINEUP
1. Shin-Soo Choo CF Bounced back pretty well after an injury ruined his 2011 season. He’s a .280-.300 hitter that can get you 20+ home runs and stolen bases, and could see a boost by being the leadoff hitter for the Reds.
2. Brandon Phillips 2B His stolen bases totals have dropped over the past few seasons, but he remains a solid 2B option that can still be a solid .280+ hitter, hit 18 home runs, and rack up around 80+ runs/rbi’s. He should be viewed as a top 5 2B option.
3. Joey Votto 1B He’s only hit under .300 once in his 6-year career. Despite being injured last season, Votto will still hit you 25+ home runs, and produce 100+ runs/rbi’s. He’s playing in the WBC this spring and could be viewed as the best 1B option on draft day.
4. Ryan Ludwick LF He hit 26 home runs in his first season with the Reds, which made him a decent waiver wire claim in mid-season, but hasn’t done anything in his career that makes him an annual watchlist candidate.
5. Jay Bruce RF His average has been dismal the past two seasons, ranking around in the .250s, but the fact that he produced back-to-back seasons of 30+ home runs makes him a solid no.2 outfielder option to draft. His average will keep him down draft rankings, but you shouldn’t overlook him. He’s a great value pick in the middle rounds.
6. Todd Frazier 3B He was a top 3 finalist for the NL ROY in ’12, he hit 19 homers, and carried a decent .273 average. He will have questions of proving consistency this year, but could be a sleeper because he’s not a household name in fantasy just yet.
7. Zack Cozart SS He was dropped down the lineup because of his .246 batting average,despite hitting 15 home runs in his rookie season. If he can begin to hit for average, Cozart could be a sleeper at the thin shortstop position. Look for him late in drafts when you need to fill your shortstop spot.
8. Ryan Hanigan C They eventually want to have Devin Mesoraco behind the plate, but that will be a little while until he improves his swing. Hanigan doesn’t offer any eye-popping stats that would make you want to consider him for your team.
1. Johnny Cueto He’s coming off of his best season yet at 19-9. He’s always been an elite option to have, but Cueto could start to be viewed as a top 10 pitcher in fantasy. He did strikeout a career high 170 batters in 2012, and that is the one department that he will really have to show consistency with this season.
2. Mat Latos He is coming off of his best season at 14-4, showed consistency with 180+ strikeouts, and produced his typical ERA in the 3+ range. Latos gets a bad rep for his 2011 season, after breaking out in 2010, but any fantasy owner has to value consistency in the strikeout range and definitely having a better run support with Cincy.
3. Bronson Arroyo He’ll get you a double digit/above .500 record, but he doesn’t strikeout a lot of pitchers. Arroyo is nothing more than a post-draft pickup substitute that you use to transition in between injuries.
4. Homer Bailey He had his first double digit win season, his career low in ERA, and career high in strikeouts. The only problem is that none of those stats were impressive at 13-10, a 3.68 ERA, and 168 strikeouts. Bailey could be starting to just get it, in his sixth season, but
5. Aroldis Chapman He’s not a sure thing to make the rotation, but will still be a must-own in fantasy this season despite his position. Keep in mind that Chapman might not play the full season as a starter, even if he makes the rotation out of spring camp.
RP-Jonathan Broxton Will lose tremendous value if Chapman doesn’t make the rotation, so his fantasy value all depends on Chapman’s fate and how long he stays there.
Aroldis Chapman can throw around 100 mph and will look to transition out of the bullpen this season. He’s battling Mike Leake for the number five spot in the starting rotation this spring, but nothing is guaranteed. Regardless of what position he plays, Chapman is going to be a must-own this fantasy season. He converted 38 saves last season as the Reds closer, striking out 122 batters, and proving that he could be ready to be a full time starter. The only thing that holds him back is the fact that he doesn’t have a very developed arsenal of pitches. Not that he needs anything else than his 100 mph fastball, but veteran hitters will either figure out how attack him or he might burn out from throwing so much at that velocity. Chapman is slated towards the middle to late rounds of drafts, but you shouldn’t let him slip past you in the draft.
Shin-Soo Choo was one of the key players involved in the three team trade with the Indians, Reds, and Diamondbacks. You’re not going to find a more consistent player to own in fantasy, but he could get even better with his new team. He’s a .280+ hitter, he can get around 80+ runs/rbi’s, along with 20+ stolen bases/home runs. Choo will be the leadoff hitter for the Reds this season. He’s surrounded by some of the best bats with Brandon Phillips and Joey Votto right behind him, he has the speed to do a lot of damage once he gets on base, and could be one of the best value picks in this season’s drafts. When you’re looking for some mid round value that offers a ton of upside, consider Choo.