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2023 MLB Season Preview: Cincinnati Reds

Free Joey Votto,

MLB: Chicago Cubs at Cincinnati Reds David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

To put it as simply as possible, the Cincinnati Reds are bad. Outside of Colorado, Oakland and Washington, there may not be a worse 26-man roster around, and it wouldn’t take more than a few things going sideways for the Reds to find themselves picking in the top three of the draft once again.

There is some young talent to dream on, particularly in the rotation and down on the farm, but overall this group figures to struggle even in a non-imposing NL Central.

Expectations for 2023

As noted above, the Reds begin the season projected for 67-70 wins, which is either third-worst or fourth-worst depending on what specifically you look at. They traded away Luis Castillo and Tyler Mahle last summer to lower the team’s floor even more, and the lineup and bullpen are lacking. Probably the biggest achievement for the Reds this year would be finishing ahead of the Pirates... which is really sad if you stop and think about it.

Projected Roster

Via Roster Resource:


  1. Jake Fraley - RF
  2. Jonathan India - 2B
  3. Joey Votto - DH
  4. Tyler Stephenson - C
  5. Wil Myers - 1B
  6. TJ Friedl - LF
  7. Spencer Steer - 3B
  8. Kevin Newman - SS
  9. Nick Senzel - CF


Curt Casali (C/1B)
Luke Maile (C)
Chad Pinder (UTIL)
Stuart Fairchild (OF)


Hunter Greene (RHP)
Nick Lodolo (LHP)
Graham Ashcraft (RHP)
Luke Weaver (RHP)
Luis Cessa (RHP)


Alexis Diaz (RHP)
Lucas Sims (RHP)
Reiver Sanmartin (LHP)
Buck Farmer (RHP)
Daniel Norris (LHP)
Ian Gibaut (RHP)
Fernando Cruz (RHP)
Connor Overton (RHP)

Biggest Strength

Hunter Greene had an intriguing rookie campaign, and while there are certainly areas to grow, his absurd fastball led to a 31% strikeout rate last season. Nick Lodolo, another first rounder, debuted nicely in 2022 and figures to be a solid No. 2 behind Greene and has some better projections. Young pitching is the most valuable commodity in the sport, and if the Reds can somehow find a way to supplement Greene and Lodolo, they’ll have a chance to surpass win expectations. That makes the rotation one of this roster’s few... not quite strengths, but non-glaring weaknesses.

Biggest Weakness

As noted before, while there is some intrigue at the top of the rotation, the bottom three arms all present major questions, but they’re not that bad as a group.

The Reds had a team wRC+ of 84 last year, which was 2nd worst in the league. It projects to be pretty bad once again even with the additions of Myers and Newman. #FreeJoeyVotto

The bullpen, which ranked 21st in WAR a year ago, figures to struggle again. Even the biggest of baseball fans would struggle to name more than one or two relievers in the group.

But, really, there’s almost no escape from the dreadfulness of this roster, position-by-position. The Reds project to be the worst in baseball at lots of positions. Votto and Myers project to be the worst first base unit in the game. Kevin Newman doesn’t just project to be the worst starting shortstop in MLB, he projects to be the worst starting shortstop by about a win relative to 29th place. Spencer Steer is a good prospect, but didn’t hit at all in a small sample last year and has serious defensive questions at third, making this yet another last-in-MLB-by-projections position for the Reds. Rounding out the bunch is another last-place finish in center field, where Nick Senzel is expected to get the bulk of the playing time, though he’s currently out with a toe injury. Compared to this, the bullpen doesn’t seem that bad.

Reinforcements from the Farm

The Reds placed 13th in Keith Law’s recent organization rankings, getting a nice boost following their summer trades of Castillo and Mahle. The clear headliner is Elly De La Cruz, who is’s No. 10 overall prospect. De La Cruz has drawn comparisons to Pirates shortstop Oneil Cruz. Joining De La Cruz in the top 100 is slugging infielder Noelvi Marte, acquired from the Mariners in the deal for Luis Castillo. Another talented middle infielder in the system is 2021 2nd rounder Edwin Arroyo, with an ETA of 2025.

Brandon Williamson, another guy acquired from the Mariners (in the Eugenio Suarez-Jesse Winker deal) in the is around to provide rotation depth when (not if) the Reds will need it, but he’s really struggled since being traded. Michael Siani seems close enough to be called up to replace Nick Senzel or whatever else the Reds cook up in center field by midseason.

Braves history/outlook against Colorado

The Great American Ball Park has been a challenge for Atlanta over the years, but this is a team the Braves should take care of in 2023. The Reds will head to Truist Park in mid-April and the Braves return the favor in late June.

The Braves have won the last two season series against the Reds, winning four games to three each time, and also swept the Reds in a three-game series in the playoffs in 2020. That snapped a streak of five straight seasons where the Braves weren’t able to win the season series against Cincinnati.

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