Cincinnati Reds owner Bob Castellini only wants to win, promises fans | Sports & Leisure | Cincinnati
Cincinnati baseball fans are abuzz as Opening Day approaches.
It happens about every year, of course. Honestly, the Cincinnati Reds – or any Major League Baseball team – trades a few favorite players, fans yell that ownership doesn’t care or doesn’t invest enough, then the team goes way over .500 or knows a spectacularly horrible season, thus “proving” somebody law. Wash, rinse, repeat.
But for this season the fan buzz intensified a bit, particularly when former outfielder Nick Castellanos hit the free agency market in November after opting out of the final two years of his contract with the Reds. , which was worth $16 million a year. Castellanos – a fan favorite in Cincinnati and someone who was considered one of the top free agents after a stellar 2021 outing in which he batted .309, hit .576, hit 34 homers and hit 73 extra hits – then dismissed the Reds. Nov. 7 qualifying bid of $18.4 million (the number set in Major League Baseball for the 2022 season). The Reds were in a waiting pattern once December rolled around, unable to negotiate contracts or make any deals due to the 99-day lockdown which ended in early March. But even after the trade resumed, the Reds did not pursue Castellanos, who happily went to the Philadelphia Phillies on a five-year, $100 million deal.
And the Cincinnati Reds front office also got rid of other big contributors. In addition to losing Castellanos to free agency, the Reds recently traded All-Star outfielder Jesse Winker, third baseman Eugenio Suárez and pitcher Sonny Gray. In return, Cincinnati acquired young players and prospects and cut payrolls. The Reds also recently signed contracts with a number of their own pitchers like Luis Castillo, avoiding arbitration, and the team snapped up outfielder Tommy Pham and reliever Hunter Strickland.
So, fans think 2022 has all the hallmarks of being a “rebuild season” rather than a legitimate push for playoff glory (during the COVID-shortened 2020 season, the Reds went to the playoffs Wild Card but lost the first round to the Atlanta Braves without scoring at all (prior to that, Cincinnati hadn’t made the playoffs since 2013). But Reds owner Bob Castellini insists that is not necessarily the case.
In an interview with MLB’s Tommy Thrall, Castellini said the Reds’ front office had their eyes on the prize, despite fan concerns.
“It’s just not true that our will to win has diminished in any way. I really want our fans to hear it straight from me,” Castellini said.
Castellini says it’s important to inject money into the team’s farming system, noting the Reds’ minor league system has pushed 18 players onto the 2021 regular season roster, including the rookie year of the Jonathan India National League.
“We’ve found that our focus on sustainability through talent acquisition and development is working,” says Castellini. “We know that the investments in player scouting and development that we have made since 2019 are paying off.”
Fans and players, however, may have a different idea of what constitutes an “investment”. During a recent interview with NBC Sports Philadelphia reporter John Clark, Castellanos praised Phillies owner John Middleton for providing the money to win.
“When you hear that John Middleton said ‘We can top the luxury tax because you’re the good player’ and the only player they would have done this for, what does that mean to you?” Clark asked.
“I mean, it’s a lot of respect. In the end, baseball comes down to ownership. The owner wants to invest and cares about winning or not,” Castellanos replied. “So that says a lot about who he is. So Philadelphia should be thrilled that this guy is behind the Phillies.”
The unspoken part of this interview, of course, was that Cincinnati Reds owner Castellini had not invested in Castellanos, who won the 2021 Silver Slugger award and started for the National League in the All-Star Game of the MLB (former teammate Winker joined in that honor).
Longtime Reds first baseman Joey Votto even expressed his displeasure.
“I expect more to be part of other great Major League moments,” Votto said in a recent interview. “It definitely concerns me. I’ve worn the same uniform all my career. We haven’t won enough.”
But Castellini says the Reds are making investments.
“The motivation is and was to win. And to establish sustainability,” Castellini told Thrall in the MLB interview. “We traded three All-Stars, which felt very personal to us. But winning in the playoffs has to be our main goal – short and long term. The trades were about moving players around to maximize return, aiming for the best talent and the highest possible potential.”
Read the full Castellini interview.
The 2022 MLB season will begin on April 7.
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