Given that Stephen Strasburg ($245 million/seven years) and Gerrit Cole ($324 million/nine years) signed for record-breaking deals, it was always going to be unlikely that the Cincinnati Reds were ever realistically targeting either starting pitcher to bolster our rotation.

Apparently the Reds were runners up to the Philadelphia Phillies ($118 million/five years) offer to Zack Wheeler.

Madison Bumgarner, who is the same age as Wheeler, was also on the Reds shopping list, but he opted for the sunny climate of Arizona for a bargain price of $85 million/five years.

I don’t know if Cole Hamels was ever seriously considered, but he signed an $18 million/one year contract with Atlanta. And you know what they say, there is no such thing as a bad one-year deal.

Kyle Gibson ($28 million/three years) and Jordan Lyles ($16 million/two years) are heading for Texas, along with two-times Cy Young Award winner Corey Kluber, who the Rangers snapped up in a one-sided looking trade.

Michael Pineda ($20 million/two years) rejoins the Twins, and Rick Porcello ($10 million/one year) has moved to the Mets.

One of the most intriguing signings is that of Josh Lindblom who joins the Brewers for $9 million/three years. He is fresh off a 2.50 ERA, sub-1.00 WHIP, 30-start campaign in Korea.

At the time of writing Dallas Keuchel and Hyun-jin Ryu remain unsigned. The Reds need to get one of them.

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Let’s not mess about. The Reds rotation was awesome last season, with both Luis Castillo and Sonny Gray putting up career years.

In 2020, we will get a full season from Trevor Bauer, who, don’t forget, was the best pitcher outside of the two Cy Young Award winners in 2018.

According to xFIP, the Reds starters were the fifth best in the league last season, but success breeds complacency, and complacency breeds failure.

In 2018, the Reds had five pitchers make more than 20 starts. This is an impressive achievement that was only matched by five other teams.

  • Reds (Castillo, Harvey, Romano, DeSclafani, Mahle)
  • Astros
  • Dodgers
  • Mariners
  • Phillies
  • Tigers

In 2019, the Reds once again had five pitchers start more than 20 games each. This time only four other teams joined them.

  • Reds (Castillo, Gray, DeSclafani, Roark, Mahle)
  • Cardinals
  • Cubs
  • Twins
  • Yankees

Obviously there is a degree of luck involved in keeping the rotation healthy all season. The fact that the Reds are the only team to appear in both years suggests that we were very lucky.

Look, I know this is not scientific, but we are unlikely to have all of our top-five starters healthy for a third straight season. And with the greatest respect to Tyler Mahle and Anthony DeSclafani, they are unlikely to give us the quality of innings we could expect from a Keuchel or Ryu.

We need to land one of Keuchel or Ryu to take the pressure of Mahle and to give us a realistic shot of contending in the division.

Make sure you’re following us on Twitter @UKRedsMLB as we try to grow the sport in the UK and get as many newly-converted fans to join the Reds faithful.

Photos by Jim McIsaac and Gregory Shamus.

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