St. Louis Cardinals: National League Central Division Preview

David Banks-USA TODAY Sports
David Banks-USA TODAY Sports /
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After a brutal 2016 season, the Cincinnati Reds hope to develop their young talent.

The Reds struggled mightily last year, and should again provide opportunities for the St. Louis Cardinals to feast in 2017.

Cincinnati Reds, key addition: Drew Storen

Cincinnati Reds, key loss: Dan Straily

The lack of moves in Cincinnati is fairly unsurprising. While the Brandon Phillips trade rumors have flew around again this year, it is unlikely that he wants to be moved. News broke that he used his no-trade clause to block a November move that would have sent him to the Atlanta Braves. While Atlanta is certainly not a contender, they are farther along the rebuilding process than the Reds.

Additionally, the Reds are unwilling to move first baseman Joey Votta, who would be a perennial MVP candidate if he were on a team winning more games. Despite a slow start, Votto still posted a 163 wRC+, good for third in the MLB and first in the NL.

Furthermore, Votto is under contract through 2023 with an option for 2024. He has made it clear that he wants to stay a Red for the remainder of his career. Moreover, his elite abilities at the plate are likely to age well, so there is little incentive for the Reds to try to move him to maximize his trade value. If the Reds are contenders again in a few years, Votto will likely still be their best player.

The main question heading into 2017 for the Reds relates to their starting pitching. Cincinnati used 15 starters last year, with only three accumulating more than even 70 innings. Dan Straily, who led the team with 183 innings, was recently traded to the Miami Marlins.

Of the starters who remain, Anthony DeSclafani looks to head the rotation. Last year, a 3.28 ERA on his way to a 2.0 fWAR campaign. Brandon Finnegan will likely take a second spot in the rotation, which leaves the three remaining spots up for grabs. Given their youth and inexperience, it is very possible that Cincinnati takes a similar committee-like approach again in 2017.

I previously noted that Reds pitching was especially homer prone in 2016, and regression in that area would bode well for the teams development next season. The extent to which the Reds can expect to improve in that area is unknown, but the experience the young pitchers got in last year should only help them in 2017.