The National League Central fully embraces the bare minimum, Cardinals included

Teams across MLB are evolving with the game to find new ways to win. But the NL Central is contemptuous of their old ways of doing business.

Cincinnati Reds v St Louis Cardinals
Cincinnati Reds v St Louis Cardinals / Dilip Vishwanat/GettyImages
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The Reds and Pirates offer more of the same

The best core going forward belongs to the Cincinnati Reds. They had a fun summer breakout with many rookies flashing their potential and bringing the Reds back to relevance. It only took the organization a decade to get back to this point which essentially wasted any chance to get franchise icon Joey Votto a World Series ring. Votto was not offered an extension and is now exploring Free Agency for the first time in his career. The Reds feel ready to move on from their veteran leadership and to fully invest in the young core to win games on their own. So how have the Reds supplemented the roster to add in veteran presence?

The Reds have been busy this winter, which is a good sign for fans. Jeimer Candelario is their biggest splash, but he really does not fit on the current roster unless they want him to take over Votto full-time at first base. Emilio Pagan and Buck Farmer were added to the bullpen which would be nice moves if it was two years ago. Nick Martinez was signed as a swing man option which will be a sneaky move. Lastly, they signed Frankie Montas who is extremely questionable with his shoulder health. The Reds are showing an effort to build onto the roster to further compete next season. But is patching holes enough to compete when the roster was not strong enough to make the wild card? The development of this exciting young core will be the answer to that question. 

The Pittsburgh Pirates continue to be one of the biggest laughingstocks in professional sports. Owner Bob Nutting is one of the tightest owners in the sport and will never show the effort to financially invest in a roster. Year after year, Pirates fans watch the team develop promising prospects, let them fail at the major league level, and then trade them for quantity over quality while the players flourish on their new teams.

The organization has spent over a decade failing to build a sustainable core and continues to do so. Oneill Cruz is the most exciting player since Gerrit Cole to make the big league team. Prospects Temarr Johnson and Paul Skenes are expected to become stars at the big league level in the next several seasons. Ownership showed some kind of investment by locking in Bryan Reynolds to a multi-year extension after he publicly stated he wanted out of Pittsburgh.

With all the financial resources to build a stronger current roster, the team instead has bargain deals for Rowdy Tellez, Martin Perez, and signing aged veteran/franchise icon Andrew McCutchen this offseason. No player will want to play in Pittsburg if you operate a franchise like this. They have one of the best ballparks in sports and the city displays more passion for their teams than any other city in the country. Take better care of your investment and make it premier within the league. 

And then there are the reigning last-place finishers...