The Reds made the postseason for the third time in four years -- and failed to advance beyond the first round for the third time.
The 6-2 loss to the Pittsburgh Pirates in the National League wild-card game Oct. 1 was a harsh and sudden ending to a season that looked so promising just a week prior. The Reds took two of three from the Pirates in Pittsburgh. Even after dropping two of three to the Mets in the next series, they only needed to win to two of three from the Pirates to clinch home field. Instead, they were swept.
The loss in the wild card game gave them their first six-game losing streak since May of 2011.
"It's a bit of deja vu," first baseman Joey Votto said. "It's really disappointing. It's such a quick turnaround. There's so much hope going into this game. The anticipation of hopping on plane and going to play an important series in St. Louis. ..."
The late-season collapse cost manager Dusty Baker his job. Pitching coach Bryan Price was promoted for his first stint as a major league manager.
"I don't know about (changes)," Jay Bruce said. "We, as players, have to find a way. It's not on anyone else. Everyone has to hold themselves responsible and figure out a way to take the next step. We changed the goals. We're a winning club. I'm proud of our season in that aspect. But we've got to take the next step."
The Reds have two major free agents, center fielder Shin-Soo Choo and starter Bronson Arroyo.
"It's still too early," Choo said. "I have a lot of feelings going on, a lot of things in my head. I don't know. I have a lot of good memories here, so I don't know."
The Reds will also have Homer Bailey ($5.3 million this year) eligible for arbitration for the third time. Given his recent success, he will be expensive. Mike Leake ($3 million) and Chris Heisey ($1.3 million) will get big raises in the second year of being arbitration eligible.
Signed players -- like Bruce, Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos, Jonathan Broxton and Ryan Ludwick -- are due big raises. That makes it unlikely that the Reds will be players in free agency.
2013: 90-72, third place in NL Central, lost to Pirates in NL wild-card game
TEAM MVP: 1B Joey Votto only drove in 73 runs, but he led the Reds in on-base, average and slugging. He set a club record by reaching base 315 times and by walking 134 times. "I've probably been asked more about my failings than my successes this year, which is kind of frustrating," Votto told the Cincinnati Enquirer. "But I think it's a two-headed monster. It's the lack of RBIs and being compared to my previous self. I think it's a byproduct of those two things."
BIGGEST DISAPPOINTMENT: 2B Brandon Phillips drove in 103 runs, but he hit .261/.310/.396 -- all career lows as a Red. He hit .211 with four RBIs in September.
TOP PROSPECT: OF Billy Hamilton stole 13 bases in 14 attempts after his September call-up. He also hit .368 in 19 at-bats. He proved he could be a game-changer with his speed.
--C Ryan Hanigan and RHP Heath Bell were acquired by the Rays on Dec. 2 as part of a three-team trade with the Diamondbacks and Reds. Bell moved from Arizona, which also sent $500,000 to Tampa Bay to offset part of his salary. Hanigan joined the Rays from Cincinnati.
Arizona got minor league RHP Justin Choate from the Tampa Bay organization, plus a player to be named or cash. Cincinnati received LHP David Holmberg from Arizona.
Bell, 36, is headed for his fourth team in four seasons. He went 5-2 with 15 saves and a 4.11 ERA in 69 appearances during his lone year with Arizona. Bell will receive $9 million next season, and his $9 million option for 2015 would become guaranteed if he finishes 55 games in 2014.
Hanigan, 33, will compete for playing time in Tampa Bay with two other catchers, Jose Molina and Jose Lobaton. Hanigan batted a career-low .198 with two homers and 21 RBIs in 77 games for Cincinnati this year.
Holmberg, 22, made his major league debut as a spot starter for Arizona on Aug. 27, allowing three runs in 3 2/3 innings in a no-decision against the San Diego Padres. It was his lone big-league outing. He went 5-8 with a 2.75 ERA in 26 starts for Double-A Mobile.
Choate, who turns 23 this month, finished 1-3 with six saves and a 2.88 ERA in 16 relief appearances for short-season Class A Hudson Valley this year.
--OF Xavier Paul and OF Derrick Robinson were non-tendered by the Reds on Dec. 2, making them free agents. Paul, 28, hit .244 with seven homers and 32 RBIs in 97 games last season. Robinson, 26, batted .255 with no homers and eight RBIs in 102 games.
--LHP Manny Parra, a free agent, and the Reds agreed on a new two-year, $5.5 million deal, multiple media outlets reported Nov. 27. Parra finished last season with a 2-3 record and a 3.33 ERA in 47 innings for Cincinnati as a middle reliever.
Parra, 31, started his career with the Milwaukee Brewers but failed to live up to expectations because of control issues and injuries. He was moved to the bullpen from the Milwaukee rotation in 2012. Former pitching coach and new Reds manager Bryan Price is credited with Parra's turnaround in 2013.
In six major league seasons, Parra has a 28-36 record with a 4.98 ERA while working 559 innings.
--OF/2B Skip Schumaker finalized a two-year, $5 million contract with the Reds on Nov. 26.
"I'm not going to assume anything other than that I'll be off the bench, the role I've been in the last couple of years in the major leagues," Schumaker said. "I don't think it will be that much different -- being used off the bench more than anything."
Schumaker, 34, spent eight seasons with the Cardinals before being acquired by the Dodgers last December in a trade that sent minor league SS Jake Lemmerman to St. Louis. Schumaker hit .263 with two homers in 125 games for the Dodgers in 2013.
--C Brayan Pena signed a two-year, $2,275,000 free agent deal with the Reds on Nov. 12. Pena, 31, did a solid job as the Tigers' backup catcher this year, hitting .297/.315/.397 with four homers and 22 RBIs in 71 games. The Reds will be his fourth team, following stints with the Braves, Royals and Tigers.
--CF Shin-Soo Choo declined a one-year, $14.1 million qualifying offer from Reds on Nov. 11. Should Choo sign with another team as a free agent, Cincinnati would receive draft-pick compensation. Choo, 31, thrived in his lone season with the Reds, hitting .285 with a .423 OBP (second in the National League), a .462 slugging percentage, 21 homers, 54 RBIs and 20 stolen bases.
--RHP Mat Latos underwent surgery in early October to remove bone chips from his right elbow. Dallas Latos shared the news, tweeting a picture of her husband wearing a brace. Mat Latos started physical therapy right away and is expected to be recovered in time for the start of spring training. The Cincinnati ace complained of soreness in the elbow during the final week of the regular season, prompting then-manager Dusty Baker to start Johnny Cueto instead of Latos in the Reds' 6-2 loss to the Pirates in the National League wild-card playoff game. Latos, 25, finished the season with a 14-7 record and a 3.16 ERA with 187 strikeouts in 210 2/3 innings.
--3B Robert Ramirez was suspended for 50 games by Major League Baseball on Oct. 4 after he tested positive for metabolites of Nandrolone, a performance-enhancing substance that violates the Minor League Drug Prevention and Treatment Program. Ramirez is currently on the roster of the Class A Dayton Dragons of the Midwest League. His suspension is effective at the start of the 2014 season.
--1B Joey Votto set a club record by reaching base 316 times. But he wasn't satisfied with his season. He made a career-high 14 errors. "I think the thing that stood out the most this year was the defense," Votto said. "That two-month stretch where I probably made seven errors was really frustrating. Offensively, I never really got it going this year," he said. "I thought I did well with what I had. But it just wasn't my best year this year offensively. And it was by far my worst year defensively. I felt like I made a lot of mistakes. I've got to do some learning and do a lot of work in the offseason to try to make the improvement I can to be a better ballplayer, so we can be a better team."
--CF Billy Hamilton was grateful for the September call-up. He stole 13 bases in 14 attempts. "I learned so much just from being around these guys every day and watching," he said.
--LHP Tony Cingrani went to the club's complex in Goodyear, Ariz., to get some work in at the end of the year. Cingrani missed most of September with lower back spasms.
QUOTE TO NOTE: "This year is more frustrating. Having a good regular seasons is fine and dandy. But you play for championships. We haven't been able to get it done. We've got to figure out a way to get it done." -- RF Jay Bruce, after the Reds lost to Pittsburgh 6-2 in the National League wild-card game.
The Reds will have seven of the eight position players back and four of the five members of the rotation, plus left-hander Tony Cingrani who filled in well. The bullpen returns mostly in tact as well. The could lose center fielder Shin-Soo Choo and pitcher Bronson Arroyo this offseason. Choo, in particular, will likely command big dollars on the free-agent market.
BIGGEST NEEDS: They need to re-sign Shin-Soo Choo, decide if Billy Hamilton is ready or find someone else to lead off and play center field. Hamilton stole 13 bases in 14 attempts, showing his speed as a pinch runner down the stretch. "I learned so much just from being around these guys every day and watching," he said. It is unclear if he is ready to be an everyday player, however.
ARRIVALS: OF/2B Skip Schumaker (free agent from Dodgers), C Brayan Pena (free agent from Tigers)
DEPARTURE: C Ryan Hanigan (traded to Rays)
FREE AGENTS: CF Shin-Soo Choo, RHP Bronson Arroyo, RHP Nick Masset, LHP Zach Duke, INF Cesar Izturis, OF Xavier Paul, OF Derrick Robinson
Choo and Arroyo are likely to be too expensive.
ARBITRATION-ELIGIBLE: RHP Homer Bailey, RHP Mike Leake, OF Chris Heisey, RHP Alfredo Simon, RHP Sam LeCure
Bailey, third time eligible, is the big ticket item. The Reds will probably try to sign him to long-term deal. Mike Leake ($3 million) and Chris Heisey ($1.3 million) will also get big raises in the second year of being arbitration-eligible.
--RHP Jonathan Broxton (right elbow surgery in July 2013) is expected to be ready for spring training.
--RHP Mat Latos (right elbow surgery in October 2013) had bone chips removed. He should be ready for the start of spring training.
--RHP Nick Masset (right shoulder surgery in September 2012, thoracic outlet surgery in August 2013) missed the entire 2013 season.
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