The Reds just missed having the worst record in baseball in 2015, and this time around, they don't even have months of Johnny Cueto to help them avoid the bottom. They're not helpless, of course: they have the fascinating Raisel Iglesias, Brandon Finnegan is getting a chance to start now that he's free of Kansas City, and Joey Votto is still a force of nature that exists even if a certain segment of Reds' fans wishes he'd be launched into the sun. Like roughly one-third of the NL, the Reds are rebuilding, but if a few things break their way, they might not be in that mode as long as others.
Jose Peraza was the main piece brought back to the Reds in the Todd Frazier three-way trade, and while he's not quite ready to unseat Brandon Phillips yet -- in part because Phillips refused to waive his no-trade clause this offseason -- his time will come, and it should help the Reds move into their next phase.
All additions: Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler, Eric Jagielo, Rookie Davis, Alfredo Simon
The Reds don't need Todd Frazier, in the sense they're playing for the future and he'll be a free agent two seasons from now. However, it's going to be a little tougher to watch Cincinnati when their 30-plus homer third baseman isn't around to mash taters at Great American Ballpark, so, from an aesthetic perspective if nothing else, the Reds are lesser than they were.
All departures: Todd Frazier, Aroldis Chapman, Brayan Pena, Burke Badenhop
The Reds need Jay Bruce to hit well enough that someone will send them prospects for him. They could probably use Brandon Phillips doing the same, but also allowing himself to be dealt. Basically, anyone who isn't going to be around for the next competitive Reds team should play themselves right out of town now, and help hasten Cincinnati's rebuild. If they manage to clean out all of those vets, except for maybe Joey Votto, who is still great enough to be a cornerstone even as he slows down later this decade, then it will help make 2016 a success even as they lose.
Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips don't go anywhere, and it's on them instead of the Reds. Joey Votto looks like anything besides one of the great hitters in the game. Raisel Iglesias' late-season outburst is just a blip, and Brandon Finnegan pitches like someone the Royals correctly pegged as a reliever. Shorter worst-case: 2016 is a total waste of time for everyone involved.
Lineup: Billy Hamilton, Eugenio Suarez, Joey Votto, Brandon Phillips, Jay Bruce, Devin Mesoraco, Zack Cozart, Scott Schebler
Rotation: Raisel Iglesias, Brandon Finnegan, Tim Melville, Alfredo Simon, Anthony DeSclafani