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Hartman: How the Cincinnati Reds should approach the rest of 2018 (and beyond)

What will the Reds do in the second half? 

This is a two-pronged question. What will they do on the field, and what will they do off it? 

If I knew the answer to the first one, I would probably be making some phone calls to Las Vegas. 

As for the second, they have three options:

  1. Sell everything they can in hopes of being great in three years (but remain in last place until then).
  2. Selectively move a piece or two to try to strengthen the roster for now and the future.
  3. Trade their own prospects in hopes of vaulting into pennant contention in 2019. 

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Of those, No. 2 seems the most likely based on the things club personnel have been saying lately

Whether the first option or the second (the third is really a pipe dream) makes the Reds more likely to go on another extended run of success is debatable. 

If you’re looking for a tiebreaker, No. 1 might scare off a lot of fans (until they start winning) while No. 2 would probably be welcomed by the faithful (unless they keep losing). 

I am officially in the Win Now (errr, at least Soon) mode after supporting the rebuild since before it started. 

It’s time to start hoarding major-league players rather than collecting minor-league assets. 

The latter could help the Reds look more like the current Cubs in 2021, but it also risks plunging Cincinnati into a never-ending rebuild abyss such as the Pirates faced from the time Barry Bonds left for San Francisco in 1993 until they finally made another postseason appearance in 2013 (when they won a wild card and sent the Reds spiraling into their four-year run of last-place finishes). 

That said, no one should be untouchable. 

»MCCOY: Would Reds consider trading top prospect?

The Reds need to do something they have largely failed to do over the past five years or longer: Operate from a position of strength. 

Rather than having to settle for marginal and medium-range prospects, they should approach this trade deadline like they don’t need to do anything (aside from trading Matt Harvey, a free-agent to be who could turn back into a pumpkin at any moment and will likely be too expensive to re-sign if he doesn’t). 

Perhaps then there will be more moves like the Mike Leake or Todd Frazier trades and fewer like Johnny Cueto and Aroldis Chapman. 

(Maybe every team has as bad a track record with trading its best players, but that’s hard to imagine. The Yankees certainly got a lot more for Chapman.) 

»HARTMAN: Since woeful start, Reds are dramatic and fun under Riggleman

The saving grace of course has been some of the unheralded guys, whether they were coming or going. 

Some of the Reds’ best players have come for some of their average trade chips, and their best trade chips have brought back the worst returns somehow. 

That probably makes me a little gun-shy when it comes to another fire sale, but I’m not the one making the decisions anyway. And neither are the same people looking to trade Harvey the ones who botched the Cueto trade or made the disastrous Mat Latos deal (the first one), but I digress… 

Anyway, the Reds have some good dilemmas for a change. 

»RELATED: 3 reasons the Reds can escape last place

If they want to make Scooter Gennett the face of the franchise (the non-Canadian one, at least), they should. If some team wants to send them the next Clayton Kershaw, though, they should still be listening. 

Do they break up the four-man outfield? They will have to eventually, but not until they get a deal they love (the way they held out for Luis Castillo when the Marlins came calling for Dan Straily). 

Should they build the bullpen around Raisel Iglesias? I would, but see the Gennett response above. 

Not everyone is going to be around on Opening Day 2019, but no one has to be moved now

That’s a good place to be. 

You know another one? 

Anywhere but last. 

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