Reds make biggest free agent signing in club history official on eve of annual Redsfest

Mike Moustakas
Mike Moustakas

Team agrees to four-year, $64 million deal

This weekend’s Redsfest will be Michael Lorenzen’s seventh, and while he always enjoys being able to, as he said, get “up close and personal” with fans, announcements such as Thursday’s that the Reds had signed free-agent infielder Mike Moustakas only ratchet up the energy level.

“Over the past couple of years, it’s always been ‘Who are we trading?’” the Cincinnati reliever said Thursday morning at the downtown Cincinnati Duke Energy Convention Center, site of this year’s 22nd Redsfest. “This year, it’s ‘Who are we adding?’ You can feel the vibe from the fans. It’s way different. We feel like we’re ready to win championships.”

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President and Chief Operating Officer Phil Castellini already was anticipating the ripple effect of fans learning that Cincinnati had signed Moustakas, a three-time All-Star to a four-year, $64 million deal – the largest free agent signing in franchise history.

“Any addition that enhances our possibilities is a huge thing for us – not just on the field, but on the business end,” Castellini said, mentioning ticket sales as one example. “It’s always nice to have a little win early in the offseason.”

Unlike last year, when the non-tendering of a contract to center fielder Billy Hamilton was the biggest news at Redsfest, the addition of Moustakas could add to the electric atmosphere that the event generates every year. This year’s two-day winter party, sponsored by Fox Sports Ohio, is scheduled for 3-10 p.m. on Friday and 11 a.m.-6:30 p.m. on Saturday.

Redsfest traditionally offers attractions for the entire family, including autograph and photo booths, interactive games, game-used and authentic memorabilia and much more.

»RELATED: Reds unveil two new jerseys for 2020

More than 80 current players and coaches, Reds Hall of Famers, alumni and broadcasters are scheduled to attend, including Eugenio Suárez, Sonny Gray, Tucker Barnhart, Aristides Aquino and manager David Bell plus top prospects Jonathan India, Tyler Stephenson and 2019 first-round draft pick Nick Lodolo.

Karen Forgus, the franchise’s senior vice president of business operations, always enjoys the reactions to Redsfest of players and coaches and managers new to the team.

“They’re like, ‘What?’” Forgus said. “’My old team didn’t do this.’ Our minor leaguers know about it because they’ve been here, but the new guys are like, ‘What the heck is this?’

“Another thing I enjoy is the way they interact with each other in the green room.”

Thousands of Reds fans gathered to see current and former Reds players and browse numerous displays during RedsFest in 2016 at Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF
Thousands of Reds fans gathered to see current and former Reds players and browse numerous displays during RedsFest in 2016 at Duke Energy Convention Center in Cincinnati. NICK GRAHAM/STAFF

What Forgus referred to as the convention center’s “footprint” makes significant changes difficult, but the Reds have managed to squeeze in a few wrinkles for the 2019 edition. Fans can get an idea of what the new Great American Ball Park Press Club premium ticket area will look like, and the Budweiser bar will be reconfigured to allow more seating.

Also growing is the Reds Authentics memorabilia area to allow for what the Reds anticipate will be an avid market for the 150thAnniversary game-worn uniforms and other items.

“All of the throwbacks from 2019 will sell like hotcakes,” Forgus said.

“My favorite part is the interaction with the fans,” Lorenzen said. “There are no fences. During the season, you’re on the field and they’re in the stands. Here, we’re all together. You can say ‘Hello’ and shake their hand and pose for a picture.”

Two-day tickets are $25 for adults and $12 for kids 12 and younger. One-day tickets are $17 for adults and $7 for kids. Children three and under are admitted free.

The first 10,000 fans at Redsfest each day will receive a Reds drawstring bag and bottle cooler sleeve.

Fans can purchase Redsfest tickets at reds.com/redsfest and at the convention center on Friday starting at 9 a.m. and Saturday starting at 7 a.m.

With each two-day Redsfest admission purchased, fans will receive two free tickets to the Reds-Cardinals game on March 29. Fans purchasing a one-day Redsfest admission will receive one free ticket to the March 29 game.

The fourth annual Redsfest Bingo event will take place on Friday from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. and features 18 bingo games. Each game includes prizes such as autographed memorabilia, Reds tickets and more. The final two games of the event will each feature $1,000 cash prizes. Advance registration and additional details at reds.com/bingo.

The 14th annual Prestige Audio Visual & Creative Services Rick Steiner Celebrity Poker Tournament presented by Ashlee Fence will be on Saturday with a guaranteed $11,000 first prize. Fans can sign up at reds.com/poker or (513) 765-7240.

All proceeds from Redsfest benefit the baseball-themed outreach programs of the Reds Community Fund.