The Cincinnati Reds were one of the biggest surprises of the 2021 MLB regular season.
Although the club’s quest for a playoff bid fell short, Cincinnati has a lot to be proud of.
The organization is undeniably trending in the right direction.
But if the Reds want to take another step forward in 2022, they’re going to have to get busy this offseason.
The team has some key players who could depart, and Cincinnati needs to make sure to retain a couple of them.
2. Wade Miley
In December of 2019, the Reds signed Wade Miley to a two-year deal with a club option for 2022.
The lefty had a forgettable 2020 season in his first year with the organization, but in 2021, he came out of nowhere and was one of the NL’s top arms.
Miley made 28 starts and pitched to a 3.37 ERA, 141 ERA+, and 3.97 FIP.
He racked up a massive bWAR of 6.0, a figure that will almost certainly result in him getting some Cy Young votes.
The highlight of Miley’s season came on May 7 when he tossed a no-hitter.
It was one of the best moments of the season for the Reds.
— MLB (@MLB) May 8, 2021
Miley gave Cincinnati everything it could have hoped for and more in 2021.
The team had a very poor rotation on the whole this season (ranking 20th in MLB in staff ERA), but Miley was a massive bright spot.
Needless to say, the Reds absolutely need to retain the 34-year-old.
And luckily, doing so will be very easy.
The club just needs to exercise its option on the southpaw for 2022, and he’ll be back in Reds uniform when spring training rolls around.
1. Nick Castellanos
Nick Castellanos had a career year in 2021.
Very people saw it coming, but the 29-year-old was one of the most electric players in baseball this season.
He finished with a slash line of .309/.362/.576, and he also registered an OPS+ of 136.
He blasted 34 home runs, 38 doubles, and a triple, and he drove in 100 runs along the way.
Down 2 ➡️ Up 2
No-doubt grand slam from Nick Castellanos. pic.twitter.com/bXKTnZOo0m
— MLB (@MLB) June 29, 2021
Castellanos earned his first career All-Star selection as a result of his stellar production.
But here’s the bad news for the Reds: The former first-round pick has the ability to opt out of his contract this offseason, and he’s reportedly planning on doing so.
All-Star OF Nick Castellanos is likely to opt out with $34M, 2 yrs to go, joining Conforto, Marte and Schwarber at top of free agent OF list (*A.J. Pollock and Avi Garcia may qualify to opt out on plate PA, **Not counting Chris Taylor or Kris Bryant who play all over) @MLBNetwork
— Jon Heyman (@JonHeyman) August 25, 2021
That means Castellanos will become a free agent this winter.
But it’s important to note, of course, that he could still return to the Reds on a new deal.
This is where Cincinnati will really need to get busy this offseason.
Castellanos is a fantastic fit with the organization, but the Reds are going to have to respect him in contract negotiations.
If they want to keep the superstar around, their offers are going to have to reflect that.
This Reds team wouldn’t be the same without him, and fans would certainly be devastated to see him go.
For those reasons and several others, retaining Castellanos has to be the top priority for Cincinnati in the upcoming offseason.
We’ll have to wait and see if the organization gets the job done.NEXT: 3 Reasons MLB Fans Should Want To See Reds In Wild Card Game