There have been some significant subtractions to the Cincinnati Reds’ roster since they were swept out of the postseason by the Atlanta Braves without scoring a run.
Trevor Bauer, Anthony DeSclafani and Freddy Galvis became free agents. Raisel Iglesias was traded to the Los Angeles Angels. Archie Bradley, Curt Casali and Brian Goodwin were cut. After ending a seven-year playoff drought, the Reds have reduced payroll following a season without fans.
But not everybody views it as a complete step back.
The consensus among oddsmakers is that the Reds are very slight favorites to win the division. The odds to win the National League Central via BetOnline:
Cincinnati Reds (9/4)
St. Louis Cardinals (5/2)
Chicago Cubs (11/4)
Milwaukee Brewers (13/4)
Pittsburgh Pirates (33/1)
There is little difference between the top four teams in the division, but oddsmakers like the Reds' core group of players.
“The reason why we put the Reds ahead of those teams,” said Adam Burns, the sportsbook manager at BetOnline.ag, “was pretty much – my baseball guy who works with me feels the Reds had sort of a weird ending to last season. They have a pretty decent team. A team that didn’t do a big overhaul like some of the other teams. If they can kind of keep that going, we feel like they might have a better team than the Cardinals, Cubs and Brewers.”
Burns said most of the money in the BetOnline sportsbook is coming in on the Cardinals at this point, though someone did place a bet on the Reds during his phone call with The Enquirer on Thursday.
“I think there is a case to be made for all of those teams,” Burns said. “But when we’re looking at last year when they played the Braves and they couldn’t score, they could’ve beaten them realistically and who knows what would’ve happened after that. They’re a team that could make a run.”
The Reds are counting on their own players to improve offensively after they produced the third-fewest runs per game (4.05) and an MLB-low .212 batting average. The rotation will be weaker without Bauer, last year’s Cy Young winner, but it’s still the strength of the team.
The Bovada sportsbook has the Reds tied with the Cardinals as divisional favorites (5-2), but they have the Reds a rung ahead of the Cardinals in their NL pennant and World Series odds (28-1).
"Part of that reasoning is reflected in the fact that we are definitely seeing more Cincinnati Reds money for the World Series than we are currently seeing for Cardinals and Cubs money," said Pat Morrow, the head oddsmaker at Bovada.
"We have the Reds and the Cardinals both at 5-2 or +250, with the Cubs +275 and the Brewers at 3-1. Our updated odds really do have it as anyone's race there."
The oddsmaker consensus gives the Reds the fifth-best odds to win the NL pennant. They are, however, far and away behind the Los Angeles Dodgers, San Diego Padres, Atlanta Braves and New York Mets.
The odds to win the NL pennant via Bovada:
Washington Nationals (+1800)
Philadelphia Phillies (+2200)
Miami Marlins (+3000)
Arizona Diamondbacks (+5000)
Colorado Rockies (+6000)
San Francisco Giants (+6000)
"I think you look at the Reds and even though they had the offensive struggles that they did in the Wild Card Series, that wasn't truly indicative of their abilities," Morrow said. "I think when we look at the Cincinnati Reds, ultimately, they kind of underperformed.
"What often occurs in these small sample sizes in the playoffs is that even with Bauer missing that the sum of the parts is as such and that other opponents inside of the division have taken a bit of a step back that we expect them – they certainly are not a favorite or a runaway favorite – to be competitive in what we have to be a very wide-open division."