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2016 MLB roster outlook: Cincinnati Reds

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2016 MLB roster outlook: Cincinnati Reds

2015 record: 64-98, 5th place in NL Central

Manager: Bryan Price, 3rd season

Estimated 2016 payroll: $92 million

Key additions: LF Scott Schebler, RP Blake Wood, RP Caleb Cotham

Key losses: CL Aroldis Chapman, 3B Todd Frazier, C Brayan Pena, LF Skip Schumaker

Projected lineup

SS Zack Cosart
1B Joey Votto
2B Brandon Phillips
RF Jay Bruce
C Devin Mesoraco
LF Scott Schebler
3B Eugenio Suarez
CF Billy Hamilton

Projected rotation
RHP Anthony DeSclafani
RHP Raisel Iglesias
LHP Brandon Finnegan
RHP Michael Lorenzen
LHP John Lamb

Top relievers
CL Jumbo Diaz
RHP J.J. Hoover
RHP Blake Wood

Biggest questions entering 2016
1. Can their young pitchers take the next step? The Reds have a decent wave of young pitchers developing both on their major league roster and in their farm system. The big names to watch in 2016 will be Brandon Finnegan, Michael Lorenzen, John Lamb and Robert Stephenson. Finnegan and Lamb came over from the Royals in the Johnny Cueto trade. Fans may know Finnegan from his performance in the 2014 playoffs. He was a first round pick of Kansas City's in 2014. Lamb used to be one of the top prospects in baseball, but has slipped over the past few years. He did, however, hold a 2.67 ERA in 20 minor league appearances last season and finally made his MLB debut. Lorenzen was a first round pick of the Reds' in 2013. He also debuted last season and struggled through his first 27 MLB outings. Stephenson is considered a top 30 MLB prospect and reached Triple-A last year. He could make an impact with the Reds in 2016.

2. Who else gets traded? Aroldis Chapman and Todd Frazier were traded this offseason and both Cueto and Mike Leake were traded last summer. Who's next? Brandon Phillips was nearly dealt this winter before he nixed a trade to the Nationals. Will he waive his 10/5 rights and accept a deal this summer, perhaps to a contender if the Reds are losing? Joey Votto is another of their remaining stars, but it's unusual to see players traded with contracts as big as his. He signed a 10-year deal back in 2012 that will earn him at least $20 million through 2023 with a team option for 2024. Billy Hamilton is just coming into his own and would see like a building block the Reds would want to keep. That all might make Jay Bruce - who is owed $12.5 million in 2016 with a team option for 2017 - the most likely candidate. Expect his name to pop up in trade rumors this season.

3. Can they make strides in any area? The Cincinnati Reds are in the middle of a rebuilding phase and have the potential to be even worse in 2016 than they were last season. In 2015 they went 64-98 and this offseason they let go of Chapman and Frazier through trades. That was coupled with them not adding much of anything to their roster. Last season the Reds were bad in all areas, ranking 26th in the majors in both runs scored and team ERA. This year they are very unlikely to compete for anything consequential, but some progress would be nice to see as they look to the future.

[Roster info via RosterResource.com]

[RELATED: First pictures of Doug Fister in Astros uniform]

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Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

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USA Today Sports

Bryce Harper will compete in Home Run Derby, but only on one condition

It’s happening.

When the 2018 All-Star Weekend comes to Washington, D.C. in the middle of July, Nationals outfielder Bryce Harper will compete in the 2018 Home Run Derby, but only on one condition: He has to be a member of the 2018 National League All-Star Team.

Though Harper is having a down year, only hitting .213 thus far, he leads the NL in home runs with 19.

In the June 18 update of All-Star game voting, Harper sat second among all outfielders with just north of 1,000,000 votes.

That means he’s not only going to make the All-Star team, but he’ll likely start in the outfield.

Harper, a five-time All-Star, competed in the Home Run Derby once before. He was the runner-up to Yoenis Cespedes in 2013, losing by just one long ball, 9-8.

The 2018 Home Run Derby will take place on July 16 at Nationals Park.

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It's time to start paying attention to Trea Turner's sneaky-great season

It's time to start paying attention to Trea Turner's sneaky-great season

Remember when the Nationals put Trea Turner in centerfield so they could keep Danny Espinosa at shortstop?

Two years later it's Turner who leads all N.L. shortstops in fWAR, as you surely know if you follow the Nationals on literally any social media platform. 

So while Juan Soto and Bryce Harper continue to dominate all of The Takes, it's Turner who's been the Nats' best position player this season. 

We'll start with some basics: 

Did you know that Trea Turner leads all N.L. shortstops in fWAR? He's currently sitting at 2.4 WAR, above the likes of Brandon Crawford, Addison Russell, and Trevor Story, to name a few. (We'll ignore the fact that the top six shortstops in the A.L. all have a better fWAR.) He's a top-10 shortstop in baseball during one of the strongest eras in the position's history.

Even after a dreadfully slow start, Turner's still on pace to have the best season of his career. He posted a WAR of 2.9 last year and -- barring injury -- will realistically eclipse that by the All-Star game. 

At the plate, two stats jump off the page in regards to explaining Turner's stellar season. 

First, Turner is drawing a *bunch* of walks. His current BB% clip (10.6 percent) would be far and away the best of his career and up four percentage points from last year. It's a factor that helps explain - partially, at least - why his on-base percentage has risen and his BABIP has dropped. More walks mean fewer swings, fewer swings mean less contact, less contact means lower BABIP, etc. It's not the whole picture, but it's a big part of it. 

Secondly, Turner is making impressive contact on pitches out of the strike zone. FanGraphs calculates out-of-zone contact using a statistic titled O-Contact, which is a blessing considering some of the titles they choose to give their other stats. 

The average O-Contact across MLB in 2018 is 64.7 percent. Trea Turner's career O-Contact is 62.4 percent (although realistically it's closer to the high-50's - a small-sample-size from his abbreviated first season mucks up the number a bit). 

This season, Turner's posted an O-Contact of 69.3 percent. Not only is that 10 percentage points higher than his O-Contact from last season, but a top-50 clip in all of baseball. He's one spot ahead of Mike Trout!  Put both of these together with some encouraging Statcast numbers (rise in HardHit%, already matched his total 'barrels' from last season) and you can see why Turner's been thriving at the plate. 

Defensively, he's improved across the board as well. His UZR and DRS - considered the two most reliable fielding statistics, if such a thing exists - are both up from last year. He has the 10th-best UZR of all major league shortstops and ranks 1st in DRS. 

Last season, he finished 17th in both UZR and DRS (of all shortstops with at least 800 innings; Turner didn't log enough innings to be considered a qualified fielder). He ended the season with both numbers in the negative. 

You may be skeptical of defensive stats, which is fine. But if nothing else, the fact that Turner is turning literal negative stats into positive ones is encouraging. 

Lastly, Turner continues to be an elite baserunner. At this point in his career, his speed is arguably his best tool:

You'll note that purple dot allllllllllll the way on the right. That's Turner! Now, let's take a look at how his speed compares across all positions:

Essentially, Turner is faster than like, 98 percent of baseball. In fact, by Sprint Speed, he's the 6th-fastest player in the game. He also ranks 2nd across all of baseball in FanGraphs "Baserunning" measurements, only behind fellow teammate and mindbogglingly good baserunner Michael A. Taylor. 

So, Trea Turner an elite baserunner (maybe the best if you combine his raw speed with his baserunning stats), a top-5 shortstop in the field, and an All-Star at the plate. 

Juan Soto's been great and Bryce Harper is still extremely talented, but this year, Trea Turner has been the Nationals' best player. 

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