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Reds must rebuild now

The Cincinnati Reds are a bad baseball team. A very bad team. Cincinnati goes into the games on June 16 with a record of 26-40, second-worst in the National League to the miserable Atlanta Braves.

The Reds are going through one of the tough processes any small-market team has to in Major League Baseball, and that is the realization that the only way back to the top is going straight through the bottom. Cincinnati made a run at trying to win the World Series for the better part of this decade, but after losses to the San Francisco Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates in 2012 and 2013, followed by 76 and 64-win campaigns in 2014 and 2015, it’s clear the Reds need a major overhaul.

At this juncture, the Cincinnati front office needs to make the tough decisions. Todd Frazier was moved in the offseason to the Chicago White Sox while staff ave Johnny Cueto was dealt to the Kansas City Royals at the 2015 MLB Trade Deadline. Those moves were terrific and proactive for a franchise that clearly needed to be such, but there is more work to be done.

Brandon Phillips remains one of the better second basemen in the game, but he won’t be helping Cincinnati win a World Series in his career. Phillips is 34 years old (35 in a few weeks) and should he be willing to accept a trade and waive his ability to block one, the Reds should move the veteran for a prospect or two.

The same can be said for outfielder Jay Bruce, who has a soaring stock thanks to a very solid 2016 season. Bruce is hitting .273 with 15 home runs and 51 RBI, putting himself in position to make the MLB All-Star Game. Bruce is just 29 years old and could net a nice haul of prospects. Getting rid of him and acquiring young talent is an absolute no-brainer for the Cincinnati brain trust.

Unfortunately, it will be nearly impossible to deal first baseman Joey Votto. Votto, once one of the great players in the league who was perennially in the conversation for MVP, has fallen apart. The Canadian slugger is hitting a brutal .239 with 11 home runs and 36 RBI, and his contract is incredibly prohibitive to making a deal. Votto’s contract is calling for $22 million next year and then $25 million on an annual basis through the 2023 campaign for a guy who is already 32 years old.

For the Reds and their fans, this process is going to take some time. The starting rotation is in shambles and the lineup has more holes than Swiss cheese. In short, it will be awhile before Cincinnati starts to compete again with the Chicago Cubs, St. Louis Cardinals and Pirates in the NL Central.

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