It was a disappointing offseason for Reds fans, who watched the team trade franchise players Jesse Winker and Eugenio Suarez, and see All-Star outfielder Nick Castellanos walk in free agency after just missing the playoffs in 2021. Reds ownership doesn’t want to hear the complaints.
Team president Phil Castellini, son of team owner Bob Castellini, told WLW’s Mo Egger and Scott Sloan that ownership is “no more pleased with the results than the fans” after threatening fans with the possibility of moving the team.
“Where you gonna go? Let’s start there. I mean sell the team to who?” Phil Castellini told WLW. “If you want to look at what would you do with this team to have it be more profitable, make more money, compete more in the current economic system that this game exists, it would be to pick it up and move it somewhere else.
So be careful what you ask for. I think we’re doing the best we can do with the resources that we have.
Phil Castellini doesn’t care what the fans think because you have no choice but to root for them. Or the team will be sold and moved. pic.twitter.com/FKGBV88TSg
— Wooooo™ (@WoooooTheReds) April 12, 2022
Before the Reds’ home opener on Tuesday against the Guardians, Phil Castellini was asked about his comments, and doubled down on what he said, again saying that Reds ownership has not “abandoned” the team.
“We haven’t abandoned investing in the team and the community so the point is how about everybody just settle down and celebrate and cheer for the team. You can hate on us [the ownership] all you want. We’re not going anywhere,” Phil Castellini said.
We haven’t abandoned our commitment to winning and investing in this franchise and in this community so the point is stay tuned and be a fan and celebrate these guys and look what they did in Atlanta and come out here and celebrate that today.
— Brandon Saho (@BrandonSaho) April 12, 2022
Castellini’s comments remained the primary storyline around the Reds’ home opener, which ended in a 10-5 loss to Cleveland. After the defeat, Castellini finally walked his words via a statement.
#Reds president Phil Castellini issued the following statement: “I apologize to Reds fans and regret the comments that I made earlier today. We love this city, we love this team, and we love our fans. I understand how our fans feel and I am sorry.”
— C. Trent Rosecrans (@ctrent) April 13, 2022
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Phil Castellini’s comments certainly won’t please a fanbase that already is frustrated with the current ownership about the direction of the team. During the offseason, fans raised money to put up a billboard on I-75 that reads, “#SellTheTeamBob,” according to WLWT.
Since the Castellini family bought the Reds in 2006, the Reds have only made it to the playoffs four times and have yet to win a playoff series, winning only two games in those four trips to the postseason. In 2021, the Reds finished 83-79 and seven games out of the second wild-card spot.
The Reds’ payroll coming into the season ranked 21st in MLB, according to Spotrac, at $113.5 million and the team was ranked by Forbes as only the 26th most valuable franchise in baseball at $1.19 billion. Despite that, two teams ranked below Cincinnati by Forbes have reached the World Series since the Castellinis bought the team (Tampa Bay and Kansas City, both twice) and the Royals won the World Series in 2015.
Fans weren’t the only ones to express frustration at ownership. Castellanos, after signing with the Phillies, took a thinly-veiled shot at Reds’ ownership, when he told NBC Sports Philadelphia that “the owner either wants to invest and cares about winning or doesn’t.”
Winker also complimented the Mariners on trying to win by saying that he “always wanted to be part of an organization and a team that is really going after winning, is really going after chasing division titles, and making a run for a ring, and that’s what we have here in Seattle, and I’m excited about it,” according to King 5’s Chris Egan.
During the offseason, the Reds went into a mini-teardown, trading Winker, who had been with the franchise since he was drafted 49th overall in 2012, and Suarez, who had become a fan favorite with his personality and power-hitting, to Seattle in an effort to shed payroll. The Reds also traded starting pitcher Sonny Gray to the Twins and did not pick up the $10.5 million option of veteran starter Wade Miley. Castellanos turned down his player option that would have paid him $16 million in 2022 and again in 2023, and signed with the Phillies for five years and $100 million.
Cincinnati did sign outfielder Tommy Pham, reliever Hunter Strickland and infielders Donovan Solano, Colin Moran and Brandon Drury, for a combined $13,025,000 and traded for Royals starter Mike Minor, who is owed $10 million in 2022, according to Spotrac. By trading Winker and Suarez, the Reds saved $17.6 million; the move to send Gray to Minnesota saved $10.7 million; and Miley’s option was worth $10 million.
So, Reds fans, if you try calling the complaint department, the phone is likely off the hook.