MLB commish calls out Reds’ Castellini for ‘unfortunate’ comments

Cincinnati has shed nearly $50 million in player payroll since the 2021 season in a “down to the studs” rebuild effort that’s alienated fans across Redleg Nation.
Reds President and COO Phil Castellini
Reds President and COO Phil Castellini(Cincinnati Enquirer)
Published: Feb. 15, 2023 at 7:03 PM EST
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PHOENIX, Ariz. (CINCINNATI ENQUIRER) - Cincinnati Reds team president Phil Castellini drew criticism after a Rosie Reds luncheon in January when he said the club operates like a nonprofit and lamented the financial disparities in the sport.

Castellini, according to a photo posted on Twitter by a person at the event, spoke in front of a projector screen presentation that had a headline: “Teams out of contention by Opening Day.”

The presentation claimed there was 75% increase in the number of teams out of contention by Opening Day since 2019 and the last three years have averaged 14 teams out of contention at the beginning of the season.

Major League Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred had this to say on Tuesday, according to our media partners at the Enquirer:

“I think most people who pay attention to our game realize that we do have a disparity issue in the game, both on the revenue side and consequently on the ability to spend on players. I think sometimes in markets that produces frustration that leads to what I regard to be unfortunate comments. Unhelpful.”

In a video from the event, posted on Twitter, Castellini said the word he came up with to sum up expectations for the 2023 season was “progress.”

The Reds have dropped their player payroll by around $30 million since the end of last season and are projected to enter the 2023 season with the fifth-lowest payroll in the league at $82 million, according to estimates from FanGraphs.

The Reds carried a payroll around $110 million in 2022 and $130 million in 2021.

Trading several veteran players last year led to the second 100-loss season in franchise history.

The San Diego Padres, another small market club, will enter the upcoming season with an estimated payroll above $210 million, which Colorado Rockies owner Dick Monfort told the Denver Post “puts a lot of pressure (on us). But it’s not just the Padres. It’s the Mets. It’s the Phillies. This has been an interesting year.

“What the Padres are doing, I don’t 100% agree with, though I know that our fans probably agree with it. We’ll see how it works out.”

In a press conference Tuesday, Manfred gave kudos to San Diego’s owner Peter Seidler.

“The trick for smaller markets has always been sustainability,” Manfred said. “Hats off to Peter Seidler. He’s made a massive financial commitment personally to making this all happen and the question becomes how long can you continue to do that? What happens when you have to go through a rebuild? They have done a really, really good job of capitalizing on their talent to drive their revenue up.”

Castellini drew fire during the Reds’ home opener last year when he responded to a question about why fans should remain loyal to the organization and said, “Well, where are you going to go?”

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