Yes, the Reds are in it to win it. If they didn't prove that when they traded Travis Wood and two prospects for Sean Marshall, or when they traded Edinson Volquez and three prospects for Mat Latos, they've now proved it with commitment to reliever Ryan Madson that's reportedly worth $8.5 million for one season.
Of course, this is hardly a new thing for Cincinnati. Four years ago, the Reds signed closer Francisco Cordero for four years and $46 million, which at the time was the biggest deal for a relief pitcher in major-league history.
Did the Reds get their money's worth from Cordero? He was healthy for all four seasons, posted a 2.98 ERA, and averaged 38 saves per season. I suspect the Reds think they got their money's worth, though according to FanGraphs he's been worth (gulp) roughly $13 million. Not per season. All four seasons.
And what of Ryan Madson? Madson wasn't worth $10 million last season. But the way FanGraphs figures these things, it's exceptionally difficult for a relief pitcher to reach that bar. According to FanGraphs, last season only five relief pitchers in all the major leagues were worth at least $10 million: Craig Kimbrel, Jonathan Papelbon, Sean Marshall, David Robertson, and Mariano Rivera.
The way these things are figured, the best relief pitchers are generally overpaid.
Which is about as far as I care to digress. The Reds might not get their $10 million worth out of Ryan Madson, but he's a real good pitcher and they've built a real good bullpen. Sean Marshall is real good. Bill Bray is real good. Aroldis Chapman ... well, there is still a chance he'll be really good.
Last season, the Reds finished second in the National League in scoring, but they went 79-83 because their ERA was just 12th in the league. I'm not convinced they've solved all their problems; their bullpen was actually pretty good, and to this point they've added just one starting pitcher (Latos). But we'll be surprised if the Reds finish 2012 with another losing record.