UPDATE: 2:50 pm ET (7/2/2014) : Padres Extend Seth Smith
Well, I never! This probably means that Seth Smith is staying put, though I suppose the signing could have been an attempt to give some contract security to a team trading for Smith. If that were the case, I’m guessing it’s not the Reds on the other side of the table, but I’ve been wrong before, obviously.
As it stands, it looks like Smith will be available to continue pounding the Reds whenever they play the Padres.
As the Cincinnati Reds brace for a potential playoff race in the second half of 2014, three areas of need are emerging: left field, shortstop, and left-handed relief pitching. Like many other teams, the Reds could also use a little insurance on their bench for the stretch run. As we approach the July 31 trade deadline, we’ll run down a few possible candidates to meet the Reds’ needs in each of these areas. Today’s target is San Diego Padres outfielder Seth Smith.
The Reds got an up-close look at Smith when he took Mike Leake deep to leadoff the Reds-Padres game in San Diego on July 1. That at-bat was a pretty good illustration of why the Reds would want to acquire Smith: he gets on base often enough (.384) to bat lead-off, he already has nine home runs even though he plays half his games in Petco Park, and he bats left-handed. He also provides basically league-average defense in left field, which is better than the Reds have seen lately.
Contrast those attributes with the Reds’ primary left fielder, Ryan Ludwick, whose .717 OPS (and five homers) has improved of late but is still not hefty enough for a Major League corner outfielder. Couple that mediocre batting profile with suspect defense and the fact that he is yet another righty batter in a lineup full of them, and its easy to understand why the Reds would want an upgrade for the stretch run.
Of course, San Diego won’t give up Smith for a handful of beans, especially since he’s on the verge of free agency and has been linked to high-profile teams (think Red Sox) in recent trade rumors. As is the case with most sellers this season, the Padres have a lot of holes to fill, so they will be looking for a nice return in any trade. Luckily for the Reds, they are chock full of baseballs most precious commodity, starting pitching, up and down the organization; they can deal from that position of strength.
In the case of Seth Smith and the Cincinnati Reds, it may come down to a case of, if you can’t beat ‘em, trade for ‘em!