As the second half of the 2014 Major League baseball season gets into full swing, and as teams try to make their buy-or-sell decisions before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, player movement rumors are swirling like leaves in a stiff World Series breeze. Curiously, though, one player-team combination which makes sense on multiple levels has garnered very little attention: Chicago White Sox leftfielder Dayan Viciedo to the Cincinnati Reds.
Despite their up-and-down July so far, the Reds have to be considered buyers at this point, sitting as they do near the top of the National League wildcard standings. To put themselves into position to reach the post-season, though, Cincinnati needs to shore up their offensive production, particularly at first base and in left field. With the Sox buried deep in the AL Central and mired in the middle of the wildcard race, Viciedo should be imminently available.
Perhaps one reason this pairing has not grown legs among fans and the media is that Viciedo took a step back offensively last season and is considered by many to be shaky defensively. At just 25 years of age, though, Viciedo still has a bit of time to beef up his game, and his ten homers are double Ryan Ludwick‘s total so far in 2014; the Reds’ leftfielder is a full 10 years older, to boot. Serious doubts around Joey Votto’s status, both day-to-day and for the rest of the year, mean Viciedo’s ability to play third could also be a boon. With Viciedo in the fold, Cincy manager Bryan Price would have the freedom to get creative with his lineup, maybe sliding Todd Frazier over to first, or even giving Viciedo a shot there.
Naturally, Chicago would command a decent hunk of value in exchange for Viciedo, and MLB Trade Rumors generally has them seeking pitching help or a power-hitting prospect in return. The Reds’ system is suddenly flush with young pitching talent, though finding a suitable bat to trade from their minor league stock might be more challenging. Depending on GM Walt Jocketty’s willingness to touch the upper-level prospects, Pensacola outfielder Jesse Winker might have the power potential to satisfy the ChiSox.
If the Reds were to acquire Viciedo and then fell out of contention, they might consider him an investment in the future. As a Super 2, Viciedo will be eligible for arbitration this off-season but can’t reach free agency until 2018. By then, he might have provided a nice bridge to another set of Reds prospects.