As the trade talks heat up in Major League Baseball in advance of the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline, one player who is starting to get noticed is relief pitcher Antonio Bastardo of the Philadelphia Phillies. Bastardo, who was linked to the Cincinnati Reds by MLBTradeRumors.com, is the most likely of all the Phils’ trade chips to be dealt, according to Philly.com:
— Philly.com Sports (@phillysport) July 23, 2014
The Reds’ potential need for bullpen arms has been somewhat overshadowed in the last couple of weeks by their poor hitting and the spate of injuries that have left the team struggling find starters at first base, second base, and shortstop. Nevertheless, middle relief has been far from a strength for a Cincy team that featured unexpectedly strong starting pitching and the usual dominance from closer Aroldis Chapman during the first half.
The lefty Bastardo has pitched well in 44 games for Philadelphia, posting a 4-3 record to go along with a 3.27 ERA and 53 strikeouts in 44 innings. The 28-year-old is making a reasonable $2 million this year and has another year of arbitration eligibility before he hits the free agent market.
Perhaps the most intriguing aspect of the Reds’ consideration of Bastardo is that they have also been linked to his teammate, outfielder Marlon Byrd. Is it possible that general manager Walt Jocketty is trying to land both Philly players in an attempt to keep the Reds afloat in the race for a playoff spot?
Maybe, but the price to land both Byrd and Bastardo as a package would probably involve several prospects, which would only be palatable if the Reds had a really strong post-season case. At just two games over .500 and sporting the eighth-best record in the National League, October is looking more and more like a pipe dream.