Reds Trade Acquisition Candidate: Joe Thatcher


May 26, 2014; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Diamondbacks relief pitcher Joe Thatcher (54) throws during the seventh inning against the San Diego Padres at Chase Field. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

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 Reds’ needs in each of these areas.   Today’s target is Arizona Diamondbacks lefty reliever Joe Thatcher.

If you find it surprising, as I did, to learn that Thatcher has been in the Majors for eight years and yet you’ve hardly noticed him, don’t feel too bad.  He’s spent the better part of a decade toiling in middle relief for the Diamondbacks and San Diego Padres, pitching late into the night for teams that have barely stirred a ripple on the national pond. In all, he’s logged 230 2/3 innings in 345 appearances, crafting a 3.48 ERA on the strength of 242 strikeouts against 78 walks.  He has fared significantly better than that in 2014, pitching to a 2.74 ERA and a 138 ERA+.

At 32 years of age, and as an impending free agent, Thatcher will never have a higher trade value, so he is imminently available for the right price.   Mired in last place and probably on the verge of blowing up their roster, the Diamondbacks will be looking for young talent all over the diamond and could likely pluck a prospect or two from the Reds’ Double-A roster in Pensacola.

An arm like Thatcher’s won’t turn the Reds into the 1970 Baltimore Orioles, but he could help shore up a weak spot for a team that’s looking more and more like a contender.  Plus, Thatcher is from Indiana, so I have a soft spot in my baseball heart for him.  And you have to think the Reds are as impressed by a cool sidearm delivery as fans are, right?