Jun 27, 2014; San Francisco, CA, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) throws a pitch against the San Francisco Giants during the sixth inning at AT&T Park. Mandatory Credit: Ed Szczepanski-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Reds have “enjoyed” and up-and-down season in 2014, and as Thursday’s trade deadline rockets towards us, the team sits at .500, and fans are still unsure whether general manager Walt Jocketty will buy, sell, or stand pat before the clock strikes midnight (OK, 4 pm). Various rumors have swirled around the team during the last month, but nothing at all has happened in terms of a resolution.
With less than 48 hours left, now is the time for Jocketty to pull the trigger if he’s going to, and it’s the time for us to look at the odds of various trade scenarios involving the Reds.
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Scenario: Reds Trade for Ben Zobrist
A couple of weeks ago, when the Reds came out of the All-Star break hurting physically but within spitting distance of the division lead in the National League Central, bringing in Zobrist seemed like it would cure a lot of ailments. Now, though, giving up youngsters for a longshot at the playoffs seems ill-advised, and there is no guarantee that Zobrist will even be available since his Tampa Bay Rays have climbed back into the race.
Scenario: Reds Trade for Marlon Byrd
Much of what I wrote above about Ben Zobrist applies to the Philadelphia Phillies’ Marlon Byrd, accept that he his older and less versatile than Zobrist is. Byrd would definitely be a rental in an attempt to beef up the Reds’ anemic offense and plug some of their outfield holes, but he’s probably not worth the cost at this point. Still, he is imminently available thanks to the Phils’ poor showing in 2014, and this rumor still pops up occasionally.
Scenario: Reds Trade Alfredo Simon to a Contender
Ideas like this have started to gain more steam on Twitter and in other reach of the social webs as the Reds have tripped over themselves in the second half. Simon has not pitched well in two starts since the break, but still boasts pretty gaudy numbers on the season. He would be a prime target for contenders like the New York Yankees if Jocketty were to make him available. Given that Simon is 33 and has never had success as a starter in the Majors beofre 2014, now would be a great time to get some value in return for him.
Scenario: Reds Trade Johnny Cueto to a Contender
Like Simon, Johnny Cueto‘s name has been bandied about on sites like this one over the past week or so, but, to me, he is a completely different animal. Whereas Simon emerged from nowhere to post a great season, Cueto is a bona fide ace who has worked his way through several progressively better years to land at his 2014 peak. Cueto has had some injury problems, but he will be just 29 years old all of next season, and the Reds figure to be contenders again.
I think he’s a keeper, though he would undoubtedly bring a huge haul in return.
Scenario: Reds Trade Aroldis Chapman to a Contender
For me, Aroldis Chapman falls in between Simon and Cueto on the need-to-keep scale, mostly because he is a reliever. While he is perhaps the most most dominating force in the game today for one inning, he’s only turned in 33 IP for the entire year. I would still like to see what he can do in the rotation, but both he and the Reds seem pretty set on keeping him in the closer’s role.
A contender with serious bullpen problems might give up a decent lump of talent to acquire Chapman for the stretch run, as the Los Angeles Angels did to acquire Huston Street from the San Diego Padres earlier this month. If some needy GM dangles enough value in front of Jocketty, he should probably listen.
Scenario: Reds Do Nothing Before the Trade Deadline
This is probably the most likely of all possible scenarios to play out, as the Reds are in a no-man’s land of mediocrity, and Jocketty has shown a propensity to hold his cards. By standing pat, Cincinnati would avoid making costly mistakes in terms of giving up young talent, but they would also miss out on the potential returns of trading Simon or some other currently hot name. Risk-reward is close to a wash here, and we shouldn’t be surprised if the team just hunkers down and plays out the string with what they’ve got.
Wait ’til next year, in other words.