Would the Cincinnati Reds have traded Johnny Cueto had owner Bob Castellini not stepped in? Mandatory Credit: Jeff Curry-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Reds’ current five-game losing streak has finally put the last nail in the coffin of their 2014 season, and we’re left to wonder why the team didn’t do ANYTHING during trade season to either push for the playoffs or prepare for next season. According to John Fay of The Cincinnati Enquirer, the Reds might have moved either Johnny Cueto or Mat Latos had owner Bob Castellini not stepped in :
"The time to remake the roster for this year has passed. The Reds likely could have traded one of their starting pitchers for a bat at the non-waiver deadline. But I’m told owner Bob Castellini would not sign off on a “sale.”"
Latos was injured to start the season but has recovered to go 4-3 with a 3.10 ERA and a 1.021 WHIP in 12 starts. Cueto, of course, has been a Cy Young-caliber ace (15-7, 2.24, 0.94), despite Wendesday’s drubbing in St. Louis. Either would have figured to bring a big bat in return, and Latos especially should have been expendable in the short term since Alfredo Simon filled in so well before the July 31 non-waiver trade deadline.
… owner Bob Castellini would not sign off on a “sale.”
It’s understandable why Castellini would not want to slide into “sell” mode too early given the stigma around owners who “give up” on a season. Nevertheless, the Reds should have been beating the bushes hard for potential deals between the All-Star break and now when it became clear that the playoffs were a longshot at best.
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Fay proposes that the Reds may still end up trading Latos or Cueto in the off-season in order to land the bat that they need, especially in left-field. At this point, though, that proposal presents a bit of a quandary and sets up Cincinnati for a potential situation ripped straight from “The Gift of the Magi” : their surprising pitching led them to contention in 2014, but their hitting doomed them; trading prime-time pitchers for a hitter might improve the offense but could decimate the rotation, particularly in the case of Cueto.
That first-half rotation was very likely just lightning in a bottle, and by failing to harness its power, Castellini and general manager Walt Jocketty may have squandered a prime chance to win big this season. As the Reds hit the reset button, though, the 2015 Reds look an awful lot like the 2014 Reds did six months ago, though with more questions around the health of veterans Joey Votto and Jay Bruce.
There may still be value to be gained from trading Latos or Cueto this winter, but the return will be less than it would have been a month ago, and the consequences could be more dire for 2015. No matter what, though, at least we can stop waffling about 2014: these Reds are done.