Potential Cincinnati Reds Trade Target: Yoenis Cespedes


Sep 27, 2014; Boston, MA, USA; Boston Red Sox left fielder Yoenis Cespedes (52) hits an RBI single during the first inning against the New York Yankees at Fenway Park. Mandatory Credit: Bob DeChiara-USA TODAY Sports

The 2014 Cincinnati Reds were plagued by a lack of offensive production that cannibalized a competitive first half and a surprisingly strong showing by the starting pitching staff. As the off-season wears on, the Reds need to find a way to beef up their offense, and left field is a prime candidate for improvement. There is no perfect upgrade available, but one intriguing option who has recent made some news is Boston Red Sox slugger Yoenis Cespedes, who may find himself back on the market.

Why He May Be Available

When the Sawx traded Jon Lester to the Oakland A’s for Cespedes before the trade deadline a few months back, the “young” Cuban was supposed to be Boston’s left fielder of the future and help solve their offensive woes. He was about league-average in 51 games for the Red Sox, but such middling performance over a small sample size is not the main reason that Cespedes may be on the block again.

The Red Sox, like many other teams, need to stiffen their starting pitching in a hurry if they want a quick return to the playoffs, and all their trading chips are in play to make that happen. Add to that the growing feeling that Cespedes does not mesh well with other Boston personalities, and you have a trade waiting to happen.  

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Why He Fits for the Reds

Cespedes plays left field and  provides right-handed power, both commodities that the Reds covet, or should covet, in 2015. If the Reds were to trade one of their starting pitchers to acquire him, which would almost certainly be the case, then Cespedes’ $10.5-million salary for 2015 is at least in the ballpark of affordability.

Cespedes can be a free agent after 2015, so he would give the Reds the chance to either extend him long-term or to receive draft-pick compensation should he sign with another team after next season.

Why He Might NOT Fit for the Reds

Although he has been in the Major Leagues for only a few years, Cespedes is not young in a baseball sense. He will be 29 next season and is probably at the tail end of his absolute prime, so what we’ve seen so far is about as good as it’s going to get:  20-25 homers per year with a sub-.800 OPS.

He represents and upgrade over Ryan Ludwick and Company, but maybe not as much as you would think. With pretty average defense, Cespedes is a very good player, but he’s not a superstar in any way.

Then there is the question of what Cespedes brings to a team dynamic, and there don’t seem to be a lot of positive sentiments in that area. As one Red Sox employee told Bill Madden, “the coaches all hate him.”

Reds Prediction

Cespedes is an interesting case, and we’re not hearing much about Reds’s interest in him. Given the glut of starting pitching on the Riverfront and the Red Sox apparent desire to trade Cespedes, I would be surprised if the two teams don’t at least kick the tires on a potential deal.

If Cespedes becomes imminently available, then other teams are sure to get involved, with the Philadelphia Phillies high on the list of suitors. Still, the match between the Reds and Red Sox, and their respective needs, make this one hard to dismiss until Cespedes or one of Cincinnati’s starters is traded elsewhere.