Trade Rumors: If Cincinnati Reds Deal Johnny Cueto, Others Will Follow


Sep 11, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Johnny Cueto (47) throws against the St. Louis Cardinals in the fourth inning at Great American Ball Park. The Reds won 1-0. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty may not be as wishy-washy as some (ahem) have accused him of being during his tenure on the Riverfront. As the Major League Baseball General Manager meetings continue in Phoenix, one of the hottest rumors is that the Reds will either keep their free-agents-to-be and try to contend next year … or trade ALL of them, according to an account from Joel Sherman at The New York Post. Sherman points out that this group includes 80% of the team’s 2014 starting rotation: Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos.

If this speculation is correct, then it is a marked change in direction, and a step forward for Reds leadership, who have previously held the line that improved health alone would return the Reds to serious contention in 2015. That may still be their feeling, but it’s encouraging that they are at least considering alternate realities.

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With this all-or-nothing approach in their back pocket, the Reds’ brain trust are now playing a waiting game to see who will bring them the biggest bounty for the biggest prize among their arms, Cueto.  And when, of course, that bounty will be offered.

It seems now that if Cueto is dealt, the Reds’ candy store will be open for business.  But what does that mean in terms of return?

If the Reds are trying to contend in 2015, then it’s pretty clear what pieces they need most: offense (mostly), left field, middle relief, infield depth.

Trading Cueto would allow the Reds to fill most or all of that shopping list, but then they’d have to start a NEW list, beginning with a frontline starter. And if they trade ALL of their starters, what do they look for in return then?

If they’re truly starting over, then they need to go after young, talented Major Leaguers or blue chip minor leaguers, rather than veterans with name power and hefty contracts. And, given recent developments, trying to stagger the years when youngsters reach free agency would be a boon.

Whatever happens this month or next, we Reds fans can look forward to walking on egg shells for the next year or so, waiting for news that Cueto has been dealt, which might just signify the end of the team as we know it.  The bright side is that a rebuild would give us plenty of hot stove fodder and opportunity for second-guessing.

Hold on tight!