Why the Cincinnati Reds Didn’t Land Jason Heyward But the St. Louis Cardinals Did


Sep 17, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Braves right fielder Jason Heyward (22) is hit by a pitch against the Washington Nationals during the sixth inning at Turner Field. The Braves defeated the Nationals 3-1. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

While there never were any kind of “real” rumors surrounding the Cincinnati Reds and  Jason Heyward, the former Atlanta Braves rightfielder sure would have filled a big hole in the Reds’ anemic lineup.  Instead, Heyward is headed to the hated St. Louis Cardinals, and Reds fans are left to wonder if general manager Walt Jocketty ever talked to the Braves about Heyward and, if so, why it didn’t work out.  Looking at the deal that ultimately went down, though, it’s clear the Reds never had a chance.  

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In return for Heyward and reliever Jordan Walden, the Cardinals shipped starter Shelby Miller and pitching prospect Tyrell Jenkins.  Miller is 24 years old, and though he was down this year from his stellar rookie season in 2013, his ceiling projects him as a front-of-the-rotation arm.  Perhaps just as important for the Braves is that Miller can’t be a free agent until 2019.

Jenkins, though he has a good fastball, is a throw-in here, as he’s been in the Cards’ system for four years and yet is still in high A ball.  Walden, meanwhile, has been very solid in middle relief for the Braves and could have helped the Reds shore up another weakness.

So the Braves were looking for pitching.  That should have made the Reds perfect trade partners, right, considering that Cincinnati may jettison up to four-fifths of its starting rotation before Spring Training?

Well, no.

The Braves were also clearly looking for GOOD pitching that they could afford long-term, and Miller fell right into that sweet spot.  All four of the Reds big arms will be free agents next season, and Johnny Cueto in particular is in line for a huge payday.  Mat Latos and Mike Leake will command good money, too, and Alfredo Simon is not really a very good starting pitcher.

The Reds couldn’t give the Braves what they most wanted in return for Heyward, and, in truth, Heyward was not a long-term fit for Cincinnati, either.  He will be a free agent after 2015, and the Reds almost surely would not have paid him market value unless he carried them to the World Series.   Given the rest of the team’s makeup and that they’d have needed to surrender Cueto, that would have been about as likely as Pete Rose displacing Joey Votto at first base next season.

Heyward to the Cardinals really hurts as a Reds fan, and its a dagger to whatever slim playoff hopes we had for next year, but Cincy just didn’t have the goods to pull off their own Heyward deal.

As usual, the Reds came up short to St. Louis.