Sep 2, 2014; Baltimore, MD, USA; Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Mat Latos (55) pitches in the first inning against the Baltimore Orioles at Oriole Park at Camden Yards. Mandatory Credit: Joy R. Absalon-USA TODAY Sports
Say what you will about Cincinnati Reds general manager Walt Jocketty, but at least he has given fans a clear indication of where the team is headed in 2015: it’s rebuilding time. After the Reds tanked at the plate in 2014 and stayed afloat through mid-August on the strength of their starting pitching, Jocketty today traded away 40% of his rotation in Alfredo Simon and Mat Latos.
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In exchange for Simon, the Detroit Tigers are sending a pair of prospects to the Reds. Baseball America ranks 23-year-old Eugenio Suarez as a utility man with pop, or maybe even a starting shortstop in the Majors, citing improved defense during his years in the minors. BA projects another 23-year-old, righthander Jonathon Crawford as either a reliever or a back-of-the-rotation starter. (Ken Rosenthal first Tweeted the completed Tigers-Reds deal)
Latos was the bigger prize leaving the Riverfront, and he heads to the Miami Marlins in exchange for prospects Anthony DeSclafani and Chad Wallach. DeSclafani is a 24-year-old righthander drafted by the Toronto Blue Jays in 2011, with a smattering of big league appearances under his belt for the Marlins. He worked on a curveball in the AFL this fall and had designs on a rotation spot in Miami — those designs might include Great American Ball Park now.
Wallach is a catcher/DH who spent 2014 in Low-A ball, and whom Nathaniel Stoltz grades as a high-OBP catcher with enough physical strength to maybe, eventually, develop some power at the plate. Wallach is a plus defensively and will be just 23 years old for all of the 2015 season, so there should be plenty of upside here.
Looking at the tally of these two trades, Latos brought in the bigger haul, as he should have. Of course ALL of the players coming back to the Reds are unproven, so it will be several years before we know which of them, if any, will be keys for the next winning Reds team. What we do know for sure is that the Reds are saving a heap of cash by shipping out Latos and Simon: back in October, MLBTradeRumors.com projected that the duo would pull in a combined $13 million+ in arbitration this winter.
And that next winning Reds team?
Well, it looks to be a ways off now that the selling has begun. After several years of early playoff exits, we’re likely in for a stretch of seasons that will leave ALL of our October afternoons and evenings free, unfettered from the responsibility of cheering on our Redlegs toward World Series glory.