A friend of mine is a diehard fan of the Cincinnati Reds who is less than pleased about the recent moves by his team. I received a text message moments after the Phillips trade was announced from my old pal which read, “I’m starting to think winning is second to staying out of the red, pun intended.”
While many of their recent moves have been head scratching (that Chapman deal was so, so, so bad) I wanted to take a look at the trades the organization has made over the last few years as they look to rebuild. Here is a look at each of the major trades since July of 2015:
Johnny Cueto- Traded on July 26, 2015 to the Royals for Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed.
For Johnny Cueto, the Reds brought back a paltry return of Brandon Finnegan, John Lamb and Cody Reed from the Royals. Finnegan was the cornerstone of the deal and pitched well in his first full year in the Bigs. The 23-year-old southpaw was 10-11 with a 3.98 ERA.
While those numbers seem average, what was most impressive is that he made 31 starts and had a stellar strikeout to walk ratio. Finnegan struck out 145 batters while only walking 84, good enough for a 173 SO/W ratio. Finnegan should be there throughout the rebuilding process and serve as a top of the rotation starter, likely maxing out as a quality number two arm.
Lamb was traded away to the Tampa Bay Rays for cash in November.
The 23-year-old Reed was 0-7 last year. Pitching 47.2 innings and sported a 7.36 ERA.
Two out of three were complete misses in this deal, with Finnegan being approximately as advertised. It is tough to deal a homegrown ace for only one player of value.
Baseball on Tap Trade Grade: C-
Mike Leake- Traded on July 31, 2015 to the Giants for RHP Kuery Mella and 1B/OF Adam Duvall
At the trade deadline in 2015, the Reds dealt Mike Leake (then only 27-years-old) to the San Francisco Giants for RHP Kuery Mella and Adam Duvall. Mella pitched rather well for the Class A Daytona Tortugas (ahh…I love MiLB names…) and earned a ticket directly to AAA. In his lone start at AAA, Mella pitched well. The 23-year-old righty is currently in camp with the Reds, but should start the year in the minors.
Adam Duvall burst on to the scene last year and started in left for the 2016 Reds. While Duvall smashed 33 HR’s and 103 RBI’s in his first year as a starter (good enough to earn an All-Star bid) he will be entering his age 28 season in 2017. With this Reds team being so far away, it is likely that Duvall will be on his way out of town before the Reds are ready to compete.
While the Reds were not interested in resigning Leake (especially to the 5 year/$80 million dollar deal he received from the Cardinals) they did receive a fair haul for Leake. Mella could be a middle of the rotation type starter (at best), but Duvall should be flipped for players that will help the Reds compete a few years down the line.
Considering Leake’s impending free-agency at the end of the year, it was not a terrible deal.
Baseball on Tap Trade Grade: B- (With the potential for a higher grade if Duvall is moved at the right time).
Todd Frazier- Traded December 16, 2015 to the White Sox for 2B Jose Perza, OF Scott Schebler and OF Brandon Dixon
Todd Frazier (who at the time was 29) was sent to the White Sox as a part of a three team deal that included the Dodgers. Frazier, along with Joey Votto, was the face of the franchise and was coming off of an impressive All-Star campaign in 2015. In the trade, the Reds acquired Jose Peraza, Scott Schebler and Brandon Dixon.
Peraza is the likely starter at second now that Phillips was sent to Atlanta. As a rookie last season, Peraza was a key contributor by hitting .324 in 274 AB’s. Peraza does not display a lot of power (3 HR’s last year) but is speedy (21 SB’s). Peraza figures to be a mainstay in the Reds long-term rebuild.
Schebler played in 82 games last season for the Reds, splitting time between all three outfield positions. In his age 25 season, Schebler swatted 9 HR’s to go along with a .265 AVG. Schebler should see consistent playing time this year and provide some protection for Joey Votto and Duvall. Schebler is under team control through the 2022 season.
Dixon, a third round pick in the 2013 MLB Draft, spent his entire age 24 season with AA Pensacola. In 419 AB’s, Dixon hit 16 HR’s and drove in 65 RBI’s. He will need to cut down on the strikeouts (137 last year) to move through the system. From what I can tell, he is at best a fourth outfielder somewhere down the road.
While the first two players are nice acquisitions for the Reds, it seems that the team may have received only an average (maybe slightly above) return.
Trade Grade: C+
Aroldis Chapman- Traded December 28, 2015 to the New York Yankees for RHP Rookie Davis, 2B Tony Renda and RHP Caleb Cotham
The Chapman deal seems to be the worst of the bunch.
Rookie Davis was a dominant force in AA last year, going 10-3 with a 2.94 ERA. Davis earned a promotion to AAA but struggled upon his arrival. With the Reds rotation in flux, Davis could crack the rotation out of Spring Training. If not, he will likely make his debut at some point in 2017.
Tony Renda was a 2nd Round Pick by the Nationals in 2012, but at the time of the trade the 24-year-old had never played above AA. Renda cracked the Big League roster last year, but struggled in just 60 AB’s. He does not appear to be a part of the long-term rebuild.
Caleb Cotham was 28 years old when he was acquired, and had a whopping total of 9.2 Major League innings under his belt. The righty struggled out of the Reds pen last year, throwing 24.1 IP with a 7.40 ERA. He is no longer listed on the team’s 40 Man Roster.
Eric Jagielo hit .205 for AA Pensacola last year with only 7 HR’s. He will be entering his age 25 season and seems to be a complete bust.
So, the Reds got ONE useful player out of this deal. When comparing that to what the Yankees landed for Chapman in July of 2016 (just eight months after this trade), it is embarrassing. The Yankees received four players, including super prospect Gleyber Torres and outfield prospect Billy McKinney. In all of the trades that the Reds have made, none of the players they received are as good as Torres. In fact, none of the players that the Reds have received even cracked the Baseball Prospectus Top 101 Prospects, that was released earlier today.
Trade Grade: F
Jay Bruce- Traded on July 31, 2016 to the New York Mets for 2B Dilson Herrera and LHP Max Wottel.
Jay Bruce hit 238 HR’s during his eight plus seasons with the Reds, but the team moved on from the lefty slugger at the trade deadline last year. His impending free agency after the 2017 season surely played a part in this decision.
What the Reds received in return was a mediocre prospect in Dilson Herrera, and a long-term project in Max Wottel.
When the 2015 season ended and it was obvious the Mets would not resign Daniel Murphy, many fans believed the job would be handed over to Herrera. He had a cup of coffee with the team in 2014 and 2015, but many were high on him as a potential 20 HR hitter out of the second base position. It was shocking to most when Neil Walker was acquired from the Pirates for Jon Niese that December, but it kept Herrera on the back burner and made him expendable.
With Phillips out of town, Peraza seems to be next in line to start at second leaving Herrera without a position. The Reds could use the toolsy 22-year-old (who hit 15 HR’s in AAA last year) to acquire another player, or hope to switch him to another position.
Wotell is a big lefty (6’3″) out of North Carolina who was a third round pick by the Mets in the 2015 draft. He has yet to pitch above Rookie Ball, where he has struggled to the tune of 5.05 ERA.
It makes very little sense to have acquired Herrera when Peraza was already in the system. A pitcher like Robert Gsellman or Marcus Molina would have made more sense.
Trade Grade: C-
Dan Straily- Traded on January 19, 2017 to the Marlins for RHP Austin Brice, RHP Luis Castillo and OF Isaiah White
In what is nothing short of an act of alchemy, the Reds turned garbage into gold (maybe silver). The Reds had claimed Straily off of waivers from the Padres in April of 2016 and cashed in on his 14-8 2016 season.
In return for Straily, the Reds received a fireball pitcher in Luis Castillo and another valuable pitcher in Austin Brice. White is a project, and reminds me of a poor man’s Billy Hamilton when it comes to his skill set.
Castillo and Brice should both contribute for the Reds as they rebuild.
Trade Grade: A-
Brandon Phillips- Traded on February 12, 2017 to the Braves for RHP Carlos Portuondo and LHP Andrew McKirahan
This one seems to be purely financial. Phillips was due $14,000,000 this year and the Reds were looking to move the money. Portuondo, who hails from Cuba, has been playing in the USA for two years but has yet to make the Majors. At 29 years of age, it is unlikely he will be a key component of a winning team anytime soon.
McKirahan is coming off of his second Tommy John surgery and did not pitch at all in 2016.
The only upside to this deal is that Peraza is no longer buried and will be able to play everyday at 2b.
Trade Grade: D
2015-2017 Trade Report Card: Cincinnati Reds
Comments: My friend has a point…
While the Reds aren’t the laughing stock of the league, they missed a great opportunity to drastically improve their team. Instead, they are going to need to hit on an inordinate amount of homegrown prospects rather than acquiring those that have been developed by other organizations that should have been required over the last year and a half. The Reds are over three seasons away from being a serious contender.