Does trading away veterans make a team a “seller” or trading prospects make a franchise a “buyer”? Did the 2011 Cincinnati Reds wave the white flag yesterday by trading Jonny Gomes?

I don’t think that all teams at the trade deadline have to be or should be boxed into the simplistic constraints of “buyers” or “sellers”. If they were to acquire Jamie Shields or Ubaldo Jimenez this year, that wouldn’t automatically signal “buyers” to me because both those pitchers are under team contract for a couple more seasons. The best example in Reds recent history is the acquisition of Scott Rolen from the Toronto Blue Jays. The Reds were clearly in the “sellers” class that year, but they went out and got a veteran player that they wanted, in part because Walt Jocketty thought that the deadline was a better time to get him than the offseason.

Maybe that’s what the 5th place Washington Nationals (16 games behind Philadelphia and 10 games back in the wild card race) did for Jonny Gomes. A lot of internet speculation says that they acquired him to offer him arbitration in hopes of receiving a compensatory draft pick. Perhaps they signed him to be platoon mates with Laynce Nix next year? The Nationals didn’t give up much to get him, and the Reds are paying most of Gomes salary this year.

From the Reds perspective, they may have just upgraded their offense by promoting a prospect instead of trading one away. A statistical oddity, the Reds have received a worse aggregate OPS (.690) from the left field position than the production of each individual player to man left his season. Fred Lewis, Jonny Gomes, and Chris Heisey have a .718, .735, .776 OPS, respectively. It also represents how poorly Baker mixed and matched his players in the left field situation. He should have went with a strict platoon from day one. Gomes starting versus the left-handed pitchers and Heisey or Lewis, who started the year hurt, versus the right-handed pitchers.

I don’t think this trade signals anything. They could trade Ramon Hernandez and Dontrelle Willis tomorrow, and I would say the same thing. They Reds have depth at AAA, and notably Devin Mesoraco and Travis Wood could replace Hernandez and Willis on the roster without a drop in performance.

There is very little available in the trade market that is going to take this team to the World Series. I don’t want to see them empty the farm for a rental player. And I don’t see the sense for the Rockies or Rays to trade away a team-friendly contract on either of their pitchers unless the acquiring team is overpaying by quite a bit.

Buy. Sell. I don’t care what you call it. Just improve the team.