Does trading away veterans make a team a Ã¢â‚¬Å“sellerÃ¢â‚¬Â or trading prospects make a franchise a Ã¢â‚¬Å“buyerÃ¢â‚¬Â? Did the 2011 Cincinnati Reds wave the white flag yesterday by trading Jonny Gomes?
I donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t think that all teams at the trade deadline have to be or should be boxed into the simplistic constraints of Ã¢â‚¬Å“buyersÃ¢â‚¬Â or Ã¢â‚¬Å“sellersÃ¢â‚¬Â. 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 Ã¢â‚¬Å“sellersÃ¢â‚¬Â 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 thatÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 didnÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢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 donÃ¢â‚¬â„¢t care what you call it. Just improve the team.