Plenty of attention has focused on what trades, if any, the Reds should pursue at the upcoming trade deadline. But a more defining moment for Walt Jocketty’s career with the Reds will likely come in the next twelve months when the organization confronts the issue of what to do with their starting pitchers.

Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake and Mat Latos are all available for free agency in 2016 and no one thinks the Reds will sign all three to an extension. The Reds have several courses of action they could choose:

  1. Keep all three through the 2015 season, sign who they can, make the other(s) a qualifying offer and receive compensation draft picks;
  2. Trade one or more of them for prospects; or
  3. Trade one or more of them for established major league players in positions the Reds need.

There are plenty of past deals where teams have traded quality starting pitching for prospects. In looking at past trades, a few conclusions stand out: the return on prospects is highly uncertain and trading away more years of team control doesn’t seem to necessarily return better prospects.

First, a brief description of the trade-worthiness of the Reds’ pitchers:

Johnny Cueto will be 30 going into the 2016 season. Ever since 2011, when he put up a 171 ERA+ and a 2.31 ERA, he has performed like a bona fide ace. As a short-term rental in 2015, he would be extremely attractive because of his low salary (10M, but if he is moved at the all-star break, this would be prorated), but he would probably be looking for a 5-6 year, 20-25M/year deal in the offseason.

Mike Leake will be 28 heading heading into the 2016 season. This year he is having his best season to date, posting a 3.67 FIP and on pace to eclipse 200 innings for the first time in his career. His 3.42 ERA(107 ERA+) and 3.96 K/BB rate are both a career-best. He is the cheapest option for any team because his 2015 season will be his final arbitration year. His value comes down to where you believe he is in his career development arc.

Mat Latos will be 28 heading into the 2016 season. His second year in the league, he finished eighth in the NL Cy Young voting. The last two years he has compiled over 200 innings for the Reds with a 3.48 ERA (3.85 FIP) in 2012 and a 3.16 ERA (3.10 FIP) in 2013. His injury this year complicates his trade value, but the early returns look good. Due to his age and past record of success, he will command serious market value, perhaps even being more expensive to sign than Johnny Cueto.

Given that teams have more flexibility and trading partners during the winter meetings than they do at the trade deadline, that’s the most likely time the Reds will make a deal. That doesn’t rule out the possibility they make a deadline deal (next year, most likely) or decline to make a deal altogether.

The Deal that Almost Killed Joe Posnanski

The Rays deal James Shields (2 years of team control) and Wade Davis for Kansas City’s Wil Myers and others. Kansas City is a small market team that cannot afford to keep their hometown superstars (Carlos Beltran, Jonny Damon, etc.). Yet, Wil Myers had not set foot on a major league diamond when his time as a Royal came to an end. Yes, the Royals traded away six cheap(er) years of the number one prospect in baseball for a thirty year old “Big Game James”.

Make no mistake, James Shields is a really good pitcher. At the time of the trade, he was a solid 4.0 fWAR (somewhere between 3.0 and 5.0 bbRef WAR). He had anchored the Ray’s rotation for multiple years. But he was on the wrong side of thirty and Wil Myers looked awfully special.

For the Royals, James Shields has been very good. Last year he posted a 4.5 fWAR/4.1bbRef although he has regressed a bit this year. With Shields, the Royals look like a team with hope, and the Royals have been testing that whole “hope springs eternal” thing for a while now.

For the Rays, Wil Myers has been pretty good. He posted a 2.4 WAR in 2013, but due to injury, has not had a significant impact this year.

Its too early to judge this trade because Myers is young. Yet, keep this in mind: even if the Reds traded for the number one prospect in baseball, the immediate impact might not be very meaningful.

Renting CC

The Brewers Acquire C.C. Sabathia (3 month rental) from Cleveland for Matt LaPorta, Michael Brantley, Zach Jackson, and Rob Bryson. Cleveland knew they would not be able to afford C.C. Sabathia, so they made a move at the trade deadline to try to salvage as much value as they could out of his remaining contract. Milwakuee was in the midst of a playoff run but had suffered a series of injuries that might have derailed their playoff chances.

Minor league baseball aficionados loathed this trade – those are four good pieces the Brewers gave up for half a year of Sabathia. Matt LaPorta was the Brewer’s #1 prospect and ranked the 23rd best minor league player by Baseball America. So, did the Brewers get fleeced as they emptied their coffers for half a year of an ace?

For Milwaukee, Sabathia was incredible. He went 11-2, threw 130.2 innings and posted a Cy Young-possible ERA of 1.65. In just three months, CC racked up 4.6 fWAR (4.9 BBref).

For Cleveland: Matt LaPorta: 0.2 WAR (2009), -0.7 (2010), -0.8 (2011), -0.1 (2012) [Out of the league in 2013). Total WAR: -1.4; Rob Bryson has not made it to the major leagues yet; Zach Johnson has appeared in three major league appetences since 2008 and has spent the rest of the time between AA and AAA, and Michael Brantley: -0.5 (2009), -0.6 (2010), 1.3 (2011), 2.7 (2012), 1.7 (2013), 2.6 (2014).

Cleveland made a deal in 2009 where they don’t even break even until 2014 (in terms of WAR). Now, Brantley looks like a legitimately good player in 2014, but, for Cleveland, this can’t be the way they thought the deal would go down.

Does trading more years of team control necessarily result in better prospects?

Above, the Brewers sent their #1 prospect, Matt LaPorta (and others), to Cleveland for three months of C.C. Sabathia. Despite his #1 status, LaPorta was not able to make a major difference at the MLB level. Yet other rentals have netted major returns:

Three months for three all-stars

In 2001, Cleveland trades: Bartolo Colon (3 months) and Tim Drew to Montreal for: Brandon Phillips (2B) (thank you, btw), Grady Sizemore (OF), and Cliff Lee (P).

Despite their fast start, winning 11 of their first 12, Cleveland had fallen out of the playoff race by mid-season. Montreal unexpectedly found itself in the midst of a playoff push. What made this even more surprising is the fact Montreal had spent most of the offseason trying to prevent MLB from contracting the team. It is unclear how much influence this had on the deal the followed. Bartolo Colon posted a 10-4 / 3.31 ERA for the Expos. He played well for Montreal, but the Expos were unable to make the playoffs. The Expos were unable to resign him the following year. Tim Drew was a career Minor Leaguer.

For Cleveland: At the time, Brandon Phillips was the key to this deal. He was the top prospect in the Cleveland organization and ranked the #22 prospect in baseball. Many thought he had the talent to be a really good ballplayer. They were right. Cleveland gave up too early on BP and another team in Ohio has benefited greatly from their mistake.

Grady Sizemore: in his first four full seasons with the Tribe, Sizemore put up 6.6 WAR (2005), 6.6 (2007), 5.5 (2008), and 5.5 (2009). After 2009, a series of injuries prevented us from seeing a potentially great career. Cliff Lee: he had a great career, but the one detail that says it all: he won the Cy Young award for Cleveland by going 22-3 with a 2.54 ERA in 2008.

…Yes, Montreal gave up a Cy Young winner (Lee), a kid that put up over 24 WAR in 4 seasons (Sizemore), and a four-time gold glove winning second baseman (BP) for 3 months of Bartolo Colon.

But what about longer contracts? Does trading away multiple years of team control result in better trade results? Here is one of the longest exchanges of team control:

Thank You, San Diego

San Diego trades Mat Latos (4 years) to Cincinnati for Brad Boxberger (P), Yonder Alonso (1B), Yasmani Grandal (C) and Edinson Volquez (P). Going into the trade, Mat Latos has established himself as a legitimate front-line starting pitcher. Although he had never been recognized on Baseball America’s top 100 list, in only his second season he finished 8th in Cy Young voting. He was young, cost controlled pitching. He has been around a 4.0 WAR pitcher for the Reds, going 14-4 in his first year for the Reds and 14-7 in his second year.

This was a big deal for the Padres and Reds. The Reds knew they needed help in the rotation to help them make the playoffs. The Friers thought that quartet would be the core of a future playoff team. Alonso was the #33 prospect in all of baseball and Grandal was ranked #53 on that list. Edinson Volquez would help fill the game in their rotation, but had shown flashes of brilliance in the past.

In San Diego, things went awry.

Brad Boxberger pitched well for San Diego out of the bullpen (ERA+ 140 in 2012 and 123 in 2013) but only compiled 49.2 total innings for the team. This translated to only 0.2 WAR over those two years. He was later traded to the Rays.

The speculation here at RLN that the Reds should move Joey Votto to LF to make room for Yonder Alonso may have been a bit premature, to say the least. In his first two years with the Padres, Alonso posted 1.5 and 1.3 WAR, respectively. His OPS+ in these two years was uninspiring (110, 105). It got worse in 2014; this year, Alonso is one of the worst everyday regular player in major league baseball. He never developed any ability to drive the ball, and thats a bona fide occupational requirement if you are playing first base.

Yasmani Grandal (C): Due to being implicated in the Biogenesis investigation, Grandal was suspended fifty games in 2013. Before his suspension, in 2012, he showed serious potential, slashing .297/.349/469. This year, Grandal has become their everyday catcher, but has considerably lower numbers, including a staggering drop off in power: .208/.298/.372

Edinson Volquez played poorly for San Diego, posting a 9-10 record with a 6.01 ERA (57 ERA+).

Tony, who you might remember from the “Let’s go Streaking” article here at RLN, pointed out that this trade was even more disastrous for the Padres than the direct results indicate. Due to landing Alonso, the Padres felt they could deal Anthony Rizzo to the Cubs. Every year, Rizzo has put up at least a 2.0 WAR season, and this year is on pace to eclipse 5.0 WAR.

2.5 years of Team Control

Colorado sends Ubaldo Jimenez (2.5 years of team control) to Cleveland for Drew Pomeranz, Alex White, Joe Gardner, and Matt McBride. Jimenez had finished third in the NL Cy Young voting the year before but was holding a 6-9 record and 4.20 ERA in 2011. Yet Cleveland was two games behind the Tigers and desperately needed pitching. They sent Pomeranz and White, two first round picks, to Colorado in the hopes Jimenez would put them over the top.

For two years, Jimenez literally anchored the Indians rotation. Jimenez finished 2011 with a 10-13 record 4.68 ERA. The following year, he posted a 9-17 record and a 5.40 ERA. Even fangraphs, which loved his high strikeout potential, gave him 0.1 WAR in 176.2 innings. Yikes. Finally, in 2013 Jimenez had a good campaign, going 13-9 with a 3.30 ERA and 3.2 fWAR. In 2014, Jimenez left Cleveland as a free agent and signed with the Orioles.

For Colorado: Drew Pomeranz (P): In 2011, he went 2-1 with the Rockies but posted a 5.40 ERA. He followed this up with a 2-9/ 4.93 ERA 2012 and an 0-4/6.23 ERA 2014. Alex White (P): In 2011 he went 3-4 with a 7.01 ERA. 2012 he went 2-9 with a 5.51 ERA. He did not play professional baseball in 2013 and is now with Huston’s AAA team. Joe Gardner (P): No major league appearences. He is currently pitching for the Chicago Cubs AA affiliate. Matt McBride (1B): He had 78 at bats in 2012 and has not been back to the major leagues since.

The Bedard Bust

Here is a shorter deal than Latos or Jimenez that netted (many) better prospects: Seattle acquires Erik Bedard (P, 2 years) from Baltimore for Adam Jones (OF), Chris Tillman (P), George Sherrill (P), Kam Mickolio (P), and Tony Butler (P).

At the time, Seattle believed they would become a contender with Felix Hernandez and Erik Bedard co-leading their rotation. After posting a 61-101 record the following year, that assessment appears to have been slightly ambitious. When Bedard left Baltimore, he was openly critical of the origination, saying it was going backwards and was unable to compete with the Yankees and Red Sox. When asked if he was Seattle’s top pitcher, his response was, “No, I don’t care whether it’s No. 1, No. 2 or No. 5, as long as I don’t get skipped,” (link).

It was almost as if karma was listening. Bedard could not stay on the field for the Mariners, completing only 164 innings in his first two years with the M’s. During that time he went 6-4 and 5-3 respectively. His advanced stats reveal that he may have been the best in Baltimore, but only stood out by comparison. His FIP was always in the mid-3s while pitching for the O’s, and that number remained fairly stable throughout his tenure with the Mariners. In 2013, he was traded to the Boston Red Sox.

In Baltimore: Adam Jones quickly took over the center field role in Baltimore and has become a fixture of their outfield ever since. Ever since 2009 he has put at at least a 2.0 WAR season, topping out at 4.1 WAR in 2013. He is a four-time all star. Chris Tillman has been a starter in the O’s rotation since he came over from Seattle, but had his breakout year in 2013. He went 16-7 with a 3.71 ERA and was selected named to the all-star team. This year he has regressed a bit, his ERA+ falling from 110 last year to 97. George Sherrill(P) pitched 1.5 years for the O’s as a reliever. He was selected to the all-star team in his fist year, but only managed a 4.73 ERA (4.33 FIP). The next year he was traded to the LA Dodgers. Kam Mickolio (P) spent most of his time in AAA before being traded as part of the deal that brought Mark Reynolds to the O’s. Tony Butler (P) never made a major league appearance.

There is one huge difference between a rental and trading for multiple years. That is, you can re-trade a pitcher if it appears they are going to be too expensive to resign.

The Zack Greinke Saga

The Brew Crew made a serious play for the playoffs when they sent Alcides Escobar (SS), Lorenzo Cain (OF), and Jake Ordorizzi (P) to Kansas City for Zack Greinke (2 years), Yuniesky Betancourt and some cash. Zack Greinke had put together several strong seasons for the Royals, including winning the 2009 AL Cy Young award. Yet the Royals knew they would not be able to resign him, so they sent him to the highest bidder. The Brewers also felt the clock ticking: Prince Fielder would soon become a free agent and the city had not been to the World Series in almost thirty years. In December, the Brewers made a landed Greinke at the winter meetings.

Greinke in Milwaukee: 2011: 16-6 / 3.83 ERA / 1.5 BBref WAR (3.6 FanGraphs); 2012: 9-3 / 3.44 ERA / 2.2 BBref. Greinke did help Milwaukee make the playoffs in 2011, but after Greinke turned down an 5 year 100M extension, Milwaukee knew they needed to deal Greinke in 2012.

In Kansas City: Alcides Escobar (SS): was not a prospect at the time of the deal, having already completed a full year of MLB service at the time of the deal. He has been an everyday player for the Royals for the past three and a half seasons. Most of his value is derived from his defense (his career OPS+ is 76), but he has nearly hit 100 OPS+ in two seasons. In all, his WAR over the past few seasons is: 2010 (0.5); 2011 (2.7); 2012 (3.4); 2013 (-0.1).

Lorenzo Cain (OF) also relies one defense for most of his value (career 96 OPS+) but is having a career year this year (117 OPS+). During his few years in KC, he has accumulated a total of 7.9 WAR. He has yet to play an entire season, but is showing promise in 2014. Jake Ordorizzi (P): He was the number one prospect in the Brewers organization at the time of the deal. The Royals ended up trading him to Tampa Bay as part of the Shields deal. Up until this year, he had only pitched in 9 games for the Royals, but now finds himself as one of KC’s starting five. He has a4-8 record with mixed metrics 4.10 ERA (3.29 FIP). He is still only 24 years old, so there is plenty of time for him to develop.

Flipping Grienke

When the Brewers were unable to re-sign Greinke, they sent him (3 months) to the Los Angeles Angels for Jean Segura, Ariel Pena, and Johnny Hellweg. The Angels’ motivation for sending a trio of prospects to MIL for a rental on Greinke was described by the blog halos daily as:

At the time, I liked the trade a lot. The club had a long-term option at shortstop in Erick Aybar, so trading Jean Segura wasn’t a major issue. The rotation would be excellent with Greinke, and so trading Ariel Pena and Johnny Hellweg didn’t seem to hurt so bad, especially given the concerns about both prospects. Three good prospects for two months of a borderline #1 starter might not make sense in a vacuum, but the Angels’ circumstances made the move justifiable, at least in my opinion at the time.

At the time of the deal, the Halos were atop the wild card standings and only four back of the division leading Rangers. Yet the Angels bid for the playoffs crashed in the second half of the season. Greinke did not pitch poorly for the Angels, going 6-2 with a 3.53 ERA (3.89 FIP) through 89.1 innings, but the Angels were unable to make the playoffs. Greinke took his talents to the Los Angeles Dodgers the next season, signing a six year 147M contract.

At the sausage races: Jean Segura was the number one prospect in the Angels organization and the player Milwaukee wanted back for Greinke. He played in 44 games for the Brew Crew in 2012, posting an unimpressive 75 OPS+. The next year, however, he posted a 3.5 WAR season and OPS+’d at 106. Many thought this was his breakout year. In 2014, however, he has taken a serious regression and is having the worst year of his short major league career, posting -0.1 WAR through the first half. Ariel Pena (P) and Johnny Hellweg (P) have yet to make the major league roster. They are projected as back of the rotation starters.

The Deal that sent the Phillies to the big dance

In 2009, Cliff Lee was one year removed from accepting the AL Cy Young Award. Cleveland sent Lee (1.5 years of team control) and Ben Fransisco to Philadelphia for Jason Donald (IF), Carlos Carrasco (P), Lou Marson (C), and Jason Knapp (P).

In 2009, the Phillies and Lee went to the World Series, where Lee threw a one run complete game. Overall, he had a 7-4 record with a 3.39 ERA. The following year, Lee was involved a three team trade which sent Lee to Seattle and Roy Halladay to Philadelphia.

In Cleveland: Jason Donald (IF): In four seasons with Cleveland, Donald appeared in 170 games and posted a combined 0.6 WAR. Carlos Carrasco (P): At the time of the deal, he was one of Philadelphia’s top pitching prospects. Over the past five years, Carrasco has split time between the majors and the minors. His best year was 2011, going 8-9 with a 6.14 ERA over 124.2 IP. His overall record is not that rosy, though: 12-22 with a 5.08 ERA. Lou Marson (C): He has played 253 games for Cleveland, amassing 1.4 WAR over five seasons. He is not currently in the league. Jason Knapp (P): A-Level prospect that never made it to the majors.

CONCLUSIONS

Prospects are just that. As fans, we love prospects. They are hope for a better future. In almost every one of these deals, a team’s top prospect was traded. Even top prospects do not always hack it at the major league level. Perhaps the best example of this is Matt LaPorta, who was hailed as break-the-league style player back when he was dealt to Cleveland. Jean Segura, the top prospect for the Angels, has had mixed results so far with Milwaukee. Even Wil Myers, the number one freaking prospect in all of baseball, has yet to become the next Albert Pujols. You never know when, if ever, a prospect will fulfill their promise.

When reflecting on the Zack Greinke trade, Joe Posnanski wrote:

A few years ago, Bill James told me something I had never thought about before but now think about all the time, especially after trades like this one: Every single baseball team has prospects. Every one. The best teams. The worst teams. The smartest teams. The dumbest teams. They all have prospects. Not only that — every team has enough prospects to fill out a Top10 list. You never see a team’s “Top 7 Prospects” list because the team did not not have enough to fill out 10. No. They all have 10.

Most of these deals did not trade one star for a future star. This makes sense: why would a team send 6 years of a future star for 1 year (or 6 month) of a current ace. Given the uncertainty of prospects, if you think you’ve got something special, you don’t give it up for a rental. The major exception to this is the Wil Myers trade, but that’s a trade I still don’t understand.

Sometimes the haul can be significant. The Colon trade gave Cleveland three great players, while the CC Sabathia deal netted them very little. In both deals were the other team’s number one prospect.

Trading multiple years of control may not matter. The longest exchange of team control, Latos (4 years) did not gain an appreciably greater return than the other trades on this list (in fact, this is one of the worst deals on the list). Even the mid-legth deals (Greinke, Lee, Shields, Jimenez, Bedard) don’t seem to create greater certainty that the prospects a team receives will have a significant impact on the major league team.

For Walt Jocketty, this means the return a team will get at the trade deadline is probably not more reliable than what you get a year or a year and a half out. Given there are two more wild card slots, there will be more buyers than in these deal, so the return should be higher. If the Reds wait till the 2015 deadline, we won’t lose any value by only trading away a rental.

Set your expectations low. Sadly, for the Reds, this means that we should set our expectations low for what we will get back. Yes, we will all be excited for a top prospect or two, but the odds are against these players making a major impact at the major league level.

The pitchers might be too good to trade. The Reds might come to the conclusion that they should just let one of these pitchers walk during free agency. This is what we did with Choo last year. Sometimes players are too good to trade when the team is in the race or expects to contend. Given the uncertainty surrounding prospects, the Reds might want to try to win the World Series with their current pitching staff. Another team’s top prospect would be the opportunity cost of trying to bring home the commissioner’s trophy. And that’s a deal I would make every time.

48 Responses

  1. BigRedMike

    Nice write up

    Prospects are never a sure thing, but, losing a player to free agency is risky. At least there is a potential draft pick at that point

    The drop in Latos’ velocity is concerning at this point. Might be due to the injuries

    If the Reds think they can compete in 2015, which they should with a healthy roster, it might make sense to keep all 3 and decide during/after the season on which to keep

    • redmountain

      Knee reconstruction. His velocity is starting to rise.

      • BigRedMike

        His pitch fx data is not showing an increase in velocity. Lets hope it improves going forward

  2. Bob Purkey

    This team is in trouble. Contracts locked in that can not be dealt and are a huge detriiment to any long term moves: Marshal, Broxton, Ludwick, Phillips, Bruce, Votto, and then Latos, Cueto and Leake are FAs. Good luck dealing with this,

    Not sure I was ever a real Walt fan, and I think that he has a lot to prove based upon so many of these long term deals that the Reds are locked into

    • vanwilder8

      Ludwick has a buyout after this season. Broxton is only signed through next year. Bruce is signed through ’16 at a team-friendly rate.

      There are only 6 guaranteed contracts past 2015, so they aren’t “locked into” that many long-term deals.

      • vanwilder8

        Actually, it’s only 4 guys under contract for 2016.

      • Kurt Frost

        Ohhhhhhhh… Sounds like a dire situation.

      • earmbrister

        Yeah, we only have 4 guys under contract in 2016. However, we have 3 more pre-arb guys (cheap), and 8 more arb guys (varying degrees of affordability. Not exactly a dire situation.

  3. Dale Pearl

    Small market teams have almost no choice but to deal stars before or during their final under contract choice. It isnt like we want to trade Cueto but which is better trade him for 3 or 4 scout validated prospects or lose him at the end of the year for a lower first round or second round draft pick? I am taking the.prospects from other systems every chance I get.

    And there is the other thing too. Steve mentioned it yesterday. You must sell when the stock value is at the highest percieved value. That is how all businesses run and basebal is no different. The Reds have many pieces they can afford to move at fairly high value
    Broxton, Chapman, Pena, Simon, Leake, Cozart, Cueto. Looks like we missed the high marks on Phillips, Votto, and Latos. I am not saying that we should sell all of them just saying we have bonafide ML talent that we can sell at a premium value and make a nice profit that can benefit the entire organization.

  4. MannyT

    It seems as thought the majority of the comments I read advocate for trading Cueto and very few mention Bailey. I’m puzzled as to why. There ARE many teams that would take Bailey, along with his contract and potential (many still think there’s room for him to improve). Yet, many prefer trading Cueto, who’s had seasons that Bailey can only dream of at this point. I’d much rather keep Cueto because he is proven. It leads me to believe that race might be a factor in the stated preference of many. If Cueto’s name was Homer Bailey and Bailey’s name was Johnny Cueto, I wonder what people would be saying?

    • Kurt Frost

      I think I’d rather have the younger guy.

    • vanwilder8

      1) Nobody is taking Homer and his contract right now. 2) Do you really want to give a guy with Cueto’s injury history 6/150?

    • Chris Schlatter

      Did you seriously just accuse everyone who has suggested trading Johnny Cueto of racism? That’s an incredibly serious, and deeply personal attack on someone. I take that accusation incredibly seriously. I’m Asian, and I grew up in a small town in Indiana; I had to deal with things that most people wouldn’t believe.

      The reason very few are advocating trading Bailey is because it would be selling low on him. He just signed a huge contract and, at least to date, hasn’t been earning that contract. Whether I have faith in his ability to improve doesn’t matter; what matters is that very few teams would give up much for him. Compare that to Cueto, who is a bona fide ace, (and one that, frankly, I don’t think the Reds are going to be able to resign) and you’ll find that he looks much more attractive to potential trade partners.

      Accusing people of racism. Seriously.

      • Chris Schlatter

        So, to answer your question, I don’t care about race. When I talk about trades, I look at it from a purely analytical perspective; what will help the Reds the most, while still being a reasonable or attractive offer to the other team? THAT’S why Cueto is the one people are talking about trading, not because he’s from the Dominican.

    • the next janish

      No tienes razon. I think it probably 1) stems from the fact that it looks like really bad form for future negotiations 2) No one on the team could possibly pull as many prospects 3) It will be super expensive if we can even resign him 4) he’s older and has had a history of injuries (smedium markets can’t ever afford to offer max deals to anyone with an injury history). 4 very valid reasons why trading Cueto is a possibility, and I’m sure Steve could give us 20 good reasons for both sides of the argument. With that said I’d love to see him retire a Red. But please don’t come to this site and lay that type of accusation on any of us.

    • docmike

      Implying that race is a factor in people’s suggestion of trading Cueto, may be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read on here. And that’s saying something.

      If you change the player’s names, you’re not really changing anything. But if you swap their contract situations as well as how each of them has pitched this year, now you’re seeing the light.

      If Cueto was the one under contract for around 17-18 million per, and was having a subpar year, I promise you wouldn’t be seeing calls to trade him. That would be silly, trading someone when their value is lowest (trade high, remember?).

      And if Bailey was the one having a Cy-caliber year, but was getting close to free agency and would likely be out of our price range, he’d be the one getting calls to be traded. Trade when their value is high.

      I can’t believe you think people actually prefer to trade Cueto. We don’t WANT to trade him, I would love it if we could sign him to a 6 year deal similar to Bailey’s. But he has probably priced himself out of that now. At the same time, with the season he is having, he would bring a MUCH higher return on the trade market than Bailey. That is why you see Cueto’s name mentioned and not Bailey.

    • droomac

      Why would anyone want to trade for Homer at this point?…Why not get the guy who is making less and guaranteed only one year after this year?….If a team is going to commit 20 million per year over many years, they will wait on Scherzer or Lester after the season. It is precisely because Cueto is a better pitcher right now that makes it a good idea to move him, as he will bring more in return.

    • redmountain

      Probably that Bailey is younger. I am reasonably certain that Cueto will be offered a contract that is fair, the question is whether he would rather stay in Cincy or go elsewhere. He also has an injury history that may factor into it. If I had a choice, I might keep Cueto. I also hope that the new TV deal will allow the Reds to add some room for contracts. Santiago, Hanahan, Ludwick are all in their last year, though there is a buyout on Ludwick. If the Reds decide to trade for prospects, what positions do they play and will they be ready next year or 2016? 2016 is when a number of the Reds best prospects would probably be ready for the majors.

    • James 'Jim' K. Wright

      You do not understand Baseball very well. Some players have more trade value that others. It has nothing to do with skin color. Shame on you.

  5. manuel

    The younger guys who’s nowhere near as good and hasn’t done enough to justify his contract. Face it, Cueto’s far better-

  6. manuel

    Seems fairly obvious to me. If you want to win a World Series, you hold onto your better players. Cueto > Bailey ? Latos > Leake.

    • daytonnati

      Not necessarily. Check Bailey v. Cueto’s playoff stats. And this doesn’t include Cueto’s meltdown in Pittsburgh.

  7. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Prospects may be a bust some if not most of the time. However:

    – Someone needs to be able to fill holes made with the big club
    – In filling those holes, it would directly be those prospects. Or, indirectly, those prospects would be traded to for someone to fill the holes. So, either way, prospects are needed. Even if you are one who is crying for Walt to go get someone, prospects are probably going to play a major role in the package. No prospects, probably no deal.

  8. RedsfanPa

    So many things about Latos concern me, his velocity is down and with his history of shoulder issues and other ailments, just gives me a very uneasy feeling about throwing a big contract his way. If someone has to go I’m hoping its him.

    • Thegaffer

      That along with him being a hothead leads me to the same conclusion. I would have taken the A’s deal for Samardja for Latos.

    • earmbrister

      Latos has been a stud for the Reds. He gave us 33 and 32 starts the last 2 years. He’s come back from his injury this year and pitched very well. I’ll take a couple more Latos’s to pitch alongside Cueto.

  9. redsfan06

    Walt was trying to land Greinke when KC traded him to Milwaukee. At the time of the trade, Walt commented that he thought he offered better players than KC ended up getting from the Brewers.

    I remember reading Posnanski’s column afterward about every team having 10 top prospects and knew he was referring to the Brewers lack of minor league talent at the time. Landing 2 or 3 of the top prospects from an organization does not necessarily mean that you are getting 2 or 3 of the best prospects.

    Many of the higher rated prospects in some organizations are there because they are in the high minors and project to be replacement level players. Or are exceptional fielders with weak bats. The same organization might have players in the lower minors who project a higher ceiling but are too inexperienced and unproven to be rated higher with any certainty.

    • Thegaffer

      I know he offered Frazier in several deals at that time, probably good they didn’t bite.

  10. Thegaffer

    Signing a 30 year old to a 100 million contract RARELY pays off in the days of less PED’s. Trading for prospects has 2 advantages, one being not overpaying for past performances. I personally always thought trading Bailey this offseason was the better option vs. signing him. Time will tell, and I hope I am wrong.

  11. manuel

    This is what I said – “It leads me to believe that race might be a factor in the stated preference of many.” MIGHT!

    This is how someone responded – “Did you seriously just accuse everyone who has suggested trading Johnny Cueto of racism?” How would one take from my comments that I was accusing EVERYONE of racism? THAT is truly ridiculous.

    Here’s what someone else said – “Implying that race is a factor in people’s suggestion of trading Cueto, may be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read on here.” Right, because we now live in a “post-racial” society and have moved well beyond the place where race is a factor in our lives, right? Everyone loves everyone, we no longer have any biases. If you believe that, you’re either very sheltered or in some type of denial.

    You can always tell the people who are either, at minimum, very uncomfortable with this topic, or worse, by the way they overreact. Like it or not, race continues to play a factor in every facet of life here in the USA, including sports, unless you think baseball is some utopia island immune to the toxicity that the rest of us breath. We’ve regressed from the past when people were much more open about this topic.

    I commend those of you who did not overreact and provided a sensible opinion for why Cueto should be traded, rather than Bailey. That is an opinion I can respect-

    • Chris Schlatter

      I had another comment prepared, but WP lost it. I’m sorry that I took your words to mean EVERYONE, but you still have to admit you implied race was a factor in many people’s opinions. As someone who has dealt with racism (being told “get the eff out of our town you effing chink!” by complete strangers who stopped their car to yell at me), I can tell you that racism IS still a factor in America. I don’t believe, however, that race has ANYTHING to do with people’s opinions on Bailey and Cueto. I love having Cueto on the team, and I’ve been one of the most vocal Bailey criticizers, from his contract to today. I simply took mild offense to something I perceived as a personal attack.

      I apologize for overreacting, and thank you for taking the time to comment and read this blog. Hopefully we can have many more discussions from here on out!

    • docmike

      I was the one who said “Implying that race is a factor in people’s suggestion of trading Cueto, may be one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever read on here.” I said it then, and I’ll stand by it now – it was still a ridiculous thing to say.

      First off, no, I don’t believe that racism is dead. It is present to this day, and can be observed in members of ALL ethnicities. However, many like to imagine race as a factor in situations where it is clearly not, such as those who think that anyone who disagrees with the President is doing so out of racism. This Cueto/Bailey debate is clearly one of those situations where race is not a factor.

      You mentioned respecting those that provided a “sensible opinion” for why Cueto should be traded instead of Bailey. If you had read my full post earlier, you would have seen that I did just that. But here are the reasons again, in a nutshell:

      – Cueto is a better pitcher than Bailey
      – Cueto is signed to a relatively cheap salary in 2015
      – Cueto will be a free agent after next season
      – With the Cy Young-caliber season that Cueto is having, he has likely priced himself out of a possible contract extension as a Red

      Cueto would bring a MUCH greater return in a trade than Bailey. Now, if I could trade either of them and get the same return, then yes, it’s a no-brainer to swap Bailey instead. But if you look beyond race and examine the two players’ trade value, you’ll see why people are advocating Cueto and not Bailey. It’s much simpler than you may want to believe.

    • docmike

      I also didn’t appreciate your comment “You can always tell the people who are either, at minimum, very uncomfortable with this topic, or worse, by the way they overreact”.

      First off, I have no problem with the topic of race. I will have a nice, peaceful discussion with anyone who wants to. But I don’t believe I overreacted in the least. I saw a comment that I disagreed with, and I objected vehemently to said comment.

  12. manuel

    PS, I love the work the people of this site do. It is my go-to place when I want to read abut my team. I became a Reds fan at the age of about 5, when they lost the Series to the Oakland As. A few seasons later, we witnessed the greatest team in history win back to back championships. One of the things that always appealed to me was the tremendous diversity of those teams. Don’t know if it’s true but the Reds seems to have had a pipeline to the Spanish-speaking countries before many other teams.

    • Tom Reed

      The Reds had a minor league team in Havana, Cuba for many years before Fidel Castro came to power. One of the first Cuban players in the major leagues was Dolf Luque who was a fine pitcher for the Reds in the 1920’s. The Reds have always been popular in the Caribbean.

  13. Jake

    I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again. We should keep Cueto and Latos, and part ways with Leake. Trading Simon could be a possibility, but what’s the status on Cingrani? I haven’t heard anything since he went on the DL

  14. droomac

    Thanks for the very interesting piece. Indeed, it is a mixed bag when it comes to the prospects that come in these deadline deals and I would, like everyone else, love to see the team catch fire right now and turn the Reds into serious contenders. However, there are a few things that, I think, make this particular situation unique to every other selling team’s situation as described in the original team.

    Unlike the other sellers from the examples provided, the Reds already have a very good team, if they are able to put that team on the field. Without Votto and Phillips on the field and without a health Bruce and Latos, they are not as good. Now, some of the young guys have been revelations (Frazier, Hamilton, and Mesoraco) and there have also been some great surprises out of the older guys (Simon and Broxton). However, I just seriously doubt that this team is capable of even treading water until September. Maybe it’s worth waiting around to see. If the trade deadline was the end of August, I would be all for waiting.

    My thought is to sell hard in order to be better for the next several years, instead of just 2015. Imagine a scenario in which Simon, Broxton, Cueto, and Chapman are dealt and the Reds receive eight viable prospects in return. If only one of the eight is able to ultimately break through and become a solid everyday player or solid starting pitcher, then I would say the sell-off was worth it. We could break this down statistically by examining WAR per dollar spent and I am pretty sure that one more year of Cueto, one more year of Broxton, one more year of Simon, and two more years of Chapman would not bring more value than if just one of the prospects would pan out. If two or three were to break through, it would be a coup for the Reds.

    However, there is another opportunity cost associated with standing pat and going for that trophy. Sending these four packing will save the Reds at least $25 million dollars off of next year’s payroll (and also some off of 2016 with Chapman’s contract and Broxton’s buyout). It would be nice to be spending $14 million (or more) less on the bullpen. I’m thinking that, in addition to the prospects, they could have the salary space to sign Yasmani Tomas and/or put that money toward Latos and/or have the salary space to be serious buyers at the deadline next year.

  15. manuel

    I have read, with much interest, various pieces written by Mancuso, which addressed the fact that our team will not be as cash-strapped as many believe. Due to an expected increase in revenues, extending Cueto and others may not be as difficult as many think. Also, contracts for Broxton and Ludwick will be shed. Getting rid of a pitcher as good as Cueto or Latos should not be considered until there is a confidence that one of our young guys (Stephenson?) is ready to step in.

    • Jake

      What about the Cuban pitcher, Iglesis we signed? I haven’t heard much from him since that deal

    • doctor

      you are correct in a sense reds should have more revenue but issue is so do a lot of other teams as well, they also have new media deals bringing in cash. I would be shocked if reds were able to sign both cueto and latos, just because of the demand for pitching and reds potentially have 3 pitchers 30 and younger hitting market when including Leake. my belief is that walt is going to wait to the off-season, see which pitcher is agreeable to signing, he will trade one of the others and offer one-year to the remaining free agent to get draft pick.

      I can see reds signing one more $100M pitcher but not two more.

  16. robcheshire

    Today is the last day before my vacation, and I have a ton of work to get done….

    However, I have just spent the best part of two hours reading this article (plus comments) and Richard Fitch’s article (plus comments) 😉

    The amount of work that goes into researching and writing these articles leaves me in awe!

    For the most part, I am also stunned at the articulate and well-reasoned comments that they attract.

    This is a special community. Sincere thanks to you all!

  17. Vicferrari

    I tend to think there is no hope for this season, but I did in early May then the Washington series gave me some. I have little faith in trading away to get some prospects like Brandon Clauson or whomever, I remember they traded away Denny Neagle in 2000 in mid-July, then started winning and tried to make a trade at the deadline that never worked out, got to about 4 games of first in August and faded. You never know when you might have another chance. Took the Reds another decade to have a winning season after that 2000 season.

  18. reaganspad

    you trade from strength. Pitching is our strength, I can understand trading Simon or Broxton at any moment.

    If teams want more track record, I have no problem trading Leake. If teams want a #1, I have no problem trading Latos or Cueto, especially given what we have in the farm.

    My preference of the 4 starters would be to keep Cueto. Of all 4 of those (not Homer) I think he would put up the most wins with or without Cincy.

    I like Latos but feel Cueto is a better pitcher. I see Latos and Homer as very similar.

    I of course would have Chapman starting for the rest of this year to increase his trade value. Everyone knows what he is as a closer. He would become even more valuable with 75 innings as a starter for the rest of 2014 in both the bottom line for wins losses this year and also for his future.

    Trading Chapman now is selling low.

    But again, everyone is available in the right deal

  19. reaganspad

    I did not like trading him in the first place but:

    The Mariners, it seems, could use Stubbs’ offense. He’s hitting .297 this year and has 10 home runs.

    I wish we had Stubbs right now

  20. Jux Berg (@juxberg)

    Fans continue to clamor for Jocketty to make moves…yet, there are really no moves to be made. The Reds are pretty much stuck where they are.

    There is a ton of money tied into the current roster, both now and in the next few years, especially when you consider the need to lock up youngtsers like Frazier, Raco and Cool Papa Hamilton. Any GM Walt dials up will ask for a combination of the Reds’ top prospects, and Walt will reply, “You know I can’t do that.” And he can’t. With all the cash tied into the currently constructed team, he can’t afford to trade his most cost-effective assets, potentially guys who will come up and contribute in the next few years while making $400K.

    On top of that, which guys that the Reds WOULD trade do any other GMs want? Walt will say no to any top prospects, which leaves desirable major leaguers like Chapman, Broxton and possibly a starting pitcher…but Walt would say no to all of those deals, too.

    The Reds are stuck between a rock and a hard place. The answer? A guy like Jay Bruce absolutely MUST contribute. The starting pitching needs to be a little better. Otherwise, the L’s will continue to pile up…and even if they do, I still don’t see any moves Jocketty can realistically make.

  21. csmountaineer

    As a REDS fan, this season has been very difficult, especially when I saw it coming. With BP’s continual decline (despite fantastic defense), Votto’s lack of power, Bruce’s inconstancy, and the reliance on Simon to pitch in the rotation, it has been easy to predict. There is no quick fix that the Reds should trade for THAT WILL NOT DEPLETE THE FARM. I believe the Reds should have let Homer Bailey walk, or at least trade him… not looking like a great deal now is it? Now… for the what the Reds should do, but won’t.

    1) Trade Johnny Cueto. Yes, I know its difficult to lose such a good player. He has been the Red’s ace for several years now, when healthy, but he only has one year left on his contract (after this one) and the Reds will also have Leake and Latos with expiring contracts. If they want to resign them (which i believe should be done with Leake, maybe Latos, depends on $$$), then they need to trade Cueto for prospects. All the David Price speculation will be for naught because the Rays are winning again, and that speculation and interest will transfer to Cueto and the Reds. A year and a half ago, the Rays got Will Myers, Jake Odorizzi, Mike Montgomery, and Patrick Leanard when they traded James Shield with his expiring contract and Wade Davis to the Royals. Look at a team like Seattle or Toronto (who has a bevy of former Reds teeing off, Juan Francisco, Dioner Navarro, and, of course, Edwin Encarnacion) or even a surprise team like Miami or Chicago. (I would LOVE to deal him to Chicago) Definitely should look to receive two top position prospects along with a high upside arm.

    2) Shop Aroldis Chapman. Now you are about to kill me, I know. But let us be realistic, he is probably the best closer in the game. He has struck out more than half of the batters he has faced this year. MORE THAN HALF! With the Reds championship window closing with this core group of players, Chapman is less valuable on our team, then he would be on a team like San Francisco or Detroit, winning teams that struggle at the end of the bullpen. He will be a free agent in 2017, IF he accepts 5$ player option for 2015 and goes through arbitration in 2016. Yes, he is an absolute, shut the door, dominating Cuban lefty that throws 103mph on a regular basis. But we could get another top prospect and some lower minor league depth for Chapman. Look what the Tigers gave up for Joakim Soria, there #3 and #5 prospects in their system, for a guy that won’t be closing for them unless Joe Nathan continues to struggle. Now what could the Reds get if they traded Chapman? I see San Francisco as a match, although they don’t have as much to offer as other teams, or New York Yankees. Oakland could also be in the mix, but most of these teams don’t have the amount of prospects to pull the best closer in the game from the Reds. Reds should look for a big prospect bat or several high upside arms, or both!

    3) Sign Mike Leake and Mat Latos to contract extensions. Mike Leake reminds me more every 5th day of Bronson Arroyo. He is a dependable 3-4 starter in a good rotation. He would not break the bank (like Votto and Bailey have done) and would provide a good clubhouse presence for the next several years. Mat Latos would be much more difficult. He would push for a contract similar to Baileys (6 years, $105 mil.) but probably more like a 4 year, $75-85 mil. per year. I don’t see the Reds being able to resign both. I think Leake makes more sense for the Reds to keep. With several high upside arms in the system, (Stephenson, Lorenzen, Guillon, Howard) and with many back of the rotation/bullpen guys, The Reds should attempt to resign both, but only signing Latos if it does not kill the Reds payroll for years to come. Pay a player for what they will do, and not what they have already done.

    4) Let Walt Jocketty finish contract (last year now) and let him go. It is time for this era to end, and a new, statistically driven era to begin. Most ideal replacement would be David Forst (age 37) (Assistant GM – Oakland) or Kim Ng (age 46) (Senior Vice-President for Baseball Operations with Major League Baseball). Both would provide a fresh outlook on team management. Both are also younger options than Jocketty (currently 63)

    5) Replace the veterans on the bench and outfield (Ludwick, Schumaker, Santiago, Pena) with younger guys. Same stats, just development. There is no reason for a .500 team in 4th place in division to be playing a bunch of veterans. Either keep them at AAA to play everyday or give them ABs while they are at the MLB level.

    I will stop ranting now, thanks for reading all that, if you did. I will probably think of more things to say later, but this is a start. Please do not just criticize, let us discuss, not argue….. 🙂

    • cfd3000

      Without going into great depth, I like most of these proposals, but I would prefer to sign Cueto and trade Latos. I realize that Cueto’s value may be higher than Latos’, and that he might therefore bring more in return. But if that relative assessment is accurate, then Cueto is more likely to contribute more to the Reds fortunes than Latos. Also, I have no problem moving Chapman. Closers are in my opinion over valued. But I would hold out for some serious proven talent, or multiple high level prospects in return. Otherwise you can be GM for a day in my book with these recommendations.

  22. arley cope

    Reality is there is NO MONEY, to pick up a proven bat and no minor league talent to trade to get it anyway, and the Reds do have Cueto, Latos, Chapman, who are all 20-25 Mil a year players at their next contract, plus, Simon is at his highest value in his entire career today. The Reds cant afford 1 more 20 m contract let alone 3. Combine that with Phillips and Votto are done for the season and not going to be back and themselves for any significant time? Rebuild now. Bailey, Leake Cingrani and, Maybe Chapman, would make a good core of a starting rotation. The deadline is when most clubs are most desperate, not during the winter. You can get higher return now. Flip Cueto, Latos, Bruce, Simon for the best prospects Its too bad Phillips cant be traded and Votto is untradeable because of his contract. Rebuild around Frazier, Mesoraco and Hamilton. They are playing 500 ball now. I would rather see 500 with players with a higher ceiling, than a 500 club of players playing at or close to their ceiling.