On April 3rd, 2012, just two days before Opening Day, Walt Jocketty claimed Alfredo Simon off waivers from the Baltimore Orioles. Simon had only pitched 9.0 innings that spring, allowing 7 runs for the Orioles. Walt Jocketty needed one more reliever, and he took a chance on a guy with a 5.18 career ERA in 78 big league games.
Simon got off to shaky start in Cincinnati. In his first appearance, he gave up two runs, including a home run to John Buck and the Marlins. In Simon’s third appearance with the Reds, he threw two wild pitches in the 10th inning, including one that allowed the winning run to score. That night, just about everyone was baffled by the Simon signing and were wondering why he was on a playoff contender’s roster. Simon proved the critics wrong.Ã‚Â He went on to post a 2.66 ERA and a 3.19 FIP in 2012. Simon is only one of eight Reds relievers with a 2.66 ERA or lower since 2000 (minimum 60+ IP).
Simon followed 2012 with a solid 2013, posting a 2.87 ERA, and a sizzling 1.07 WHIP in 63 appearances for the Reds. His 3.96 FIP showed that his performance might have been a bit lucky, but nonetheless he was a key member of that team. Then in 2014, he joined the starting rotation after injuries to Latos, Bailey, and Cingrani, and all he did was make the All-Star team, and finish the season with a 3.44 ERA in 32 starts.
Over the course of his three year Reds career, Simon earned 4.1 bWAR, which is impressive for a guy who spent two of those seasons as a reliever. Yet a good deal of Simon’s success was due to numbers that were unsustainable. In 2014, Simon had a 4.33 FIP, which was the 11th highest in the MLB among qualifying starters. Early projections in 2015 for Simon gave him a 4.89 ERA and 4.79 FIP.
At the 2014 All-Star break, many were clamoring for Jocketty to trade Simon, as his value would never be higher. Jocketty was likely shopping Simon then, but didn’t find a deal that he felt was worthy of a trade. Instead, he kept Simon and shopped him at the winter meetings. Jocketty was able to take advantage of a team that had just traded away a SP for a bat, and got a great return for Simon.
Pitcher, Jonathon Crawford Ã¢â‚¬â€œ 2013 first round draft pick, and #2 prospect in the Tigers system
Shortstop,Ã‚Â Eugenio Suarez Ã¢â‚¬â€œ MLB ready, 23-year old SS, who posted a .362 OBP over his career in the minors (played 85 games in the majors last season with an 85 wRC+)
Getting a 2013 first round draft pick, a team’s number two ranked prospect, was incredible enough for a projected sub-par pitcher with only one year left of team control. But that wasn’t all Jocketty got in return. He also received an MLB ready SS, who has been an above average hitter at EVERY level in the minor leagues. Suarez has posted wRC+ of 123, 192, 116, 126, 147, 102, 137, and 159 at his stops at different levels since his debut in the Tigers system in 2011. Suarez does have defensive concerns, but he is certainly an intriguing player with serious upside for the Reds.
The initial signing in 2012 and then the eventual dealing of Alfredo Simon is a great example of buying low and selling high. That is what you want from an organization. The job that Walt Jocketty did with handling Simon has restored serious faith in the Reds GM in my book.