The Mat Latos and Alfredo Simon trades accomplished several important goals for the Reds. The moves shed a combined $12.5 million in projected 2015 payroll. The club exchanged two years of team player control (one each for Latos and Simon) for 23 years of team player control, so they got younger. The Reds likely had decided that Latos and Simon weren’t candidates for extension. So the organization cashed the two starters in for a major league shortstop, a (maybe) #5 pitcher and two prospects, a pitcher and catcher. Jeff Sullivan (FanGraphs) authored an upbeat account of the team’s winter meeting moves. Doug Gray ranks the new players in the Reds farm system.

However, the Reds didn’t acquire a left fielder, the team’s greatest need.

Not to worry. The cash freed up can go toward acquiring an outfielder, we’re told. That makes perfect sense, although the remaining free agent market for LF is less than inspiring. But what if the club could obtain a left-fielder through trade and not add much to the payroll?

Here’s an idea: The Reds should offer Zack Cozart to the New York Mets for Lucas Duda.

It’s a perfect match. Both Cozart and Duda will be 29 on Opening Day. Each will be entering their first year of arbitration, with free agency possible in 2018. And Zack Cozart and Lucas Duda are both projected (Steamer) to earn 1.7 WAR this season. So symmetrical it’s creepy.

Cozart would be a great fit for the Mets, known to be desperate for a shortstop. They’re connected to every SS rumor out there  – from Troy Tulowitzki to Jung-ho Kang. Lucas Duda is scheduled to be the Mets’ 1B. But they signed Michael Cuddyer this offseason, he can play first.

Duda won’t hit for average, but he has a great walk-rate. Think .250/.350. He also smacked 30 home runs last season playing half his games in pitcher-friendly Citi Field. The Reds acquired Eugenio Suarez in the Simon trade with the Tigers and he’d be a reasonable substitute for Cozart. Suarez is a little better at the plate and a little worse in the field. Duda would also give the Reds a legitimate backup at first base.

The batting order with Duda: Hamilton, Votto, Mesoraco, Bruce, Frazier, Duda, Phillips, Suarez, pitcher

And if the Reds don’t need to use their newfound cash on a left-fielder …

Sign a one-year contract for a #4/#5 starting pitcher. Or sign an established reliever and move the current closer to the starting rotation. Or extend Devin Mesoraco or Mike Leake. Or pocket it for use at the trade deadline.