Kevin wrote an excellent article a few weeks ago about potential trade partners and returns for Aroldis Chapman. Kevin nailed the potential return value. The Reds are likely to get a top 50 prospect and a B prospect or possibly a couple players in the 50-100 range. This article provides some explanation as to why they might receive that package. Kevin outlined what the Reds might get from Tampa Bay, Seattle, Texas, or Toronto.

Recently, Jon Morosi reported that the Washington Nationals had called the Reds with interest in landing the Cuban Missile. While these talks seem preliminary in nature, they could turn into something substantial at any time. So to build off Kevin’s excellent work, we will here explore what the Reds might get from the Nationals for Chapman’s services. Luckily, the Nationals have some nice pieces for the Reds to explore. Here are some quick scouting reports on pitchers and position players of interest in the National’s system. I note the rankings of each player in the Fangraphs’ top 200 list and the Baseball Prospectus top 100 list.


Lucas Giolito (Fan #7, BP #6) is the Nationals top prospect. He hit 95 MPH as a fifteen year old, which is pretty amazing. Gioloto just turned 21 and has a 30.2% strikeout rate in 39.2 innings for the Nationals’ high A club. His stuff is elite, and the Nationals aren’t giving him up anytime soon.

Reynaldo Lopez (Fan #57, BP #72) throws even harder than Gioloto, which is interesting because when he signed in 2012, he only threw in the upper 80s. Lopez hit 100 MPH many times in 2014 and subsequently shot up prospect lists. I like the way that Baseball Prospectus describes his fastball: “comfortably operates in the mid 90s.” Comfortably being the key term. Lopez can dial it up when necessary much like we see Johnny Cueto do at times. Lopez has struggled some in high A to begin 2015 as a 21 year old likely because of a .345 BABIP, but he is striking out batters at a solid rate. His off speed stuff still needs work apparently, but with an elite fastball, the Reds would at least be interested and may have a chance at Lopez.

A.J. Cole (Fan #143+, BP #30) is a polarizing figure as you can tell by the disparity in rankings between Fangraphs and Baseball Prospectus. Cole has a mid 90s fastball and solid off speed stuff. Some scouts see him at a number 4 starter and nothing more. Others see him as a top of the rotation type pitcher. His minor league numbers are solid but not dominant, and he posted a 4.48 FIP in AAA last year. It’s unclear just how high the Nationals view him, but Cole seems like a reasonable option in return for a relief pitcher, even if that relief pitcher gets three outs by making hitters look silly.

As a 23 year old, Cole has pitched some for the Nationals this year, making one start and three appearances. In 9.1 innings, he has a 5.79 ERA. I’m conflicted on Cole as I don’t see as big an upside as I’d like, but he is likely a major league starter in the future.

Erick Fedde (Fan #95, BP N/A) was the 18th overall pick in the 2014 draft even though he was rehabbing from the dreaded Tommy John surgey. Before the surgery, Fedde would have days where his fastball sat 90-93 and days where it sat 92-95 and top out at 97. Scouts view Fedde as a mid rotation starter with a slight chance for something better. His floor is probably a late inning reliever. All of this is predicated on Fedde returning well from surgery. He hasn’t thrown a pitch as a professional yet and until he does, the Reds should probably stay away.

Joe Ross (Fan N/A, BP N/A) has a solid fastball (92-95 MPH) and secondary stuff that has above average potential. At his best, he is a mid rotation guy. At his worst, he at least provides value out of the bullpen. He has had an impressive year thus far in 2015 and even made three starts in the big leagues with a 2.66 ERA. Ross’ fastball in 3 starts has averaged close to 93 MPH. His nine starts in AA this season were also impressive as he had a career high 26.2% strikeout rate. At 22 years old, Ross could definitely improve and become a solid rotation piece much like Mike Leake. Maybe more.

Position Players

OF Michael Taylor (Fan #133, BP #57) is another polarizing figure. Taylor is toolsy with great speed and a lot of power. He plays an excellent centerfield and  like Billy Hamilton, could provide everyday value with just his defense and base running. But Taylor and Hamilton are very different offensive players. Taylor strikes out a lot and has intense raw power. He hit 22 homers in 98 games last season in AA before seeing some action in both AAA and the major leagues. His .313/.396/.539 slash line at AA is impressive, but his overly aggressive nature at the plate is not.

In Taylor’s defense, he has posted some solid walk rates in the minors, even posting an 11.3% BB rate in 441 plate appearances in AA. Taylor is 24 and his strikeout issues could improve, but unless it does, Taylor has a high risk of being a bust. Still, his skills are tantalizing and worth a look for the Reds.

SS Trea Turner (Fan # 83, BP N/A) has an interesting trade history. He was drafted on June 13th of 2014 by the Padres, and by rule, they have to wait one calendar year before trading him. Turner ended up being the player to be named later in the Wil Myers trade but because of the one year rule, he played in the Padres organization until June 13th of this year. That oddity hasn’t fazed Turner, as he has played extremely well in 2015 with a .322/.385/.471 slash line.

Turner runs really well, and scouts seem to think he will play an average shortstop. He doesn’t possess a ton of power but enough for a middle infielder. Turner’s upside is a high average/on-base guy who hits 10-12 homers. His speed makes him more valuable as he steals bases and take extra bases when the opportunity presents itself. Honestly, the Reds could use more middle infielders, and Turner has a great chance to play shortstop every day in a few years. Many scouts think Reds 2014 first rounder Alex Blandino will move to second base eventually which may open a spot for Turner depending on how you feel about Eugenio Suarez. Regardless of how good Suarez is, Turner would be a great addition.

2B Wilmer Difo (Fan # 143+, BP N/A) had the backing of some scouts and analysts before the season started as the Nationals future shortstop over Turner. In 2014, Difo ripped up low A pitching as a 22 year old with a .315/.360/.470 slash line and 52 extra base hits. This season, he has hit for a high average in AA (.296) but has walked once in 113 plate appearances for a paltry 0.9% walk rate . He has shown better plate discipline in the past, but his aggressiveness is a concern. Difo is a switch hitter with a wide base and not much of a stride as you can see in the video, which is Difo’s first major league hit.

Difo has some good tools to work with. Baseball Prospectus describes him as an “excellent athlete” while rating his speed very highly. Difo stole 49 bases in 2014 and thus far between High A and AA, he has 9 stolen bases in 10 attempts. Difo may eventually end up at 2B, but he isn’t terrible at shortstop either.

Reds Targets

The Nationals have other players of interest with some tools, but the rest likely project as bench players or potential relief help. The Reds would definitely require one or two players from this list in a trade for Chapman. They may also get another throw in, but the key will be getting a starting pitcher or everyday player or two.

Personally, I’m partial to Trea Turner. He will likely stay at short and has already succeeded in AA as a 21 year old. He had an OBP of .447 in 216 plate appearances in high A. While the Reds have Suarez and Alex Blandino in the organization, they could add depth with Turner, and at the moment, he seems to have a higher ceiling than Suarez.

If the trade return estimates are true, the Reds may be able to get both Turner and Taylor as position players or one of the position players and a pitcher. If I had my choice, I’d take Turner and Lopez, but I’d be happy with other scenarios. I’m weary of Taylor being the headliner as players with an overly aggressive approach frequently have trouble adjusting to major league pitching. If Taylor is the second player in the trade behind Lopez or Turner, I would welcome the risk on a tool shed like Taylor.

The Reds need to trade Chapman to bring an influx of young talent into the organization. The Nationals have a reported interest in Chapman and possess the pieces to get him. If the Reds turn one and a half years of Chapman into six plus years of two good prospects, they will have done well.