At the top of the 2018 season, the Reds had four prospects in MLB.com’s Top 100 — Nick Senzel, Hunter Greene, Taylor Trammel, and Tyler Mahle. On its face, that’s a strong system. I mean a top 10, three top 50, and four total premier prospects: What is there to complain about?

But then consider that the Braves, who are step ahead in the rebuild, have eight top 100 prospects and that’s even after Dansby Swanson and Ozzie Albies lost prospect eligibility. Or think that the Padres, arguably a step behind the Reds, have seven top 100 prospects, including one top 10 and six top 50.

The Reds have a good-looking farm, sure, but compared to other rebuilding teams, the minor league hands aren’t expected to push this team over the edge on their own. This exercise intends to explore options that could bolster the upper levels of the Reds’ farm system and push the rebuild over the edge without signing another “veteran presence.”

I’ve identified three positions of need for the Reds — middle infield, starting pitching, and outfield — where a big league ready prospect could come over and find playing time quickly, if not right away. For each position, I’ve picked a prospect reach, a realistic deal, and a deep cut guy. The first situation means the other team would be unlikely to sell; the second a deal that makes sense for both sides; and the third a lower-level player who the Reds could aggressively push along and maybe call up in mid-2019.

Keep in mind that the Reds don’t have many commodities a team looking for a playoff berth would want. Scott Schebler, should he keep hitting, could be moved, and Homer Bailey, should he keep pitching and the Reds eat some of his contract, would be a boon to any staff. But beyond them, Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall have turned into pumpkins and while Raisel Iglesias should be moved, it’s hard to know which teams will need closers this early in the season. In sum, the deals I’m suggesting are the best the Reds should offer for any of these players, not necessarily a deal that will get the job done.


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MIDDLE INFIELD

Realistic: Yu-Cheng Chang, Cleveland Indians

We’ll start with easily my favorite prospect of all nine I’m naming. Yu-Cheng Chang is the Indians No. 6 prospect, their second-best shortstop prospect, and blocked by two all-world middle infielders in Francisco Lindor and Jason Kipnis, with Jose Ramirez taking up space at the hot corner as well. Suffice to say, Chang will not be getting Major League looks with the Tribe any time soon.

Which is unfortunate for Chang because this kid can rake. The lowest full season wRC+ he’s posted is 91, back when he was in A ball. In high A, he posted a 117 wRC+; in AA, a 110 wRC+; and currently, another 110 through 16 AAA games. Chang strikes out a lot but also has immense power for a shortstop and will walk around an 8-10% clip. He won’t be the truest three-outcome player, but for a shortstop, he’ll add plenty of value to an offense currently relying on Jose Peraza. But the best part is that the Indians should be looking to move Chang, being a playoff hopeful and needing some outfield help and a dependable bench bat.

Deal: Chang for Billy Hamilton, Scooter Gennett

Reach: Franklin Barreto, Oakland A’s

I’ll preface this one by saying there is only a one percent chance the A’s would ever move Barreto. He hits for average with decent power for a shortstop, and while he doesn’t walk much, his OBP will still be better than Billy Hamilton’s. He’s the future of their middle infield, their second ranked prospect, and has already spent time with the big league club.

However, the A’s could use a decent hitting outfielder, a high-upside starter, and a catcher on the right side of 30. Also, Jed Lowrie’s late career resurgence could cause the A’s to gamble on 2018, and Marcus Semien’s sudden development into a 2.0-WAR player blocks short for the next couple of years. So in conclusion, it would be beyond stupid for the A’s to move Barreto, but should there be a sliver of hope for a wild card berth and Barreto continues to struggle in AAA, moving him for some short term help could happen. A one percent chance at least.

Deal: Barreto for Scott Schebler, Jackson Stephens

Deep Cut: Thairo Estrada, New York Yankees

Estrada is the Yankee’s No. 10 prospect and has already played a season at AA, so this cut isn’t as deep as the other two will be. But the Yankees already have Didi Gregorius, Gleybar Torres, and Miguel Andujar around the infield, which if you’re keeping track is an All-Star caliber shortstop and two uber-prospects, so Estrada looks blocked for years to come.

He likely wouldn’t make a big league debut until mid-2019 at the earliest, but Estrada hit .301/.353/.392 over a full season at AA last year. He’s a contact hitter without much power, but he won’t strikeout much either and has never recorded a full season wRC+ below 100. He’s also a defensive wizard who profiles more at second than short, but can reasonably play either. Even though he suffered a gunshot wound over the offseason, the injury isn’t expected to hinder Estrada’s development, though a slow start to the year won’t ease any minds.

Deal: Estrada, Ben Heller (Yankees No. 29 prospect, RHP) for Homer Bailey


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STARTING PITCHER

Realistic: Austin Voth, Washington Nationals

Saying the Reds should trade for a guy who posted a 6.38 ERA and 5.96 FIP in 66.1 innings at AAA last year probably won’t inspire much faith in my prospecting ability but hear me out. Voth was next in line for a big league promotion in 2016 but was passed over in favor for Lucas Giolito. The wheels promptly fell off for Voth after that.

So far through 2018 though, Voth has been lights out with a 0.96 ERA, 2.82 FIP, and a disgusting 32.8 K%. He’s also only walked 3% of batters, which clearly won’t last but does serve to illustrate Voth’s absurd control. He’s a Tyler Mahle type prospect with more upside. He’s also someone the Nats could be looking to sell.

With Erick Fedde next in line for a rotation shot, Voth’s best chance for playing time necessitates two injuries to the Nationals’ all-star rotation. And looking at Houston’s stacked five, the Nationals might rather have a proven starter like Homer Bailey than count on Voth to maintain this year’s numbers or count on Fedde in a playoff scenario. If I were Washington, I would hold onto Voth, but there’s enough of a chance that the Reds should push to bring him into fold.

Deal: Voth, PLTBNL for Bailey, Stephens

Reach: Kolby Allard, Atlanta Braves

Honestly, given Voth’s start to 2018, he should probably be the reach and Allard should be the realistic deal but I believe Allard will be more difficult to pry off the Braves. The Braves No. 6 prospect, but their fifth-best pitching prospect, Allard dropped on Top 100 board from No. 22 to No. 56 this year because of injury concerns and a soft fastball. (Side note: The Braves system is unreal.) However, Allard has consistently posted solid numbers at every level he’s started, with his first three starts at AAA no exception.

Allard doesn’t have high strikeout numbers but won’t walk that many batters and keeps the ball in the yard. With their trove of pitching prospects, the Braves can stand to move one and still field an entire rotation of studs. What the Braves do need though is a second young outfielder to take over for Nick Markakis next year. While moving Jesse Winker is out of the question, it might not hurt the Reds to send Taylor Trammell to Atlanta. I think this deal beyond favors the Braves, but I would still pull the trigger because Allard could be a rotation rock behind Castillo and Mahle for years.

Deal: Allard for Taylor Trammell

Deep Cut: Jorge Alcala, Houston Astros

I’ll keep this one short because right now, Alcala is nothing more than a future closer, but boy could he be good. 21 years old with a fastball that can hit 102, Alcala needs a single secondary pitch before he can even approach being a quality starter. He’s got an electric arm though and has shown success at A and A+ even if he has struggled at AA so far. Definitely worth the flyer, especially if the Reds end up moving Raisel Iglesias this year.

Deal: Alcala, PLTBNL for Scott Schebler


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OUTFIELDER

Realistic: Dylan Cozens, Philadelphia Phillies

The Phillies should not move Dylan Cozens, let me preface with that. They don’t particularly have a position of need, and while they also don’t have anywhere for him to play, better to have prospect depth than not. But this is where the magic of a closer like Raisel Iglesias enters. Hector Neris ain’t a bad option, but he’s not a shutdown guy either. Push come to shove and the Phillies are looking at a wild card spot? Iglesias for Cozens makes a lot of sense.

So who is this guy? He’s the prototypical three-outcome player; Joey Gallo in the outfield. Right now he’s slashing .246/.385/.489 with seven of his 15 hits going for extra bases. And even with all his size and power, Cozens has wheels too, stealing six bags already this year. After hitting .210 last year, the Phillies have worked with him to make more contact. It hasn’t paid off yet, with Cozens sporting a 34.6 K% but that shouldn’t be too much cause for concern given his plate discipline and power. Just imagine if the Reds can replace Duvall with Cozens, subbing a power-sapped corner outfielder for one who hits long balls in abundance.

Deal: Cozens for Raisel Iglesias

Reach: Willie Calhoun, Texas Rangers

The Rangers top prospect, Calhoun hits, hits and hits some more. He’s expected to be a middle of the order bat for years, but the Rangers are content to leave him in AAA for now, even as he describes that treatment as “a slap in the face.” Calhoun hit 31 homers in a full season at AAA last year, while keeping his K% down around 10%. He’s a rare power hitter who makes good contact, and the Rangers are in all likelihood going to hang onto him.

Not in the hunt this year and with plenty of holes around the diamond, the Rangers shouldn’t move Calhoun unless they get a serious long-term haul back. For the Reds, that means moving young, controllable arms the Rangers could count on to replace their aging rotation. For the right price, any player is up for sale, though this reach feels like the most outlandish of the three.

Deal: Calhoun for Tony Santillan, Rookie Davis, Keury Mella

Deep Cut: Desmond Lindsay, New York Mets

The Mets No. 7 prospect, Lindsay’s ceiling is an All-Star centerfielder, but lingering hamstring issues and a lack of in-game power limit the most optimistic realistic projections. What Lindsay has shown is stellar plate discipline, walking around 15% clip and keeping his strikeouts around 20%. The latter number did leap up to 30% last year, so there may be some cause for concern as Lindsay moves past A+, but the young outfielder is so athletic that he could be worth the risk.

Deal: Lindsay, Ali Sanchez (Mets No. 27 prospect, C) for Homer Bailey


The likelihood of any of these deals happening is more or less a toss up: I’m not in Dick Williams’ head and he sure as heck doesn’t listen to my advice. But the takeaway here should be that the Reds should absolutely move Scott Schebler and Homer Bailey should they keep producing, and they should do so for quality, not quantity.

Taylor Trammell should be on the block as well if a big league prospect is on the table, otherwise the Reds should hold him as tight as possible. Keep an eye on Cozens, Voth, and Chang in the coming months — they could be headlining various deadline deals. Just maybe don’t count on the Reds to be involved.

25 Responses

  1. Alex

    The overall idea of trading guys who won’t be here for the next winning team is a great idea, although the Barreto scenario is a bit crazy.

  2. Michael Smith

    Most of these trades make little sense for one side or the other Why would anyone take Bailey at this time? Why would the reds trade Trammel for another prospect? He is a key cog to picking up a big piece, not another prospect.

  3. Sliotar

    @Michael Smith,

    With you on Bailey. I am not sure how/when this started on RLN, the narrative that Homer Bailey has trade value and can be moved.

    Didn’t the Reds pay $13 million of Brandon Phillips’ $14 million (or something like that) to get him to agree to be traded to the Braves?

    A team willing to take Bailey on has to pay….

    2018-Remainder of $21 million
    2019-$23 million
    2020-$5 million buyout

    And, give up viable prospects as well?

    Reds are likely eating 80-90% of the remaining contract, and even then not getting much in return from other team. At that point, maybe better to keep him, for $ and other reasons.

    • Wesley Jenkins

      Think of Bailey’s value less in the long term and more as a Charlie Morton type fourth or fifth starter that makes a playoff teams seven game series rotation all the more formidable. That’s where he has value and that’s where teams might take a flyer on him. Obviously that’s dependent on him pitching as well as he had to start the season for the next three months and means the Reds will eat half his contract at least, but should the Phillies get near the playoffs, dealing Bailey for Cozens straight is truly not outside the realm of feasibility (though unlikely, as I said at the top of the piece)

      • Michael Smith

        Wesley you need to put those pieces in the article. If the deal includes eating half the contract then its a bit different.

        On the second part with WV you are cutting off the the legs of the farm system for once again prospects. They may be mlb ready but Trammel and Santillan are huge pieces in the second wave for the farm system. Those are the type of guys that would have been huge pieces in the Yellich trade, not for near mlb ready prospects.

      • Wesley Jenkins

        fair on both points, I put toward the top the I expected the Reds to eat most of Baileys contract but it was hidden in the middle of a sentence, easily couldve been more clear.

      • Michael Smith

        I did miss the part about eating a portion of the contract.

      • Wesley Jenkins

        ^also a great point, but I will stand by my Morton comp for both reasons, i.e. his limited role in the postseason last year and his stretch run contributions

    • Carl Sayre

      The absolute stupidity of how much the Reds ate of Brandon Phillips contract for zero return in talent still gags me!!! The Reds could eat 70 percent of HB’s contract maybe a touch more for real talent!!!

  4. Kap

    How about:

    – Bailey to the Angels for Griffin Canning and PTBNL
    – Meso to the Mets for Anthony Kay

    AND THE BIG ONE (if they decide to do it):

    – Iglesias to the Braves for Kyle Wright, Kolby Allard, and Bryce Wilson

    • Wesley Jenkins

      That last deal, while salivating, just would never happen. Iglesias simply does not hold enough value to bring back both Wright and Allard, much less all three. I could see Iglesias getting one of Wright or Allard with a throw away prospect as the second, but I don’t think the Braves would even pull the trigger on that.

  5. Sliotar

    Wes’s article (as usual) is well thoughtout, but making these moves would present a creditibility problem for Dick Williams and the Reds.

    Williams stated he wanted to see progress this year, that the Reds have money (read: Mesoraco’s expiring contract) to spend this coming off-season, etc., etc.

    Making these types of moves would show the competitive window really not starting until 2020 or even 2021.

    Which, IMO, seems right, on when enough developed talent will be amassed, but I don’t think the Reds are ready yet to send that kind of signal to a demoralized fanbase.

    Imagine the social media reaction of Iglesias dealt at trade deadline for 3 future studs, 3 years away from MLB. (which would be awesome, but optics…..)

    • Moses

      If Williams were to make these trades, he’d be crowned GM of the Year for highway robbery. And once these prospects made it to the Bigs, Williams would be sainted in Cincinnati. These trades are pipe dreams!

  6. Wesley Jenkins

    I don’t think we’re that far apart really, so not sure where this losing of mind has occurred. The two deals — one with Trammell, one with Santiallian — were very intentional. Kolby Allard is a stud and would shore up a Reds rotation with a lot of question marks. Especially if you’re right about Schebler, the outfield won’t look too bad without Trammell. On the Santiallian deal, Calhoun is another big league ready guy who will produce, hands down. So if both those deals are done (again, they won’t be but hear me out) you lose Taylor Trammell and Tony Santillian but gain Willie Calhoun and Kolby Allard, which is beyond preferable imo.

    As for Stephens, I personally don’t believe any major league team will trade good prospects for Reed or Stephenson given their respective struggles at the big league level already. Stephens still seems to have a bit of the prospect shine in my mind, thought at the end of the day was just a young pitching prospect to move.

    • Wesley Jenkins

      Real, I very much agree with your untouchables there. I want to hold Trammell more than anything, but of the four guys you names, he’s the second I would move after Santillian (my mindset is always move young, high potential pitching for higher level pitching or young bats).

      As for Greene, I wouldn’t move him full stop. I think he holds so much potential and so much star power that he can draw people to the park much like Aroldis used to. Unless the Reds are getting a top 15 outfielder and two top 50 pitchers in return (which just simply won’t happen), Greene is more valuable to the franchise

  7. Carl Sayre

    I will add one more thought Duvall has zero value be patient to see if he can be that .265 with 28 long balls because of GABP !That is pretty good power until late inthe season, I don’t see him a Red going forward but he might improve his value over the next 6 weeks!

  8. dougschloemer

    Duvall a power-sapped corner OF? What OF’s hit more HR’s than him the past 2 years? Not many I assume.

  9. SultanofSwaff

    No way I’m trading with the Braves for pitching. Still scarred from multiple trades 20 years ago for their ‘top’ pitching prospects that never panned out. lol

  10. wizeman

    to me Santillan and Trammell are off the table. Liked Doug’s article about BABIP average of Greene. Not too worried.

  11. Scott Carter

    Scooter and Duval or Hamilton will never be centerpieces for a trade. They will have to be a part of a package and then the other part is going to have to be pretty attractive in order to seduce a nice return. I think your analysis is right on Wesley. As you have pointed out though, none of these trades are going to be done.

  12. big5ed

    The Reds’ position is fairly obvious.

    1. Raisel Iglesias’s contract has a ton of value, and he will bring something worth having in July from a team in dire need of a closer.

    2. The Reds are not going to trade Suarez, Schebler, Barnhart, their young starters, or any of their top minor leaguers, because doing so makes zero sense. Taylor Trammell and Senzel are untouchable, as should be Greene, Santillan, Siri, Tyler Stephenson, Jeter Downs, and several others. The Reds have their best farm system in maybe 30 years, and they aren’t going to blow it up.

    3. No other major leaguer’s contract has any real value, and no other team will want those contracts. The Reds will be unable to get much more than a B or C prospect for any of these other major leaguers. Homer, for example, is cost prohibitive; eating part of his contract would amount to the Reds paying $$$ for a prospect. Ditto Mesoraco. Adam Duvall’s contact has no value, because low-average, high-HR hitters are a dime a dozen. Gennett is a worse fielder than a border collie, and he isn’t cheap. Hamilton can’t hit, and is expensive.

    The whole trading game, then, is Iglesias. They could luck out by trading somebody like Hamilton for a guy in A-ball who ultimately pans out, but there isn’t going to be a major deal, other than for Iglesias.

  13. Moses

    I think you’re being a bit too optimistic, Wesley! I think that the only Red you mentioned who could bring back a top 50 prospect is Iglesias. Perhaps if Schebler goes on a tear and a team thinks it’s sustainable, you might be able to extract something. But to turn Jackson Stephens, on nobody’s top prospect list, into a top 50 would be a magic trick that I’d like to see!

    • Wesley Jenkins

      hahah oh I know none of these would work, but like I said in the article, I have to work with what the Reds have and still stay within some bounds of reason. It was more about assessing another team’s needs and then putting together the best package the Reds should feasibly offer.

  14. Hanawi

    This might be crazy, but I would consider a package with Senzel as the headliner. Particularly if it brought back a stud CF. With Suarez entrenched at 3B, it seems that Senzel is going to be stuck at 2B. But the Reds also have Herrera and Shed Long there coming up. They could play Blandino and Scooter the rest of this year, since they aren’t winning anything anyway and then transition to one of the other guys going forward. Don’t know if the Nats would trade Robles straight up or Soto plus another piece, but I would do that if I were the Reds.

  15. Wesley Jenkins

    Yeah when I first started on this one I wanted to make them realistic offers but the Reds just truly have no one with trade value outside of Iglesias and maybe (really, maybe) Schebler, alas…