It’s easy to blame the Terry Francona and the Indians for the current hyper-usage state of bullpens, but blaming the 2014 Royals probably makes more sense. The combination of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland sucked any oxygen out of a game the Royals were leading in the sixth, redefining the word shutdown. It took the Royals all the way to the Series, which they lost, but the 2015 squad with Herrera, Davis, and Ryan Madson at the back eventually got the job done.

The point here being: Successful playoff teams have learned that you don’t just need a closer in the postseason, you need three of them.

When projecting where Reds closer Raisel Iglesias could be traded before the deadline, nearly every playoff contending team becomes a contender. Only a few — the Yankees, the Brewers, the Diamondbacks — have had two or three lights-out relievers since Opening Day, while a couple others — the Mariners and the Nationals — have already made moves to bolster the back end. That leaves eight (EIGHT!) potential landing spots for Iglesias, which itself leaves out the A’s, the Cardinals, the Rockies, and the Giants who are technically contending but would be shocking additions to the postseason.

Knowing the options, I wanted to find the best potential deal from each of the eight teams while following Steve’s Golden Rule of Trading Iglesiasâ„¢:

I’ll assume Iglesias is worth a 1-2 WAR Major League player plus a top 15 team prospect or a top 10 and a top 30 team prospect given Iglesias’ team friendly contract and the usually overinflated closer market. In all cases, I try to be as realistic as possible given the other teams’ priorities and who they would be absolutely unwilling to part with, but I can only read so many minds. While I don’t think the Indians would ever include Mike Clevinger or Francisco Meija, I could be totally wrong and the team could be more desperate for bullpen help than they seem. All things considered, these are the smartest trade matches I could come up with.



Indians — Adam Plutko and Yu-Cheng Chang OR Tyler Naquin and Shane Bieber

Current Bullpen: Full-on Dumpster Fire

Being the most logical trade partner for the Reds, the Indians get two options. My love of Yu-Cheng Chang is well documented, but let me repeat something: A .241 FULL SEASON ISO IN AA. While he’s scuffled a bit in 2018, Chang has real power and the athleticism necessary for short. Tacking on Plutko to this deal gets the Reds a big league ready starter, even if he only has the ceiling of No. 4.

On the other hand, Tyler Naquin and Shane Bieber would be a lot of fun wouldn’t it? Given how he’s performed, I doubt the Indians move Bieber but if the Reds throw in Duvall, this could be a wonderful deal. Two Major League quality players for the Reds and a reliever who remembers what outs are for the Indians. Also, Adam Duvall to take over Naquin’s role. A win-win-neutral if I’ve ever seen one.

Phillies — Nick Williams and Enyel De Los Santos

Current Bullpen: Seranthony Dominguez can maybe do it himself?

The Phillies have one arm in the bullpen, two quality outfielders, two I-guess-if-we-have-to outfielders, and a really young farm system. Also, a surprisingly decent rotation. Depending on your feelings toward Zach Eflin, he could headline a return for Iglesias here, but I personally would rather Nick Williams. Only 24 years old, Williams has the potential to hit and hit very well. In a down year, he’s still managed a 100 wRC+, which matches his lowest full season minor league sample from 2016 in AAA. He followed that up with a 130 wRC+ in AAA in 2017. Williams has a lot of promise to be a solid MLB outfielder and luckily, he’s expendable. The Phillies can play Aaron Altherr or Dylan Hoskins in right without too much of a dropoff.

Enyel de los Santos, the other proposed piece here, isn’t just a tack on either. He a 1.63 ERA and 3.45 FIP across 13 starts in AAA. He’s the Phillies No. 11 prospect, and at only 22, has a lot of growing and adjusting left to do. This deal absolutely privileges the Reds, but if the Phillies are serious about the postseason this year, they need another arm.

Astros — Yordan Alvarez and Cionel Perez

Current Bullpen: Bad but not desperate

I can’t imagine the Astros wanting to trade Alvarez, their No. 3 prospect, but also trading for Iglesias would make the Houston squad the most complete team I’ve ever seen so who knows. Alvarez is hitting .326/.383/.609 in AA with a 158 wRC+, which just feels unfair. The Astros won’t move Kyle Tucker or Forrest Whitley, so Alvarez makes the most sense for the Reds to go after and the ‘Stros to see as expendable. As for Perez, he’s a Cuban lefty who’s striking out 11+ batters per 9.0 innings in AA. Oh, and he’s being groomed as a starter but there are calls to move him to the back of the pen. Seems familiar. Perez could be a steal if the Reds overlook his arm injury issues and keep him starting. I don’t have much faith in the organization following that path, but it’s worth hoping for.


Angels — Griffin Canning and D’Shown Knowles 

Current Bullpen: Mike Trout is probably the best reliever on the team. I’m like 80 percent sure of that.

I’m only categorizing this as a “not as great option” because I think the Angels trading for a closer is super dumb on their part. Wunderkid Shohei Ohtani is likely done for the year. Starters include Kole Calhoun, Albert Pujols, Justin Upton, and Luis Valbuena, which would’ve been decent three years ago. And the bullpen is headlined by Blake Parker and Cam Bedrosian. The Halos really don’t have a shot at October is what I’m saying.

But if they think they do, then sending top pitching prospect Griffin Canning and 17-year-old Bahamian super athlete D’Shown Knowles sounds pretty good to me.

Braves — Kyle Wright and Jasseel De La Cruz

Current Bullpen: With Vizcaino hurt, the Braves best reliever is….A.J. Minter? Oof.

The Braves will make a deadline move for a reliever. There’s not much I’m certain of in life, but this I will stand by. And caramel ice cream is the best, but that’s irrelevant.

The Braves absolutely have to shore up their bullpen. The Phillies and the Nationals will battle them all year, and only two of those three is making the playoffs because I’m also pretty certain both the Brewers and Cubs will make it in. And while Arodys Vizcaino is the real deal, you just can’t give high-leverage innings to A.J. Minter in a playoff hunt.

I chose Kyle Wright here because he should be the most Major League ready of the Braves pitching prospects, but feel free to sub Kolby Allard or Touki Touissant. De La Cruz is a promising add-in, but still only in A-ball, so a bit of a toss-up there. While the Braves make a ton of sense as a trade partner for the Reds, they’ll likely need most of their starting pitching prospects before the end of the year and won’t want to deal the highest touted ones. I realize I’m talking myself out of this deal as I write, I just think the Reds can, and should, do better.

Dodgers — Yasiel Puig

Current Bullpen: The entire rotation is on the DL and Kenley Jansen can only do so much.

Okay, I know how it look but stick with me here. The Dodgers have one of the best AAA outfielders in baseball currently hitting .347/.392/.515. The Dodgers are not going to trade him. Alex Verdugo is staying put.

HOWEVER, Verdugo has nowhere to play because of the logjam of Matt Kemp, Yasiel Puig, and Joc Pederson across their outfield. Kemp isn’t his 2012 self, but he’s having a decent year, is signed through 2019, and seems fairly unmovable. Pederson, despite early season struggles, has rebounded and is still only 26. Which leaves Puig, equal parts loved and reviled in LA, as the potential odd man out.

Would the Dodgers do this? Probably not, but putting Iglesias in front of Kenley Jansen probably surpasses the Brewers for most terrifying bullpen in baseball and replacing Puig with Verdugo really just looks like a good business decision. The deal is outlandish and unlikely, but it makes more sense than you think.


Red Sox — Jalen Beeks and Bryan Mata

Current Bullpen: Actually pretty good

The Red Sox are on this list as a potential partner because they have money to spend and are in the same division as the Yankees. Boston doesn’t truly need bullpen help, but when your the Red Sox, it’s not a matter of need, it’s a matter of want.

Should Raisel Iglesias strike the Red Sox fancy, the Reds should be demanding Beeks in return and trying their best to get Bryan Mata tacked on. The No. 15 prospect in the Red Sox system, Jalen Beeks doesn’t exactly set scouts’ hearts aflutter. With a pedestrian fastball and squint-and-maybe-it’s-there command, Beeks looks like a long-relief bullpen arm at best. But still, he’s striking out 12.12 batters every 9.0 innings in AAA while walking 2.40 per 9.0. He has a 2.88 FIP and for all practical purposes, looks like the real deal. Might as well get him starting every fifth day and see if that’s true.

Mata, the Red Sox No. 4 prospect, would be more of a flyer on a teenage pitcher with a high ceiling. Just what every Reds fan wants to hear. It definitely wouldn’t be a strong return from the Red Sox, but like I said, the Red Sox don’t need Iglesias. Beeks could turn out to be a solid MLB starter, but this deal would be a worst case scenario for moving Iglesias.

Cubs — Adbert Alzolay

Current Bullpen: Mostly hurt because putting on pants is hard

The Cubs, like the Red Sox, don’t truly need backend help and they’re in the same division as the Reds. This would be a dumb deal to make for Dick Williams, Nick Krall, and Co. That said, the Cubs do have to compete with the Brewers’ incredible pen, so adding an extra arm has probably crossed their mind.

All it should take would be top prospect Adbert Alzolay, who hasn’t exactly wowed at AAA. Alzolay has a plus fastball with a strong curve and a changeup in the making. Fangraphs has compared him to Antonio Senzatela if the changeup never comes around, but a potential 2/3 starter if it does. Given his top prospect status and the Cubs’ lack of need, I don’t imagine the Reds would get much more in a deal than Alzolay, but he could be enough.


The Indians, Phillies, and Braves make the most sense to deal with for the Reds and all have good options to offer in return. The Astros could beat any Braves or Phillies offer more than likely, but also picking up Iglesias would be a luxury for them. The Angels will likely drop out of the hunt and the Dodgers won’t want to meet the asking price as long as Kenley Jansen exists.

If I were to bet on where Raisel Iglesias ends up, it’d be the Phillies. I doubt the Indians meet the Reds’ asking price given there’s no competition in the AL Central and instead rely on Andrew Miller to regain his previous form or move Bieber to the bullpen. The Braves could part with Allard, in which case that deal makes the most sense, but I don’t see that happening either given Vizcaino is a true closer. The Phillies, however, need a true closer so Seranthony Dominguez can slot as a setup man in a strong NL East.

As with any trade projection, I could be all sorts of wrong, but it all kind of makes sense, right?

25 Responses

  1. Davy13

    [For those who have read this “reply” in another blog post, forgive me. I think my reply fits this blog post better than in the other]

    I am proposing for the Reds to be both a buyer and seller at the trade deadline. Sell the usual suspects that have been named but buy JT Realmuto. I know that’s coming out of “left field” but it would be real acquisition. Tucker has been solid offensively and very good defensively. Realmuto is plain better.
    + He’s still young (27; same age as Tucker).
    + Affordable for a few years – not eligible for free agency until 2021.
    + Far superior hitter than Tucker. One of the best catchers offensively (3rd in oWAR & 6th in overall WAR). His WAR is double of Tucker.
    + Nearly as good defensively – arguably he is having a better season defensively up to now than Tucker. Point is that he is not much of a defensive drop-off and makes up that difference in large measure with his offense.

    I live in Miami. It is no secret that the Marlins are selling for prospects. He may not be available because of his age and contract-friendly situation, but if the Reds make an enticing offer he could be had. A sure thing is a better risk than a prospect. If the Reds FO go for a player like that, they are sending a signal to the fans that they are serious of contending beginning with 2019. Realmuto would be a nice core piece playing in a hitter-friendly ballpark. Offensively, they would be so much better than now. Imagine that!

  2. Davy13

    “It’s easy to blame the Terry Francona and the Indians for the current hyper-usage state of bullpens, but blaming the 2014 Royals probably makes more sense. The combination of Kelvin Herrera, Wade Davis, and Greg Holland sucked any oxygen out of a game the Royals were leading in the sixth, redefining the word shutdown.”

    Wesley, you’re probably too young to remember, if you were even born, but you can go all the way back 28 years to the 1990 REDS WS Champ team to find the useful value of a multi-pitcher bullpen to shutdown a team in the later innings. That team had “The Nasty Boys” relievers of Rob Dibble, Norm Charlton, and Randay Myers.

    Oh how I miss that team…I can’t believe it has been almost 30 years since the REDS won a championship.

    • Matt Esberger

      Doofus- You beat me to it w/ Big Red Machine comment. Also can throw in 1999 team Danny Graves/Scott Williamson/Scott Sullivan/Dennys Reyes 4 headed monster. Very underrated bullpen when Williamson was healthy.

      Indians makes sense because Allen no longer dominant and Miller might not be available until sometime in July but don’t think Bieber will be available because pitching well for the big league team and may stick in rotation for time being. Naquin is a good hitter and has .350 OBP in short career but has dealt with injury issues and can be iffy in center.

    • Mason Red

      Absolutely right about Sparky and his use of the bullpen. It wasn’t because the Reds had bad starting pitching. It was because he wanted to save his starters and keep them strong. And this was at a time when starting pitchers were expected to go 8-9 innings. It was an innovation that Sparky doesn’t get enough credit for.

    • Bill Lack

      Yep, the ’75 Reds had 4 guys through over 90 innings (2 starts), and the ERA+’s were between 122 and 146.

  3. SoCalRedsFan

    Do. Not. Want. Puig. Please, no!!!!!

    • bouwills

      Wouldn’t have traded Gallardo for Puig!

    • Wesley Jenkins

      Ah you’re very right, I neglected to look at Puig’s contract status

      • Wesley Jenkins

        That’s where I disagree. Good outfielders are harder to come by than good relievers. Iggy is easily replaced by Garrett but the Reds currently have 1.5 outfielders for three spots (Schebler 0.5, Winker 0.5, Bham 0.25, Duvall .25) Puig may be annoying, but he’s decent and an upgrade over anyone the Reds have at the moment. It also allows the Reds to shift Winker to left if Puig is playing right.

        But again, neglected the contract so this is all for naught.

      • Bill Lack

        My other problem with the idea of getting Puig are the potential headaches involved.

      • Adam M. Singhoff

        Contract status aside, Puig would be the 3rd most valuable OF on the Reds based on bWAR. He would be below both Schebler and Duvall, and only a tenth of a win higher than Hamilton (0.6 to 0.5 WAR.) I think his power would play better at GABP but he isn’t worth the potential headache and has only played 4 games total in CF over the last 4 seasons, so he wouldn’t fill any needs of the team.

  4. eric3287

    I know this is beating a dead horse, but the main problem boils down to the simple fact that the Reds are bad. I know we all enjoy a good 7 game winning streak and sweeping the Cubs, but the simple fact is that the Reds have a very bad roster.

    The Reds are giving very regular playing time to three of the worst 12 hitters in the National League. Billy (77/80, 268 PA), Peraza (75/80 321 PA, 2nd only to Votto on the team) and Duvall (69/80, not nice, 265 PA).

    The “Big 3” of young starting pitchers currently have FIPs of 5.15 (Castillo), 5.09 (Romano), 4.81 (Mahle). I get that they are young. I get that they might improve. I also know there are 17 SP in the NL that are 26 or younger and Castillo, Romano, and Mahle rank 17, 16, 15 respectively in FIP. xFIP is a little more generous to Mahle and Castillo. Romano is dead last in xFIP, Mahle is 14th, and Castillo is 9th.

    So if the Reds simply do nothing, what changes? We hope Mahle and Castillo stop giving up home runs at a ridiculous rate, and they probably will, but I would at least like to see it happen first. If they don’t find replacements for Peraza and Billy, what do we do? Hope they somehow get better?

    I get that it sucks, but the Reds have, in house, at least 2 potential Iglesias replacements in Garrett and Lorenzen and potentially up to 3 replacements for Scooter in Senzel, Herrera, and Shed Long. The only way the Reds get better is by trading players that other teams actually want.

    • TyGuy85

      This is dead on how I feel. We can have one abysmal offensive player in the lineup that is a superior defender at a crucial defensive position (CF, SS) but not 3! But all in all, the Reds true Achilles heal for the last couple of years has been starting pitching and the only way to improve that is through trades or FA. With the large contracts Votto, Homer, etc, I don’t see the Reds being able to do a ton in FA.

  5. bouwills

    Of the 8 options mentioned,choosing E) none of the above was a cinch. So how about the options for
    trading Hughes, or Hernandez?

  6. Scott Carter

    Very few of these make sense to me, we need a shortstop or a centerfielder and the only shortstop I see here is Yu Chang. Now that I could go for. If I were to trade with the Dodgers I would want Pederson over Puig. We have more than enough corner outfielders, we need to be moving corner outfielders not bringing in more.Nothing else I see here moves the meter in a positive direction.

    • Wesley Jenkins

      I thought about making the Pederson suggestion but he’s younger and since breaking out of his early season struggles, has been on a roll. I doubt the Dodgers cut bait with him for a reliever

    • Adam M. Singhoff

      He can play CF, but you sure as heck better have solid defenders in left and right. Duvall solves that issue, Winker is better in left but not great, and Puig was good in right last season but has put up a negative dWAR in 2018.

  7. lost11found

    Astros might be more desperate than you would think being defending champs and all, but they will only be able to keep this core together a limited time and maybe want to give themselves a bit more strength headed to the playoffs.

    Despite winning it all last year, their bullpen was shaky in the postseason (from the outside looking in), and shoreing that up might be very attractive given the excellent chance to go B2B.

  8. Tom Mitsoff

    I like the thought process here. I hope Dick Williams is as aggressive in his proposals as you are, Wesley. He shouldn’t settle for anything less than top value for his top assets. That Phillies idea is particularly intriguing.

  9. bouwills

    I’m with you Old- School, Gennett for a ML ready sp prospect ( #3 ceiling or better) then make the deal. Otherwise somebody has to pay a premium in prospects to wrest Scooter from the Reds. As for
    Iggy, Reds get a top cf prospect,&/or top ss prospect,&/or top of the rotation sp prospect- or keep Iggy through this season. From the Reds GM I expect 2 things this trading season. #1) Find some playing time & AB for Hererra, & 2) capitalize on the Harvey recovery- A) get something for him, B) have a sp ready to take his place when he is dealt. Everything else is gravy.

  10. Matthew Habel

    My guess is they don’t move him. Seems like they always wait too long and the main buyers will have already made moves and those who are left will not meet the high asking price.

  11. Streamer88

    I think we’ll see a strong push this trading season of teams embracing the Braves position. Putting teams like the Reds at a continued disadvantage trying to “rebuild”.

    This is why I think we should embrace a new strategy. Get into the middle. Try to win 84 games every year, get hot catch a wild card and pray the off season small volume outcomes dice rolls in our favor.

    • Streamer88

      **post season not off season.

      Look at what the Nationals gave up to get Herrera from KC, who is a FA this off season sure, but has real post season high leverage experience. Three dudes I’ve never heard of. This is the trend I’m predicting. Sub par hauls on trades.

  12. Dave Roemerman

    Yankees for a young arm. Sheffield (maybe untouchable), Loaisiga, or German would all be fair value for both sides in exchange for Harvey and Iglesias.

  13. Adam M. Singhoff

    I know you listed off players that the Indians and Astros wouldn’t want to part with, but I could see very good reasons for each to make a run at Iglesias and give up a top guy. For the Astros, they have a chance to make a run at a dynasty. They have great starting pitching and a great offense, and Iglesias would cement them as the team to beat. For the Indians, this is the 70th anniversary of their last World Series win. It’s also the swan song for Chief Wahoo. They also have every reason to make a big trade and land a lights out closer.

    So if Dick Williams wants to play it smart, he lets those two teams outbid each other and overpay. They would almost have to throw in a 1 or a 2 prospect in order to beat out the other team, and the Reds will have their pick for who fits the team best. As much as I love Iggy, the Reds are a few pieces away from being true contenders and anywhere they can fill in the gap, they need to do it.