A year ago, I wrote about the Reds offseason trade chips because Dick Williams said the front office might pursue pitching help for 2018. As we now know, the Reds didn’t add any starters in the offseason, hoping instead for a return to health and form for Anthony Desclafani, Homer Bailey, and Brandon Finnegan. That shipped crashed into the harbor early in 2018, and the lifeboat named Harvey did little to save the wreckage.

After a year of struggles for the entire rotation, with the exception of some dominant stretches by Luis Castillo, the Reds find themselves in the same place as before: desperate for rotation stability. Only now, fans’ patience is running thin as the rebuild continues to take on water.

Dick Williams has again stated that he will look to upgrade the rotation, and this time he seems more intent on doing so. The problem is finding those upgrades. The available free agents are aging and potentially expensive, risks that could come back to bite the Reds. The Reds will likely explore a deal with a free agent, and apparently have a bigger budget than past years to do so. But if they are to acquire a difference maker, it may very well come via trade.

Most teams are unwilling to give up cost-controlled starters who have had some success, unless other teams pay a premium. Last year, I noted that Michael Fulmer and Marcus Stroman might be potential targets, both under control for multiple years and fairly young. After some injuries in 2018, those two are now buy low candidates. I’m struggling to find pitchers that make sense for the Reds right now, but I trust someone exists on the market that will fill the need to some extent.

In my 2017 post, I noted three deals as templates for acquiring a pitcher who had control, upside, and solid performance to date. The three deals were as follows:

Matt Garza Deal (Before 2011 Season)

Cubs get

  • Matt Garza
  • Fernando Perez
  • Zac Rosscup

Rays get

  • Chris Archer (BA #27)
  • Hak-Ju Lee (Baseball America #92)
  • Sam Fuld
  • Brandon Guyer (Cubs 10th best prospect – BA)
  • Robinson Chirinos

Garza, 27 years old at the time, had three seasons of control left and had posted ERAs between 3.70 and 3.95 the previous three years. The other players the Cubs received weren’t big prospects, but the Rays got two top 100 prospects and three of the Cubs top ten prospects. It was a pretty good haul that would foreshadow similar trades to come.

Mat Latos Deal (Before 2012 Season)

Reds get

  • Mat Latos

Padres get

  • Yonder Alonso (BA #33)
  • Yasmani Grandal (BA #53)
  • Brad Boxberger (BA Reds 10th best prospect)
  • Edinson Volquez

The Reds traded a ton to get Latos, who was 24 and coming off two excellent seasons. They saw him as a top of the rotation guy and thus paid a high price. Latos had four years of control left when the deal was completed.

Jose Quintana Deal (2017)

Cubs get

  • Jose Quintana

White Sox get

  • Eloy Jimenez (BA# 14)
  • Dylan Cease (BA# 97)
  • Mat Rose
  • Bryant Flete

The Cubs traded their top two prospects to get the 28-year-old Quintana who had three and a half years left on his deal (two team option years). Right now, he has a career ERA of 3.56 with a SIERA of 3.88. From 2012-2016, Quintana had an ERA between 3.20 and 3.76 in the American League.


Those deals still apply to this scenario, but I’d like to add the biggest pitching trade to happen this season: Chris Archer going to the Pirates.

Chris Archer (2018)

Pirates get

  • Chris Archer

Rays get

  • Austin Meadows (Fangraphs mid-season #37)
  • Tyler Glasnow (Fangraphs 2017 #26, 3.59 SIERA in 2018)
  • Shane Baz (Fangraphs mid-season #120)

That’s a huge haul for Chris Archer, and it could be an outlier. It may also represent a larger price for controllable pitching than we’ve seen before. At least, teams typically need to give up multiple top prospects to receive young, established starter.

As we near the offseason, we can look at the Reds assets to see what a deal might look like.

Prospect Trade Chips

According to Doug Gray, the Reds top 10 prospects are as follows:

  1. Nick Senzel
  2. Hunter Greene
  3. Taylor Trammell
  4. Tony Santillan
  5. Jonathan India
  6. Tyler Stephenson
  7. Shed Long
  8. Jose Siri
  9. Jeter Downs
  10. Vladimir Gutierrez

The top three are on a tier of their own, elite prospects any organization would love to have. Greene’s trade value has taken a hit with his UCL injury; if I’m another team, I don’t bite that apple until I see how he recovers. Senzel and Trammell are drool-worthy players who look destined for Major League success.

India and Santillan represent another tier, prospects that either haven’t had time to perform as a professional (India) or have performed well without much fanfare (Santillan). The combination may be enticing, but I’m not sure one of them without a strong complimentary piece moves the needle for other teams. Prospects six through ten are likely secondary pieces.

Major League Trade Chips

The Reds have a number of interesting assets. A team willing to give up a good starter with some control is probably not a contending team, so while Raisel Iglesias may be attractive to a contender, he’s more likely to bring upside prospects than rotation stability in a trade. This list covers only those players that other teams might consider primary pieces in a return for immediate upgrades to the Reds rotation. Also, trading Luis Castillo, who has put himself ahead of the rest of the young pitchers, would be counter-productive, so he’s not on the list.

Eugenio Suarez – Suarez remains the best trade piece the Reds have. He’s 27 and a 4-win player the last two seasons. Based on the value he provides, Geno has a team friendly contract, and it’s hard to imagine the Reds giving him up after signing him long term right before the 2018 year. His trade would open up a spot for Nick Senzel, but I just don’t see it happening.

Scooter Gennett – Gennett has been a force with the bat for two straight years, and this season, his defense rates as roughly average at 2B. That’s probably an outlier, but Scooter has been excellent from the moment he put on a Reds uniform. He’s signed only through 2019, so another team would have to be convinced they could ink him to a long term if they were going to give up what the Reds need. Scooter will be 29 in 2019, so there are some aging concerns as well.

Tyler Mahle – Tyler Mahle entered 2018 as a top 100 prospect and pitched really well for three months. After 18 starts, he had a 3.66 ERA and 4.30 SIERA. While his walk rate was a little high, he struck out plenty of batters (22.9%). Then, the league adjusted and Mahle seemed to hit a wall. Still, because of his early success and age (24 on Saturday), Mahle is an attractive piece to other teams. His secondary stuff needs work, but his fastball command kept him competitive for much of the year.

Jesse Winker – Winker did what we expected him to do: make us cheer with the bat and make us cringe with the glove. Winker posted an excellent 128 wRC+ as a rookie and walked more than he struck out. He even showed solid power over his last two months before his season-ending injury. Unfortunately, Winker sometimes looked lost in the outfield and is likely a liability anywhere but leftfield. He’s probably better than he’s shown so far, but the upside with the glove just isn’t there. Other teams would love his bat, especially as he enters his age 25 season in 2019.

Secondary pieces at the Major League level include Michael Lorenzen, Scott Schebler, Amir Garrett, Cody Reed, Dilson Herrera, and Sal Romano. None of these guys does much as a headliner, but each would look good as the second or third piece in a deal.


The Reds are in a similar position as last year. They desperately need starting pitching talent and have some assets to get it done. If a good starter with some control is on the market, they should make a run at him.

I would start with a package that includes two of three out of Mahle, Santillan, and India. I’d give up all three for a good, young starter. I would try hard to keep Senzel and Trammell, premium talents with fewer question marks than most prospects.

The Reds could always seek shorter-term options, like Zach Wheeler. But if they are looking beyond 2019, it will take some serious capital to obtain an effective pitcher, which will likely include some combination of their top five prospects and the four MLB assets I outlined. Whatever they decide to do, it’s clear that they need to improve a starting staff that held them back in 2018. Whether that’s through trade, free agency, or both will be interesting to see.





33 Responses

  1. TurboBuckeye

    Good article. As much as we want the Reds to go out and get two top of the rotation guys, the reality is those guys are not really available.

    • Nick Carrington

      Yes, this is why I was having a hard time finding a potential target. Rarely do people want to trade these types of pitchers. Only in rare situations.

      • William

        Hate to say, but Homer needs to go

      • Corey

        If you hate it, why did you say it? And why did you say it here?

  2. pborbon

    It seems more realistic to sign free agent relievers and trade for starters if they are willing to give up good players or prospects. There are a decent amount of relievers available this winter. Raisel Iglesias and his favorable contract could land some top prospects which could then be flipped for a young pitcher,CF or SS (and move Peraza to CF) or used to rebuild their prospects if they trade away some of their own.

  3. citizen54

    I know he doesn’t have much trade value right now but I think the Reds would be wise to see what Cody Reed can do. He seems to have turned the corner with his new mechanics and his peripherals are looking good. His BB/9 is down to 2.97.

  4. Jacob

    Trade Greene. Senzel is the only untouchable that I see. Minus an impossible mike trout trade.

  5. Kap

    IT WILL NOT BE THE END OF THE WORLD IF THE REDS TRADE SENZEL. Yes he he has put up superb numbers in the minors, is a top prospect, and a possible difference maker. Sounds all good, but remember, he is just a prospect. The Reds are obviously struggling to find a spot for him to play. Not to mention this vertigo thing that won’t go away. With that said, the right deal has to be in play. The only three pitchers I would trade Senzel for are Degrom, Syndergaard, and Snell. That’s it. Pure 100% aces.

    My trade Idea: Reds get Syndergaard for Senzel, Mahle, and a throw-in prospect

    As for free agents, Keuchel and Corbin are probably out. Look for Ryu. Injury concerns are present, but he is a front line starter when right. This Eovaldi is intriguing as well, someone who the Reds have scouted a month or two ago.

    My free agent idea: Reds sign Ryu for 3 yr./40 million with an option for another plus incentives (protection against injuries for the team)

    Reed/Romano/ Bailey(I guess)/ Santillian later in the year


    • Ghettotrout1

      I wouldn’t be totally opposed to trading Senzel I just think everyone is going to be surprised at the lack of talent he is going to bring back. I don’t think the Mets are letting Syndergaard go for that I think your going to need to do Senzel, Mahle, Stephenson and Santilion or however you spell that. I mean Archer is a lower level pitcher in my mind and the pirates had to give up all their treasure…… Get it pirates and treasure LOL.

      • Michael E

        They might deal Syndergaard for that..or less. Why? Injuries. The Mets dream rotation fell apart, mostly due to injuries. Syndergaard, while avoiding major arm ailments, hasn’t exactly been durable. I am actually a little leery of trading for him. That said, I’d take a chance on his health given he does have Ace upside.

      • Ghettotrout1

        Zero chance they take less than that they are closer to competing than the Reds no? Deform will probably win nl cy young matz is probably as good as disco Snydergaard is better than any starter we have. So doesn’t it look more plausible that they go out and sign keuchel and compete than trade a 26 yo who has had past and current success.

    • Ghettotrout1

      To add to my point Syndergaard is 26 and had a WAR of 3.5 in 2018…… Archer is 30 and has a .9 WAR in 2018 and has only had a WAR over 3.5 one single time in his career. Also if we as Reds fans are fearful about the vertigo thing other teams are even more fearful I would imagine.

      • Michael E

        I honestly have not understood the love for Archer. He has been below MLB SP average for two years and basically league average his entire career (save first full season when he was good n promising).

        His stuff looks pretty good, the results usually don’t. He is now a pitcher that flutters around quality start level (6in, 4 runs) routinely.

        That is ONE trade I am glad the Reds didn’t chase. His last solid year was 2015, and only his full 2013 rookie year was GOOD. Even then his FIP was pretty yucky.

        Year Age ERA+ FIP
        2013 24 120 4.07
        2014 25 112 3.39
        2015 26 121 2.9
        2016 27 100 3.81
        2017 28 102 3.4
        2018 29 94 3.75
        2018 29 95 3.62
        2018 29 91 4

  6. Ghettotrout1

    I concur with the above except I would exclude Gio I don’t even really think he is worth the money I don’t know the numbers but I have the same gut feeling about him as I do Harvey. Like they are both ehhhhh pitchers. If you can’t get Corbin Keuchel or Morton I would say forget it. As for trading I also think your going to have to pay an arm and a leg for anyone. I highly doubt that the Blue Jays are going to sell on Stroman this low not to mention his injury history does concern me. I feel like when pitchers start having injuries its all down hill from there. Example given Homer Bailey….. flexor tendon, TJ etc etc. If it was me I would just blow all my money on trying to get Keuchel and Morton and overpay, and then hope that the young bucks could come up and help out in some way.

    • Jack

      I think Gio tops out at 91mph and he isn’t getting any younger. I don’t think Heaney Is the guy either. Do we really need a guy who gives up a lot of homers.

  7. eric3287

    This has been my philosophy for the better part of a month and a half. The Reds are probably going to win 68 games again while every other team in the NL Central wins 82+. How do the Reds compete, even if they sell the farm for Syndergaard what do they become? The 73-84 Mets? The Mets had Syndergaard AND deGrom and can’t win 80 games.

    2019 needs to see a total 25 man roster haul. Trade Iglesias, trade Scooter, trade/DFA Billy, think about trading Schebler and see if anyone will blow you away for Suarez. Play the young guys, get Homer off your books in the offseason, and then break the bank for 2020 and beyond.

    • Michael E

      I actually can get behind that idea Eric. I just don’t trust the Reds FO to go after high-ceiling prospects in return. The Jocketty quote from a few years back sticks in my gullet “we’re looking for MLB-ready prospects”. In others words, impatient and probably happier with quantity of 25 year-olds than quality of 19 or 20 year olds.

      I’d rather have a couple of top 50 prospects in return than six prospects that barely crack or fall outside of our own top 10 list.

      Does the new GM and Williams believe in going for quality over quantity, or are they being pushed by Jocketty or Castellini or both, to get MLB ready, non-impact role players or platoon types?

  8. Scott C

    I like Eugenio, he has worked hard and deserves the accolades and adoration he has received this year, but if that is what it takes to get a top of the line pitcher, then I would be good with that. We have an a very good option in Senzel for third, who may even more valuable with the glove while not losing much or anything with the bat. There are times you have to make tough baseball decisions, not sentimental decisions.

  9. Jeff Reed

    The Reds need a blockbuster trade of Suarez and Iglesias to acquire at least two proven starting pitchers. Senzel goes to third base where he belongs, and replaces Suarez righthanded hitting. Something big is needed to clear the lingering smoke over this organization.

  10. Nick Carrington

    I guess it depends on the return. Scooter might be gone after 2019 (or during), and then you have Senzel and Suarez in the infield. Suarez and Senzel are probably their best trade chips, but I’m not sure you have to get rid of one of them to get a good pitcher. But again, I’m working in a hypothetical without a particular pitcher in mind.

    • Jim Walker

      The Reds have suffered and worked hard to build their farm system. I’d prefer it not be gutted again like it was for the Latos deal when there are other alternatives.
      Blandino is will be out there. They can make sure they hang onto Herrera over the winter. Shed Long is top 5 in most rankings of the org’s prospects. India is hopefully only 2-3 years away.

      Over paying in prospects would be a first step to a next extreme swing to a bust cycle. Swallow hard and do the thing which hurts the most now but helps the most over time. However if I honestly thought the window could be opened next year, I might feel differently about the path to take.

  11. Sabr Chris

    I’m becoming more of a believer in trying the Rays model and ditching the traditional starter/reliever model.

  12. Tom Mitsoff

    Unfortunately, the Reds are in no position to say anyone on the roster is untouchable. Dick Williams has to listen to every offer for every player. I would never have considered Suarez or Senzel going anywhere, but if you can get a top starting pitcher with four or more years of team control as part of such a deal, you would really have to think long about it. Without an infusion of quality starting pitching, this team is going nowhere next year. It would be more of the same old very sour tune.

    • BigRedMike

      Yep. I do not understand the logic of just acting like the position players are set. Other than Suarez and Votto, the rest should be replaceable. The Reds should always be looking to improve the roster. Not sure how a team as bad as the Reds could act like the roster is set.

      It seems to me that maybe the Reds should try the Rays and A’s way. Maybe do more bullpen games and not worry about starters. Try something different.

      • Michael E

        Suarez can go too. He can be a solid piece of the future, but he is no lock to remain productive and in shape. If they trade Senzel, they probably have to keep Suarez. I’d rather they trade Suarez and make Senzel starting 3B with India polishing up in AA next year.

        No one is untouchable. I’d offer the Mets Suarez, Greene and their pick of two of any ohter prospects not named Senzel or Tramell for DeGrom. If they’d want Senzel instead of Suarez, then maybe pull back Greene (and Trammell ) and let them pick a prospect (then the Reds pick one they pull off shelf) and let them pick another prospect.

        Maybe check to see if the Mets want to dump a contract and get DeGrom or Syndergaard with reduced prospect haul? Castellini would probably vomit, maybe send him on a vacation to a tropical island with no phones or internet?

        Still, I’d rather see Suarez and Gennett and Iglesias as part of a package with non-top tier prospects finishing off the deal.

        Offer a bit less for Syndergaard given his lack of durability.

      • Michael E

        I meant to say:

        “Still, I’d rather see Suarez and/OR Gennett and/OR Iglesias as part of a package with non-top tier prospects finishing off the deal.”

  13. Michael E

    “Too often, the team chooses the PR side over the baseball one”

    Waaaaaaaaaaaaaaaay too often. Castellini (and his good ‘ole boy Jocketty) is a big reason why unfortunately. Here is to hoping they see how empty seats grow when you see too many things as “fan favorites” and keep them around for that reason.

    I get sick to my stomach when I read pundits (and posters here) stating they love this guy or that guy and we can’t trade them as the “fans” love them, etc. A few years ago, nearly everyone (my dad included) was saying the same about Brandon Phillips. By the end we couldn’t wait for him to be gone. I just was on that bandwagon two years earlier than most, but I could see he wasn’t nearly as valuable (one the field or filling empty seats) as most imagined.

  14. Michael E

    My fan favorites? No one on this team.

    My favorite on a future Reds team? Anyone that plays on a NL pennant winning team.

    I liked more players on the 1990 team than of all the past 28 years of teams since. Winning is a big reason why, not signing hats and cards or cracking jokes in interviews… all non-sense to me.

  15. Michael E

    Sadly, this is correct for likely 90% of serious Reds fans. It grows bigger and bigger with each passing season. Seeing the Braves and Phillies turn around bloated payrolls or aging, fading teams so quickly, makes the Reds flailing around for four years with no real excitement for the future all the more grating and depressing.

    Bottom line, the Reds ownership and FO seem more worried about having something (anything) to show for spending money or time, they’ll take low-upside, MLB ready returns in trades and spend available funds on stadium exhibits and games. Other franchises are spending money and trading talent, to get BETTER talent in return. Until they let go of that quick return mindset in trades and thinking fans care more stadium distractions than winning games, we’re not going to see much improvement.

    I see top 10 drafting in 2020 and 2021 as well barring a major change in direction. If that’s the case, trade away anyone over 27 and shoot for #1 pick for two years and start another Astros-like rebuild, this time being SERIOUS about it and not stuck half-way between remaining decent and rebuilding. That’s what doomed this rebuild. holding on to veterans and not seeking high-ceiling upside in trades.

  16. Steve

    I would like to see the Reds make a run at FA Lance Lynn. He struggled this year but he was a very good pitcher in the NL. Two pitchers the Reds might want to consider a trade for our Julio Teheran of the Braves and Matthew Boyd of the Tigers. Teheran is signed through the 2019 season with a club option for 2020. The Braves might be interested if a package included Senzel or Iglesias. Boyd is LHP and the Reds badly need one in their rotation. The Tigers are in rebuild mode and perhaps Mahle and Tyler Stephenson would let him from Detroit. The three pitchers above would not be number ones but they would be a big improvement over Romano, Bailey, Reed and Stephenson. If you keep Senzel, how about putting him set third (he was rated as the top defensive third baseman in the International League), Suarez to SS, Peraza to CF and if you have to give up Winker to get one of the pitchers listed above, you can always find a decent OF inn free agency (AJ Pollock, John Jay, Lonnie Chisenhall if healthy) to play LF… The Billy Hamilton story need to come to an end in Cincinnati. Use him to get another bullpen arm… Invite Bailey to spring training and if he can beat out Disco or one of the youngsters, fine. If not, release him and eat the salary…Castillo is your #1 and his 3.57 ERA since May first shows a pitcher that appears to have figured it out. He is ahead of where Cueto was at after his first full season. The Reds have to shake it up, this rebuild has hit a wall and this current roster is not going to suddenly win 85 games in 2019.

  17. Jeff Reed

    A new player development manual from this front office does not spark much enthusiasm. And as to paying dividends in a few years??

  18. Ryan Singer

    Possible moves they could make:
    – Clay Buckholz had a resurgence before getting hurt to end year and is a FA we could sign to a 1-year incentive-laden deal
    – Trade Scooter to Dodgers or Angels along with 1 of (Romano, Reed, or Shed Long) for Julio Urias (Dodgers) or LHP Heaney (Angels)
    – Sign Andrew Miller to bolster bullpen as he had injury-laden season too and might sign a 1-year prove it deal, as well

    Heaney or Urias


    I’d think we’d have a shot at being much better than this year with this team. Unfortunately, being Grand American Launch Pad we have to find SPs in free agency that need to prove they have got healthy again or overpay for them. I think its clear we have to go the “prove it” route due to budget restrictions, etc. I think that there are other deals to be made out there, even possibly for someone like Ian Kennedy from KC as they won’t contend next year or Danny Duffy but they’d have to eat salary for Reds to make the deal.

  19. MFG

    Hopefully Billy wins the Gold Glove then package him in a trade. He will never hit! Will Votto agree to a trade to possibly Toronto? Trade Raisel because we really don’t need a great closer right now. Sign Scooter to a team friendly short term deal? Senzel to play CF? Trade Votto and move Winker to 1B?
    Ervin as the 4th outfielder? I have to go my beer is getting warm!