With the July 31 trade deadline approaching, ownership and the front office of the Cincinnati Reds face an important next 30 days. The important question being: Should the Reds be a buyer or seller? Depending on what you read, you’ve run across the case for one or the other formula.

The right answer is both.

The Reds must be buyers and sellers. The club should look for opportunities to trade away players that will become free agents at the end of 2019 while at the same time shop for new pieces that will help them in and beyond 2019. A successful month for Dick Williams, Nick Krall, David Bell and their staff requires they accomplish both.

But no one trade is likely to accomplish those dual goals. Trading partners looking for final pieces of their post-season puzzle aren’t going to part with players contributing to that effort. Teams looking to shed salary by moving players in their arbitration years won’t be interested in rentals.

What will it look like if the Reds succeed?

The Reds may unload players like Yasiel Puig and Tanner Roark for little more than organizational depth. In isolation, those trades will smack (in two ways) of the pure rebuilding we’ve seen for a few years now. But in other trades the Reds would add important players with multiple years of team control. Those moves will cost prospects, maybe a major league relief pitcher, and look like buying.

It’s easy to imagine how that might appear like the front office lacks direction or resolve. That judgment would be wrong. If the front office can pull off trades of each kind, it would be a great accomplishment and exactly what the team needs.

It has been said that Reds fans deserve a front office with an aggressive approach to making deals. In recent days it has been reported that Dick Williams has indicated as much.

Of course, that should be the case every trade deadline and off-season.

Instead, Reds fans have witnessed plenty of inaction since 2013. For a couple years, ownership, and by extension the front office, was guilty of holding on to good players too long. Motivation for that ranges from All-Star games, to falling in love with players you see every day, to undue optimism and more. But the end result was an organization that waited until its tradable assets had lost most of their value. That idleness squandered the Reds chance to avoid a deep and patience-unraveling rebuilding process.

More recently, we experienced the not letting go of Matt Harvey because of “positive momentum” or some other pathetic nonsense.

It would be as big a miscalculation for Reds ownership and front office to over-correct now and start shedding assets for short-term gain based on the far-off notion that an all-in posture will bring about a 2019 play-in game.

What Reds fans really deserve from the front office is smart.

Here’s the lesson to learn from the recent past. Almost every successful major league organization turns over its roster. The few exceptions are clubs that are locks to contend for the World Series. Mid-market teams like the Cardinals and Brewers practice a deft combination of buying and selling at the same time. They cycle players in and out.

That’s what the Reds must accomplish over the next 30 days. That would be aggressive and smart. It’s not a choice between buying and selling. The imperative is to do both.

That brings us to today and the new trade deadline rules. As of 2019, there is one major league trade deadline: July 31, at 4 p.m. In previous seasons, players could be traded for another month if they cleared revocable waivers.

After August 31, trades could be made throughout September, but the acquired players are ineligible for the post-season roster. This is still the case. In 2010, because of late season injuries to Laynce Nix, Jay Bruce and Chris Heisey, the Reds traded for Willie Bloomquist on September 13.

In 2019 clubs face a single cut-off date. That should create greater urgency and focus throughout July. Front offices may finish deals earlier. We’ve already seen a couple former Reds move to contenders. Jay Bruce landed in Philadelphia and Edwin Encarnacion is now a New York Yankee.

The standings might encourage more trades. Several first-place teams have opened wide leads in their division and might feel confident to start shopping for those final post-season pieces. Likewise, clear bottom-dwellers, with 100-loss seasons on the horizon, are free to reshape rosters and save their owners cash.

The Reds reside in a major league in-between.

The month of June didn’t bring the Reds easy clarity. They aren’t a runaway top-tier team nor are they headed once again to baseball’s dark basement. Yes, the Reds have a chance to make the post-season as a Wild Card team. If everything breaks just right with performance and health, the Cincinnati Reds could qualify for the 50-50 play-in game. FanGraphs puts the number at 8% as of today. That’s eight times out of a hundred.

Fans don’t have to be clear-eyed about that. But the front office does.

2019 will be a season of progress for the Reds. But it will fall short of a miraculous breakthrough to the post-season. The Reds brass needs to act with that understanding during the next month. This isn’t the time to add pricey rental players to make a run. Nor should the Reds be resigned to more-of-the-same shedding, pushing the time horizon for success ever further into the future.

Bottom line: Reds fans should expect the front office to be active. We shouldn’t expect the team to accomplish all its goals with a single trade, because it can’t. Each trade will help in one direction or another. On the evening of July 31, the front office has to be judged on the totality of its moves.

This is the first part of a three-part series. From here we go from the theoretical to specific trade ideas for the Reds. Part two will deal with opportunities to sell. The final installment will cover ideas for buying, both small and audacious. You can find the second and third parts in upcoming days at Reds Content Plus, all content now free of charge.  

17 Responses

  1. SultanofSwaff

    Well stated. Based on the confident talk from the front office all season I’m inclined to believe they will hold onto their impending free agents. What I’d like to see happen is a mix of trades and extensions. Given the lack of organizational depth at SS, Jose Iglesias should be an extension priority. Roark makes sense as well for the same depth reasoning.

    It’s entirely possible a hot Puig and Gennett could fix the offense and have the Reds near the top of the division by the deadline. I’m taking a wait and see approach with them. If the poor play of the team forces a trade, I’m PACKAGING them plus Hernandez to maximize the return—just get me one very good prospect. It’s a waste of time to trade them individually for the standard relief pitching prospect in AA.

  2. Kyle

    With Winker and Senzel claiming left and center, Taylor Trammell looks to be expendable. This would the Reds chance to get a real difference maker, either to their lineup or rotation.

    • Ghettotrout1

      I agree with Jim. If we can deal him and get some real value I’m on board.

    • Charles Lackey

      I’ve been a Reds fan since 1955, I was 11 years old. My Dad took me to a barn storming game in Knoxville Tenn and Reds had just signed Frank Robinson. I was hooked then. The Reds have always been a top franchise team. Since Castellini & Jocketty took over the team the Reds have gone downhill ever since. Reds are now a permanent last place team. They rarely trade for players that can help out as the F O would lose than win games. To me Winker is a very good player and is DANG good on defense. He is alert, plays the game as it should be and stop using him in a platoon situation. The F-O needs to do their job and get some quality players to help NOW not later but NOW!!!???

  3. Russell Stoner

    Mahle & Disco are both comparable to Roark. No way he gets a long term deal. Alex Wood was the only guy Going into the yr I wud have tried to sign. I doubt they try to sign him now. U sign Puig only if u want an OF of Puig, Senzel& Winker for a few yrs. Reds management isn’t dumb as Mancuso insinuates. The biggest problem going forward is Votto’s contract. (Yes i know it’s not trade able) but it’s taking tons of payroll & shud be a focal point.

    • Scott C

      I am not against trading Trammell if the right deal came along but I don’t see him as totally expendable. First of all he not yet 22 and at AA. He still has room to develop and grow as a hitter, both power wise and for average. Secondly, we don’t know how his hit tool will play out but defensively he would be an upgrade in left over Winker simply by mere speed. And thirdly by the time Trammell is ready Winker will already be in arbitration. Winker is probably my favorite player on this team but if you want to build a winning culture you can not allow favoritism to dictate holding on to a player too long.

  4. Russell Stoner

    Gennett is the emotional leader of the team. Votto is not.
    Gennett, Senzel & Geno are all much more valuable ( and better players) than joey.

    • Michael Smith


      How how has the emotional leadership worked out since Scooter has been here?

      • Doc

        The Reds took two series from the Cubs before Scooter returned. 2-1 with Scooter, 4-2, or something like that, without Scooter over three series. RojoBenjy hardly made a supportable point that Scooter’s emotional leadership led to a series win, and that’s giving Scooter credit for a win in a game he didn’t play.

  5. Cbus

    This post made me think of what would an all ex/current reds best possible lineup would look like today for only currently active players?

    CF – Nick Senzel
    1B – Joey Votto
    3B – Eugenio Suarez
    DH – Edwin Encarnacion
    LF – Jay Bruce
    C – Yasmani Grandal
    RF – Yasiel Puig
    SS – Didi Gregorius
    2B – Scooter Gennett

  6. Eric Wormus

    The Reds are really in an unenviable situation, and were it not for the situation being entirely of their own making, I would almost feel sorry for the front office.

    I think the following things are both true:
    1) The Reds are more than one player away from contending in 2019 and will have several holes to fill in 2020.
    2) The impending free agents the Reds currently have are not good enough that the Reds could trade them for pieces that will be useful in 2020.

    The Reds probably have 2-3 players they could trade and get a haul for that could help in 2020-2021 (Suarez, Castillo, maybe Iglesias). Their best trade chip right now, by far, is Suarez. They could get by with Blandino at 3rd until Trammell is ready, and there is a decent chance Senzel will overall be a better 3rd baseman than Suarez in a year or two anyway. I think the front office fears a fan revolt if they trade Suarez, maybe understandably so, but I think it would be a great trade.

    The Puig/Scooter/Alex Wood/Hughes/Hernandez/J. Iglesias impending free agents will bring exactly 0 back in a trade. The only real way the Reds can get better for 2020 is trading someone under control for multiple years.

  7. Redgoggles

    What is the latest on Cody Reed? I expected they would hold on to ZD until Cody was ready.

  8. Steven Ross

    This is probably a .500 team no matter what they do!

    Last 10 games: 5-5
    Last 20 games: 10-10
    Last 30 games: 15-15
    Last 40 games: 20-20

  9. Cyrus

    The two players I would look to trade before 7/31 are Votto and Castillo. I realize this sounds blasphemous but if Votto could go to a true contender (and agree to the destination) and we could get value in return, I see this as a win-win. Votto deserves a shot at a ring and every team in baseball considers him a quality individual so I think every team would see him as an asset…and his hitting has picked up at the perfect time for a trade.

    Castillo is young but there is something about him that concerns me. I don’t see him as a real #1. You need some moxie for that and I think we could get something really good for our only all-star this year.

    BTW, records inside the division thru yesterday:
    Brew 22-13
    Cubs 14-13
    Cards 15-17
    Bucs 13-16
    Reds 15-20

    • David

      Votto has a no trade clause. And a big contract with years to pay. He’s not going anywhere.

      Castillo is the closest thing the Reds have to an ace pitcher. They need mo bettah pitching than anything else.

  10. Doc

    Keep Castillo. He will be gold in 2022-24. Compare his 2017-9 seasons and trajectory to Bob Gibson’s first three. Times are different but it seems many of you guys would have been happy to trade Bob Gibson for unknown quantity and quality.

  11. David

    I don’t think anyone is quite feverish enough to trade for a 19 year old pitcher that has just had TJ surgery. You would get pretty much nothing in return. Hunter Greene may one day again be considered an elite prospect, but right now he is a guy recovering from surgery, on the DL. I don’t even know if the rules allow players on the DL to be traded.