With July upon us and the Reds still lingering in Wild Card contention, the team cannot go into sell-mode, nor should they. Big name rentals like Yasiel Puig and Alex Wood play too much of a role day-to-day to consider moving and both should be prime extension candidates.

That doesn’t mean the Reds shouldn’t look to retool the roster a little bit though. As Ken Rosenthal pointed out over at The Athletic, the team still has some smaller trade potentials to explore. The Reds have a few vets whose contracts come up at the end of the season could provide nice returns for the team without sacrificing too much quality on the field before the end of the year.

In that vein, here are three potential trades of players with expiring contracts that make sense for both teams. None of these are incredibly flashy, but each provides huge potential value for players the Reds are unlikely to keep past 2019.

1. David Hernandez to the Rays for Tanner Dodson

Assuming the Reds decide to gentle shed rather than sell, David Hernandez becomes the team’s marquee trade piece. Every contender needs bullpen arms down the stretch, and the Reds have the luxury of bullpen depth from which to deal. Once the Will Smith sweepstakes ends, Hernandez also becomes the best reliever on the market assuming the Pirates stick to their plan of keeping Felipe Vazquez.

The Rays have already been linked to Will Smith, so in a scenario where that deal doesn’t work out, they make an ideal partner for Hernandez. In any deal, the Reds should at least inquire about the top names in the Rays uber-deep farm system — Vidal Brujan and Ronaldo Hernandez would be savvy asks — but the Reds should be willing to dig deeper.

Tanner Dodson, the Rays’ second round pick in 2018, makes for an intriguing possibility. Essentially Michael Lorenzen 2.0, Dodson plays both centerfield and pitches for the Rays’ Hi-A affiliate right now. Dodson has a power fastball and power slider from the mound, topping around 98 mph, and appears to have a solid set-up man ceiling. His bat leaves a lot to be desired, but even if he hits like a fourth outfielder, it allows the Reds to pad both bench bats and carry extra relievers.

Only the 18th-ranked prospect on MLB.com Pipeline, Dodson shouldn’t be untouchable even if he would be much higher on many other teams’ lists. He’s also been on the Injured List since May 24. Both the Reds and the Rays would be dealing from depth here, so at least on paper, this trade makes a lot of sense.

2. Scooter Gennett to the Rockies for Ryan Castellani, Will Gaddis, and Walking Cabrera

Oh, how we long for the days when the Yankees were interested in Scooter Gennett. With the signing of DJ LaMahieu, the emergence of Gio Urshela, and return of Didi Gregorius, the Evil Empire just has no need for Scooter anymore.

With the Reds second baseman having missed nearly all of 2019 as well, it’s fair to ask if anyone has a need for a rusty, rental middle infielder. American League teams looking for an upgrade at DH could be interested, but for now it seems the most compatible suitor would be the Colorado Rockies.

Yes, the Reds would be directly aiding their Wild Card competition, but the Rockies, at least on face value, look like the only contender with enough of a need to give any respectable return for Scooter. Scattering starts between Garrett Hampson, Ryan McMahon, and top prospect Brendan Rodgers has resulted in an MLB-worst -2.1 fWAR for second basemen. Putting Scooter in Coors Field maximizes the infielder’s skillset and lets the Rockies send down Rodgers for consistent at-bats until taking over the role full-time next season.

Realistically, the Reds shouldn’t expect too much in return. Scooter is coming off injury, is a rental player, and provides little defensive value at a defense-first position. There’s little chance the Reds get a top 100 prospect in return, but the Rockies do have a wealth of interesting flyer prospects. Ryan Castellani, the team’s 11th best prospect according to MLB Pipeline, should make a nice centerpiece. He’s a big righty with a low-90s fastball who has struggled mightily this season. Intriguingly, Castellani has a strong slider with room for development and a good changeup. If he can iron out his location issues, Castellani has all the tools to be a mid-rotation starter or at worst, a Robert Stephenson-like bullpen piece.

As add-ons, the Reds should look to Will Gaddis and Walking Cabrera. Gaddis doesn’t strikeout many hitters but has shown good command so could become an interesting bullpen arm. Cabrera is only 18 and showed some pop last season. He’s got a projectionable corner outfield frame though would be nothing more than a lottery ticket right now.

3. Tanner Roark to the Twins for Nick Gordon

According to FanGraphs, Tanner Roark has been the Reds best pitcher in 2019 with 2.1 fWAR. Granted, he’s taking advantage of the site’s FIP preference and Luis Castillo’s proclivity for walks, but either way, Roark’s been effective. Even if the Reds do make a late run, with Alex Wood coming back, Roark’s somewhat disposable. Also, there’s no way the Reds re-sign him after the season.

Roark makes the perfect rental for a team in contention. What you see is what you get: The righty limits home runs and walks without striking out too many. He’s blasted the third time through the order, but a forward-thinking manager like David Bell will get the most out of him. Rocco Baldelli could too.

While the Twins don’t necessarily have a hole in their rotation, they are relying on Martin Perez who is far outperforming his career numbers and Michael Piñeda. Tanner Roark could provide some insurance.

With Roark’s bloated salary and limited potential for impact as a rental starter (he’ll get 15 starts at most), the Reds can’t expect much in return. In fact, the absolute ceiling of what the Reds could expect back would be Nick Gordon, a former highly touted prospect whose star as dimmed the past two seasons. After Gordon lit up Double-A for the first half of 2018, he stumbled at Triple-A with a 52 wRC+. He’s only moderately improved in his second go-round (82 wRC+).

But if the Twins are willing to part with Gordon for Roark, it’s a high-upside, low-risk deal for the Reds. Gordon could be the Reds second baseman of the future assuming Senzel stays in center or he could turn out like Dilson Herrera. For a pitcher the team likely has no designs on keeping, that’s a risk worth taking.

16 Responses

  1. LB

    Nice article, Wesley! I do have one question though: Why is there no chance the Reds re-sign Roark? I actually figured he’s arguably the most sensible extension candidate…his age and profile will keep his price reasonable, and his durability and dependability on the mound make him a good mid-to-back rotation anchor for the Reds. Just curious as to why you think the Reds wouldn’t bring him back?

    Also, fwiw, I would still think trading Roark could make sense, but I just also believe that he’s a good target to have for the 2020-2021 Reds.

    • Wesley Jenkins

      Personally I would agree! I’ve loved Roark for years, think he’s been consistently underrated.

      However, I think Roark will be looking for a slight pay raise and given the other players on the Reds also looking for potential raises (Puig, Scooter, Iglesias maybe, Castillo extension perhaps), I see him at the bottom of the pecking order.

  2. Gary S

    I sure hope the Reds can make some positive moves. Fan are a bit un easy. David Bell manages this team like a video game

  3. David

    The Twins website is running features about relievers that they would like to acquire to make them better.

    Yesterday, they featured Raisel Iglesias as someone they could acquire. And they ran his career numbers to argue why. They admit he has not been good this year. They have quite a list they will be working through. I don’t think they included David Hernandez.

  4. Don

    Alex Wood as a key part of the team. He can’t pitch 3 times in 15 days without back problems. Assuming he starts throwing soon (before end of all star break), he is still late August for being involved in pitching in a real game. Under no circumstances should the Reds sign him for 2020 unless it is on a minor league deal with a spring training invite. If he gets a better offer from some other team, great for Alex. He is an $9.6 Mil loss in 2019. Do not make the same mistake again.

    May be a great left handed starter. The number one ability that is needed is availability. Without that the player is not work any salary.

    Doing something with a player one year early is better than keeping a player one year late. See Bill Walsh and 49ers 1980s NFL success. He let stars go as free agents or traded stars with a year to two left in their careers. Owners and Front Office people need to be arms length from players for the success of the franchise. It is not personal, just business, and pro sports business should be winning games.

  5. Chris

    Let me get this straight. You think Walt Jocketty, while working for the Reds in an executive position, and long time friend of the owner, is basically an inside guy from the Cardinals, here to screw the Reds up from within? Where do you people come from?

  6. Tv

    First Bob owns the team. Second they are not trading arms. The ask you seek is way to high. Basically you would be luck to get a lottery ticket. They wont move arms because they want to sign them. They really wont get anything but will lose tons if attendance and not building to next year. Look for a pitcher to sign beifor the season is over

    • Tv

      But they wont get anything. You get a single 25 year old single a guy. Then you don’t even have a product. Tons of teams have come back 5 or 6 games in August. I get he has messed up not trading guys most years but this year they are building. It’s bad for the team to give up

  7. Keith

    Why not trade Scooter? He and Dietrich are interchangeable. No point in having both, and one is under team control next year.

  8. Roger Garrett

    I like them Wes.Good points regarding all of these guys.Opens up spots for younger guys which I really like and gets us something in return rather then watching guys just walk away.

  9. George

    Looking at the contracts for next year looks a bit shaky. What I see is:
    : 5 current players under contract for 2020
    : 9 FA
    : 7Arb
    : 7 Pre-Arb
    The estimated payroll, including contracts, Arb., and pre-arb for next year (2020) is 99.7 Million.
    2019 Opening Day payroll was $123,673,214.
    Another little fact is that Castillo only cost $557.5 this year.
    Please correct any of the above if it is needed. (https://redlegnation.com/payroll-and-contract-status-2/)
    The reason I did this is to try and understand what money is available for next year. The fact that 14 players are going to get a serious raise next year by just being on the roster is a bit surprising.
    Based on these initial numbers the Reds have 24 Million to spend to meet 2019 payroll. That doesn’t seem like enough to get the needs the Reds have.
    Poor trading and a lack of development are very costly.

    • Tv

      No way this teams has 30 million in arbitration.

  10. CFD3000

    I like the Reds spend of all of these trades. Roark, Gennett and Hernandez will all be gone in 2020 regardless, and there are solid options to replace every one of them for the second half of 2019 – Sims and maybe Alex Wood for Roark, Dietrich or JVM for Gennett, and the entire rest of the bullpen for Hernandez. I do hope Dick Williams is looking hard at options for returns on all three guys. I won’t comment on your proposed return Wes – there are just too many possibilities when you consider 29 other rosters and farm systems. But I do believe there is a market for Roark and Hernandez, and I like your identifying the Rockies as a likely partner on Gennett. I’m hoping the Reds extend Puig, Iglesias, Hughes and Wood (with lots of incentives). It will be interesting to see if and where and for what Roark and Gennett and Hernandez are traded.

    • CFD3000

      *I like the Reds SIDE of all these trades… spellcheck giveth, and spellcheck taketh away…