Ah yes, the trade deadline: The time that rolls around every year and pushes the “smartest” General Managers in the game to trade the likes of Gleyber Torres for Aroldis Chapman or Eloy Jimenez and Dylan Cease for Jose Quintana. Did the Cubs and Theo Epstein win the World Series in one of those seasons? Yes. Do the Cubs employ admitted domestic abuser and owner of 85 wRC+ Addison Russell at second base instead of Torres? Also, yes.
So again, the trade deadline: It instigates madness and flights of whimsy often regretted later on.
Over the next three weeks, rumors will fly about various players the Reds could bring in to make their final playoff push. As the Reds’ top prospect, Taylor Trammell will be involved in at least a couple of those rumors. Also, with Baseball Prospectus ranking Trammell a full 19 spots lower now than they did at the beginning of the season (#11 to #30), there’s a decent argument for the Reds to cut bait now while his value at its peak.
The Reds should not do that. They can trade Jonathan India, Hunter Greene, Tony Santillian or Tanner Roark for all I care, but Taylor Trammell should stay untouchable.
First of all, Trammell walks like Joey Votto. Over three and a half minor league seasons, Trammell has a 12.6% walk rate, less than a percentage point below Votto’s 13.4% minor league average. More encouragingly, Trammell has upped his walk rate at each level, from just over 9% in Rookie ball to 16% currently at Double-A.
That trend matches how Taylor Trammell talks about his plate discipline. Last December, the 20-year-old told David Laurila of FanGraphs:
“Plate discipline is something that comes with time…The pitchers get better with their stuff, but I also get better as a hitter. I’ve seen a lot of pitches since getting to pro ball. I don’t have an exact number of how many pitches I’ve seen, but I do know that I’m recognizing them better. I’m more comfortable in the box.”
Trammell’s uncommon self-awareness and maturity when speaking about his approach at the plate also sounds uncannily Votto-esque. FanGraphs projects Trammell as a top-of-the-order bat, meaning if the Reds do the smart thing and hold onto him, the 2020 or 2021 lineup could feature two on-base percentage fiends clogging the bases for Eugenio Suarez, Nick Senzel, and potentially Scooter Gennett or Yasiel Puig.
Speaking of Gennett and Puig, holding on to Trammell instead of sending him off allows the team to simplify the extension decisions for both. If Trammell is still in the system and is ready for major league duty by 2021, then there is absolutely no need for the club to resign Gennett. Trammell’s speed would allow him to take over centerfield from Senzel, moving the current rookie back to his more polished defensive home at second base.
In that scenario, the Reds can extend Puig, creating the fearsome lineup I forecasted a few weeks ago: Trammell, Votto, Suarez, Puig, Senzel, Jesse Winker, Jose Iglesias, Curt Casali, pitcher. That top six allows David Bell the potential to mess with opposing team’s bullpen management, an increasingly enticing possibility if the three-batter-minimum rule stays, by going Trammell, Puig, Votto, Suarez, Senzel, Winker. Or in other words: Lefty, righty, lefty, righty, lefty, righty.
While Scooter has provided plenty of amazing memories for Reds fans the past two years, Puig is younger, has demonstrated greater power, and isn’t a defensive liability. With Trammell in the wings, Puig is the clear extension favorite.
Lastly, Taylor Trammell is just an exciting, fun-loving player who, by the look of things, will mesh wonderfully with this current exciting, fun-loving Reds team. Need proof?
Here’s a video of Trammell stealing home a couple of days ago in case you missed it. (He was absolutely safe):
Taylor Trammell eyeing back-to-back #FuturesGame MVPs! The #Reds' top prospect drove in the first run of the game and then got caught (?) stealing home. Watch live: https://t.co/eys4mNSXZ9 pic.twitter.com/PLGT50cixd
— MLB Pipeline (@MLBPipeline) July 8, 2019
Here’s Trammell having fun with potential Reds catcher of the future, Tyler Stephenson:
— Tyler Stephenson (@Tyler_Step22) December 25, 2018
And here’s Taylor Trammell being super respectful and media savvy!
Taylor Trammell kept using "man" while being interviewed by a woman, tried to correct himself multiple times live on air. Refreshingly self-aware, self-reflective, respectful, etc. I'm a fan.
— Bill Baer (@Baer_Bill) July 8, 2019
To think we would ever trade him away. Bob Castellini, if you want what’s best for the Reds, go ahead and make Taylor Trammell untouchable.