If conventional wisdom says the Reds should sell, Red Reporter argues that actually the Reds should buy, and I say well what if the Reds just do nothing, then I really cannot wait for the final installment of this Galaxy Brain meme.

More seriously, the Reds should consider just doing nothing over the next two days. I know that’s an incredibly boring way to approach the Trade Deadline and that any small, incremental upgrade is better than no upgrade at all, but what can the Reds even accomplish at this deadline?

As C. Trent Rosecrans wrote at The Athletic last week, the Reds really only have seven major league players worth selling. Raisel Iglesias still has 2.5 years on his team-friendly extension but is in the midst of his worst season as a big leaguer. Selling Iglesias wouldn’t necessarily be selling low because of that cost-effective extension, but also the Reds intend to contend during those seasons. The Braves make the most sense as a trade partner in theory, but the Braves have been incredibly reticent to deal from their deep prospect pool so it seems unlikely to happen. Also, unless the team receives an MLB-ready shortstop, then dealing Raisel wouldn’t upgrade the team; it would just further weaken an already scuffling bullpen.

Yasiel Puig is the only other big name the Reds can offer for a notable return, and his bat / defense will certainly help any contender outside of New York. However, as Rosecrans pointed out, Puig’s reputation precedes him and some teams might not want to add his presence into the clubhouse midseason. Also, as teams have come to value years of control, the returns for rentals have diminished, so the Reds truly may be better off just extending Puig than anything else.

As for the other five, there’s not much hope. Steve Mancuso noted at Reds Content+ that yesterday’s Jordan Lyles trade likely shows the Reds won’t get a prospect of acclaim for Tanner Roark. Jose Iglesias and Derek Dietrich could be bench bats for any contender, but no contender trades the farm for rental bench bats. Lastly, David Hernandez and Jared Hughes have both struggled of late and could find suitors given every team’s need for more relievers, but like Iglesias and Dietrich, wouldn’t command top dollar. Heck, a well-regarded reliever in Jake Diekman only brought back two “fringe prospects” according to FanGraphs.

On the buying side of things, Red Reporter’s Fred Regorter correctly pointed out that it’s a buyer’s market (evidence: see above paragraphs) but who should the Reds buy? Noah Syndergaard would be fun to add but not for the Mets exorbitant asking price. Edwin Diaz, who the Reds have been linked to, doesn’t make sense for the club. Clint Frazier is likely available but any deal for him will feel more like selling than buying.

And as for Matt Boyd, I’m still not sold that he’s actually that good. At no level of professional baseball has Boyd struck out as many batters per nine as he has this season, and only once before has he maintained this kind of walk rate over 50 innings or more. All of the hype surrounding Boyd just reeks of an Erik Bedard redux to me. For those who don’t remember, Bedard posted the highest strikeout and lowest walk rates of his young career for Baltimore in 2007, recording 5.0 fWAR. In the offseason, he was traded to the Mariners and over the next six years, across five different teams, Bedard was worth 8.0 more fWAR. Not exactly the production the Mariners expected when trading five prospects including then-minor league outfielder Adam Jones.

Are there other players available that aren’t currently bandied about in the mainstream rumors? Probably. If the Reds pick up Francisco Lindor through some means of sorcery, I will publicly renounce this entire blog post.  But until that happens, why shouldn’t the Reds just not do anything at all?

The roster as constructed is good. Not playoff-caliber good as we’ve learned this season, but also not as bad as the record indicates. With Alex Wood and the Reds first- through third-string catchers coming back, the team is already getting better this deadline! There’s nothing wrong with entering a holding pattern and using the rest of this season to frustrate the Cardinals, Brewers, and Cubs hopes instead of giving those teams an easier opponent by selling.

By refraining from buying, the Reds also can hold onto the rebuilt farm they’ve clobbered together through the second half of this rebuild. Tyler Stephenson, Tony Santillan, Jonathan India, and Jose Siri all have 2020 ETAs, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Taylor Trammell’s timeline was sped up next season. That’s more major league ready talent than anyone the Reds could find by selling right now, so why ship it off by buying?

I know, new names are more exciting and nothing about the phrase “holding pattern” screams optimism or even entertainment. But it sure feels like the smart thing to do. And, as Nick Kirby keeps pointing out on Twitter, if the Reds can stick around in the hunt until August 22, the schedule gets a whole lot easier. It sure seems like doing nothing makes more sense than doing anything at all.

35 Responses

  1. Big Ed

    I kinda feel the same way. Maybe they could save some money by shipping Puig and Gennett (and they would likely have to eat some of Gennett’s contract), but it wouldn’t be much. And they’d have to weigh it against the PR hit.

    A side effect to trading Puig is that it would open up ABs for guys like Ervin and Aquino, both of whom need evaluation at the MLB level. If Aquino passes the test, he would cost about 5% of what Puig would cost next season.

    I believe that the time for the Reds to improve will be in the off-season, and not at this trade deadline. They have an enormous amount coming off the payroll at the end of the year, and will have $50 million or more to spend in the off-season, without that many glaring holes to fill. Plus, most of the big-market teams (NYY, Boston, Houston, Cubs, LAD) are already bumping against the soft salary cap, and won’t necessarily be in on every free agent. They also all have shortstops.

  2. Roger Garrett

    Doing nothing is kind of what I expect them to do as well because who do we have that others may want?That question is all we really need to answer so I feel they will just play it out and reload again next year.I don’t like that thought because it will mean that Puig,Scooter and others will keep the younger guys watching and that is a big mistake but the Reds just can’t part with guys even if it means just letting them go.Little or no return can be expected on guys on one year deals so they will again just play it out.

  3. SteveLV

    You make a solid point that only Raisel and Puig would bring real value in a trade, Wes, but I’d rather see them get what they can and clear the decks for the less expensive prospects to get regular playing time.
    Some combination of Aquino and Crook hammering the ball, and Pete hammering the point, has changed my opinion of what to do with Puig. I was in favor of signing or QOing him a few weeks ago, but now think he’s replaceable at $15 – $18 million a year and I’d like to see if Aquino could be his replacement, which would free up that money for elsewhere.
    I’d like to see Van Meter in the lineup every day. I think it makes sense for Peraza to be a short the rest of the year. And I’m going to be very surprised if more than one of Roark, Wood, J Iglesias, Gennett are with the Reds next year, so if there was something there to take, I’d take what it is and move on.
    If they traded Dietrich, Blandino is in the wings to replace him.
    I wouldn’t trade Raisel right now unless they got a great offer, but I’d be open to one now, and looking for one in the off season.
    I think the rest of the season should be about building for the future and the off season should center around a larger move to make either catcher, or more likely, shortstop, a position of strength.

  4. Burtgummer

    Unfortunately it’s the Reds MO every year.letting guys walk instead of getting some young pieces

    • David

      Yep. We could call it “Matt Harvey Syndrome”. Pretend that we are actually going to do something, and riding it out, and then getting nothing, and liking it, for players that could be traded.

      We may not get incredible talent in a trade, but Josh Van Meter came over from the Padres in a less than memorable trade. Players develop. If we don’t get prospects, we have nothing.

  5. Tv

    Alfrado for swarez and latos for disco. Cueto for reed and lamb. See sometimes those fringe guys are stars. If you get a few one is bound to pay off and our scouting is great. Selling puig and Tanner will not hurt this team. Let’s be honest puig is having a real season and is the best bar available. That’s why I sell. So we finish 5 not 4th who cares. The fans already have up so do the right thing for tommrow

  6. Klugo

    Although no singular Reds player would probably yield anything of real worth, multiple players may. You listed many players that the Reds could deal. There are teams out there with multiple needs. Time to get creative.

  7. Kyle

    I would look to see if they could sell raisel for a good prospect or two and see what they could get for Roark. But yeah I kinda agree. See what you can do this offseason.

    As for Boyd, I have been thinking he’s overrated for the longest time. He is by far having a career, which is still just solid and not great. He’s already on the older side and really has been mediocre at best throughout his career. Not sure why anyone would want to match their asking price for him

    • Doc

      So the Reds are not the only team asking too much for a over-rated pitcher?

  8. Michael P

    Excellent article and thought process.. The chips we have to sell, won’t bring the return they are worth. Would have to dig deeper into the bag for more valuable chips to make marketable difference to the team.. Guys like, Garret, Winker, L. Castillo to name a few. I like idea of extending Puig on short term 3 year deal with option of a 4th.. Then, see if you extend Alex Wood for an undervalue deal. Trade and or look at FA in offseason for CF, C and SP..

  9. Tom

    Doofus, did you hibernate this off season? I wouldn’t blame you if you did but the FO most assuredly did something. We added Roark, Puig, Wood, Farmer, Iglesias, Dietrich, and Gray. All but Wood have performed at least a well as expected – and Wood was hurt. It may turn out it wasn’t worth the prospect we gave up. It’s impossible to argue the FO did nothing.

    This doesn’t even consider the changes in the coaching and analytics staff.

    As for doing nothing now, it’s certainly a viable option. Doing nothing is a high standard to overcome in problem solving.

    • Mason Red

      Yes the FO did SOMETHING last offseason but I wouldn’t say it was some grand plan that insures long term success. Yes the Reds are better because of it but the result has been a team closer to .500 than in the past. Also the Reds are closer in the standings because of more teams falling closer to mediocrity especially in the NL Central. The Cubs and Brewers are underachievers and the Cards are the Cards meaning they are always in the mix but they’re not great. I’ll also say keeping Puig would be ridiculous. If other teams don’t want him why should the Reds? He’s a decent player but not great. I don’t see him as a player to build around. Trade him for whatever the Reds can get but more importantly use the money saved on other players especially pitchers.

  10. Mark

    The team is actually not really out of it yet, now back to 6.5 games back yes there are 3 teams ahead of them but you still have all of August and September. If they get on a hot streak again which is possible if they can beat the Pirates in all 3, at least split the 4 in Atlanta, then you have 13 of 16 at home where the team seems to be heating up with several recent wins. The 8 home games against St. Louis and Chicago will be critical no doubt to see where they are at the end of August.

    • Michael E

      They would have to play over .600 baseball the last two months, do you think that more than just 10% possible? I don’t. That said, if they stand pat, i will be hoping (unlike past seasons) they win every night and sneak into a wild card or NL Central title. Past 5 years I have been rooting for losses for better draft pick, not so much this year.

  11. Bill J

    It wouldn’t surprise me if the FO signs or tries to sign everyone now on 1 year deals because they are playing so good now.

  12. SultanofSwaff

    Just get me one cost controlled every day player by packaging any number of Puig/Gennett/Roark/Wood/Dietrich/Hughes. You can’t tell me there isn’t a playoff bound team (or five) who wouldn’t want these veteran guys to help put them over the top. Wood and Roark might net you that guy, but adding in the others certainly would.

    Think BIG.

  13. CFD3000

    Wes you’re not wrong that no one player with an expiring contract will bring much in return. But here’s the thing – several of them are redundant right now. With Wood getting healthy, Roark is replaceable. Gennett and Dietrich have already been surpassed by JVM. Hughes and Hernandez weren’t adding anything to the pen in the first place. I’d extend Puig at a fair price, but if he’s traded Ervin will likely provide the same production on right. Only Jose Iglesias plays a position lacking depth. Even if it’s just mid-level prospects, why not roll those dice if something comes back in return? There’s nobody who is signed long term that the Reds should sell save perhaps Raisel Iglesias, but the only players with an expiring contract they should be looking to keep (and if they do, extend) are Alex Wood and Jose Iglesias (and maybe Puig) so why not get something in return if those players aren’t needed now?

  14. FreeHouse

    Trade Santillan and a mid level prospect for Matt Boyd.

  15. george mirones

    After reading many of the recent postings that say Reds will be smart to stand-pat, I feel that the lack of trading activity is the real expression of how poorly constructed the 25/40-man roster has been built. A few posters have mentioned that The Reds don’t have any players that other teams want except maybe Castillo. I agree with that.
    The marketplace is the evaluator of the value of your employees.
    The consistent refrain “money coming off the payroll” would indicate that many fans think Reds management will spend the variance ($70/80 Mil) to get back to contention. REALLY??? If the Reds sign two good FA’s (#2 pitcher, 1 all-star outfielder) that would take care of 35-45 million. Still need an offensive catcher, 2nd baseman, and a number 2 starter (plus 6 wins) and number 4 starter (plus 1 or 2 wins) (#1 Castillo, #2 ????, #3 Gray, #4 Disco ???, #5 Mahle???)

    Reds fans now have 2 solid months of mindlessness baseball.

    • TR

      My mind will be fine with two more months of Reds baseball whether there is roster activity or not followed by the playoffs and world series most likely minus the Reds. Then there’s mindless interest in passing with football and basketball and the wait until Spring when baseball rolls around again.

  16. David

    I read on the Twins website that Rasiel Iglesias was a target acquisition a few weeks ago. Among many possible arms to improve their bullpen, of course.

    • Doc

      I have listened to a lot of MLB network radio on Sirius. Over the past few days I have heard a lot of talk about good teams needing late inning relief help, or a closer. I have not heard a single mention of R Iglesius as a candidate.

  17. Joey

    The problem with selling is that it’s a buyer’s market which means the advantage goes to the buyer not the seller. Makes it hard to sell off pieces when you know they aren’t going to bring the return you think they should.

  18. Tv

    Well said. Tanner could easily be replaced by wood and you’re right we need to find out what the heck we have for next year. Puig has not been that good and replacing a right-hander with the left-hander could be a huge help. People seem to be missing on the addition by subtraction narrative but you nailed it.

  19. Rob

    I don’t have a strong position going forward other than improving the team for this year and next. Who are some of our most valuable trade chips? Trammel? Disco?

    I harken back to last December trade. What was the plan come July for Puig, Wood, and Kemp if we were 4-5 games out? Answering that might tell us where we are at.

  20. KG

    I’ve felt for awhile that we can sit this one out unless something good pops up. No contenders are dealing with big injuries in positions we have available so that limits necessity trades from partners on top of the fact that what we have is good and not great in terms of leverage.

    This would be another year we give up major league players for average or above average farm talent while making a competitor better. To heck with all of them.

  21. Wesley Jenkins

    A very fair and well-reasoned case, though my counter would lie largely in this FanGraphs article: https://blogs.fangraphs.com/the-same-old-yasiel-puig/

    Since the June 9 turning point that Clemens points out, Puig’s line has been .318/.373/..616 with a 151 wRC+. That’s simply bonkers production.

    Clemens explains it better with data but Puig pressed to start the season, plain and simple. Coming to a new environment after being run out of a town where everyone wanted you to fail to vindicate their own prejudices will do that to a player. Puig pressing makes sense. But now he’s playing his game again and his numbers blow out any of the other options you presented. (Phil Ervin has 70 fewer at-bats at the MLB level than the Puig since June 9 sample. Also Ervin is a pure platoon player, Puig can go everyday.)

    The Reds could stand to get JVM some playing time, but it looks like they’ll do that with or without trading Diets and Scoot. As for the other young guys, we already sort of know what we have. Signing Puig long-term will be an improvement over any of them. I’d still rather stand pat and have a solid bench on the chance we do make a late playoff push than trade those guys away for lottery tickets.

  22. Tom Mitsoff

    It’s clear that top prospects have continued to increase in value over the years because they possess that priceless commodity — team control. It seems that in almost every case you read about, there is no chance that trading a rental player will bring a top prospect in return. To pry a top prospect from another team, you almost have to offer an established major leaguer with team control time remaining. That makes meaningful trades hard to make. We’ll see if the Yankees eventually decide to cough up one or more of their top prospects for the pitching help they desperately need.

  23. Indy Red Man

    If I’m wrong then I’ll admit it, but imo Puig’s value goes beyond his numbers. His arm plays big in RF in gabp. Winker & Ervin don’t have half his arm…literally! That play vs Milw where he rushed past 3rd and scored on a errant relay throw. That was Billy like!!! Nobody has done that in 25 years as a Red except for Billy. He hustles and he’s good in the community. He also drew 64 walks in 2017. The potential is there to be a .875 ops type of player for 3-4 years! He’s also a human being. He hears trade rumors, etc. I bet if he’s a Red on Aug. 1 then he’ll start hitting again!

    Last but not least….he’s entertaining. I don’t care about fireworks or the Partridge Family reunion after the game. I can barely make it thru half the 210 minutes it takes to play a 3-2 final in todays game. Puig entertains. He’s a couple cans short of a 6-pack! I also think $45 mil would lock him down for 3 years! I guess if they keep him for the rest of the season then we’ll see how he finishes up.

    • Tom Mitsoff

      The best argument for retaining Puig at this point is that he is a proven major league player with a quantifiable track record. I hope as much as everyone else at Redleg Nation that all of the players who are tearing it up at Triple A can do the same in the majors. But odds are, that won’t happen. Look at Winker. Last year we all thought he would be a set-it-and-forget-it solution, at least offensively. Not so, at least to this point.

      There is nobody on the current roster who we can count on 20-plus homers, 70-plus RBI and terrific defense and hustle for a starting major league outfield position in 2020. We can hope a lot that someone on the 40-man roster will do that, but truly that cannot be counted upon at this point. The objective in 2020 has to continue to be to try to win, not to lapse back into rebuild mode. Letting an established, admittedly average offensively (99 wRC+) outfielder go without a ready, reliable replacement is not conducive to that goal. That being said, it’s my belief that if Puig’s production stays about the same for the rest of the season, there will not be a market for him at the $15-million-plus-per-year salary level. Hopefully his agent will be straight with him about that.

  24. Michael E

    Absolutely perfect post Jim. I see no reason at all to consider keeping Puig or making a QO if off-season. It would be money better spent elsewhere. We have a glut of OF contenders coming up and Puig of 2019 is the same Puig of past 5 years. Great for a month, but overall just an average or slightly above average OF, not a player that should command 15 million/yr on a long term deal.

    I guess they keep Puig IF they think the Reds can play over .600 baseball the rest of the way, because anything less means no wildcard or NL Central title. I just don’t see it, even if they play some lesser teams for a good chunk of August and September.

    My perfect deadline is trading Puig, R Iglesias, Roark and Gennett (the last one won’t bring as much as last year), and adding 2 or 3 prospects that slide into our top 10, with maybe one sliding into the top 4.

  25. Don

    Reds should always try to get better.

    Not sure what this means about the easy part of the schedule
    If the Reds can stick around in the hunt until August 22, the schedule gets a whole lot easier.

    On Aug 23rd they start an 11 game, 10 day road trip and then 7 games at home with no off days.
    That is 17 games in 16 days stretch with 3 trips with no off days.
    Not sure how this is the easy part of the schedule?
    Pirates are never easy, Marlins could be then playing playoff contenders the rest of the stretch.

    Reds schedule rest of year
    2 – Pirates – H
    4 – Braves – A
    2 – Angels – H
    Off Day
    4 – Cubs – H
    3 – Nationals – A
    4 – Cards – H
    3 – Padres – H
    Off Day
    3 – Pirates – A
    4 – Marlins – A
    4 – Cards (includes a Double Header)- A
    4 – Phillies – H
    3 – D-backs – H
    This is 17 games in 16 days. Aug23-Sep8
    Off Day
    3 – Mariners – A
    3 – D-Backs – A
    3 – Cubs – A
    Off Day
    3 – Mets – H
    Off Day
    3 – Brewers – H
    3 – Pirates – A

  26. Philip Byrd

    What are they trying to do in Cincinnati. Have another Billy Bean story .