In the middle of the night I was crawling the internet looking for what the national media was saying about the Cincinnati Reds trade that brought starting pitcher Trevor Bauer to the organization, while sending out Yasiel Puig, Taylor Trammell, and Scott Moss. For the most part no one really seemed to think the Reds come out ahead on the deal, with most thinking Cleveland got the best end of the deal from the Reds and Padres. But what about what Redleg Nation’s writers?
It will be hard to properly evaluate this trade until we know what 2020 holds. If the Reds make a playoff run with Bauer in the rotation, then this trade is a win, for me. I know there is a thought of the Reds getting fleeced, but there are still some extenuating circumstance of maybe they can sign Puig back, in free agency, and maybe Trammell doesn’t pan out. Let’s face it, though, we understood this may happen with Puig, when the season started. If he brought in the biggest piece to the playoff puzzle, then it’s a win.
Admittedly, I was starting to lose motivation for following this team down the stretch. I had resigned to the fact that there would be no meaningful trade at the deadline and that the team would play mediocre baseball the rest of the way and finish exactly where the projections expected them to. In regards to that, I am excited that the organization showed some signs of life and made the team better for next year. That fact is undeniable. It has gotten very tiresome trying to be smart, calculated and focused on the long-term all the time.
The trade with the Dodgers this past winter broke free from that a bit and this trade reiterates that even more. Trammell was my favorite prospect but you have to give up something to get something. Puig is a treasure but there is still at least a small chance they could resign him next year if he really enjoyed Cincinnati as much as he says. Bauer is a good pitcher and the rotation should be nails. If they can make a couple more moves to bolster the offense, I will feel much better about the 2020 team than I did about the 2019 team. We can worry about the long-term later.
This trade will look 100% better if the Reds sign a hitter or two before the 2020 season starts. Yes, we all would’ve hoped they’d get more in return for Trammell, but it’s still too early to judge anything at this point. The trade has shown one thing, however. The Reds are serious about contending next year. They now have one of the best starting rotations in the NL. In an era of tanking teams and half-hearted attempts at winning for fear of losing unproven prospects, the Reds are trying to get back to prominence and aren’t afraid to trade a top prospect to do so.
In essence, they traded Trammell (and Scott Moss, a pretty effective minor leaguer), plus 35% of a season of Puig (on a team whose offense has been underperforming all season) for 1 season and 35% of another of Bauer, who right now projects to be the #3 starter on this team. I think some will say that the Reds may have soured on Trammell and that they can bring Puig back in the off-season; but to me, it seems like they’ve over-payed for a commodity that they already had in abundance, starting pitching.
I like what this deal says about the Reds front office. They didn’t quite complete the job of “Get THE Pitching” over the off season; but, they stuck to it and now have the man they were said to be targeting all along, Trevor Bauer. Yes their give seems a bit high for a year and a third of Bauer; but, it shows an active willingness and flexibility to compete we’ve not seen in recent years from the Reds FO. For me this underscores they get it that the days of building set piece teams then sitting back and watching them for half a decade or longer are gone. This may be most important takeaway of the entire deal.
How you feel about the trade basically comes down to how you feel about Taylor Trammell. If you believe he is going to be an everyday star major leaguer, you certainly believe the Reds gave up way too much for a year and two months of Trevor Bauer. If you believe there is question as to whether he will ever be good enough to be an everyday star, you probably believe the Reds made a good trade. Puig was becoming a fan favorite, and it was becoming more likely that he would seriously consider resigning with the Reds. He expressed deep feelings for his teammates and Reds fans in his farewell message on Twitter.
We saw enough in four months to realize why the Dodgers were willing to trade him. His sub-100 wRC+ should not have occurred in a hitter-friendly park like GABP. There is a chance the Reds may approach him in free agency, depending on what they see from VanMeter, et. al., during the final two months. I love a rotation that goes four deep — Castillo, Gray, Bauer and Wood — with starters who could all be considered top-half-of-the-rotation guys.
For me, this trade is all about confidence. It’s testing the confidence I have in the front office and in the “plan” going forward. I believe in Dick Williams and his staff – but I’m nervous. We aren’t in the peaceful place of stockpiling prospects and doing low risk deals anymore – this thing is becoming real…and it’s kind of scary. Being Reds fans (and Cincinnati sports fans in general), I think most of our expectations and thoughts immediately assume failure. I get that, but think of the alternative. The Reds will start 2020 with a championship caliber rotation and will assuredly improve the lineup going into next year (this deal isn’t the last, I guarantee you that). It’s not like the window is completely shut after 2020, either. So, is Taylor Trammel worth a legit playoff push and World Series run in 2020 to you? Do you have confidence in the front office and in the “plan” going forward? For me, it’s yes and yes.
You know that feeling after you catch up with a TV show you really like and the next episode is out the next day, so you’re super excited and there’s all this anticipation but then you find out your parents/roommate/spouse sold your TV for a supposedly magic rock that will give you everything you’ve ever wanted if you just close your eyes, plug your ears, and ignore every single shred of reality that says magic rocks aren’t real? That’s what this trade feels like. Giving up something fun and exciting that made Reds baseball worth watching for a magic rock that by all indications is just a nice looking rock and not magic at all. Oh, and your TV is gone too so say goodbye to future fun and exciting shows.
You can never have too much pitching, and this move clearly sets up another strong rotation for next season. Time will tell whether the Reds paid too much, as moving both Puig and Trammell seems really steep compared to what the Mets traded for Stroman. Hopefully, the Reds can execute on whatever plan is in place to strengthen the outfield offense, maybe even going after Puig as a free agent acquisition.
I wrote a longer, much more detailed piece on this over at RedsMinorLeagues.com. But to make a long story short, I think the Reds overpaid to acquire a good, but not elite pitcher. Trevor Bauer’s going to make the Reds better today, and in 2020. But in a day and age when everyone covets “service time” over ability, the Reds seemed to go the other way. There’s something I’d like to write a little more on that idea, but if that’s where the market is, then Taylor Trammell should have had more value than Trevor Bauer given his contract status. Tossing in Puig AND another prospect seems like tilting things a lot more away from the Reds here.