The Cincinnati Reds have traded reliever Robert Stephenson and minor league prospect Jameson Hannah to the Colorado Rockies for reliever Jeff Hoffman and minor league prospect Case Williams.

The trade overall is interesting. Robert Stephenson has been significantly better than Jeff Hoffman has in their careers. While Stephenson had some struggles early in his career, he had turned in two solid seasons in 2017 and 2019 – with 2019 actually being a pretty good one. Hoffman, though, has never been too successful in the Major Leagues. He’s thrown 230.2 innings since 2016 began and has a 6.40 ERA. His ERA’s over the past four years have been 5.89, 9.35, 6.56, and 9.28.

When it comes to the prospects that were swapped – Jameson Hannah rated out as the #23 prospect in the Reds organization at the mid-season point in 2020. He’s a plus runner and can play center field. On the flip side he’s a huge ground ball guy who has struggled to tap into any power in his career so far. Case Williams has not yet played an inning in his professional career. He was the Rockies 4th round draft pick this past year out of Douglas County High School in Castle Rock, Colorado. He didn’t get to pitch in his senior season, and is seen as a bit of a long-term project than a quick mover according to pre-draft scouting reports. Williams also did not rank within the Rockies mid-season Top 30 prospects according to Baseball America.

Moving back to the big leaguers – both guys struggled in 2020 out of the bullpen. Stephenson’s health wasn’t there, and when he did get on the mound, the results were poor as he allowed 11 earned runs – including EIGHT home runs – in 10.0 innings. There was some thought out there that the Reds would consider non-tendering him, though I think that perhaps that was not nearly as likely as some. He was pretty good in 2019 and no one doubts the stuff he has at all.

When it comes to Jeff Hoffman, his percentile card at Baseball Savant tells the story:

What it tells us is that from a performance standpoint, he’s been bad. Real bad. But he also throws hard and he spins both his fastball and curveball well. Basically, the Reds are hoping they can “fix him” because the underlying things he does with his pitches are things that work if you can execute.

It seems that the Reds flipped Robert Stephenson and Jameson Hannah for two lottery tickets. Jeff Hoffman has potential, but he’s going to be a 28-year-old in January who has a career 6.40 ERA in the Major Leagues. Case Williams represents a different kind of lottery ticket – more than a scratch off that likely has a bigger payout if you win, but the odds of winning are a lot lower given that he’s an 18-year-old who has never thrown a professional inning in his life.

35 Responses

  1. Matt WI

    I’ll hop on the rumor speculation- might this involve Trevor Story?

    • Matt WI

      Oh boo… just reread the bottom of Doug’s post. “Lesser” talent. Speculation withdrawn.

  2. Tom Mitsoff

    Looks like a “meh” trade on the surface. Reds and Rockies are swapping two former first-round draft choice pitchers who have been huge disappointments at the big league level, hoping that a change of scenery might help one or both. According to Spotrac.com, Hoffman has 2.1 years of MLB service time, meaning he could conceivably be controlled by the Reds for four more years. Wasn’t able to find out how many options he has left.

      • Tom Mitsoff

        So from that standpoint, he’s exactly like Stephenson — keep him on the roster or risk exposing him to waivers.

      • MBS

        That’s disappointing, but to be fair there were plenty of people speculating the Reds would DFA Stephenson. It would have been a lot better if Hoffman had an option left.

  3. gared2004

    It seems like this move was done to unload salary, clear room on the 40-man and get an intriguing prospect in Case Williams. We are loaded in the OF and Hannah doesn’t look like he will ever be more than a 5th outfielder, if he even makes the majors in the future. Stephenson was unfortunately inconsistent though better in the bullpen and will give the Rockies an adequate bullpen piece. We won’t have to pay his arb raise. Hoffman will likely be placed on waivers and may or may not end up in the organization. Williams was the prize here as a 4th round pick in this year’s draft. He is raw, but has a good fastball with elite spin rate, a pretty good curve, and a changeup that needs work. He is an ideal project for Kyle Boddy.

    • Colorado Red

      I would rather key keep Hoffman.
      I think getting out of Coors will help.
      Look for a rebound, to a 4/5 type starter.

      Previously looked good.

  4. earmbrister

    My heart sank every time BobSteve entered a 2020 game. It was like he was pitching BP, or pitching in the HR Derby. I don’t remember what his health issues were in 2020. Strained neck/whiplash?

    Despite having some plus qualities, his results seemed to lag behind his promise. Criticisms included having a “straight” FB and perhaps an unwillingness to listen to coaching (?). It’s a shame because it looked like he had turned the corner in 2019.

    Maybe he’ll figure things out in a new environment. I hear the ball doesn’t fly very far in Colorado, lol.

    • Doug Gray

      Any criticism that he was unwilling to listen to coaching is absolute non-sense in my mind. Guys that won’t listen to coaching don’t scrap their literal entire pitching arsenal from the time they were drafted to the time they are in the big leagues – but that’s exactly what he did. At times he dropped the 4-seamer for a 2-seamer, he scrapped the change up for a splitter, he dropped the curveball for a slider. I know that it’s been said that he wouldn’t listen, like 5 years ago, but it didn’t make sense then and it doesn’t make sense now.

      • earmbrister

        Fair enough. That’s why there was a lack of conviction in my statement. Just a criticism that I had heard, one that would never have gotten traction had he had better success.

        FWIW, I get triggered when fans post that Puig is a club house cancer. While the common man doesn’t have much insight into such, Puig’s time in Cincy showed a guy who hustled and who was well liked by teammates and the local community. His bad rap seemed to be fueled by a personal vendetta by a LA sportswriter.

  5. Doug Gray

    2019 wasn’t him obviously getting better?

  6. citizen54

    Seems like Case Williams was already on the Reds’ radar before the draft and is probably a better prospect than Hannah. From reports, it seems like he can hit 96, has a good curve and a decent change for a high school pitcher. Makes up for the Reds giving up more talent they received for Stephenson. I like this trade in that it makes the Reds better in the future. Good start by Krall.

    • AllTheHype

      That was my first thought too. Most likely they scouted WIlliams before the draft and liked what they saw, and this gave them the opportunity to get him in the organization.

    • doofus

      “Driveline,” wasn’t that a Prime time show in the sixties, that starred two guys driving across country in a Vette?

  7. Don

    Stephenson had lost Bell’s confidence he gained in the 2nd half of 2019.

    To bad he got hurt early and could never recover, he was very good the 2nd half of 2019.

    Not sure how the curveball will work at Coors Field.

    I thought Krall said the bullpen was going to be reworked to have more players with minor league options. Oh well, interesting but doubtful to have a significant impact on the 2021 team, it is a “lottery” ticket trade as Doug stated.

    • LDS

      If Bell is calling the shots, it’s time to write off the Reds for the immediate future. As for the trade itself? Further depletion of the minor league system for no return.

      • doofus

        “Moriarty, always with these negative waves!”

      • swayback8

        How is it “further depletion of the minor league system for no return.” ? Hannah is not a highly ranked prospect and Williams is a 4th rd draft pick with potential that hasn’t even pitched an inning yet. Hannah was probably not going to be anything other than a back up while Williams has potential to be a major league arm.

      • LDS

        Williams as this article states has ZERO professional innings. We’ve heard potential from the Reds’ management for a long time. Eventually, one expects to see results.

      • swayback8

        Correct, but Williams was just drafted before the shut down. You can’t judge him yet. We already know that Hannah was the #23 prospect, which means very little potential and thus far no real production.

      • earmbrister

        This trade was the opposite of depletion of the minor league system. The Reds traded a largely ineffective MLB RP for a 2020 fourth round draft choice. The other two players seem to be window dressing.

        The Reds reportedly planned on drafting Case Williams this year. Their determination in landing him may speak volumes.

    • LDS

      Haven’t seen that movie in 50 years. As for negative vibes, no. Just observations.

  8. MK

    Thinking of attitudes and personalities of the first round draft picks that have come through Dayton that I’ve gotten to know, I would list Robert close to the top and never heard he was difficult to coach. I agree with Tom above that this was more about a change of scenery for Hoffman and Robert. With the Colorado factor Hoffman’s MLB stats can probably thrown out. But if he learned anything pitching there it could be a help in GABP. Maybe it is a 2×4 up against the head and a different set of eyes for both. Hannah was behind Siani and Friedl on the depth chart.

  9. RojoBenjy

    I’m just glad that it wasn’t TYLER Stephenson. Don’t hold me in suspense with the title like that, Doug!

    😀

    • earmbrister

      Yeah, my heart skipped a similar beat.

    • Doug Gray

      Headline writers everywhere: People, give your children short names.

  10. Ryan

    Dylan Floro trade 2.0. Sell high on a reliever for pitching prospect. I think Stephenson still has something in him to be a good reliever. Not sure I like this trade.

  11. Hotto4Votto

    I think I’d have rather had kept BobSteve and seen if he could have posted something like 2019 results again. At least he’s had some ML success, unlike Hoffman. But, it’s not a big loss and I’m willing to give DJ and Boddy a chance to straighten Hoffman out, their track record deserves as much. Never saw much out of Hannah that led me to believe he’d be a decent major leaguer, so might as well take the lotto ticket.

  12. Roger Garrett

    Always liked Bob Steve and for the last time I can say he never got a shot at being a starter.Only had 19 starts at the big league level in 2016-2018 which was and is a joke considering how many games we lost in that time frame.He should have received 50 or more starts in that time frame and if he wasn’t any good then traded when you could have got something of greater value.Pitchers 25 years old with that many starts always bring attention because somebody feels they can fix him or make him better.

  13. RedBaron

    I’m OK with this trade. I like BobSteve but he was no best than our sixth best option out of the pen after Raisel, Archie, Amir, Sims and Antone.

    The REAL reason this trade got done was Case Williams. He has more upside than anyone involved in this trade. For a 4th round draft pick that wasn’t on BA Top 500 he had no less than half a dozen articles written about him including one at MLB.com. If not for the Covid shutdown it’s very conceivable he could have gone in the 2nd Round or even Higher.

    https://www.mlb.com/news/rockies-draft-case-williams

    • Doc

      Interesting that your list of options out of the pen does not include Lorenzen, who clearly has a better bullpen track record than BobSteve. Seems that boots BobSteve to no better than seventh best option out of the pen. Considering that you were speaking in past tense, I infer your comment applied up through the 2020 season. Granted there is talk about Lorenzen again getting a chance to earn a rotation spot, but that is in the future, not the past, so it hasn’t happened yet, and may not happen.

      • RedBaron

        I would have included Lorenzen but he seems tabbed to be a Starting Pitcher next year.