There were a ton of trades that took place at the deadline. The Cincinnati Reds even made a few trades in the final week of the month. But the biggest deal was made by the Los Angeles Dodgers who acquired Max Scherzer and Trea Turner from the Washington Nationals for four prospects. Scherzer is a free agent following the season, while Turner is signed through the 2022 season. Adding those two players would have been a huge boost for the Reds, but it wasn’t to be for so many different reasons – some largely financial, and some likely due to where the team sits in comparison to the Dodgers.
The question was asked of me on twitter, though, what an equivalent deal would be for the Reds to have to have made to match what the Dodgers gave up to acquire the two stars from the Nationals. We can start by looking at the deal: The Dodgers sent prospects Keibert Ruiz, Josiah Gray (yes, that same one), Donovan Casey, and Gerardo Carrillo. Both Ruiz and Gray are top 100 prospects, while Casey and Carrillo are not and are quite a bit further down the depth chart among the organizations prospects.
Not everyone is going to agree on prospect rankings, but we only have two lists from the national publications worth looking at that have been updated for the midseason. Baseball America’s Top 100 Prospect list just came out on Monday ($$) and they have long been considered the gold standard within the industry. Keibert Ruiz, a catcher, was rated 16th overall. Josiah Gray, a right-handed pitcher, was rated 59th overall. If you wanted to use the Baseball America rankings as a 1-for-1 guide, Cincinnati would have had to counter with shortstop Jose Barrero, who ranked 19th on their list, and Hunter Greene, who ranked 48th on their list.
Now, I am of the belief that Hunter Greene is drastically underrated on this list by about 40 spots. He’s the top prospect in the organization on my just updated midseason rankings. Keith Law of The Athletic rated him as the #3 prospect in baseball ($$) two weeks ago (with the caveat that players in the big leagues weren’t eligible for the list even if they actually were “prospect list eligible”). So perhaps instead of Hunter Greene you have to go with Nick Lodolo – ranked 20th by Baseball America, but unranked in Law’s Top 50. While 2021 1st round pick Matt McLain can’t officially be traded yet, he could be a player to be named later in a deal, and for Law he ranked 31st overall (but unranked in the Baseball America Top 100). Perhaps you could go with a McLain and Lodolo deal instead of Barrero and Greene depending on exactly how you wanted to try and line things up.
That’s a pretty steep price to pay. But of course that’s not the only price. There were two other prospects involved, too. While these two guys matter much less in terms of the “added value” to the deal, there is some value there. From what I’ve read about Gerardo Carrillo and Donovan Casey, a rough equivalent would be for the Reds to include someone like Joe Boyle and Allan Cerda – both have big tools, but flaws in their game that could keep them from getting to the big leagues.
Of course, there’s also the previously mentioned financial side of things. The Reds, hate it as much as most do, simply aren’t going to take on the kind of salary required to make that kind of acquisition. They’ve never really done anything like that in the past, and the last 10 months suggest that they are trying to shoe-string things together. They cut quality relievers to save money, spent less than $2M in guaranteed contracts in free agency, and their trade deadline acquisitions all made very minimal salary. It’s just a difficult sell that they would take on the salaries owed to those two players.
With all of that said, pretend that you are somehow both Bob Castellini and Nick Krall and you’ve approved the salary needed to pay for the two players. Would you have pulled the trigger to make the deal for Cincinnati? Was the cost too high for your tastes because of what it could mean for the long term future? Or is that a price you are willing to pay to truly go for it in 2021, and at least still have Turner around in 2022 and give it a go once again with a slightly different team?