Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic is reporting that the Cincinnati Reds tried to acquire Kris Bryant from the Chicago Cubs last week at the trade deadline, but couldn’t get the deal done because the Reds needed the Cubs to either pay his entire remaining salary or take back a contract(s) that made the deal net neutral with regards to money.

There’s a lot of questions here that are left unanswered. First is that how would the team use Kris Bryant if he were acquired? Assuming for a second that the team traded a prospect instead of a big leaguer and the Cubs covered his salary, that would mean that center or third base would be the most likely of positions Bryant would play. But third base is also where Eugenio Suárez plays, and while half of you reading this are ready to pull your hair out and throw your phone on the ground, there are no signs at all that the Reds are going to bench him. Third base is also where Mike Moustakas plays, and he’s currently in Triple-A rehabbing his way back from his heel injury (and had a 111 MPH exit-velo double over the weekend).

The other option that seems potentially doable is centerfield. While Bryant isn’t a guy that’s played there every day, and he’s not your typical centerfielder, he can cover you there if asked. The problem there is that, well, he’s not truly a centerfielder, and that’s also where Nick Senzel plays. He, like Moustakas, is in Triple-A Louisville rehabbing right now.

Acquiring better players is always the right move. Kris Bryant 100% would have made the Cincinnati Reds a better team. His ability to play multiple spots would really help, too. Even if it would have created a bit of a weird log-jam at a few positions and made the lineup card look different nearly every day. The move didn’t happen because either the Reds were too cheap, the Cubs were too cheap, or both of them were too cheap to pay Kris Bryant.

Cincinnati’s going to be getting depth back, and likely soon. It’s going to be coming on the position and pitcher side. Lucas Sims, Michael Feliz, Alex Blandino, Mike Moustakas, and Nick Senzel are all currently out on rehab assignments. Tejay Antone is throwing bullpen sessions and shouldn’t be that far away from heading out on a rehab assignment of his own.

Still, it’s tough to look at the fact that the Giants sent two prospects who wouldn’t rank in the Reds top 10 to acquire Kris Bryant because they were willing to pay him roughly $7M the rest of the season. Cincinnati’s lineup could have greatly improved by adding Bryant to it, and when you are chasing multiple teams to try and get into the playoffs, every little improvement counts. And that improvement wouldn’t have been little.

84 Responses

  1. LDS

    I saw this earlier. My question is whether anyone has mentioned what the Reds offered.

  2. David

    “Tried to acquire” from the Cubs is kind of a code for working on a deal that the Cubs just wouldn’t pull the trigger on. Like taking on the rest of Bryant’s salary, which is why the Cubs wanted to trade him in the first place. With Baez and Ricci gone, they may just want to hang on to Bryant and figure out a way to keep him.
    And….what would have gone the other way?
    Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, half the Reds’s farm system? The top prospects? Eugenio Suarez? Castellini’s grandchildren?

  3. BatsLeftThrowsRight

    Anything the Reds do this year will be unexpected and a long shot at best. I am looking at the next three years as a window where the Reds go all in. Barring major injury this team should be playoff bound the next three seasons, so I am okay with not getting Bryant. The prospects involved we would all need to know about before commenting on this trade of conjecture.

    Need to lock Castellanos up at four years 100 million. If he walks away from that deal, he never really wanted to be here to begin with.

    • MFG

      NC is the heart and toughness on this team!

      • LDS

        The issue isn’t with what you wrote, e.g., the quality of the prospects. The larger question to me was the FO’s thinking. Were they trying to dump salary, e.g., Suarez or Akiyama. Did they try to unload some of their 3B logjam, e.g., Moose or Senzel, even Lopez or Schrock. It’s an attempt to get a deeper insight to the FO’s thinking.

      • Luke J

        You keep posting this as if knowing what the Cubs required of the Giants means anything when trying to decide what they wanted from the Reds. They could easily overvalue the prospects they got from the Giants and undervalued the Reds prospects they wanted instead. Not to mention that you scoff at $7M. That’s a lot of money for a 2 month rental on a team 7 games out of the division lead. The Giants and Reds are in vastly different positions this year as it relates to winning now. The Reds view their young talent as a ways away. The Giants have the best record in baseball THIS YEAR. Two very different scenarios.

        Sure, every little improvement counts. But how much does it count and at what cost? Would Bryant have made the Reds world series contenders overnight? Would he have guaranteed they make the playoffs? I don’t know the answers to those questions, but when you evaluate potential trades, you need to make that estimation in order to evaluate if that reasonable likelihood is worth whatever the cost would be to get it.

        Clearly the Giants thought it was enough to push them to a good shot at a title. Clearly the Reds did not. And I tend to agree with them. I doubt adding Bryant makes this team win the world series. So in that light, 2 prospects and $7M is a steep price, even if the prospects aren’t in your top 10.

      • Doug Gray

        Yes, I keep posting it because people keep saying “BuT wHaT pRoSpEcTs WoUlD iT cOsT?!” when we know what caliber of prospects it actually did cost and I literally mentioned it in the article that everyone is commenting on.

        It’s frustrating that I put in all of the work that I do, and include things like WHAT IT ACTUALLY DID COST IN PROSPECTS only to have multiple people in the first few comments ask questions that are literally answered in the article. It happens every. single. day. It’s tiring. And frustrating.

        As for the money…. well, it’s not that much money. We can discuss whether it was worth it or not, but we shouldn’t be pretending that it’s a bunch of money for a Major League Baseball franchise to take on for a star.

      • Luke J

        Again, you are missing the point. What did it cost the giants and what would it have cost the reds in terms of prospects is not the same question. So acting like people aren’t reading your article when they ask what prospects the reds would have had to give up, just because we know what prospects the giants gave up is just wrong. It’s perfectly reasonable to wonder if the cubs would have wanted better prospects from the reds than they did from the giants.

      • Doug Gray

        No, it’s not wrong. The price paid is what it cost. If the Reds made an offer that was just a tiny bit better, to the point that you would literally never know, the Cubs would have accepted it because that’s the best option for their organization and they are trying to do what’s best for their organization. I don’t know why you think the Reds, or anyone else for that matter, would have had to significantly offer more than the Giants did. So no, it’s not reasonable to think that. I’m not missing anything at all here. If I have something for sale for $10. And someone offers me $10.50 and the other person offers me $10.75, I’m taking $10.75 and not coming back to that person and saying, actually I want $15 from you and then saying no when they offer $10.75 again and sell it for $10.50.

        Heck, there’s a comment in response here that maybe the Reds would have had to give up Greene or Lodolo for crying out loud.

      • J

        Doug, maybe this just isn’t your calling if you’re going to get upset when people don’t carefully read and process every word you type. (And if you think this is bad, try writing and distributing a syllabus to a classroom of typical college students. “That’s addressed on the syllabus” is the answer to roughly 95% of all questions.)

      • Arthur

        Reds management:

        “We’re here to make money, not spend it.”

        Never mind that Bryant at 3B would have made the Reds’ lineup good enough to challenge for a pennant.

      • Ryan

        Seems pretty clear what it would’ve cost the Reds to acquire Bryant – not sure why a few ppl seem to not be able to grasp it. Maybe they don’t want to admit they are fans of a team that is owned by someone wildly wealthy who doesn’t want to spend money and cries poor when they are not

  4. Bet on Red

    The reds were certainly trying to send Suarez the other way. I would wager the old deference of not trading within the division also was a roadblock in completing this deal. I don’t think one of the untouchable 4 (lodolo, greene, Berraros and Ashcroft) would have gone in a deal like this.

    • VaRedsFan

      They article said the Giants gave 2 prospects outside the top 10

    • Jim Walker

      I wouldn’t think the Cubs would have been deterred by the intradivisional aspect, at least not for baseball reasons. They were trading their way out of any (slim already) playoff chances regardless; and, Bryant is going to be a free agent at the end of the season.

      Looking at it from the other direction, yes Suárez has had some big game at Wrigley but it wouldn’t seem to fit the Cubs plans to take on $35M in sunken cost over 3 years. Plus, he would have been a massive overpay by the Reds, despite what folks think right now,

  5. VaRedsFan

    I don’t see what the Cubs would have gained by either paying Bryant’s salary, or paying the salary of a player the Reds were sending over. Without a prospect going over, it made no sense for the Cubs.
    They were either wanted salary relief or prospects. It sounds like the Reds offered neither.

  6. RedsFan11

    Bob probably tried the classic fantasy baseball trade : I’ll give you Shogo for Bryant

    • JB

      Lol exactly! And then Bob throws a fit because it wasnt accepted. Let’s also not forget the guy who picks up some guy on waiver because he had a good game and offers him for Bryant.

    • Jim Walker

      Actually, Akiyama for Bryant might have had legs if the Reds put in decent prospect too. There is just over $10M left on Akiyama’s entire contract (including 2022). 2 months of Bryant would have cost the Reds about $6.5M. However0 a straight swap would have increased the Reds payroll ~$5M for this year

  7. old -school

    I think the Reds were trying to unload Akiyama and pick up Bryant and trade a mid level prospect or 2 with Akiyama. Bryant is a big enough personality and elite player the Reds could then bench Suarez and Bryant would play 3b/CF/ LF and Bell has flexibility with Moose/Bryant and Senzel. Winker would sit against tough lefties, Moose needs rest and Senzel can flex too. think the Reds would have accepted Bryant’s salary if the Cubs took Akiyama’s this year and next year. Reds were nt taking Bryant salary and giving up prospects and paying dead weight of Suarez and Akiyama to sit the bench. Cubs said no way we’re taking on Akiyama in 2022 when they already still have Heyward at $22 mil/year. They are starting over and that means no bad contracts.

    Nice try though.

    • Jim Walker

      I think you could be close. Maybe very close, that the issue was they were already tagged with Heywood’s salary. Also possibly an issue for Reds that taking Bryant’s remaining salary would have been a net of about +$5M or on the books this year to get Bryant and have Akiyama’s $8M off the books for 2022. Cubs may have also wanted more in prospects and/ or even some money on Akiyama with all Bryant’s salary coming to Reds as a deal breaker too.

  8. Jeffrey Oakley

    I would have pulled the trigger but would have put Sanzel at least in the deal, I think they would have had a player they could control and we would be playing Naquin still who has better stats than Sanzel and has been healthier.

  9. redsfan4040

    Looking at what the Giants gave up, I would have easily traded Michael Siani and Noah Davis for Bryant. I’m sure the Reds could have included somebody else to get Givens.

  10. tim

    why do people keep talking about blandino and michael feliz coming back? what did they contribute when they were playing? whose spots would they take?

    • Doug Gray

      Why? Because until they get designated for assignment, they ARE coming back. As for the spots they take…. who knows. Injuries happen almost every day in baseball.

      • tim

        why would the reds want them back? especially feliz?

      • 2020ball

        Why wouldn’t they want them back? I’ll take all the options I can get personally

  11. Harold G. Bowman

    They are obviously not ready to go all in. The players should be insulted by that and do everything that can to make the players. So proud of this team and not a David Bell fan in the past but Bell has done a great joy this year. He tries everything he can to win every game. Messed up on not going with Hembree to finish the middle game in N.Y. but later admitted the mistake.

  12. kevinz

    Move should have made with that Price Tag.
    Now since did not make the Move.
    Hope for a Healthy Nick C to return.

    • RojoB

      Does it remind you of 2013 when they said “no thanks” to getting Marlon Byrd, who then went to the Pirates and homered in the WC game to help send the Reds home for the offseason?

      It’s conceivable that the Reds will face SF in a WC game this season

      If the Reds go to the playoffs and run deep, won’t the $7 million to Bryant be a great ROE?

      • kevinz

        Surely Similar Rojo.
        Thanks for reminding me of that Year lol.
        Never forget it.
        Hopefully this team can at least make a WC.

      • old-school

        They got him the next year though, a day late and a dollar short.

  13. Hanawi

    Wonder if this means Castellanos is going to be out longer than we think. Bryant could have helped fill that hole in the lineup. I’m fine with what the Reds did though I wouldn’t have minded a strategic selling of a few players either. They’re going to have to get rid of some when guys get off the injured list anyway.

    • doofus

      Wrist injuries to hitters can take a long time to fully heal.

  14. Klugo

    Well I’d argue that the fact that Moustakas AND Senzel are playing some 3B on their rehab assignments is a sign that the Reds are getting ready to bench Suarez. I’d speculate that they tried to send Suarez or Moustakas back to Cubs. Is it “trying” if you know the answer is “no”? I don’t think I’m ready to give credit for that.

  15. RojoB

    I am, however, grateful that the Reds didn’t give away great prospects this year.

  16. Fanman

    Doug, I agree with you, when you are chasing teams and have significant ground to make up a considerable upgrade is needed. Wow! Imagine what lineup that could have been.

  17. RedsGettingBetter

    I am skeptical about the Cubs giving Bryant to a divisional rival unless it is very tempting to return even more so if they would agree to pay the remaining salary. Maybe they asked Senzel or Santillán added to one of the top 5 Reds prospects too.

    • Chris

      I don’t think the Cubs would have minded dealing Bryant to a divisional rival when it’s just for the remainder of the year, in which they have given up on. This was all about money, and possibly prospects, but more about money, when you look at the deal that actually occurred with the Giants.

  18. Barry

    It would have been great to have got Bryant for what the Giants gave up. If we could have got him and Max Scherzer as a number 1 starter I believe we would have been World Series contenders. What say you

    • Klugo

      I think this team is a World Series contender just the way it is, when healthy. I’m not even kidding. Or drunk.

      • Jim Walker

        If (big IF) they can overcome that hole they dug themselves into by late May.

      • Klugo

        Yeah, Jim. We’re running out of time. I think they’ve done an admirable job of staying above water through all the injuries. Hopefully the health doesn’t come too little too late.

  19. Votto4life

    I would love to own your new car, as long as, you know I didn’t have to pay for it.

  20. Doc

    I am pleased that they didn’t make the deal. Reds track record with deadline rental acquisitions is not very good. I am happy with the players we have, the ones who produced the best NL record in July and are unbeaten in August, as well as the internal upgrades that we have coming back over the next few weeks.

    The Reds bolstered what they needed to bolster before the trade deadline, have upgrades coming back over the next 2-4 weeks, added a BP rental who is someone that might actually consider signing with the Reds as a FA, and they did it without giving up anything. Kudos to management for not being influenced by the siren song of Kris Bryant.

    • ClayMC

      No one is saying they aren’t happy with the players we have coming back from injury, with the play we’ve seen in July, etc. You’re not alone. I think everyone is pleased there. But the division is practically out of reach and the team already leading us by 3.5 games for the second wild card is undeniably better [ducks for cover].

      I’m happy with the Reds over the last month. But I won’t be happy when we inevitably miss the playoffs, by whats most probably going to be a small margin. If it cost two prospects outside our top 10 to get Bryant, who could earn us an extra win or two over the home stretch and narrow that small margin, why not?

      If you’re a “our competitive window is closing” type person, it makes obvious sense. Scrap for the playoffs while you can. And if you’re a “have you seen our AAA rotation? our competitive window is just now opening” type person, losing two prospects outside our top 10 likely isn’t that big of a gamble. Maybe I’m biased as a 20ish year fan that’s yet to see a single playoff series win, but any low-cost move that improves a team that’s already sniffing playoff contention, is a good move. Get to the playoffs and pray that maybe we can put together 3 solid games to end the drought.

  21. Roger Garrett

    Bryant for almost 60 games and 2 prospects at 7 mil.Sign me up for that one.No brainer and Bob let that pass for 7 mil.That would have filled up GABP every game for the rest of this year and may have got us a wild card game or a play off series.Small risk worth the gamble and would have said to the fans yeah lets go for it.

    • Indy Red Man

      If Ashcraft is one of the prospects then no thanks.

  22. Rednat

    i don’t know. these 2 month rentals often don’t work out very good especially with inter divisional rivals. would Bryant’s heart really be in it the last 2 months playing for the reds? he would probably intentionally tank just because we beat the heck out of his team this year!

    • PTBNL

      Woah, not wait, what? Are you kidding??? You must be joking, I hope. You are suggesting that just because his former team (that, by the way is in a tailspin) got beat the last few games to his new team that wanted him to help in the stretch run with playoff games at stake that KB would intentionally play bad just because of pouting over the losses as a “statement”. You are accusing him of a lack of character and competitiveness. That is bat-crap crazy. Just because his former team lost a few games, he’d intentionally “tank” as you put it and risk losing millions as a free agent.

      This former team is the same team that held him back a year and made him lose millions of dollars and kept him from being a free agent a year earlier.

      Yeah, that is sound logic. Sheesh.

  23. Bet on Red

    Reds (who are usually very early in getting their lineups posted) taking their time today. Could that be a roster move in the offing?

    • Bet on Red

      nope never mind. Looks like they got Schrock back in the lineup in RF this time.

      • Jim Walker

        At least this tells us Shrock is apparently ahead of Akiyama for now vs RH pitching.

      • Bet on Red

        gotta think that this is a prove it time for Schrock with at least some of Injured players returning shortly and roster decisions to be made

      • old-school

        Somewhere Indy is happy and betting the over. I believe that’s an Indy rule.
        Always take the over at GABP with Mahle pitching and Shrock in the lineup.

        Maybe Doug

      • old-school

        needs a RLN gambling advertiser and link for these proven Reds bets.

      • Bet on Red

        yea got the over at 9 and the reds winning by 2 or more tonight

      • Indy Red Man

        I bet the Reds (-130) straight up tonite. Twins with 4 lefties in the lineup so I’m hoping Mahle can avoid damage w/the righties (esp Sano) and then put the lefties away w/the splitter.

  24. Jefferson Green

    Bryant plays all three outfield positions along with 1B and 3B and can serve at SS in a late inning emergency. The Reds team weakness has been against LH pitching; Bryant kills lefties. He’s a known leader and positive clubhouse presence. He could have started nearly every day at one of five positions and would be a killer PH on any other day. For low level prospects and 7 million $, that’s a good deal for the Reds. Very good for this year, little downside for future.

  25. JA

    Announced Reds line up vs twins

    Schrock (RF)

    • Indy Red Man

      Rotowire had Aquino batting 3rd and Farmer 6th or 7th. I thought that was weird. Good deal for Schrock, but if he plays RF like he did 1B then its going to be an adventure. I’m sure they had him out there yesterday!

      • Bet on Red

        rotowire keeps putting out “expected lineups” that look like they just throw names together. I generally ignore them

  26. Bet on Red

    Nick Lodolo has been promoted to Louisville

  27. burtgummer01

    It all comes back to moneybags Bob not wanting to spend money

  28. Melvin

    I think we all know the answer most likely. Big Bob was too cheap.

  29. Indy Red Man

    Weren’t they like 12th in payroll with Bauer? I don’t think he’s that cheap. Usually by August the Reds are 14/14. 14 back and 14k in attendance on a Tuesday. Moose and Shogo (and Suarez?) were bad contracts, but he spent the money. Nick was better then the Cubs big 3 with them and Bob stole him away anyway. If they’re middle of the pack payroll wise then thats good enough for me.

    Its how they spend the money! I just want Castellanos, Lorenzen, and Givens back next year and we’ll be fine!

    • Chris

      Completely agree. I’ve never understood the bashing that Bob gets with his spending. You can argue some of the moves weren’t the best, but he has been spending.

    • burtgummer01

      And this year he spent a fortune and signed Doolittle wow impressive stuff
      Ole Moneybags Bob spent last year but then went el cheapo,They gave away 2 relievers and formed the worst bullpen in MLB for this year.
      When he bought the team he said 2 main things “The losing stops now” and “Championship baseball will return to Cincinnati”
      3 playoff appearances and 0 playoff wins in 15 years because he’s cheap and wants to keep the money

      • Indy Red Man

        Weren’t they 1 win away from beating SF? Same Giants team that won it all. If we didn’t lose Cueto or we left Dusty in SF after the first 2 games

      • burtgummer01

        I should’ve said 0 playoff series wins

    • Alan Horn

      Agree on all statements (especially bringing those 3 back next season).

  30. Indy Red Man

    Watched Josiah Gray’s first Nats start last night. He’s pretty good! He pounds the zone pretty well with 95 mph. B- breaking stuff, atleast last night vs Philly. He wasn’t missing bats. He might end up as a loss for the Reds, but it happens.

  31. Mike

    This: Still, it’s tough to look at the fact that the Giants sent two prospects who wouldn’t rank in the Reds top 10 to acquire Kris Bryant because they were willing to pay him roughly $7M the rest of the season

    Contradicts this: The move didn’t happen because either the Reds were too cheap, the Cubs were too cheap, or both of them were too cheap to pay Kris Bryant.

    • Chris

      7 Mil is a HUGE amount of money, especially when the Reds sit 7.5 games out and 4 out, with 3 of their most important players coming back from the DL. I’m not going to lie, I’d love to have got Bryant, but in all fairness, it probably wasn’t the soundest move when considering dollars. That doesn’t make Bob cheap, that makes him prudent in this case. Throwing money away affects next season.

      • Mike

        That’s peanuts for an owner worth a billion dollars. The crowds are back, and he’s making 1-3 mil on each and every home game. You sound like he’s spending your inheritance

      • da bear

        to Mike: Bob C is not worth a billion dollars. Not on a cash flow basis. The team is only worth what someone else is willing to pay for them. For that…a team in Cincinnati….you need a guy/girl looking for a trophy wife/husband – willing to accept a cash flow that doesn’t justify a billion dollar valuation. I doubt the Reds generate more than $50MM of profitability per year. This is a business with extremely high labor costs and great revenue uncertainty, especially in a time of Covid.

        Bob C didn’t get to where he is by being stupid with his finances.

  32. BatsLeftThrowsRight

    Would the Cubs have taken Aquino straight up and the Reds paying the seven million remaining on Bryants contract?

    I would have done that in a heartbeat.

  33. Rob

    Thanks for the article Doug. Several of us have been appalled that the Reds didn’t pull the trigger on this deal. 2 midland prospects and $7M to get Kris Bryant for the rest of the year. (The Giants gave up their #9 and #30 prospects for Bryant.). Let’s analyze this for a second. The Giants are 3 games in front of the Dodgers and trying to hold on. The Reds are 7 games behind the Brewers and somehow think they are going to catch and surpass the Brewers with IL returnees and a couple bullpen pieces. These cost prospects by the way. They have improved the team but we are talking overtaking a very good team. Obviously Krall believes we did enough and didn’t need to spend another $7M to catch the Brewers. I am in the other camp. I think we need the Kris Bryant piece especially come the playoffs to beat teams like the Dodgers and Giants. We will see. But right now, this just reeks to me of being cheap and/or significantly underestimating the Brewers. Their schedule isn’t a cream puff like ours but it isn’t difficult either. Lots of games with Pirates, Cubs, and Nats. A couple of these teams are significantly worse than they were a month ago. But Krall is looking at the same schedule as the rest of us.