The Cincinnati Reds have traded left-handed pitching prospect Steven Hajjar to the Cleveland Guardians. This move completes the trade with Cleveland that brought outfielder Will Benson to the organization earlier this spring. That deal also included Cincinnati Reds 2022 2nd round draft pick and outfielder Justin Boyd going to Cleveland.

Benson was told that he made the team and shared that information with Charlie Goldsmith of the Cincinnati Enquirer on Saturday. The outfielder has hit .326 with a double, home run, six stolen bases, no walks, and 11 strikeouts this spring. Now Cincinnati has completed the trade with Cleveland to acquire him, sending the lefty across the parking lot in Goodyear to join his new organization.

Steve Hajjar was not in the Reds organization very long. He was a 2nd round draft pick by the Minnesota Twins in 2021. He didn’t pitch after the draft in 2021, but began the 2022 season in Single-A Fort Myers. He missed six weeks before returning just after the All-Star break. The Twins then traded him to Cincinnati at the deadline in the Tyler Mahle deal that also saw the Reds acquire Spencer Steer and Christian Encarnacion-Strand. Hajjar made just two starts after the deal – both with High-A Dayton – before he wound up on the injured list. He didn’t return last season after that as he missed the final month of the year.

Hajjar had success when he was on the mound. He posted a 3.61 ERA and held opponents to a .177/.306/.254 line last season in the minors. But he did struggled at times to throw strikes, and he’s battled some arm issues in his limited time as a pro. He shows good raw stuff, with a fastball that was up to 96 and sat in the low 90’s to go along with three other secondary offerings. Despite throwing four pitches, Hajjar seems to profile best as a reliever instead of a starter at the big league level.


31 Responses

  1. Melvin

    Well if Benson turns out to be as good as he looks to be I guess the talent the Reds gave up will be worth it.

    • 2020ball

      Im very curious to watch him this year. If he ends up a major leaguer at all the trade looks like a win until we see how hajjar and boyd turn out. Hajjar honestly looks like the headliner here, it hurts to lose any pitching depth from this farm system.

      • Melvin

        Yeah. We need all the pitching depth we can get.

  2. CI3J

    It’s really surprising that Benson didn’t walk at all this spring, given that his high OBP in the minors was one of his big selling points. Hopefully he gets that batting eye back and starts getting on base more. He has the speed to cause some real havoc on the basepaths.

    • Greenfield Red

      While the sample size is small, no walks and 11 strikeouts, in any sample, is a red flag for me. Hope I’m wrong.

      • Tomn

        I agree. The 0 bb bothers me. Especially w 9 KOs. Small sample size and all that but I’m not completely buying into Benson. What about Ramos btw? Like to see him make the team or at least go to the Bats in case of injury to an OF.

      • Jim Walker

        In his breakout AAA performance in 2022 (401PA), Benson reduced his AAA K rate to 23% from his 2021 AAA rate (107PA) of 39%. He also improved his BB rate from 13% to 19% and his BABIP to .340 from .250.

        However, in his brief MLB appearance in 2022 (61PA), his numbers looked more like the 2021AAA numbers. 31% K rate, .278 BABIP, and a minuscule 5% BB rate.

        Hopefully, he is a starter and plays every day, at least versus RH pitching, so the Reds determine if he is ready.

      • Jim Walker

        @Tomn > The Reds would be/ are betting on Ramos based on a big AAA year in 2021, his age 29 season. In September of that year, he got his only MLB exposure and compiled a .555 OPS in 55 PAs. In an injury abbreviated 2022 in Korea (80PA), he posted a .721OPS.

        Honestly, I am not sure what value the Reds see in him beyond organizational depth. Perhaps they like that he is a switch hitter?

      • MBS

        @Jim, I think the Reds see a hot bat in Ramos, that hopefully stays hot until he gets replaced in 2 weeks by Senzel.

      • Jim Walker

        @mbs> Is it realistic though to believe Senzel will be any better or even as good except that he gives them another IF body 😉

    • RedBB

      Massive Red Flag for Benson..0 walks and 11 Strikeouts. I doubt he does anything for use. Not happy we gave up Hajjar…..I think we will look back at it as a bad trade.

  3. LDS

    I don’t follow MiLB as closely as Doug and some others here, but the line that caught my eye was ” some arm issues”. Depends on Benson obviously but this sounds like a good PTBNL to part with.

  4. Erik the Red

    The Guardians had a surplus of young outfielders that they needed to unload. Hopefully Benson will work out for the Reds over the next 5 years.

  5. MK

    Hajjar ended his season with a Shoulder Impingement. This is the same injury they say could bring an end to Bryce Bonnin’s career.

  6. J

    11 strikeouts isn’t good, and I’m certainly not sold on Benson, but when a guy is desperately trying to make a team that hasn’t given anyone a “take” sign in the past five years and has never placed any emphasis on OBP, it’s understandable that he wasn’t looking for walks.

  7. Optimist

    A few comments on Hajjar as the PTBNL.

    1 – Who else was on the list? Hajjar was not on Doug’s most recent top-25 list, so that is some indication of who the Reds offered up.

    2 – There seem to be 3 objectionable issues – Age, injury, and control. Of those, injury may be the biggest worry.

    3 – If Cleveland can get several years of fair to good LH relief pitching, they likely win this deal. Benson for Boyd straight up seems like a win for the Reds.

    We’ll know all this for sure 3 years from now, but if Benson sticks this season, the Reds likely have made a very good deal. Still, even a marginally effective LH RP can be very useful . . .

    • Redsvol

      Well stated @Optimist. My only concern is that we are giving up the PTBNL before we even see how Benson performs during real baseball. I’m sure the timing was negotiated but I would have rather not given up the PTBNL until seeing how Benson does with real MLB pitching. If he does well, then he is worthy a recent 2nd round pick who did well in A+ ball. If not, then he is worth much less of a PTNBL.

      Hajjar was intriguing to me. As others have noted, Benson may not even make it.

      I do hope Krall makes some more trades for outfield depth at the deadline. Upper level outfield depth is terrible.

      • Optimist

        I’m sure there’s a Sabremetrics angle to this; I expect most deals at this level have small to zero advantage or loss to either side. The true lottery picks are the teenagers – analytics might be advanced enough that when you’re dealing with 22+ yr. olds the only risks should be injuries and recoveries, or Josh Hamilton/Matt Bush long-term issues.

  8. LDS

    You guys see Sheldon’s article on Votto? If Votto isn’t on the opening day roster, how does the roster shakeout? I’m guessing Fairchild is recalled and Myers moves to 1st? I can’t imagine that Vosler is the answer to that question.

    • old-school

      Vosler or a player who is not currently in the organization. Brewers informed Tyler Naquin he will not make their OD roster so he can opt out of a minor league assignment. He has a pretty good lefty bat.

    • Jim Walker

      I read that article then saw that Votto was playing in a minor league game today but coming “north” with the team which seems somewhat at odds with what Joey said in the article about needing to play 7-9 innings in 3 of 4 days and repeating that cycle “several” times.

      It almost feels like the team wants him to come north and play (for the Reds) even as he is saying he isn’t ready. I suppose he could come up with the MLB team then go on the IL and find games in Dayton and Louisville to get his work in?

      As to what they will do if JV starts on the IL, Myers to 1B seems obvious. Fairchild as the best defender would make sense in RF but then again they could play Benson or Friedl in RF with the other in CF or Barrero in CF and one of the previous 2 in RF with Newman at SS.

      This is the Reds whatever they do will probably be the last thing to cross anyone’s mind who is not on the inside.

      • Old-school

        I agree Jim
        Moving myers to first base 60% of the starts with TS getting some and backfilling the OF with Fairchild would keep things simple. Im sure Casali could fill in at 1b in a pinch

        Seems the Reds want that lefty bat though and Ramos seems to be ahead of fairchild on the depth chart and if Reds were going to cut Vosler they would have done that already if he wasnt plan b for votto.

        Radio interview with 700 WLW head of sports stated this is votto’s last year as a Red period and hes not missing his last Opening Day when push comes to shove.

      • Jim Walker

        OS> Vosler is on a minor league deal all the way. If he didn’t walk yesterday, his next automatic window is 1 May unless he has negotiated something different. So, all they have to do is assign him to minor league camp.

  9. Bdh

    Krall pretty much turned 1 1/2 years of Mahle + Boyd into Steer, CES, and Benson. Fantastic!

    • Old-school

      Really 1 year of Mahle

      He was shut down with shoulder fatigue and only made a handful of ineffective starts last year after the trade. His velo is down in ST and getting shelled

    • TR

      Krall’s reputation as a GM is growing in a positive way with Red’s ownership as it is.

  10. gregteb

    According to Trade Simulator, the Reds got fleeced. Trade value of 3.4 Million to the Guardians for 1.7 million to the Reds

    • Optimist

      Those are small potato amounts, even for the Reds. It likely all comes down to whether Hajjar makes it as a LH reliever. Could be great value there – unlikely either Benson or Boyd hit big time numbers.

  11. VaRedsFan

    Votto has been playing plenty, I see no reason he can’t play 2 out of every 3 games in the early going.

    I’m also a little cautious about Benson. He came out on fire, but has cooled off dramatically as he faced more MLB pitchers. I can’t find game logs of spring games to verify.

    • BK

      Benson hit .429 in February and .310 in March. (4 for 12 to close out ST). The production must translate to the regular season, but I would say ST went pretty well for him.

    • Jim Walker

      He can be optioned at any time with no waiver exposure. It was apparently a situation with the Guardians that they wanted to move him to open a 40 man spot down the line in spring training versus not actually being able to option him.