Hot Stove

Trading Bad: What’s Walt Cooking?

The non-waiver trade deadline is fast approaching and Jeff Samardzija, Jason Hammel, Jake Peavy, Brandon McCarthy, Huston Street, Joakim Soria, Chase Headley, Jason Frasor, and Kendrys Morales have already been dealt. I know more than a few Reds fans have been wondering if trades were still allowed in baseball, and let the record show that other teams seem to be executing deals pretty successfully. And if the hacked trade records of the Astros are any indication, teams should be engaged in multiple trade discussions.

Beyond the silliness of declaring that general manager Walt Jocketty should simply make a move, the more relevant question is what kind of move he should make. With the team’s recent slide, it seems less likely that the organization will do a major buy, but the situation is not bad enough to hold a fire sale. Perhaps a moderate approach is called for — either a small buy, or as Steve Mancuso has suggested, the Reds could tap the brakes.

For most of his tenure, I had the feeling that Jocketty had something up his sleeve. Then the 2013 trade deadline rolled around and there was nothing. The Reds limped to an early finish.

Jocketty was hired as special consultant for the Reds in January 2008, and has now been the Reds’ GM since April 2008, more than six years since fully taking over from Wayne Krivsky. Over that time, I think we can see patterns in his trade deals.

First he has made 28 trades for the Reds. They fall in three major categories – attempts to acquire major league ready contributors for prospects (8), dealing major league contributors to shed salary (8) and procedural transactions for cash or minor prospects (12).

I. Jocketty Acquiring Major League Ready Contributors

December 2012  – Acquired Shin Soo Choo and Jason Donald for Didi Gregorius and Drew Stubbs

July 2012 – Acquired Jonathan Broxton in exchange for Donnie Joseph and J.C. Sulbaran

April 2012 – Acquired J.J. Hoover for Juan Francisco

December 2011 – Acquired Sean Marshall for Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt, and Ronald Torreyes

December 2011 – Acquired Mat Latos for Brad Boxberger, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal, and Yonder Alonso

August 2010 – Acquired Jim Edmonds for Chris Dickerson

July 2009 – Acquired Scott Rolen for Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Roenicke, and Zach Stewart

December 2008 – Acquired Ramon Hernandez for Ryan Freel, Brandon Waring, and Justin Turner

Takeaways: For fans waiting for a player like Marlon Byrd or Alex Rios, you might not want to hold your breath. Whether it is because the price is too high at the deadline, or the right kind of players have not been available, Jocketty has not been particularly active in terms of buying at the deadline.Of the 8 trades acquiring major league contributors for the Reds, only 2 happened in July at the non-waiver deadline – Rolen and Broxton. Choo, Latos, Marshall, and Ramon Hernandez were acquired in December, Hoover in April, and Edmonds in August, after the waiver deadline.

The other thing to note is the length of the contract, Jocketty does not like half season rentals – with the exception of Choo (who was a rental, but a full season rental) and Edmonds (retired after the season), the Reds have traded for players with multiple years of team control (Hoover, Latos, Hernandez) or re-signed them to contract extensions (Broxton, Marshall, Rolen). And arguably, the Reds had hoped to re-sign Choo. So its unlikely, particularly with the recent slide, that the Reds would go for any half-year rentals, unless they could sign them to extensions. All of the ‘buys’ on this list have the longer term in mind.

II. Jocketty Dealing Major League Contributors for Prospects

July 2011 Traded OF Jonny Gomes and cash considerations for OF Bill Rhinehart and LHP Chris Manno.

February 2010 Traded CF Willy Taveras and INF Adam Rosales for INF Aaron Miles and a player to be named.

August 2009 Traded pitcher David Weathers for a player to be named.

August 2009 Traded SS Alex Gonzalez for Kris Negron

July 2009 Traded Jerry Hairston Jr for C Chase Weems

March 2009 Traded infielder Jeff Keppinger for Drew Sutton

August 2008 Traded OF Adam Dunn for Dallas Buck, Wilkin Castillo, and Micah Owings

July 2008 Traded Ken Griffey, Jr. for RHP Nick Masset and INF Danny Richar

Takeaways: The Reds have not been ‘selling’ for a number of years now, which is indicative of a recent run of success. Once again, the deadline is not necessarily where Jocketty makes his moves. Three trades at the deadline (Griffey, Hairston, Gomes), three after the waiver deadline (Dunn, Gonzalez, Weathers), and two in the offseason (Keppinger, Taveras/Rosales).

For those thinking the Reds might sell, there’s also a pattern to the players Walt ends up dealing – they are either aging stars with bad contracts (Griffey, Dunn), or veteran bullpen/role players (Gomes, Weathers, Gonzalez, Hairston, Keppinger, Taveras, Rosales). For those looking for a big splash (Mike Maffie has written about dealing Cueto, Leake, or Latos), there hasn’t been much precedent for Jocketty, since he’s been with the Reds, dealing away major leaguers with years of team control, or any starting pitchers for that matter. Jocketty has not dealt starting pitchers away for prospects, only as part of deals acquiring major league talent (Wood, Volquez, Stewart).

Jocketty’s Minor Trades

July 2014 Traded RHP Jair Jurrjens for 1B Harold Riggins

July 2013 Traded RHP Armando Galarraga for RHP Parker Frazier

May 2013 Traded Mark Teahen to the Arizona Diamondbacks

July 2012 Traded INF Paul Janish for RHP Todd Redmond, and optioned him to Louisville (IL).

May 2012 Traded Koyie Hill to the Chicago Cubs

April 2012 Traded 2B Jose Castro to Chicago White Sox for cash

January 2012 Traded LHP Jeremy Horst for INF Wilson Valdez.

September 2010 Traded Enerio Del Rosario to Houston Astros

July 2009 Traded RHP Robert Manuel for Wladimir Balentien

May 2008 Traded RHP Jim Brower for cash

April 2008 Traded Jon Coutlangus for OF Daniel Perales

March 2008 Traded pitcher Brad Salmon Royals for Henry Arias

Takeaways: Not much to see here, except a stroll down memory lane to some not-so-good Reds teams. And of course any chance to talk about Jon Coutlangus again. I remember wondering at the time why Balentien wasn’t getting more playing time – he recently broke Japan’s single season HR record with 60 HR, so he always had some pop. Second, I remember there being minor annoyance at losing Enerio Del Rosario, and lastly I remember Wilson Valdez’s terrible facial hair. Otherwise, most of Jocketty’s minor trades have been just that.

Jocketty does not seem to have any hangups about trading within the division, having made multiple deals with the Cubs (Marshall, Hill, Brower), the Brewers (Edmonds, Weathers) and the Astros (Keppinger, Del Rosario) when they were still in the NL Central.

Conclusion

Unlike Walter White, Walt Jocketty usually produces little smoke while he’s working. Jocketty’s trades generally come quickly and without warning. If the past is any indication, however, Jocketty won’t make a deal just to make one even if the team really needs it (see July 2013). When Jocketty makes deadline deals he likes either multiple years of control or expects to resign them (Broxton, Rolen, Choo). The three players the Reds have reportedly been interested in (Byrd, Rios, and Ben Zobrist) have options for 2015. Zobrist is the cheapest, which is why he’ll likely cost the most in terms of trade chips. Lastly, if Jocketty sells its likely going to be older veterans.

With two days until Thursday’s deadline, there’s no longer a clear sense what the front office will do. Jocketty could repeat the inaction of 2013, start to sell (Leake, Simon, Broxton) take a series of half-measures (Byrd, Rios, Zobrist), or most surprisingly, pulling the trigger on a long-awaited ‘full measure’ type acquisition.

51 thoughts on “Trading Bad: What’s Walt Cooking?

  1. A failure to sell high on Broxton and Simon will fully turn me from a Walt apologist to a critic. However, sadly as it seems to be, he is likely to sit on his hands. Then, I fully expect Broxton to hurt his elbow again, Simon to fall of a cliff, and Cueto to strain a lat. That, Reds fans, would be a fitting end to the 2014 season.

    • The only worse possible scenario is getting an old-time: Byrd or Zobrist for prospects and still have your eventual catastrophes occur.

      NO MORE OLD GUYS!!

      As far as WS dreams; the season is over, finished, ended, kaput, toast, etc.

      • Nope, no more old guys, please. The clubhouse has veteran leadership now in Phillps and Votto, they don’t need to import it. They have their ‘grit’ in Mes and Hamilton.

    • Agree that Broxton and Simon are prime sell high candidates, but suspect that any trade partner would expect the same things that you do. Where’s Steve Phillips when you need him?

        • I say hope Broxton is claimed on waivers and let him go, he has 12 million due for the rest of his contract. There are similar options for minimum salary.

  2. What is Walt Cooking? Nothing. The minor trades category was brutal. Category 2 and the prospects WJ has dealt for is truly an embarrassment. Category 1 has had some success. So, why have we not seen any action in this area since the Choo trade?
    This summary should be Exhibit #1 for not re-newing the contract as GM of the Reds for Walt Jocketty. Afraid to pull the trigger in the one area where he has had some success is not a favorable trait for a GM.
    I have tired of Walt Jocketty and his ineffectiveness. The accountability train has left the station and the Reds are still standing on the platform looking around for a place to board.

    • Category 2 is laughable. Those guys have a total of 181 PA with the Reds (and counting, Negron). I had forgotten the Reds actually traded FOR Aaron Miles for some reason. I get the impression Walt has no clue what prospects other teams have in their systems.

    • Yeah, I don’t get your reasoning, I just get that you don’t like Walt Jocketty.

      The minor trades category was “brutal” in what respect? These were by definition “minor trades”.

      Category 2 was an embarrassment how? These were salary dump moves of aging or ineffective players.

      You give WJ some credit for success in Category 1. These were his major trades. By and large, these trades favored the Reds.

      In Dec 2011 he landed Latos (a stud front of the rotation pitcher who was club controlled for 4 more years) for Boxberger and 3 flawed and/or redundant players.

      In Dec 2012 he landed Choo (probably the best lead off hitter at that time) for Didi Gregorius and Drew Stubbs. Didi has been a backup infielder this year. Stubbs sucked in ’11, ’12, & ’13 before finally having some success this year. Does anyone truly miss Drew Stubbs?

      WJ wisely chose not to re-sign Choo after ’13, let Tex pay him $ 130 Mil over 7 years. He was smart to move Billy Hamilton from SS to CF and give him a year’s seasoning there at AAA. His decision to make BH the starter in CF from the beginning of 2014 spring training looks pretty darn good as well.

      Add in the 2010 international signing of Chapman to what has proved to be a very team friendly contract.

      Also the waiver claim for Alfredo Simon.

      And a very strong draft history during WJ’s tenure.

      Adds up to us being very fortunate to have WJ on our side.

  3. Walt loves relief pitchers. That seems to be the only common thread. David Weather is the only RP that Walt has traded AWAY, while 3 of the 8 (38%) of the “major moves” have been made to acquire relief pitching. This tells me there is just about 0% chance of Walt being willing to trade Broxton before Thursday. In fact, I’d say there is a better chance the Reds ADD an RP and get rid of any.

  4. Guys I think WJ is doing wathever it takes to sign an ex-card player however since there are not ex-card players available he is going to do NOTHING.
    I would like to propose a trade to Mr. Castellini, Trade Jane Bruce, Jenny Votto, Honey Bailey and Walt Jocketty to the AS for Billy Bean

  5. The Reds have stellar defense and pitching but lack the baseball character which mainly show up in swinging at bad pitches and grooving pitches. Some result from lack of maturity like Hamilton and Latos but how many times do we have to watch Bruce flail away at bad pitches in key situations or Hoover groove one with the game on the line. There is an old saying: “When the going gets tough the tough get going”. 162 games weed out the batting and pitching pretenders. Sparky use to say he could eliminate some on the way a person carried himself mostly by the way a player walks. I’m sure he had other measurements of character. It may be the job of Joketty and Price to evaluate present players more on-field character plus talent than talent plus clubhouse harmony.

    • Did the Reds have ‘baseball character’ when they were healthy and on a roll 3 weeks ago? Does a Barry Bonds or Mark McGwire have high baseball character because they produced? Did Mat Latos suddenly lose the ‘maturity’ that made him so good the last 2 years?
      *facepalm*

  6. Anyone vaguely familiar with MLB Trade Rumors, the one thing you’ll never see are leaks from the Reds’ front office. As Tony framed it so well, the fans won’t know about a move until it happens.

    Category 2 is misleading – none of those names were producing at the top of their game at the time of the trade. If Walt deals Broxton, Simon, or another pitcher, I expect it to look nothing like the previous category 2 trades.

    Broxton could fetch slightly more than he did last time (with KC he was coming off major injury and couple down years) and slightly less than Marshall did. Simon should fetch than anyone Walt has traded for or to, while with the Reds!

    I think Walt needs to be decisive in a course of action which is a slightly more esoteric version of making a move to make a move, ha. There are opportunities to be seized.

    • I think that the unique thing about this week is how extreme of a seller’s market it is. The 2012 deadline was much more of a buyer’s market. Hunter Pence was moved for a non-prospect, Nate Schierholtz, and Tommy Joseph, a legitimate prospect who was, nonetheless, never among BA’s top 100 prospects. Plus, Pence had one more year of team control! . . . . Today, it would take two top 100 prospects and change to get the 2012 version of Pence.

      The Angels gave up Jean Segura and change for two months of Greinke. That’s a good return, but it would be more today.

      What would Johnny bring back from the Dodgers or Blue Jays or Orioles?

    • Thing is, other organizations do leak information on MLB trade rumors about other teams plans and motives. The fact that you don’t hear boo about the Reds tells me nothing is brewing, which is a crying shame. With a couple adept moves we could enter 2015 much stronger, but you can’t help but feel as if ownership thinks they’re simply victims of circumstance.

      I read that Miami is looking for a cost controlled starter (hey, who isn’t?!?). They’d match up perfectly with Simon since his salary is so small. Give us one of their top 3 prospects and be done with it. This is an easy sell to even the most budget concious teams, it just takes willpower and an owner to consent. To that end, I see Bob Castellini’s fingerprints all over this. I think he’s fixated on keeping a respectable roster together thru the all-star game next year–like trading a couple guys and competing are mutually exclusive!

      • The fact that you hear boo about the Reds is entirely consistent with Walt’s previous dealings, so I’m not sure what point you are trying to make. The Latos trade was a monster one, and we didn’t hear squat before he pulled the trigger…

        The Marlins aren’t going to give up any of their top 3 picks: Heaney (nope), Kotek (I believe the Marlins are forbidden to trade him), and Moran (very doubtful as hitters are now a scarce resource).

        I guess I could see Jake Marisnick being available given his Devin Mesoraco-like struggles upon being promoted, but Simon is an odd commodity. I’d expect him to fetch him more middling prospects.

        • Simon is odd. But he was previously a starter. He has been very healthy (maybe even better) after his TJ surgery in 2008. He may not have a history of a lot of innings but his arm is relatively fresh for his age – is the counter-point. Perhaps most importantly in the context of a trade deadline. He is dirt cheap now and cost controlled for next year. If he keeps this up, the other team may have a type A FA on their hands!

          That’s my sales pitch. Ha.

    • If you are being facetious, you point is well made!

      Wayne made the same types of moves only worse. Looking at Walt’s category one, it’s easy to see he doesn’t get fooled. Anyone recall Wayne’s lopsided deadline trade for a Phillies reliever who pitched abysmally after changing uniforms?

      • Wayne I believe brought us Josh Hamilton, Brandon Phillips, Johnny Gomes, Lance Nix and Cody Ross and I think Keppinger as well. Cantu was in that group

        2 stars and 5 very good situation players.

        Yes he traded Hamilton for Volquez, and Kyle Loshe for Matt Maloney.

        But I will take the roster improvement under Wayne any day over what Walt has failed to do with this team.

        any day.

        Walt traded Johnny Gomes and we have not had anyone play LF to this day….not that Johnny was the LF answer

        • When the Volquez trade went south, it was being compared to epic failures. Josh’s regression has dampened that sentiment but it sealed Wayne’s fate.

          As for the vacuum in LF, Ludwick did pretty well there until he popped a shoulder out of socket and had to get major surgery. He was certainly an upgrade over Johnny by Walt.

        • I was OK with the move to trade Josh although I would have rather traded Jr. or Dunn at the time. We needed pitching and had surplus outfielders.

          At least Wayne did something and brought in a 20 game winner. That is what GM’s do.

          Ludwick had 80 RBI’s in 2012. Johnny Gomes had 86 for the Reds in 2010. other than 2012, Gomes has more RBIs than Ludwick.

          Don’t get me wrong, I see both of those guys as platoon players. Walt see Ludwick as a starter and we have 27 RBIs from him this year. Gomes has more RBIs in fewer abs this year.

          What I do not see from what is an effort to make the team better like Wayne did.

    • +1
      Also I wonder how WJ’s trade while with the cardinals breakdown. (would he just re-acquire former Cardinals or would he not trade as all were current team members ? ;)

  7. The last thing you do is break this team up. All of the most important players are back in 2015 and some bad contracts can come off the payroll at the end of the season (Ludwick, Broxton, Marshall, Schumaker) leaving only Brandon Phillips as a huge waste of money going forward.

    With that savings you can almost certainly get 2/3 of Latos, Cueto, Leake back to go with Bailey and Stephenson for 2016. And if we are lucky Winker starts pushing to fill the black hole in LF by late 2015.

    I think the Reds window is far from closing. I think 2014 is a wash, but it’s hardly the end of their run. This is a time for fine tuning for 2015. Keep the core of the team together and see what can be had for players like Simon and Chapman. Really the team just needs a goof LF bat for the rest of his year and 2015 and better depth and bench players.

    • You post doesn’t contradict the ‘sell’ crowd, rather it buttresses selling from another angle.

      1. Expiring Contracts (IE not core players) can be traded now for a return instead of simply letting them play out as Reds and watching them walk away (at least with Broxton and Ludwick)
      2. 2/3 of Latos, Leake, Cueto means that Walt should be considering when and how to best parlay that 1/3 into the greatest possible return
      3. Just a good LF: the trade deadline is not the time to attempt to acquire a solid LF for the rest of this season AND all of next. The Reds can get the best possible candidate for 2015 in the off season unless it already fulfills 1 or 2 above.

  8. Category 2 and Minor Deals are laughable. Therefore, in conclusion: go big! The loss of BP is huge. We can hold our own without Votto but BP was the heart and glue. As bad as it’s been since the All-Star break. we’re still in it. However, something needs to be done to shake up the roster/clubhouse. Status quo won’t cut it. Pitching is very good but they can’t shut teams out every night and only see us score one run. Getting a new 3rd base coach might be good place to start.

    • You can do all the shaking you want, and add back in all the heart and glue you want. Skip Schumaker, Ramon Santiago, and Chris Heisey are still going to be B list talent. If you’re starting backups — and mediocre backups, at that — you’re going to lose. The problem isn’t grit.

      And the 3b coach doesn’t matter if you never get anyone to third base.

  9. I think the season playoff chances is pretty much toast after the bad start after the break. To get to 90 wins they would have to go 38-19 now, that’s not likely to happen.

    I’d think the Reds should be in a sell mode and try to get some young talent especially an outfielder by dealing a couple of the veteran pitchers and/or players.

  10. The Reds will be in do nothing mode until July 2015.
    Reason one is that if the Reds were not plagued by injuries we would be first in our division and probably contending for best record in baseball.
    Reason two is that the Reds host the allstar game 2015
    Reason three is that Walt seldom makes big splashes during the season if at all.
    Reason four is that with the addition of the second wildcard slot more teams are in contention so less teams willing to enter a sell mode.

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