The signing of Jonathan Broxton to, presumably, close out games for the Reds has massive implications. Most notably, it puts Aroldis Chapman in the rotation and Mike Leake on the bubble. Seemingly, this leaves the Reds with a surplus of starting pitching. Of course, last year, the Reds had borderline-historic health in the rotation last year (at least during the regular season).
There are caveats, though. Chapman has a history as a starter, but he still won’t be able to handle a full-starter load this year. Additionally, it’s unlikely the Reds will be lucky enough to have as healthy a rotation as they did last year. Across MLB, 231 pitchers made at least 5 starts. That averages out to 7.7 starters per team logging significant time in the rotation.
The Reds can probably be counted on to be healthier than average, but we should probably still assume that they’ll need at least 7 starters over the course of the year. There are, as best I can tell, four candidates for the 6th and 7th spots. They are:
Mike Leake you know about. If the Reds are thinking of trading from their “surplus” Leake is the most attractive in terms of immediate value. Of course, there are plenty of reasons to keep him. Trading Leake now would be selling low. He had an off year last year, and the advanced stats generally think he’s better than his ERA has shown so far. Additionally, he can hit and his Arroyo-like approach to pitching might make him ideally suited to the role of swing-man, where his primary role is long relief while stepping in to start when needed.
Todd Redmond is obviously the least valuable in a trade and there is nothing in his numbers to indicate he should have success at the major league level. He is likely the definition of a replacement player and shouldn’t be counted on to be anything than a #5-type starter (and I mean an average team’s #5, I’m not talking Arroyo/Bailey level).
Tony Cingrani has made himself into a high-level prospect and would be an attractive trade-chip, however, he also impressed us all in his call up last year. I think it would be really interesting to do some sort of tandem-starting arrangement with Chapman and Cingrani where each player throws 3-5 innings every five days. The Reds are unlikely to be that inventive, however. Additionally, there are still concerns over whether or not Cingrani has all the pitches he needs to succeed as a starter in the majors.
Daniel Corcino continued his progression through the system last year. But his falling strikeout-rate and climbing walk-rate have to be concerning. Corcino might be a good trade candidate if the Reds can find another organization that things highly of him and has a leadoff hitter to spare.
What you should all see here is that the Reds are not, perhaps, as deep as we might want to believe. Other than Leake, there are real concerns about whether or not any of these guys can contribute on the major league level and at least one of them will probably have to. The Reds should be cautious in their trade talks.
Jason has been a fan of the Reds since he was born. He really had no choice in the matter. He has been writing at Redleg Nation for a few years, and also writes and edits at The Hardball Times. His debut novel, When the Sparrow Sings, is available now and concerns baseball, among other things. You can find more information at jasonlinden.com.