The Reds received David Holmberg from the Arizona Diamondbacks as part of the three-team deal that sent catcher Ryan Hanigan to the Tampa Bay Rays.

Basics: Holmberg is a 22-year old left-handed pitcher. He’s 6’3″ and 225 lbs. He was drafted by the Chicago White Sox in the second round of the 2009 amateur draft. Holmberg went to Arizona as part of the Edwin Jackson deal.

2013: Holmberg made 26 starts at AA last season, throwing 157 innings. It was the third season in a row that Holmberg has thrown over 150 innings. His ERA was 2.75. His strikeout rate has been low, at 6.5 K/9 over 250 innings in AA the past two seasons. As a result, his FIP was 3.80 in 2013. He made a single appearance for the D-Backs in August, which is meaningless.

Baseball America ranks Holmberg the #6 prospect in the D-Backs system in 2013 and say he has the “Best Control” of any prospect in their system.

Marc Hulet at Fangraphs ranks Holmberg the #7 prospect in the D-Backs system for 2014: “He doesn’t have a big-time fastball or wipeout breaking ball but he’s durable, and has above-average command/control of his four-pitch repertoire that includes a fastball with fringe-average velocity, two average breaking balls in a curveball and slider, as well as a plus change-up.” Before Holmberg’s single start for the D-Backs last year, Hulet wrote: “In his prime, the young pitcher has a chance to fill a third or fourth slot in a big league starting rotation, and his big, strong frame should allow him to provide plenty of innings in that role.” ranks Holmberg Arizona’s #5 prospect: “Tyler Skaggs rightfully gets the buzz in the organization as the top lefty prospect, but Holmberg isn’t that far behind him. Holmberg has the chance to have four average or better pitches with good command of all of them. He works quickly and goes right after hitters, working both sides of the strike zone with his solid average sinking fastball. His fading change-up is an above-average off-speed pitch and he throws both a tight biting curve and short, cutting slider. With good mechanics and size, he should be ready for the middle of the rotation soon.”

Bottom-line: When you analyze major league trades it’s important to keep in mind that the trade is about contracts as much as it is about the players. In that context, the Reds traded one year of Ryan Hanigan (who hit .198/.306/.261 and has struggled to stay healthy) for six years of team control of a solid left-handed AA-pitcher. The trade adds pitching depth for the organization and is about all one could realistically expect as a return for Hanigan.

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky’s Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve’s thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.

Join the conversation! 47 Comments

  1. has his ETA as 2014. So if he starts in AAA and puts up Cingrani numbers then we may be have our #6 starter in the wings.

    I would also think this trade is assuring that Arroyo will not be back next year.

    • @rfay00: The difference between Holmberg and Cingrani is K/9.

      Cingrani was over 11 K/9 in the minor leagues. While I think Holmberg can become a solid contributor, at least right now it would be a mistake to think he’s on the same track as Cingrani.

      How about this: Holmberg’s ceiling looks to be a #4 starter, while Cingrani has ace potential. That said, Holmberg is still valuable, if he keeps developing.

      • @Steve Mancuso: So does Holmberg’s addition to the SP depth (Cueto, Latos, Bailey, Cingrani, Chapman, Leake, Reynolds, Stephenson, Holmberg) combined with Stephenson’s sharp rise make it so either Leake or Bailey are more likely to be traded now? The previous reason against one of them being a possible trade chip was the need to maintain depth. With a starting rotation of Cueto/Latos/Cingrani or Bailey/Cingrani or Leake/Chapman with depth of Reynolds/Stephenson/Holmberg… can the Reds now afford to package a starting pitcher in a deal to try to get a big bat?

        • @ToddAlmighty: That’s a great question. It’s a close call. Holmberg doesn’t seem quite ready for the big leagues in 2014. He hasn’t pitched in AAA yet. I thought the Reds might try to obtain a starting pitcher, either by trade or free agency, that would let them trade Mike Leake.

          I don’t think they’ve done that quite yet, but there’s still plenty of time and opportunity. Easy to imagine getting that kind of pitching piece back in the BP trade to a contending team.

  2. I’ll take it.

  3. Great move. We now have rotation depth.

    C Rogers

  4. I can dig it. We desperately need lefty starting pitching. Considering our #6 guys last year was a round robin of washed up journeymen, having a 22 year old kid who will probably be ready to spot start for us in a pinch by mid season is a luxury we didn’t have before. If he turns out to be better than expected it could mean having an extra trading chip. Can’t complain about this at all.

  5. Love this deal–trade a surplus aging catcher into a solid #4-5 starter for many years. That’s borderline brilliant!. Now we have the depth to move a starter in order to shore up the offense.

    Given the ridiculous free agent salary for Peralta, we could potentially net a similarly big haul for Phillips. One thing is for certain, the roster on Opening Day won’t look anything like the roster today.

  6. That description sounds like a Bronson Arroyo in the making.

  7. Jim Bowden of ESPN and SiriusXM is hearing from sources that the Reds will trade Brandon Phillips by the end of next week’s Winter Meetings in Orlando.
    The writing has been on the wall since the end of the season and Phillips was recently left off the player appearances schedule for the annual Redsfest in Cincinnati. Phillips posted a weak .706 OPS in 2013 and is owed $50 million over the next four seasons, but the 32-year-old is still an elite defensive second baseman and the Reds should be able to find a suitor for him as the hot stove heats up. Dec 3 – 4:32 PM
    Source: Jim Bowden on Twitter

  8. I like this trade. But before going on about that, first I want to wish the best for Ryan Hanigan. I imagine that people have done that on an earlier thread.

    Hanigan’s throwing out would-be base stealers on a regular basis was a constant source of excitement. His intelligent pitch calling made him popular, to say the least, with the pitchers. He was not the same as a hitter last year, but prior to then his patience, even batting in the 8th spot, was refreshing and led to his high OBP figures.

    He was a “contact” hitter in the best sense of the word – with a runner on 3rd and less than 2 out, he was among the best on the team at getting the runner home. I remember a year where, as of late in the season, he was 9 out of 10 at driving the run home in that situation.

    • @pinson343: I second your best wishes for Hanigan, and appreciate Steve’s insights into the contractual angle. I will say, gloomily, that if we also trade BP, the Reds will probably be substantially less adept defensively than in recent years, and I consider that a really bad trend, inasmuch as the team’s strength is pitching, not hitting, and pitching is dependent on defense. It’s hard to imagine WJ landing a significantly better hitter than BP has been–too costly.

      • @greenmtred: Well said, both of you. I have nothing but the utmost respect for Ryan Hanigan. He was an undrafted FA that fought his way up to being a big league starting catcher..not small accomplishment. He’s a smart player and a class act. I wish him nothing but success.

        Hopefully we’ll see him in the World Series…I hope he wins an AL Championship down there.

  9. changed their rating on Holmberg. He is now considered the Reds seventh best prospect.

  10. As several have said above, Holmberg gives the Reds a quality pitcher at AAA (at least) who adds depth to the Reds starting rotation.

    This is also a part of the Reds freeing up money, a little here, a little there. WJ is positioning himself for something major.

  11. ESPN has that Seattle has seriously entered into the Cano sweepstakes. If they were to do that, then BP to NYY seems like the next move. Also could free up Seattle rookie 2B Nick Franklin for the Reds to pursue for maybe Mike Leake.
    If Cano goes to Seattle, the dominoes start falling quickly.

  12. Just saw the Rockies traded Fowler to the Astros. Didn’t really get a ton. I liked Fowler. His splits are a bit concerning, but for the price, that was an excellent deal. If I’m being honest, I’d rather have Fowler patrolling around the outfield than Ludwick when considering the price…

    • @BearcatNation: I’m amazed at how little the Stros gave up for Fowler. It is a deal the Reds could have easily bettered, than what the Astros gave.

  13. Something to maybe like about Holmberg. In 2011/12, he started at one level and had a WHIP of under 1, then moved up a level and struggled with the WHIP. So, in order:

    2011 Single A – 0.940
    A+ – 1.514
    2012 Single A+ – 0.970
    Double AA – 1.337

    Last year in AA, he did 1.195 WHIP.

    I will miss Hanigan. I wish him luck. I do believe he had a lot do with creating the makeup of this team and the pitching staff. I think he will be able to assist the Rays young staff a lot.

    I myself was hoping that we were making a package, maybe with BP, in the attempt of getting Longoria. One can dream, can’t we?

  14. I believe I can like Holmberg. Shows a bit of promise. I like the youth aspect and left handed, also. I thought Hanigan might bring a bit more, but just a bit. Definitely more of a move long term for the Reds. If this helps us next season, it’s only because we would have a lot of pitching injuries again.

  15. I don’t like losing Hanigan, but it’s all for the best. Mesoraco is now front and center. Hanigan gets a 3 year deal with a perrenial contender. Reds get a nice prospect, that even if he gets caught up in a log jam at SP, being LH and with his reported pinpoint control, can usually make for a valuable asset in the bullpen.

  16. Another good thing about Holmberg is that he pitched a lot of AA ball at Mobile. Which is in the same AA league as the Reds AA team Pensacola. So he had been well scouted by the Reds and they had alot of information on him to make a very informed decision.
    And reading Arizona’s Kevin Towers comments now on mlbtr, that he had to include Holmberg in the deal. WJ did his due diligence on this one.

  17. Mark Sheldon has an interview with Walt Jocketty on the trade. Here’s what Jocketty had to say about acquiring Holmberg:

    “Our goal was to try and improve our pitching depth and trying to find the best young starting pitcher we could add to the organization,” Jocketty said. “I have to be honest with you that Holmberg was one of the guys we had at the top of the list. It was a measuring point for other clubs we talked to. This was the best deal we thought we could make. We’re very happy with him.”

  18. Nice to see Hanny going to a contender. If you gotta be traded, Tampa is better than Miami.

  19. Best of luck, Ryan Hanigan. Happy Catching in Tampa.

  20. By the end of the winter meetings (possibily before they start), I believe Cano will be signed, sealed and delivered to someone other than the NYY. Once Cano is signed, Phillips value goes up dramatically. This situation just escalated with the Ynaks singning of Ellsbury.

    Regarding the Hanigan trade, the Old Cossack had a couple of thoughts I haven’t seen mentioned. Hanigan was a free agent after 2014. The Reds were not going to extend him and certainly were never going to make a qualifying offer, so Hanigan would have walked with nothing in return. Tampa is a team that fully recognizes Hanigan’s value as evidenced by the contract extransion they offered. Tampa got the catcher they coveted and Hanigan got the contract he deserved in addition to the Reds getting the starting pitcher they needed and coveted also.

    • @Shchi Cossack: My reaction to the Ellsbury signing was similar – “Wow, Cano is not going to be a Yankee next year.”

      I loved Hanigan in his time with the Reds, but I’m very happy with this trade. Young, cost-controlled pitching is always a win, and one of my biggest concerns about the 2014 Reds has been lack of good pitching depth.

  21. I would think, after reading multiple write ups, that he would slot in around #6 out #7 for the Reds as far as prospects go. I’d probably slot him in at #7 after Stephenson, BHam, Ervin, Winker, Travieso, and YRod. Just before Roge and Barnhart.

    • @hotto4votto: And recently we have heard how depleted the farm system but if you have your first seven you mentioned then the Reds are not in the worst shape.

      With the subtraction of Hanigan, how many are now on the 40 and do you put Holmberg on the 40?
      I put little credence in Jim Bowden, so we will see if he is right. I would think that Jocketty is up to a lot more. I think he is building this team for Price and would not be surprised to see almost anyone go elsewhere.

      • @redmountain: My thoughts exactly. It is nice to restock a little, and if needed to have an extra chip to help figure into a trade. I think Hanny will have a fine year in Tampa. I believe his offensive struggles this past season are temporary. It’s unfortunate that made us have to sell a little low, but at this point I am comfortable with the deal.

      • @redmountain: The Hanigan trade was a swap on the 40 man roster, so the 40 man roster still sits at 40 with the subtraction of Paul and Hanigan and the addition of Parra and Holmberg.

        • @Shchi Cossack: Count again, there are 39 if you add in the players you name. Either that or I cant count. Anyway, my thought is that if there is room for one more on the 40, then it would appear that someone else is coming soon either in trade or signing. Is it two players for one or is it immaterial at this point?

      • @redmountain: What, no credence to a guy known as “ol’ leatherpants?” I just don’t understand….

        • @redmountain: What, no credence to a guy known as “ol’ leatherpants?” I just don’t understand….

          A joke! I get jokes.

  22. Well, I am guessing if he made a start in August for the dbacks, he’d have to have been on their 40 man. So i’m guessing he will take Hanigan’s spot.

    Our top 15 or so prospects are all pretty solid…after that it gets pretty so-so as far as projected MLB impact. But I would guess that is the same for must organizations.

  23. Rosenthal has tweeted that the Reds are “unlikely” to trade BP. The tweet appears to be a tease to a story coming up on

  24. Considering this trades, potential future moves, and what we still need, I have to wonder what else Uncle Walt can be considering that would be considered anywhere near blockbuster. A “catcher” was one thing we could package some things with to get an impact player. But, now, there’s not that much we have to package with. I wonder what Walt may be thinking of. I can’t help thinking any more moves are going to be moves equivalent to this or what we have done so far. They may be thinking that Devin will end up being “the man” for the 4 hole. Or, packaging BP with someone like Homer to get a 4 holer outfielder, filling that hole, and trusting that someone like Henry Rod can take BP’s place at 2nd.

    • @steveschoen: I think that Phillips is probably gone, so that might be a blockbuster. Gardner does seem expendable for the Yanks. Trading a pitcher or two is a possibility, especially with the pitching that has been added since the end of the season. How much longer will the Reds hold on to Soto and Rodriguez if they cannot make the 25 man roster? I wonder if someone would be interested in Heisey-he’s not getting any younger. I do not think that this roster is in any way set.

      • @redmountain: Oh, I don’t think it’s set, either. But, I believe it just got a bit more difficult to make a trade for an impact player, aka a blockbuster trade.

  25. I just LOVE reading about all the OTHER moves teams are making to improve their line-ups. Bottom line is we have to have the right handed bat. When and Who are the only questions for WJ

    • @hydeman: I’m pretty happy that the Reds didn’t take on Price Fielder or Jacoby Ellsbury and their contracts. St. Louis? Ok, they made some good moves. But this Hanigan trade was utilitarian with a strong dash of upside. Set on the stove to simmer, appreciate in two years.

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About Steve Mancuso

Steve grew up in Cincinnati as a die-hard fan of Sparky's Big Red Machine. After 25 years living outside of Ohio, mostly in Ann Arbor, he returned to the Queen City in 2004. He has resumed a first-person love affair with the Cincinnati Reds and is a season ticket holder at Great American Ball Park. The only place to find Steve's thoughts of more than 140 characters is Redleg Nation. Follow his tweets @spmancuso.


2014 Reds