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.
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.