In Part 1 and Part 2 we looked at trades with four teams that appear to be decent matches for the Reds. Today, we’ll finish the look at available LF by discussing the three optimal candidates and one other possibility.

Check out Mondays’ post for details on the criteria we’re using for potential targets and an explanation for team control.

Table glossary: The numbers in the charts below for OBP, BB%, ISO and wRC+ are based on projections (Steamer at FanGraphs) for the 2015 season. DRS stands for defensive runs saved and that’s their 2014 data from playing outfield. fWAR 14/15 is their WAR (wins above replacement) as estimated by FanGraphs for 2014 and projected for 2015.

Dare to Dream – Veterans Division

The dare-to-dream category includes three ideal LF candidates for the Reds where there’s at least a plausible pathway for a deal. The first two players are veterans, the final is a youngster. Remember, this category is labeled “dare to dream.”

Bautista

Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim v Toronto Blue JaysHitting: Jose Bautista is one of the top hitters in baseball and probably the best who could conceivably be traded by their team. Elite OBP, walk-rate and power — the whole package at the plate. His bat would transform the Reds lineup.

Defense: Strong arm, good glove. Played some 1B this year. Played 3B earlier in career. Mostly a RF, where he has an excellent reputation, but the metrics are mixed. Would probably mean a shift to LF for Jay Bruce, although Bautista has a little experience there.

Contract Status: Two years of team control. $14 million owed in 2015 and $14 million team option in 2016.

Why Trade is Possible: As Toronto’s best player, Bautista is close to falling into the “face of the franchise” category. Their GM has recently said Bautista wouldn’t be traded. But the needs of the two clubs match up perfectly. They have a gaping hole at 2B and need defense there. The Blue Jays could also use a top-of-the-rotation pitcher. Toronto has a top-ten payroll, but there are limits to their spending. They do have salary coming off the books, but are looking to re-sign Melky Cabrera and have to find a new closer (hint). Their self-imposed ban on free agent contracts longer than five years might take them out of the Scherzer, Shields and Lester talks.

Conclusion: A package of Brandon Phillips and Johnny Cueto could get the conversation started. The Reds would probably have to add a second-tier prospect or two. I doubt the Reds would consider trading Jay Bruce, but this is exactly the kind of trade where it would make sense (although it wouldn’t solve the LF problem). Same with Aroldis Chapman.

Gordon

alex-gordon1

Hitting: Alex Gordon has nearly 1,200 plate appearances leading off for the Kansas City Royals, but can hit throughout the lineup. He has a strong OBP and walk-rate and well above average power.

Defense: Three-time Gold Glove winner in LF (2011-2013). Arm, range, glove all elite.

Contract Status: Two years of team control, including $12.5 million salary in 2015 and 2016 team option of $12.5 million.

Why Trade is Possible: Money and the Myers-for-Shields deal. The Royals have indicated they’ll make a run at re-signing James Shields, their top starting pitcher. Money may be less of an issue with their lucrative postseason run, but it’s hard to imagine them competing for Shields with teams like Boston or New York. A trade for an ace makes more sense.

Conclusion: This deal would be built around Johnny Cueto. The Royals aren’t looking to re-build, they want assets that will help them win now.

Dare to Dream – Youngster Division

Yelich

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Hitting: Christian Yelich has exceptional on-base and walk skills and his power is improving. Yelich has experience leading off for the Marlins. He’ll be 23 in December, a full year younger than Billy Hamilton. Yelich is young enough to expect improvement in hitting across the board. Stole 21 bases in 2014.

Defense: Tremendous range and glove. LF is his regular position. Not a single ball would fall in the outfield between Yelich and Hamilton. Possible the two of them could cover the outfield themselves, allowing Jay Bruce to dispense global payback by playing a defensive shift position for each better.

Contract Status: Five years of team control, the first two, at least, likely wildly valuable.

Why Trade is Possible: The Marlins have Giancarlo Stanton and Marcell Ozuna to anchor the outfield. Trading Yelich would allow them to pursue Cuban defector/free agent Yasmany Tomas and allow Tomas to play in his regular position. The Marlins also don’t have an established second baseman. Their top off-season acquisition will likely be an experienced starting pitcher to complement their staff of young starters.

Conclusion: Yelich would become a cornerstone player for the Reds, with five years of control. Cueto (or Latos or Leake) could make sense as a cheaper alternative for the Marlins than pursuing a pricey and long-term free agent commitment. Wild card is Aroldis Chapman. I’ve always thought Miami was the logical best trading partner for AC because of the appeal to local Cuban fans. The Marlins already have an established closer (who they could trade) but they could also, sensibly, convert Chapman to the starter they need. Could an offer of Chapman (or Cueto) and a top prospect get this done? Or maybe Chapman and Simon? Yes, please.

One More Name

Fowler

MLB: Houston Astros at Kansas City RoyalsHitting: Like Yelich, Fowler has a great OBP and walk-rate. Decent power, too. Legitimate lead-off hitter. OBP projection seems low considering Fowler has averaged .380 OBP the past three seasons, including last year in Houston. Averaged over 3.0 WAR on offense the past four seasons (Baseball-Reference).

Defense: Primarily been a CF. Shockingly bad defense given his athleticism. Maybe better in LF.

Contract Status: One-year rental. Standard Arb3 player, with $9 million expected salary.

Conclusion: Fowler may not be in long-term plans for Astros, given outfield talent in pipeline and likely big contract. The Astros aren’t ready to contend in 2015 so might be likely to trade Fowler for prospects. Shin-Soo Choo type deal for the Reds, without the Drew Stubbs piece. Fowler for Simon?

50 Responses

  1. charlottencredsfan

    Yelich could alter the future of the Reds. IMO, this is the correct answer. The trade would be tricky though but this is the Dare to Dream part of Steve’s series.

    • GOREDS

      Have been saying Chapman to Marlins for 2 years. I doubt Miami would do Yelich. They have not added salary in any recent trades (look at Cosart deal).

      • tct

        Yeah, I don’t think Yelich is a realistic option either. The Marlins trade guys when they get expensive, not when they are 22, making around the minimum , and have a few more really cheap years left. Now every player should be available for the right price, but I can’t see the Marlins dealing Yelich unless Mesoraco is coming back. Or maybe Stephenson and Frazier. Chapman is already pretty expensive and only has two years left. If getting Cuban players was important to them you would think they would have went harder after Abreu, Cespedes, Puig, etc.. I would love to be wrong and see a Cueto for Yelich or Chapman for Yelich. But if I was a Marlins fan, I would hate that deal.

  2. redsfan06

    Walt appears to be cautious in making moves, sometimes overly so. However, when he does define the move needed to be made, he has taken steps to do so in the past.
    2012- Reds needed pitching, particularly bolstering the bullpen. Walt signed Madsen and Simon. He traded for Latos, Marshall, Broxton and Hoover.
    Reds needed a LF. Walt went the cheap route and signed Ludwick for a year. It worked the first year and the Reds won 97.
    2013- Reds belatedly recognize Stubbs is not a leadoff hitter. Walt trades for Choo. Choo is 2nd in league in OBP behind Votto. Reds win 90.
    2014 – There were too many questions coming into the season for Walt to make a big move. Latos, Ludwick, Marshall, Votto and Cueto were all coming off of injuries. BHam was an untested rookie tagged for leading off and playing CF. Mes was playing his 1st season as the primary starting catcher. Frazier was coming off a disappointing 2nd year.

    The needs this year are pretty obvious – LF, leadoff, bullpen. I have a glimmer of hope WJ makes the moves to improve the team this off season.

    • RedsFaninPitt

      In spite of all of the criticism about Walt, you are right about his history with the Reds. When it is clear what needs to be done, he tends to make the bold move to make the team better. If I would have to rate the likelihood of any of these trade candidates, it would be the following:

      1. Dexter Fowler (Astros need pitching – it would take more than Simon, however- or possibly a bat – Bruce/Hamilton?)
      2. Alex Gordon (It appears that the Royals may have other options for leadoff – Aoki, Dyson, Colon, but I can’t see a team like the Royals taking on Phillips contract.)
      3. Christian Yelich – (No other obvious candidates to leadoff. I can’t see Miami taking Phillips contract.)
      4. Jose Bautista – (Already is the face of this franchise and a top 10 elite player. It would likely take too much in return from the Reds. This would be like the Reds trading Votto after his big 2010 season but before he got his big contract.)

    • GOREDS

      Nice assessment, but Walt did not realize Stubbs was not a leadoff hitter until 2013? What about 2008-12? The Choo deal fell in his lap when Arizona went gaga for Didi and Cleveland for Bauer.

      • redsfan06

        I am not saying that Walt is without his faults. Signings multi-year extensions for aging veterans Ludwick and Rolen backfired. The frittering away of $2 million here and $2.5 million there for bench players who can’t hit in Renteria, Schumaker, Hannahan and others seems to be an annual trend.

        As far as lucky moves, finding a taker for Broxton’s contract was pretty fortunate.

        He has shown the ability to fill the Reds holes once convinced of a direction. And he performed exceptionally in the 2011-2012 off season.So I believe there is, as I said, a glimmer of hope.

      • Steve Schoenbaechler

        I wouldn’t say anything has been exceptional with Walt. Maybe good, but not exceptional. I would have gone 3 players for Latos, not 4. I still wonder why we traded a left handed pitcher for a left handed pitcher than costs us much more money. I can understand why we went for Broxton, even though I wouldn’t have traded our best left handed minor league pitcher, who was at AAA at the time, for him. As well as, trading for Broxton, as Chapman’s replacement at closer, Walt should have stood up to Baker when Baker went to the papers crying for a decision on Chapman as a closer or a starter.

        I don’t think the Bruce contract was smart, not for a guy who just came up hitting one HR that just so happen to have won us the division. Bruce’s numbers weren’t even that great that season. Not a dumb contract, but I would have looked to work it out better for the club’s finances.

        I don’t think BP’s contract was smart, either. Not for a player in his declining years. $10 million per max, but BP signed for $12 million per. Not a dumb contract, but not smart, either.

        Similar with Votto. I would have gone 5-6 years with him.

        But, Homer’s contract was just dumb.

        Walt has done some good things. He got Rolen to provide some veteran leadership; I believe we all agreed he did. He brought in Schumacher to do similarly, I believe. He signed Simon. He did look to extend what good players we had instead of possibly losing them to FA.

  3. droomac

    A Cueto, Chapman, and Phillips for Bautista and Marcus Stroman would be a coup in my book. Lose one terrible contract, move an underutilized resource, and get a solid team-controlled pitcher in return for a great pitcher with one year of control left sounds like a great deal to me. However, I think that Bautista is, indeed, nearing face of the franchise status and the Cabrera/Rasmus and the unproven Pompey leave the Blue Jays a little thin in the OF themselves.

    Since the Royals are likely going to the World Series, I don’t believe that Gordon can be had for any price. The Royals may trade for pitching, but I doubt seriously that Gordon is going anywhere.

    Of course, Yelich is the grand prize here. Could you imagine a lineup with Yelich and Votto batting first and second? . . . Wow. I could drive in 100 with those guys hitting in front of me. Getting Yelich would also likely spell the end of Jay Bruce’s time with the Reds (at least after ’15), with Winker on the way and Hamilton entrenched in CF.

  4. greenmtred

    I utter a customary word of caution: I agree with Steve that the Reds need hitting and that hitting is in short supply compared to pitching. However, adding a very good bat by itself would be unlikely to compensate for having a patchwork pitching staff. We tend to undervalue our own pitching, perhaps, because we’ve gotten used to having it and because, even with good pitching, we haven’t made a deep postseason run. We wouldn’t with weak pitching, either, and I’m unconvinced that Cingrani, for example, could make up for the loss of Cueto. I’m also unconvinced that we wouldn’t miss Chapman, particularly in view of the rest of the bullpen.

    • Grand Salami

      Chapman is unarguably the most dominant pitcher in MLB with less than 55 innings pitched. There is no replacing his electricity but Coco reminded us late in his contract that the closer only needs to secure three outs – the rest is gravy. Before 2014 a lot of people thought LeCure, Hoover and others could close – so a lot of candidates were lost. However, perhaps the most realistic option surfaced: Jumbo Diaz. He has some work to do in tightening up his peripherals – maybe developing a pitch to keep lefties off his fastball – but he gave up 3 total HR in 34 IP. 2 in the first 3 IP and 1 over the remaining 31 IP. With Marshall coming back to set up, Parra looking to rebound, the possibility of Cingrani moving back to the pen – it’s not as if Chapman isn’t expendable. He is just the type of player a team is going to over value.

      In the SSS category, Winker is destroying the AFL to the tune of a 1.472 OPS. He isn’t MLB ready but he is showing health concerns surrounding his wrist are nonexistent. He is also demonstrating how close he really is. A 15% walk rate with good power and ability to hit for average tend to translate well. The Reds need to decide if the want a spot holder for Winker or a long term commitment that will eventually replace Bruce. I am sure a lot of fans would support the latter after this season, but preserving pitching, making a payroll neutral move, and finding a solid one year player seem like the wisest considerations with the relatively thin ‘second wave’ of starters and the trends of Winker.

      • greenmtred

        I understand your argument about the pen, but note that the plan relies on Marshall, Parra and Cingrani to rebound successfully, and that is a great deal to hope for.

  5. Jake

    Yelich would be ideal, a guy who can actually get on base and can cover some ground in the outfield. We definitely need guys, yes guys, who have good OBP

  6. RedMountain

    Would it be nice to get any of these guys? Sure it would. I do not think the Reds would hurt themselves by trading a starter or two. How many of the starters on the Royals would be starters on the Reds? How many Orioles? Giants? Will any of this happen? That is why this is a dream.

  7. GOREDS

    The article mentions 2B needs for teams. Trading Phillips would allow MANY more options, even free agents for LF. If this is an option, Walt must do this. It also opens up trying to trade for Betts or other infielders.

  8. cfd3000

    Steve thanks for this provocative series on options for left field. In reviewing the individual trees there are some relatively scrawny specimens and a few majestic ones, but a step back to look at the forest reveals that there is definitely an intelligent deal out there that will improve the Reds. Here’s hoping Jocketty sees the forest too, then somehow works the right deal. Starting with these dare to dream trees.

  9. Steve Schoenbaechler

    Oooo, excellent thoughts on all of these, I believe. I believe all of these would be rentals except Yelich. Where, if we go that route, we may be looking at letting Bruce go sometime if we keep with Winker and/or Waldrop, who are tearing up the Winter league right now.

    As well as, what I like about these, it’s not just talk of “Let’s go get him.” Trading isn’t that easy. Do the other teams even want to let go of these guys? Do the other teams have something we want? Do we want to give up those pieces? If everything is coming together after that, can we negotiate the secondary players that would complete the trade?

    Interesting. FA or trade, FA or trade? Not to mention, all the arbitrations we have this off season. Walt is going to be busy, even without signing any FA or making any trades.

  10. Kyle Farmer

    Really enjoying this series. The idea of Simon and Chapman for Yelich makes my mouth water, which is why I think it will never happen. Fun to think about though.

  11. George Mirones

    Houston, what a great idea! The last trade with the Astros didn’t work out too badly (think Morgan). Cost is equal to Ludwick. Right age and a RH hitter. The Astros would probably take a top starter prospect and a ML starter (Leake; contract friendly, innings eater).

    • GOREDS

      Who? Fowler? He is not worth a top prospect OR a ML starter.

      • George Mirones

        Would you rather have Ludwick, Heisey, or Lutz?

      • GOREDS

        I would take Fowler, but he was dumped last year for a nonprospect. He makes 9 million for which we would need to dump salary to get but in terms of value should be easy to get for a mid level prospect or bullpen arm. Leake is worth a younger, cheaper player. A cost controlled starter prospect for 1 year of Fowler, no way.

      • GOREDS

        Ludwick will be a free agent when we decline his option.

  12. George Mirones

    Why not get greedy. The Chapman for Yelich deal along with a prospect would be Heaven. Bruce will probably be gone by 2016 if he repeats 2014 and, as most predict, Winkler will be more than ready by then. Billy will have either blossomed or fizzled by 2016. Some 2015 trade deadline trades of Reds starters for the forever talked about prospects and 2016 looks better than ever.
    I still believe the bullpen is the real need but what the hell, this is a “Dare To Dream” topic so why not dream big.

  13. daytonnati

    Not to be forgotten is the fact that if Brandon is traded, it will be to a team that he wants to play for. As a 10-5, he can veto any deal not to his liking. Outside of, maybe, the New York teams, Atlanta, or LA, I don’t think DatDude is leaving.

    • George Mirones

      Thank you for the reality check. I agree.

    • droomac

      I would narrow that list down to Atlanta. He didn’t seem to excited at the prospect of playing in NY last offseason.

      • lwblogger2

        Agreed. Rumor has it that he used his limited no-trade clause to reject the trade to the Yankees for Gardner. I think BP likes playing in Cincy. The only place I could see him waiving 10/5 rights for is the Braves. Reds fans can’t wait to get rid of him but I like him on the Reds. The contract wasn’t a good idea but it’s in the books and with the 10/5 rights, I really don’t see BP going anywhere. We may as well get used to the idea and root hard for him.

    • tct

      Not only that, but trading BP opens up another hole for the reds. I’m not against trading him, but who plays second base then? The reds have so little depth, especially in the middle infield. Navarro had a pretty good year, but he seems more like a backup to me. Negron? It’s hard to see his success continuing when you look at his minor league numbers. Even though BP is not worth his contract, he could actually have more value to the reds than he does to most other teams because his replacement could be replacement level. Or worse.

      And that is the big problem with the reds. Compared to the cardinals and Pirates, the Reds have no depth. The two teams in the ALCS both have a lot of depth as well. The Orioles made it there even though they don’t have Machado, Wieters, Chris Davis, or Jimenez on their playoff roster.

  14. Ohioindiaspora

    And Lorenzo Cain? Too much $$$?

  15. User1022

    Yelich would be amazing, but I do think the Reds would have to give up too much to get him.

    Fowler seems more like the Reds’ type of target. A solid, underrated player. I’ve always been high on Fowler, and if the Reds could get him, I would not mind dropping BH to 9th in the lineup so Fowler could leadoff.

    A lineup of

    LF Fowler
    1B Votto
    C Mesoraco
    RF Bruce
    3B Frazier
    2B DatDude
    SS Cozart
    P
    CF BHam

    Looks pretty good to me. Since the Astros are still a few years away from competing, I wonder if they would be interested in a prospect package for Fowler. Maybe something like Corcino/Barnhart/Soto.

    HOWEVER, this all hinges on Fowler being willing to sign a 5 year contract with the Reds. That way, the outfield would be set for awhile and the Reds would have their last shot to try to win with this current crop of players.

    It’s worth looking into.

    • GOREDS

      LOVE THE LINEUP, did we just get LaRussa to manage.

      If we got Fowler, Price would do:
      BHam
      Fowler
      Votto
      Fazier
      Breuce
      Mesoraco
      BP
      Cozart
      P

      I dont agree but would bet money on it.

      • geneo75

        and you would be wrong. I see mesoraco batting 4th.

    • George Mirones

      Add Yelich to that lineup and sit Billy H. or send to Louisville. That line up would cause some concern next year to the NL.

    • geneo75

      what? why would they do such a thing. switch hamilton and fowler, that would be a more likely scenario, hamilton is too good to hit last.

  16. Hotto4votto

    I kept saying Fowler at the trade deadline. Would have been nice to have LF solved going into the offseason. But alas.

  17. George Mirones

    Steve; Please interpret Walt J. comment to P.Doc about “tweaking the line up a little” for 2015.

    • lwblogger2

      I’m not Steve but I take it to mean there will be no major moves.

  18. Joey

    What’s Ryan Braun’s contract look like? Could we swap him for Phillips straight up?

    • User1022

      Why in the world would Milwaukee even consider such a thing?

      • GOREDS

        Actually, they may want to unload Braun but only for salary relief.

  19. preacherj

    That picture of Gordon is frightening. Looks like the caption could be something along the lines of: “wait until they get a load of me.”

  20. pinson343

    This has been a great series, well researched and thought ought, perfect for the hot stove league. A couple of comments:

    The value of one year of Cueto seems underrated at a number of points. I can understand the risk of mega-deal for Cueto, and my guess is that’s being taken as very pertinent factor in his trade value. But for one year Cueto looks like a very good bet right now. And how many teams would SIGNIFICANTLY improve their odds of a 2016 postseason berth, and postseason success, if they add Cueto to their rotation ?
    Good, even very good pitchers, are replaceable. Aces are not.

    While Bruce is given the benefit of the doubt that his hitting will return to a semblance of what is was, his defense is not given the same credit. I am more confident that his defense return to form than his offense. I’m optimistic about his offense, but all his defense needs is a healthy knee.

  21. pinson343

    Chapman, even without a conversion to starter, would have tremendous value to certain teams. The Tigers’ chances have been ruined by their bullpen for the last 3 years. Even for bullpens in lesser straits, the value of a deep, quality bullpen (or even just 3 studs) has been on display this postseason, with the importance it’s played for the Royals and the Giants.

  22. JRS1972

    For Yelich, the Reds would have to both overpay in prospects and pick up salary on any vets traded. He’s the ideal long term candidate, but it would take both Chapman (with the reds picking up a bunch of his salary) and a second cost controlled guy (Cingrani/Simon) as well as a good prospect. It would probably be worth it if it that could get it done.

  23. Gene O

    Don’t like the ideal of trading Cueto or Chapman. They got Latos, Leake, and Simon. I’m disappointed they gave Homer such a big contract, he would have been perfect for trade. I’d try to trade Bruce also, he needs to start contributing.

  24. Andy10

    I would love Yelich in Cincy. But I know Jockety would never make any deal. If anything he’d get a low-cost free agent in left. They need a big deal. They should do Fowler and SS Jonathan Villar for Latos, Cozart (.221 AVG, 4 HR, 38 RBI last year, not good) and a prospect. If any free agent, it should be Colby Rasmus. Consistent hitter for a low cost.

    • Andy10

      CF Hamilton
      LF Fowler/Rasmus
      1B Votto
      C Mesoraco
      RF Bruce
      3B Frazier
      2B Phillips
      SS Cozart/Villar
      P