Hot Stove

Subversive thoughts on trading Raisel Iglesias

When the rumor broke Thursday that the Washington Nationals had expressed to the Reds interest in Raisel Iglesias, I had a foot out the door about to leave town for 48 hours. I wrote a short news post and offered a couple sentences about a potential deal. Let me elaborate as we wait for another episode of Luis Castillo Unbound:

Raisel Iglesias is the Reds best pitcher. Iglesias throws a 100-mph fastball paired with a nasty slider and two other good pitches. He’s maintained a starting pitcher’s portfolio. Adding to the degree of difficulty in facing Iglesias is his release point, which varies from sidearm to regular overhand and points in between.

What a season he’s having. The young right-hander is striking out more than 30% of the batters he faces. He made 19 consecutive scoreless appearances. Iglesias has given up 8 earned runs, 4 in one game. Raisel Iglesias is just 27 years old, the prime of his career. Keep in mind that Iglesias missed an entire season defecting from Cuba. One year less wear-and-tear. Raisel Iglesias is not just the Reds top pitcher, he’s one of the best in baseball.

The Reds have FOUR and a half more years of team control over Raisel Iglesias. The Reds welcomed Iglesias with a 7-year, $27 million contract in June of 2014. The contract runs through the 2020 season. He’ll earn salaries of $4.2 million (2017), $5.2 million (2018), $5.7 million (2019) and $5.7 million (2020). Iglesias’ contract allows him to file for arbitration when eligible. That’s not until the 2019 season. Aroldis Chapman had a similar contract, but ultimately avoided arbitration with the Reds in 2014 ($5 million) and 2015 ($8 million).

But MLB’s service times rules established in the collective bargaining agreement control the timing of Iglesias’ free agency. He entered 2017 with 1.154 (1 year, 154 days) of service time. That means Iglesias can’t use up his six years of team-controlled service time until after the 2021 season. So even though the contract Iglesias has with the Reds covers the 2014-2020 seasons, he remains under team control through 2021. The last three seasons 2019-2021 would be arbitration-eligible years. Arbitration-year salaries don’t come close to the full value of what a player would earn on the open market.

Given Raisel Iglesias’ enormous talent for pitching, his age and bargain-basement contract that extends well into the years when the Reds hope to again be competitive, it seems nuts to consider trading him. In fact, it’s hard to imagine a more valuable long-term asset.

Except for one thing:

Raisel Iglesias will never be anything but a closer for the Reds. Yes, the Reds declared at the time he signed that they intended to use him as as starter. That was the case until Iglesias twice went on the disabled list for shoulder issues. Since then, the Reds have tucked Iglesias snug in the warm embrace of the bullpen. After a month of reliever sorting, Bryan Price is now using Iglesias in a standard closer role, 12 innings per month or 72 innings per year. Given the Reds recent history with keeping successful relievers in the bullpen and legitimate concern about the health of Igelsias’ right shoulder, we’ve seen the last of the lanky Cuban in the starting rotation.

Always. Be. Trading. Closers. In building a baseball team, holding on to a specific closer isn’t a high priority relative to other needs. It doesn’t take advanced math or a new statistic to figure that out. If you grasp that 70 is a smaller number than 200, or 1350, that’s all you need to know. Closers pitch only 70 innings a season and many of those are in low-leverage situations with 2-run or 3-run leads.

But one of the key insights we’ve gleaned from new stats that put an overall value on a player is how limited the relative value of a closer is. Over the last four seasons (2013-2016) only three relievers averaged at least 2 WAR per season (Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Dellin Betances). 107 position players and 53 starters averaged that much. The most valuable closer each of the past four seasons (4 different pitchers) earned about 3.0 WAR. Even if you assume Raisel Iglesias will be one of the most valuable closers the next four seasons, he’ll earn just a little more than 2 WAR per year.

As documented above, Raisel Iglesias is having an outstanding season for the Reds. We’d be thrilled if he could pitch this way for the Reds through the 2021 season. But the hard reality is that he’s only earned 1.1 WAR (FanGraphs) so far. Two-hundred and fifteen players (125 position players and 90 pitchers) have earned more WAR than Raisel Iglesias this year. That’s an average of more than 7 players per team. Tucker Barnhart has been more valuable than Raisel Iglesias.

Bullpens are important. Closers are part of that. Position players and starting pitchers are more valuable.

Yet, Raisel Iglesias does offer enormous trade value. Whether due to injury or ineffectiveness of their current bullpen, certain teams, particularly at the trade deadline, are desperate for an established closer. Their urgency is magnified by sitting at the brink of competing for an infinite-value World Series championship. In a way, overpaying for a closer kind of makes sense if your organization is in that situation and that’s the last piece you need. But the pressure on a GM or team President to win it all, after an owner has spent hundreds of millions of dollars to build a championship caliber team, can distort priorities. For example, as dominant as the Chicago Cubs were last year, they perceived a need for a lock-down closer during the postseason. 108 years of going without can warp judgment. They gave up a shortstop, the #3 rated prospect in baseball and three other players for a few innings of Aroldis Chapman.

This season, the plight of the Washington Nationals stands out. Huge, unmet expectations the past few seasons. The Bryce Harper window shutting. Serial failure to find a solid closer. A manager publicly campaigning about it. It’s hard to imagine a mix more likely to produce overpaying for a closer. But the Nationals aren’t the only contender looking for another top arm to lock down the back end of games. It’s the Age Of The Bullpen™ after all.

Yes, other talented, established closers are on the market. But none come with as many years of team control as Raisel Iglesias. David Robertson and Mark Melancon have 8-figure contracts. Kelvin Herrera, A.J. Ramos, Ryan Madson and Justin Wilson are all free agent-eligible in the 2019 season. Iglesias comes packing that triple-digit fastball. He’s an instant solution, not just now but for the long term. Raisel Iglesias is at peak value.

The Reds should ask for the Sun and the Moon. Trading Raisel Iglesias, at this point of his career and contract, would be the biggest, most audacious move in the rebuilding process. Johnny Cueto, Mike Leake, Mat Latos, Aroldis Chapman and Alfredo Simon all had one year or less on their contracts. Jay Bruce had a year and a half, Todd Frazier had two. Dan Straily had four years remaining, but he’s a back-end rotation guy (and still fetched the Reds Luis Castillo and Austin Brice). None of those players would have contributed to the “next good Reds team.”

4.5 years of shutdown closer is worth a lot, especially to certain teams with particular kinds of ownership and management. The Reds should ask for much more than they received for any of those players. History indicates someone will pay it.

Don’t worry (much) about the next closer. Reds fans went through this angst about trading Aroldis Chapman. Some wanted Chapman to be a starting pitcher, others wanted him in the bullpen because of his unique effectiveness as a closer. Except — as good as Aroldis Chapman was, as addicting as were his many strikeouts, as thrilling as was that bullpen door opening and the radar gun — the Reds now have a new, effective closer in Iglesias. Does anyone miss Aroldis Chapman?

The queasiness we feel about letting Iglesias go should be tempered by the lesson of replacing the previous Cuban closer. Raisel Iglesias is no more irreplaceable than Aroldis Chapman proved to be. Who is to say that Michael Lorenzen, Ariel Hernandez, Wandy Peralta, Robert Stephenson or Keury Mella might not be a dominant closer? And those are just names drawn from the 40-man roster. We need look no farther than Iglesias himself for proof that closers come from unexpected places.

Conclusion If Raisel Iglesias had more than one shoulder that could manage the workload of a starting pitcher and the Reds intended to use him that way, his enormous value (talent, age, contract) would make him untradable. Sadly, that is not the world in which we live.

As the Reds are approached by other organizations about Iglesias, the front office and ownership must remain open minded. They need to maintain the same clear-eyed focus on the numbers and logic that moved Dan Straily for Luis Castillo. Sentimentality, risk aversion or anachronistic thinking will be crippling.

Raisel Iglesias offers excellent value to the Reds as the team’s presumed closer through 2021. Trading Iglesias isn’t necessary. The case for moving him is different from the brutal logic that compelled Cueto, Frazier and Bruce’s departures. The front office shouldn’t just take the best offer. They should drive a hard bargain like they did with Straily.

Reds fans are living in the glow of the Hunter Greene signing, Nick Senzel’s progress, Luis Castillo’s changeup, Ariel Hernandez’s curveball, and the solid major league play of Adam Duvall, Eugenio Suarez and Scott Schebler.

It’s breathtaking that the return for trading Raisel Iglesias this month could be the most important haul of the rebuilding process.

118 thoughts on “Subversive thoughts on trading Raisel Iglesias

  1. Steve, part of this is wrong. Iglesias was not a starter in Cuba. He started 5 games over three years in Cuba an relieved 73 times. The most innings he pitched in one year Cuba were 82 2/3.

    • I agree with the central point, too, but take a little pause from the Nats “…serial failure…” to find a closer. Closers are easy to replace because almost anybody can close, but perhaps great closers are as rare as great anything else. I take the point that even a great closer doesn’t help a team as much as a solid starter or position player, but perhaps that changes a little in the postseason. I don’t know. Trade him for a great haul, or don’t trade him. Why don’t other teams know that they shouldn’t give much for a closer?

      • Addressed this point in the post. Teams may believe they have all the other pieces they need except for this one. And this one really stands out. Pressure from owners and fans based on historical shortcomings. Winning World Series has huge value, so teams willing to overpay at certain times of the season. Like right now. Organizations overvalue closers. Baseball teams have been guilty of collective valuations failures in the past.

      • Also, in the post season your relievers pitch a much higher total % of team innings than they do in the regular season.

        So, if you’re a team that is going to make the playoffs (Nats, perhaps), then Iglesias has some added value based on pitching more than a normal share of innings in the post season.

        • It stands to reason that this same logic should apply then to Lorenzen. He is not as talented but he is still very good and young. The right offer from a post season contender should make him available too, no?

          • Two points to your response and question…

            1] If the Reds intend to utilize Iggy to attain full value as a reliever, then the question of even trading Iggy changes and the value of the retun in a trade becomes more critical. Iggy is good, very good, but under-utilized so he has little value to the Reds in the role he is presently cast. If another team values him more, then a trade is the hands-down best option available, assuming the Reds realize an equitable return.

            2] Lorenzen is in the bullpen this season, but the option of starting is at least on the table. Lorenzen as a starter has much more value than Lorenzen as a reliever. In addition, the Reds are utilizing Lorenzen to attain more value from his capability, even as a reliever. Because Lorenzen has not performed as an elite closer (because he hasn’t been cast in such a role), teams valuing the role of an elite closer are not going to place as much value on Lorenzen as a reliever. If the Reds are serious about adding Lorenzen to the mix for the starting rotation in 2018, then they should value him as a starting pitcher, not a reliever, and the value needed in return on a trade may be even more than required for Iggy. I don’t think that is even a possibility, so trading Lorenzen becomes an empty discussion.

  2. Singing from the choir.
    An Iglesias haul would give the Reds the best farm system in baseball….and a chance for Joey Votto to finish his Reds career in spectacular fashion.

  3. So, what would you perceive to be the right offer from a team like the Nats? A pennant/world champion contender would not likely be looking to move a proven MLB player, so we would be getting potential. What players would justify the gamble on potential? Thinking John Lamb, Dilson Herrera etc.

    • Their #1 organizational prospect and top 10 overall mlb prospect-which they have- plus 2 more top 10 organizational picks. You specifically want players who are at the A/AA level now to pair with the Reds suddenly deep farm system.
      The Nats have a 2 year window to win and a terrible bullpen.

    • You wouldn’t move him for a prospect that isn’t higher rated than Lamb or Herrera. In all fairness, Lamb was considered the 3rd best player in the Cueto deal. Herrara was considered a solid (not spectacular) return for Bruce. Iglesias has more value and the Reds would get more back. The key piece from the Nats would be Victor Robles. I’d ask for him and Erick Fedde. I don’t think the Nats would make that deal but that would be my ask, because Iglesias could be very valuable as my team heads to the playoffs as soon as perhaps 2019.

      Oh, and don’t give up on Herrera. He’s better than you might think.

  4. The thing is, the Reds are not limited to this season’s trade deadline or the coming offseason. Four plus seasons years of team control becomes three plus seasons of team control next season. I don’t think the return would be any less than next season than it would be now if the Reds wait. Rarely are teams in such a dominant position regarding such a valuable trade asset. WJ never got it, among many things he didn’t get.

    As Steve points out, Iggy is not just good, he may very well be the best, and he is available for the right price. He’s not just available, but he’s controllable for an eternity in baseball terms. Not only is he controllable, he’s grossly affordable. That’s like hitting the trifecta and the Reds don’t have to trade him. If the offer isn’t something they can’t afford to turn down, then they turn it down and keep an immensely talented, immensely afforable and immensely controllable closer for their own benefit, until he is not longer affordable and much less controllable and still immensely talented. Then they trade him for an excellent return such as the Yankess garnered in trading Chapman or other elite closers have garnered in trade.

    • In theory, lots of time to trade Iglesias. But there’s the shoulder. There’s also no big reason to keep him for just one year, at least this year. And the Nationals are really desperate right now. We’re in agreement on how big of a package they need to get. I think they’ll get it now and shouldn’t risk Iglesias slumping or getting hurt. If he could be a starter, I’d feel totally different.

      • Oh, we are in agreement. I do not propose we keep him for a year. I think the package we need to pull the trigger will materialize and if it does, Iggy should pack his bags. My thought in that respect was if the package doesn’t materialize for some reason, next year affords the same opportunity.

  5. You faked me out. The first half of the article I was like, “alright, someone who isn’t gonna use logic. Someone who’s gonna make a smart argument for keeping him.” But then there was the second half of the article. And then I knew what was coming. You asked if anyone missed Chapman….me, right here…I do (aside from his domestic issues). But the ballplayer, yes, definitely miss him. We was the center of the baseball world when he came in…and it was nice. I say we got lucky with Iglesias. That’s just my opinion…sorry if someone doesn’t like it. Nothing you can do to change my mind. So, my question is this…how much longer do you think the Reds can continue to strike gold at the closer position. I think their luck will run out one day soon. You gave the names of several young pitchers that MIGHT be able to fill that closers role. But you also said that starting pitchers are more valuable. So, the way I look at it is…we’ve already got a good cheap lockdown closer. Seeing as how we’re seemingly having trouble finding healthy starters (and since they’re more valuable) those names you dropped should be considered for the rotation first. But, my reason for keeping Iglesias centers around this supposed truth as told to us by the Reds brass…we’re supposedly only a year or two away from being competitive again. So, why not keep him. That’s my logic. We’ve already got a good lockdown closer. Now, focus on finding good healthy arms for the rotation (since we’re supposed to be close to returning to contention).

    • I think you missed the central premise… there are like 200 players in baseball that have provided more value than Iglesias this year.

      Guys who pitch 1 inning 2-3 times per week aren’t that important.

      If you can get rid of Iglesias and create additional probable future value for the club by raiding someone else’s farm system, you’ve now set yourself up to have a more likely successful and stable future, at the cost of downgrading the closer from Iglesias to Lorenzen (or whoever), and bringing up someone to be the mop-up/5th inning guy. That’s not a big downgrade overall, and if you can pick up a few prospects that might be regulars in a few years, you’ve come out way ahead if even 1 of them pans out.

      • I agree and certainly underutilized pitchers in a classic closer role who pitch an inning up 1-3 runs in the 9th are replaceable. However…look at Sundays win….doesn’t WAR underestimate what lorenzen and Iggy did. These were highly important situational outs that contributed to a win and lorenzen against Goldschmidt was one of the better matchups in awhile. That out was worth more than 15 outs in the nationals 17-3 bludgeoning or 4 meaningless innings in the braves debacle in early June. Some outs are worth more than others aren’t they?

      • Mr. Jeter, I keep on hearing how relievers are not as important and/or valuable as starting pitchers bcuz they simply don’t pitch a whole lot of innings. That doesn’t seem fair to me and here’s why. It’s ALMOST like relievers are being punished (not just by you guys here at Redlegnation but league and fandom wide) bcuz they don’t pitch enough. But see, that’s the very nature of a reliever. By definition they aren’t gonna pitch as many innings as a starter. It just ain’t gonna happen. Even if Price or other mgrs were to use their relievers for 2-3 innings at a time. Yes, they would certainly pitch more innings that way but that don’t mean they are more valuable in my book. Simply bcuz if you were to get a reliever(s) that pitch somewhere around 120 innings a season doesn’t necessarily mean they’re gonna be good. I suppose an argument could be made that a bad reliever would obviously not be used that much…only the good ones. In which case the bad reliever(s) would be dropped in some way. I suppose that would be logical. And I understand that. But even being used that way relievers aren’t going to pitch as much as a starter. I think you have to look at what that reliever has done in his 70 innings. It seems to me that a good reliever at 70 innings is better than a possibly bad or even mediocre reliever at 120 innings (give or take). You said that there are 200-something players that have a better war than Iglesias. Ok, the way I see it that, still puts him in the upper half of the league when you consider that a major league roster stays at 25 players for a large majority of the season. That would mean there’sa total of 750 players in all of mmob. Half of that would be 375. Now, obviously I’m splitting hairs here, but my point being that Iglesias is very, very good. He’s a lockdown closer. AND, he’s already in place. And this is one thing that I can’t seem to get past…the Reds are supposed to be in the “sorting” phase of this process. Trading Iglesias for a large haul is still “rebuilding” phase thinking to me. And here’s another part that I can’t seem to get past…we’re supposedly close to contention again. Now, the last 2 parts that I said that I can’t seem to get past, are moot points if this rebuild is going to take longer (way longer) than initially said. At which point I’d be a little (maybe a lot) ticked. Ok, so I’m gonna start wrapping this up by pointing this out…even if you ignore everything I’ve just said and stick to your guns about the logic in trading Iglesias and how 70 innings aren’t as valuable as 120…here’s the thing. Price has said that he’d use his relievers in this revolutionary way that gets his relievers 120 innings of work (give or take). Now, he started out this year doing just that, but has obviously gotten away from it. When I asked if anybody had asked Price about why he’s gotten away from this practice someone responded to me with this answer that made a whole lot of sense…he said that it is hard to use your relievers in this way when your starters aren’t going deep into games. Because of injuries to our starting pitchers that we were counting on this year, the Reds have been forced to use SP’s that weren’t ready or whatever. So Price hasn’t had a chance to use his relievers in the way that he wanted bcuz of injuries to his starters and the fact that the replacement starters haven’t done that well. But we’re close to getting those starters back (one we have already). So give them time to get back to the rotation and to form before we essentially start the rebuild over by trading our best players for prospects. Give Price time to put his plan into use (there’s a sentence I thought I’d never utter!).

  6. how many innings did Chapman pitch against the SF Giants in 2012? How important was he in determining the outcome of that series?

  7. Iggy probably is the best closer right now.I just watched Chapman pitch and it brought back terrible memories as he went 3-2 on every hitter.Iggy’s stuff makes him elite and his years’ of control make the Reds in the cat bird seat.Nothing less then a king’s ransom should be required to just start the trade talks.

    • Iggy is not the best closer right now (he’s not even an all-star). I would definitely
      say that Kenley Jansen is the best right now with Craig Kimbrel and Zach Britton not too far away.

      • Yeah, this is the truth. Iglesias is very,very good, but he’s not better than those 3 guys you just mentioned right now.

        He strikes out way fewer guys than people realize.

        Among qualified relievers (168 guys), he’s 24th in K% and 31st in K-BB differential (K-BB%).

    • Are you talking about Chapman facing 3 batters and striking out the side in the 9th on Saturday and picking up the win? Yeah…he’s awful.

  8. Solid, well thought out points. And I agree that iglesias shouldn’t be labeled untouchable. However, I think trading a totally affordable, totally controllable, young elite player for players that might be good someday is a move that teams just beginning their rebuild make. That isn’t the Reds. This simply can’t turn into a perpetual rebuild. I mean, if you acquire another teams prospects, then you have to wait for them to develop. Then when/if they do, you have the current core getting less affordable and less controllable. So do you then have to look at trading them?

    I don’t really know what the return would have to be for me to think trading Iglesias makes sense at this point in the rebuild. It wouldn’t include prospects. I think it would have to be for proven big leaguers who also have multiple years of team control and affordability. It would include a SP and/or SS for sure. Find a team willing to give that up in a package deal then sure, pull the trigger. Otherwise, no! Let it play out through next season and see where you’re at. I hope this is the approach management takes.

    • You make good points, Tampa Red, but the problem I see is that the teams that would give a lot of value for Iglesias are teams in contention this year. They’d be unlikely to trade good current MLB players, since doing so would plug one hole while creating others.

      • Fair point, so you have two options.

        A. If you don’t get what you want then don’t make the trade. The Reds have ALL the leverage in this. Revisit in the off season.

        B. Or in the case of the Nationals, add Cozart (to fill the hole) with Iglesias and insist on Turner plus additional pieces. I don’t know Nationals system well enough to add more than that. If they decline, revert to option A.

        What the Reds need more than anything is a replacement for Cozart. Turner fills that void and also is the lead off hitter the Reds have hoped that Hamilton would be.

        Man, the Reds have prospects. I would guess they’ll end up somewhere around top-5 going into next year. That’s with graduating several guys this year and former 1st rounders in AAA who still trying to figure things out, like Blandino, Ervin, Jagielo. The Reds can’t even find a spot for Winker as it is.

        What I want more than anything is for the Reds to stop thinking about trading players for someone else’s prospects and start thinking about filling holes on the big league club and preparing to compete for the division in 2018. But that’s just me.

        • Jagielo is not a major league prospect. I have seen play at Pensacola. He is not even a good career Double A player.

  9. Age Of The Bullpen™ gets +500

    I don’t miss Chapman. I wasn’t in the camp that thought he would (or even could) start. Iggy’s work seems to be something far different – more efficient and more cunning. Based on that, I say …

    Trade him if we get a Moon/Sun offer. We’ll find another closer at some point. He’s got the right attitude (happy to work more than 1 and even when it isn’t a save situation) and the right aptitude. Somebody (like the Nats) will panic in a week or so and overpay for him. But that’s the only way we trade him right now.

    Steve makes an excellent point about the unknown of his shoulder. It’s a risk for any pitcher, let alone one who has shown an issue before. So find the right deal and trade him. The future is not now … but more building blocks could be.

  10. The Yankees return in the Chapman episode shows how badly the Reds blew that opportunity. Now they know the value of an elite closer to a contending team who needs one.

    They should ask for the stars and the moon. And in the process it does not hurt to remind a potential trading partner that they get to use Iglesias for a few years and, if their window to contend is closing by then, trade him to another contending team in the same position for a similar package.

    • The Reds took the risk averse path by trading him and letting another team take on the risk of his pending domestic violence issue.

      Unfortunate they did that since we know how things turned out, but they avoided the chance (even if small) that new evidence comes out and Chapman is banned from baseball for life or something.

      • The mistake was made but not making him a trade deadline chip. That was his max value. Once that window closed the worst case scenario hit with the DV and they made the best trade possible. The Yanks trade of him demonstrated his more realistic value.

        Still, the big mistake was holding onto him too long b/c he was a spectacle for fans on a below average team.

  11. That Tucker Barnhart is has a higher WAR than Raisel Iglesias speaks more to the deficiencies of WAR than anything else and the fact that smart teams are willing to overpay for a closer tells me that there might be more to it than the numbers suggest. Here are some other names to consider: David Weathers. CoCo Cordero. Tony Cingrani.

    I LIKE being able to keep the game on in the ninth inning with a lead, don’t you?

    Yes, Raisel is a current luxury that the Reds can turn into prime assets—and should if the offer is right (right = insanely good)—but my question is this: if it’s so easy to find a lock-down closer, and one can be pulled from likes of Michael Lorenzen and Wandy Peralta, why don’t the Nationals have one or two or three? They probably have a guy on their 40-man or AAA already who can do the job. I mean, WAR says that they are only as valuable as Tucker Barnhart. No offense, Tucker. 🙂

    I think the Reds might be uniquely qualified to replace Raisel because of their bullpen depth, but maybe not. We’ve seen lots of guys spit the bit when handed the ball as starters this year. Who’s to say they won’t do the same thing when handed the ball in the ninth?

    • Why is it a surprise that a player who has been a catcher for a team for 500+ innings and batted 200+ times has helped a team more than a player who has pitched 40 innings and batted once? I’d be suspicious of a system that came to the opposite conclusion.

      Weathers and Cordero had about 2-3 more blown saves a year/average than Chapman. You can ask questions like “who’s to say …” forever. A front office like that would never do anything. Can play that game both ways, though.

      Who’s to say Raisel Iglesias won’t blow out his shoulder for good in August?
      Who’s to say Raisel Iglesias won’t have a couple more bad games and double his ERA?
      Who’s to say the Reds couldn’t end up trading for a player as good as Joey Votto?
      Who’s to say that Ariel Hernandez won’t be as good of a reliever as Raisel Iglesias, or better and cheaper?

      I don’t mean this in a critical way, but finding another team that views this the same way you do (and there are some out there) is what the Reds should be looking for.

      • Steve, in this context I don’t think comparing the respective WAR of Barnhart and Iglesias means anything. If it did, we could and should trade Barnhart right now for a kings ransom.

        Lot of talk about trading Iglesias to the Nationals. Unless the Nationals are offering Turner as the centerpiece I say not just walk, but run away from the table.

        • It does mean something though. A back-up (ish) catcher who hasn’t played every game provides more value than a player who will give us roughly 70 to 80 innings a year. Closers are overvalued by teams close to a championship and if they’re willing to trade their farm to get a closer, then we should take advantage of it.

          • Sorry man, comparing WAR of a relief pitcher to a catcher just doesn’t work in this context, unless you’re going to claim that Barnhart has more trade value than Iglesias.

            There isn’t a team in baseball that would take Barnhart over Iglesias. If it was your team, you wouldn’t either. It diminishes the point when you use stats like WAR to compare the trade value of players who don’t even play the same position.

          • Gross oversimplification. Doesn’t account for contracts, need and perception of value of closers by some. All factors discussed at length in the post. Closers have a hard time compiling real value when only pitch a few dozen important innings all year.

          • Steve, I don’t think it’s a gross over simplification at all. The point you guys are making is that Barnhart has more value to a team than Iglesias because of WAR. Well then why don’t teams just sign a bunch of catchers and put them in a bullpen? Of course no team is going to do that because catchers aren’t relief pitchers and that’s why it doesnt make sense, or maybe it’s better to say it isn’t fair to compare their respective WAR values.

            Point is, teams must have a bullpen, and they must stock it with bullpen arms. And some bullpen arms are worth far more to a team than other bullpen arms are. So they pay accordingly. So comparing Iglesias’ WAR to another reliever is fair and it would have been better to just do that IMO, because that’s how potential trade partners are going to evaluate the trade.

            You have a great website. Been visiting it for years. Contributed $50 last time you had a fundraiser even though I rarely post. But these discussions about trading the Reds current controllable players for someone else’s prospects really gets my interest.

          • Might this be a case where “real value” and statistical value aren’t the same? The statistics are not received wisdom, they are devised and some of them may be imperfect.

          • Tampa, it is a gross simplification. The reason Steve is using WAR for comparison sakes is because it’s a stat that tells you how many wins a player adds to your team compared to a replacement level player. He’s more comparing relief pitchers in general, saying they don’t add a ton of real value. If you swap out an Iggy with a replacement level pitcher you’re going to lose 2-3 more games a year. If you can flip Iggy for a couple of starters that have a 3-4 WAR then you’re looking at gaining 4-5 more wins a year.

        • This isn’t correct.

          The reason why you can trade Iglesias for a ransom is because he can pitch a larger % of team innings during the post-season than in the regular season.

          It’s why Andrew Miller was the ALCS MVP last year. He threw in just about every game. Which has major value.

          Barnhart (or any position player) is still only able to bat when he comes up in the order.

          Remember Michael Martinez making the last out of the WS last year? All the good hitters on the team, and Michael Martinez was up with the WS on the line.

          Position players are FAR more valuable in the regular season, pitchers are FAR more valuable in the post-season, hence being able to get a lot for them from contending teams at the deadline.

          • I think you were replying to me, but it’s hard to tell. What you’re saying is pretty much what I’m trying to say. No contending makes a trade at the deadline based on WAR. If they did, then hell, lets trade Barnhart for three studs and call it a day.

            But that’s not real world, and also why I don’t think it’s appropriate to compare the WAR of a catcher to the WAR of a closer. In my job, I’m more of the catcher. I show up every day and do my job. Then we have the sales team, which gets called in as needed. When those guys perform at the level that is expected of them, they get paid $$$. More than I do, for showing up every day. That’s life.

            Believe it or not, I’m actually a big time fan of sabremetrics. I just think that, like most everything else in life, there are some soft spots, and we shouldn’t ignore them even when they conflict with accepted dogma.

        • Replying here because I can’t reply to a comment you made below. That’s the whole point of sabermetrics and baseball analytical research. Find the flaws, flesh them out, show logically and analytically why and then if possible, show how the data can more accurately reflect what happened (or will happen) on the field. It’s absolutely correct from a SABR standpoint to question soft spots in WAR. It is a nice overall metric to compare players. It was originally and loosely based on Bill James’ Win Shares, with the purpose of showing a players overall value over the course of a full season. It is also useful in comparing players of different eras. It isn’t perfect (no metric is). I think you have a very good point and as I mentioned earlier in reply to Patrick “In a vacuum, do you trade Iglesias for Barnhart?” I think the answer is “no”.

          That’s not to say I wouldn’t trade Iglesias for a great return.

    • “That Tucker Barnhart is has a higher WAR than Raisel Iglesias speaks more to the deficiencies of WAR than anything else…”

      WAR is a cumilative stat, much like counting stats. If a player is not utilized, he doesn’t accumulate WAR. A pitcher can throw a perfect game with 27 SO and will only accumulate minimal WAR. A hitter can go 5-5 with 5-HR and will accumulate only minimal WAR. If neither of those players play in another game, they will have almost no WAR accumulated for the season even though their only appearance was spectacular.

      The fact that Tucker has more WAR than IGGY speaks to how little Iggy has been utilized and how much Tucker has been utilized. If Tucker only played defense for a single inning in a third to a half of the games, he would have much less WAR than IGGY.

      • I agree on the utilization, and it’s why I think comparing hitter and pitcher WAR is dumb. Theoretically, this stat is saying that Tucker is more valuable than Iglesias, so given everything else being equal (age, salary, etc.), if a team offered a trade of those two, you would pick Tucker since he is going to provide more value. But, no team in their right mind would actually do that. The other problem I have is that it isn’t solely the control of the individual, since some positions are more “valuable” than others based on a replacement.

        I’m not a total stat junkie, but give me wRC+ as a the tool to evaluate non-pitchers. It eliminates the very subjective defensive measures that can lead to guys that hit .250 with a low .300 something OBP being more valuable than Joey Votto, as happened in years past.

        • Plus Tucker’s catcher stats are well-above average. Leads the NL in fielding % at his position and above average in batting average, OBP, OPS. Tucker Barnhart is not a backup catcher folks – at least not in 2017.

          I know it’s not stat-based, but I know we all remember the frustration of 2016’s bullpen woes. We could not keep a lead and that was just brutal to watch. I’m not talking about losing a game – but collapsing, melting down, being sucker-punched for the entire first half of 2016.

          More than any other factor, I never could relax and enjoy a game, because it was never over given how bad our bullpen was. Now flash-ahead to 2017. I have confidence if we have a lead in the 6th and beyond. I have confidence if we are behind by 1-2 runs in the 6th and beyond! What a difference this bullpen has made in my enjoyment of Reds baseball.

          No player is beyond trade consideration – if the deal is sweet, then we have to take it. But it had better be one helluva deal (eg. “Herschel Walker for half of the Minnesota Vikings plus three years of picks” rich).

          The quote regarding “perpetual rebuild” rings true. If the final piece of our puzzle is solid starting pitching, then let’s let our plethora of arms sort themselves out. Plus, I believe Hunter Greene will raise all “pitching ships”. It’s gonna be fun!

          • Greene may raise the ships, but he’s 17. I could easily have left this mortal coil before he does, and , in any event, he would likely be the centerpiece of the next great Reds’ team after the one that is due to arrive in 2018 or 2019.

          • I couldn’t agree more Brunsfam. Anybody that thinks closers are easy to find, I give you Reds bullpen 2016 (1st half). Remember when people thought Hoover could close? Cingrani? No folks…elite closers don’t grow on trees.

        • You are understanding WAR incorrectly.

          it’s not saying “Tucker IS more valuable,” it’s saying “Tucker HAS BEEN more valuable,” which is 100% true.

          If you think differently, then I really don’t know what to say.

          • You guys are also using a catcher to compare here, and the catcher has a high positional adjustment in the WAR calculations. I like WAR for a quick and dirty comp of players but it really matters almost nothing to me in this comparison. All things being equal, two .500 teams, both have average bullpen and average catcher… Do you trade Iglesias for Barnhart? I don’t. Not in a vacumme, would you trade Iglesias for Severino from the Nats? Severino is likely to produce about the same level as Barnhart and has more pop, so there’s a fair chance he’ll even be better.

            The WAR says you make both those trades but would you? I wouldn’t.

  12. I definitely would trade Iggy for the right offer. For the Nats, that means a package headlined by either Robles or Soto. Anything other than that would get a “Thanks, but no thanks.”

      • I do too. Iglesias is already established and controllable. You need TWO mostly can’t misses. One can’t miss is equal and may miss. Then you have made a very bad trade and if one makes it you are just equal so why make the trade in the first place. You nee a haul..

        • Plus Robles and Soto are both in A ball. A lot can happen between there and the show. I wish the Nats had a guy in AAA who was tearing it up and highly touted, similar to Frazier last year in the Indians-Yanks trade for Miller. But they don’t, so it makes trading Iggy a little tougher. I’m happy with keeping him unless the return is too good to refuse.

    • As opposed to OR, I would think AND.
      Robles and Soto and 1 more top 15 (NATS system) prospect.
      Else, keep him

  13. Steve, great posts like this leads to a wide variety of thoughts/solutions below the line, which makes RLN very enjoyable to visit.

    An Iglesias to Nationals trade feels like something that takes place during the Winter Meetings. Nationals were aggressive at last year’s meetings, acquiring Adam Eaton, and will likely be so again, entering Harper’s last year of control.

    Trading in December would also give the Reds additional leverage (if Nats don’t win the World Series this year), and allow them time to assess the 40-man roster going forward and use the trade as a “fill the holes” maneuver..

    • No,
      Nats are desperate.
      Now is the time (up to 1 Aug)
      They will not overpay at the Winter meetings (IMHO)
      .

    • To me it seems like closers get more back at the deadline than they do in the offseason. No stats to really back that up since closers are rarely moved in the offseason but it seems like teams are desperate in the middle of the season and would rather take a chance on FA’s in the offseason knowing that they can make a trade at the deadline if the FA doesn’t workout.

  14. I would imagine that teams other than the Nats would have interest in Raisel. Texas, NYY, LAD, any contender. Just hope DW and the FO office is capable. However, I believe that the Nats have the biggest need.

    Maybe they should lock WJ in a closet from now until after the trade deadline? He absolutely fumbled (I’m being nice) the return for Chapman.

    • I think Jocketty was ordered to dump Chapman ” immediately” and he got what he could get.

      • That could be. I think the owner meddles too much in the front office, but the Chapman deal was fumbled big time!

      • I get the same feeling. Management wanted to unload him and get as far away from the domestic issue ASAP.

        To do that, they took a smaller return, but lessened their risk exposure. Sounds exactly like what a smart billionaire would do in the real world, I suppose.

    • With Betances and Chapman, I doubt the Yankees are looking. They need Starting pitchers, like most of the rest of the world.

  15. Doubt the Nats would give up both Robles and Turner, but I would give them a package of Cozart, Hamilton, and Iglesias for those two.

    • I would too but unfortunately they’d pass.

      Besides we have no one else that can play CF anywhere close to BHam and I don’t want our young pitchers with anyone else back there but him. Maybe on PlayStation that’d work but not in real life.

      • Neither Cozart nor Hamilton have a ton of value and both Turner and Robles have much, much higher ceilings than anyone the Reds brought back in the Chapman trade.

  16. IF the Nationals would give up a package of SP. A.J Cole, OF Juan Soto or Victor Robles and P. Austin Voth, I say that the Reds would have to think about it , seriously . If the Nationals wouldn’t come with at least that package , I say no deal !

    • That would be strong… Especially Cole, Robles and Voth… That would get the deal done if I were the Reds. Cole/Soto/Voth probably not. I’d really want Robles in any deal.

      • Not saying I’d look to move him but that is the kind of deal that I’d go ahead and pull the trigger on. A counter from the Nats of Robles/Voth or Robles/Cole would get strong consideration.

    • Doubt they would give up an MLB SP at this point.
      They will win the division easy, but they need him in the post season.
      I would ask for Robles, Freddie and Soto.
      I might through in Cozart.

  17. A well written article Steve and I agree with most of it. I only fear your definition of Sun and Moon differs from mine.

    Trade him only if it is clear the Nationals feel he is the last missing piece and are going to grossly overpay for him. I will be annoyed if the Reds get “one really good prospect from A ball that might be good someday and a couple other players”. On paper the trade needs to not make sense (for the Nationals). It should be one of those times when baseball fans hear of the players involved they are dumbfounded, shocked, and upset at what the Reds managed to get for one closer. Anything less? No deal.

  18. I don’t think I do this deal if Robles is the centerpiece. He’s a few years away, and I think the Reds window is open in 2018. I actually don’t have a huge problem trading Iglesias, if another team is willing to overpay for a closer. I think I’d be looking to fill holes in 2018-2020 instead of looking at someone who is 2 years away. Iglesias is young, cost controlled, and excellent at the major league stage, they should be looking for a similar return. If there is a team willing to part with a young, team controlled starting pitcher with some evidence of success at MLB level I would trade Iglesias. Also, Reds starting SS and CF look to be below league average next two years as well, netting one of those (again, with history of MLB level success) would also be acceptable. As it turns out, the Nats have someone who fits that bill: Trea Turner, not Robles. With his wrist he may not be able to help Nats this year, but Reds infield would look a lot better next year with Turner at starting SS and Peraza as utility man. That’s my target.

      • I’d like to see what Peraza could do with regular reps in CF but not sure the Reds have the luxury. When Peraza has been in CF, he’s been pretty bad. More reps could help but what if they don’t? Then you got a mess if Hamilton is gone.

  19. Subversive indeed Steve. Lots of good responses as well.

    Like Tampa Red I fear the perpetual rebuild. Seems like the Reds would have been in the thick of their division this year if not for the injuries to 3 proven starters. Maybe we’re not that far off. If we keep trading quality players for potential quality players we end up like the guy in Greek mythology who spent his life pushing a rock up a hill and then watching it roll back down again.

    No argument the traditional closer is overrated. That’s why the Reds need a manager who wouldn’t use Iglesias as a traditional closer. Back to the bullpen revolution post.

    • The counter Id give to fearing the perpetual rebuild is the St. Louis Cardinals perpetual reload (for last 20 years or so). You can field 90 win teams AND be reloading at the same time if you outperform your peers as a GM. If we think DW has those skills then that should be the goal. If not, isolate a 4 year window and push all your chips in.

      • This exactly. Unloading players at their peak value when someone will overpay is exactly how you remain relevant for long periods of time.

    • No argument the traditional closer is overrated. That’s why the Reds need a manager who wouldn’t use Iglesias as a traditional closer.

      +1

  20. I forgot about Adam Eaton since he got hurt. I’ve been talking about the Reds getting him for 3 years now. The White Sox trade everyone sooner or later…or let them walk. Model of consistency 2014-16 obp’s of .362, 361, and 362. He was really going nuts this year with .393 and he only makes 4 mil currently? Raisel/Billy for Eaton/prospects? That seems to make sense. The Nats become 5x stronger this year with a baserunning/def weapon off the bench for close games in October! The Reds win the next few years with a legitimate leadoff man…..Charlie Blackmon lite!!

  21. Dan Straily had four years remaining, but he’s a back-end rotation guy (and still fetched the Reds Luis Castillo and Austin Brice). None of those players would have contributed to the “next good Reds team

    Castillo is as an exciting prospect as I’ve seen w/the Reds in quite a while but I’m going to differ with the above statement a little bit….just in case “questionable peripherals”, whatever that is, scare the Reds off of a future Reds producer!!

    Straily has a 3.31 era and a sub .500 Fish team has won 8 of his last 10 starts. In 1.5 seasons…he’s 21-12 for 2 bad teams. 10th best era in NL and 17th best in MLB and he’s still 28 years old! He misses bats (.210 batt avg allowed) and he knows how to pitch. End.of.story!

    • Does make you wonder where we’d be in the standings with the trio of “back-end starters” Straily, Feldman, Adelman! While I don’t believe that can win a world series, that’s a pretty solid group to throw out there 3/5 days.

    • I was for the Reds giving Straily a chance to see if he could continue to outperform his peripherals. I think the Reds probably were too. When offered Castillo and Brice though, they had to pull the trigger. Castillo may flame out (any prospect can) but he’s a potential #1 on a potential playoff staff. The Reds had to make that trade.

  22. A) I think Iglesias’ lack of WAR shows that closers are really an overhyped position, and that there could be better ways to utilize him, though that will remain to be seen.
    B) If someone offers you the sun and moon, and mercury; you take it. Lorenzen can be the closer, any number of the arms they have who don’t pan out as a starter can be the closer. Our issue isn’t someone closing out games, its someone giving the offense a chance to stay in the game. No prospect is a guarantee and if we can have an immense depth of prospects to sort through, that only gives us a better chance for success and to turn around and make trades later down the road if need be. Good article, Steve.

  23. Great article. Aside from the Nationals, I wonder if the D-backs will come calling. Fernando Rodney has five blown saves this season, including a ridiculous one Thursday against the Dodgers, when the D-backs entered the 9th inning with a 4-1 lead. … When the Reds were scoring runs in the 9th inning Friday, the Diamondbacks had to be worrying whether Rodney would get the save. …

    Get a few teams trying to outbid each other and see if a great deal materializes.

  24. Good article.

    Consider this: If we control Raisel for a length that includes our window, then isn’t it very possible we’ll be one excellent arm away from the WS in a couple years? I.e Cubs, Royals.

    So essentially what you’re recommending is to trade that asset away now, and reacquire a version of him later.

    Now, here’s the thing, I agree with you. But what this means is that you believe in DW. Any person who signs off on this believes DW will win the trade on the front end AND win the 2nd trade. If there’s a lack of faith then you the one in the hand is the one you keep.

    By agreeing with the Raisel trade is endorsing DW formally, which would be groundbreaking around here.

    • Can develop closers internally. Like Aroldis Chapman. Like Raisel Iglesias. Like the other possible names I mentioned in post.

      • I hear you and agree. But even Billy Beane has reached for a reliever down the stretch every now and then. What I’m speculating the future would hold is the status quo. You seem to be suggesting a very well informed, yet not realized concept of teams upgrading themselves for playoff runs.

        My point is this: every time DW puts a quarter in the asset exchange game, there’s a chance he’ll set a high score, or fail miserably. In general, any encouragement for him to play would be an endorsement for his skills at playing it well.

        • Realistically, when the Red’s are in the playoffs again Iglesias will be close to free agency or beyond it. This team is still short on talent. There may be quantity on the farm, I don’t see a lot of quality yet.

          Now if DW were to take off the training wheels and move RI for some real talent…making up for the lack of talent received for Chapman, the Red’s come closer to making the playoffs.

      • I agree. And we aren’t winning a WS next year and like you said the longer you wait, the greater the chance he reinjures the shoulder.

        I’m not a fan of Lorenzon closing as others, but Hernandez has the stuff and has come a long way. Herget down the line could do it. Who knows, maybe Gutierrez moves back into the pen and continues the Cuban tradition when we’re ready to contend. You’ve got other starters with injury concerns like Finnegan and Disco that could play up their stuff in the pen.

    • Yes, what Steve said.

      The idea that closers can only be obtained from external sources is very narrow focus and limited. Virtually every closer was a starter at some point and moved to the bullpen for various reasons where they excelled. The Reds younf prospects are no different and many of the candidates have not even sniffed the 25-man roster yet. By spring training of 2018, candidates will be lining up if Iggy is traded. If Iggy is not traded, those candidates will be filling bullpen roles or be pitching for the Bats while they wait for an opportunity.

      Of course there’s alweays the possibility that DW is as progressive as we hope and hires a new manager with the same progressive attitude. Then we are not talking about a closer, but bullpen utilization and maximizing efficiency and efficacy. We are talking about high leverage rather than saves.

  25. I still think we are about 2 years away from competing.
    (2019).
    I think if we get a great offer, do it.
    (Robles, Soto + one or two others).
    The NATs are not trading Turner.
    But it was to be a great offer, else keep him.
    As a closer (72 innings, etc),
    I am much less worried about a shoulder injury, then a start.
    Good article. dude.

    • In 2015, I read where the Red’s were two years away from competing.

      The Red’s front office is in perpetual slow motion. They draft the likes of Nick Travieso and Howard in the 1st round, don’t forget Chad Mottola folks.

      I know, “but not all 1st rounder draft choices make it.” True, but when you are not a large market team you MUST ensure you’re drafting well, not just selecting college relievers that will not demand big bucks.

      The incompetence of these choices is most revealing when you look at what players were available.

  26. The Reds have many internal closer options in the minors and will have throughout the next several years.
    1. Ariel Hernandez
    2. Jimmy Herget
    3. Zack Weiss
    4. Ryan Hendrix
    5. Tanner Rainey
    6. Keury Mella
    7. Austin Brice
    Just to name a few.
    But there may be a Cuban already in-house who might be able to take the closer role in a couple of years. But they are giving him a chance to start right now. Vladimir Gutierrez was a reliever in Cuba. Great low BB rate and high K rate. But an ERA in the high 4.00’s spells inconsistency. Closer material if he doesn’t make it as a starter in a couple of years.

  27. As a general principle, when trading for prospects with the intention of being competitive in 2018 through 2021, is it better to trade for position/need or for just overall quality of the prospect? I suppose most GM follow the idea that it’s a good problem to have if you end up with an embarrassment of riches in, for example, middle infielders all competing for a spot on the roster because if you find yourself in the hunt for the playoffs, you can always unload the minor league and non-starting guys to fill the holes you do have. But right now, the Reds have a hole in essentially every starting pitcher spot. At some point, don’t they have to find a way to put together at least 3 quality starting pitchers? Would it be a mistake to use a trade for prospects deal that would specifically target filling the rotation?

    Don’t get me wrong, if I were GM and a team offered me a top 10 overall, and two organization top 10 prospects in exchange for Iglesias, I’d probably take the deal no matter the position. Most people who post here seem to know a lot more than me about this sort of thing, so I’m interested to hear what people have to say.

    • I think you look at overall talent first and then position 2nd. So, if the talent level is close, then maybe you take a player at a position of need over a slightly better talent where you might have a surplus. If the talent gap is wider though, you go ahead and just take that top talent. That’s my thought anyway.

    • Look at what the White Sox got today from the Cubs for Luis Quintana, a starting pitcher who has years of control left but is not having an exceptional year:

      http://www.espn.com/mlb/story/_/id/19993318/chicago-cubs-get-jose-quintana-chicago-white-sox-top-prospects

      I think that shows what type of market might exist for Iglesias, and perhaps Dick Williams will be emboldened to ask for such a package from … (the Nats?)

      The Cubs are in the midst of a time window where they can legitimately contend again for the title. They know that window won’t be open forever, and they took action to improve their chances now without worrying about leveraging the future. Perhaps the Nats will be similarly motivated with Bryce Harper’s time there likely limited and the owner in his 90s.

  28. I told some Red buddies when this first came out that if they pulled a trade for Iggy I would be about done with the Reds. For me it was all about club control of a valuable asset. However after having read Steve’s article and subsequent posts I am all for trading the asset high (providing of course we can get kings ransom).
    The Nats need a final piece; perhaps at trade deadline another contender emerges as well. Bottom line for me trading Iggy would no longer be a dumb move IMO IF we can get positional needs. This is why this is the best Reds sight out there.

  29. If Barnhart has more value than Iglesias then trade Barnhart for a large haul and keep Iglesias. Other teams should see Barnhart’s value too shouldn’t they?

  30. This has nothing to do with trading Iglesias but as moaned out an expletive about the same old Dufus oops I mean Dusty. I mean 8 and a 3rd of shutout ball with a 5 run lead and now a bloop and as blast and blast. OH WELL!!!!!!!!

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