It’s hard to overstate the importance of the next 11 months for the Cincinnati Reds, leading up to Opening Day 2019. The rebuilding process has reached crescendo. It now requires big, calculated expenditures of assets — money and players — on impact upgrades. The Brewers acquisition of Christian Yelich and Lorenzo Cain come to mind. The Reds front office has said as much.

These crucial moves will be the ones by which we’ll ultimately judge Dick Williams’ acumen, Bob Castellini’s commitment and the success of the organization’s multi-year rebuilding project. As part of that, the club faces a make-or-break choice at the upcoming summer trade deadline.

For the most part, the Reds have approached change with an abundance of caution. The sum total has been a significant reshaping of the roster, but it has occurred through small, tentative steps. If the team’s dismal record in 2018 says anything, it’s that wobbly incrementalism won’t get the job done.

***

The stunning collapse of baseball’s free agent market has been documented and analyzed. Household name players still haven’t signed, went with minor league contracts or simply retired. Todd Frazier agreed to two years at $8.5 million. Lucas Duda, with a 30-home run season in his pocket, got $3.5 million. Logan Morrison, who hit 38 homers and produced a 3.2 WAR season, only received $6.5 million. Those contracts gave a new, near-literal meaning of the word “free” to free agency.

Market disintegration was a financial catastrophe for that class of players. It also created a frustrating backdrop for front offices trying to unload their spare parts. The latter implication really hit the Reds. No club would surrender valuable assets for Scooter Gennett, Billy Hamilton and Adam Duvall when better players were available in the free agent market for pennies on the dollar.

But as the free agent spectacle unfolded an important exception appeared: the bullpen.

Baseball’s checkbooks stayed wide open for relief pitchers. The Colorado Rockies paid $106 million for three seasons of three relievers. The Phillies paid Tommy Hunter $18 million and Pat Neshek $16 million for two years and neither of them closes games. The Marlins, Twins, Mets and Astros, among others, gave 8-figure, 2-year contracts to set-up relievers. The Cardinals threw $14 million at erratic and injury-prone Greg Holland for a single year of service.

Pouring money and assets into relief pitching is simple imitation, the latest iteration of copycat “How to Win in the Postseason.” Whether it’s wise or not, the submarket for relief pitchers remains as robust as a Woody Hayes goal line formation. And the Reds would be smart to take full advantage of the craze.

***

At the conclusion of the 7th inning Saturday night, Austin Brice hadn’t allowed a run in seven appearances. He’d retired 23 of the 28 batters he’d faced, with 11 strikeouts and two walks. That’s a strikeout rate of 39 percent.

Until this run of success, Austin Brice had been the guy we couldn’t keep straight with Barrett Astin. Brice is not the guy the Reds DFA’d last September to rearrange the Deck McGuire chairs on the sinking ship of their 2017 season. That’s Astin, the other guy. He’s back pitching for Louisville.

Austin Brice turns 26 in June. He pitched in 22 games for the Reds last year and has appeared fifteen times already in 2018. He’s struck out more than a batter per inning and sports a low walk-rate. Brice features a 93.6 mph sinker that has induced a ground ball rate of 51 percent.

But this post isn’t about Austin Brice. Mostly.

***

With his pitch repertoire and temperament, Raisel Iglesias would have been a marvel in the rotation. A sad “what if.” But Iglesias’s shoulder won’t withstand the 200-inning burden. Using the young pitcher as a starter was the Reds’ clear intention when we said hello to Iglesias in the summer of 2014 after his perilous defection from Cuba.

But warning signs appeared at the end of 2015 when the Reds shut him down with shoulder fatigue. By the summer of 2016, the lanky right-hander had twice hit the disabled list with shoulder issues. In this context, the third time is anything but a charm. The Reds rightly responded by assigning Iglesias to the bullpen as the team’s closer.

Raisel Iglesias has been great (and healthy) in that role.

The 28-year-old closer struck out 30 percent of the batters he faced last year and is on a similar pace in 2018. His ERA glitters like the point of a dagger aimed at the heart of opposing batters. An ERA of 2.53 in 2016, then 2.49 last season and a microscopic 1.98 in 2018.

What’s more, Raisel Iglesias’ service time runs through the 2021 season, so he’s under control for three-and-a-half more years and — sound the trumpets — four postseasons.

Better still, Iglesias’ contract is super easy on his team. He earns $4.5 million this year and $5 million in 2019 and 2020. His salary is constrained by arbitration through 2021.

Finally, Raisel Iglesias has a starter’s pitch portfolio and equipped for multiple innings, another fascination of the echo chamber crowd.

The Reds have to trade Raisel Iglesias because of these virtues. The return will be far greater than the cost.

***

Major league teams tend to overvalue relief pitchers and closers. Those arms throw 60-70 innings, many in low-leverage situations with 2-run or 3-run leads or mop-up duty. By contrast, starting pitchers have significant impact over 30+ games and position players even more. Every contest they start has a tied score.

Even the best relievers provide low and inconsistent value.

From 2013-2016, only three relief pitchers averaged 2 WAR per season: Aroldis Chapman, Kenley Jansen and Dellin Betances. In 2017, those three pitchers produced 1.6, 3.6 and 1.2 WAR respectively.

Raisel Iglesias has produced only 1.4 WAR (2016) and 1.8 WAR (2017) as a Reds reliever.

Because of the kind of innings he is assigned to pitch, Austin Brice has produced more value for the Reds this year than has Raisel Iglesias.

In April, Iglesias appeared in 11 games and earned three saves. Only one was not protecting a 3-run lead. He also appeared with the Reds ahead by 7 and 6 runs, to get work. Iglesias also mopped up a game with the Reds trailing by 5.

You can count Iglesias’ high-leverage appearances with one hand, not using your thumb. By contrast, he’s been in more than twice that number of games in situations categorized as “low leverage.” He’s faced 11 batters in high-leverage spots and 38 in low leverage.

The Reds are off to an 8-26 start. The team’s superb closer hasn’t moved the needle a bit. A major upgrade in a position player or starting pitcher would be worth more.

***

The value of winning a World Series is practically infinite for major league organizations. Flags Fly Forever and all that. As a result, clubs in contention talk themselves into overpaying for a closer – even massively so – if they’re convinced it’s the final piece of a jigsaw puzzle they’ve been assembling over a few years.

Owners spend hundreds of millions of dollars in that pursuit. Front offices face tremendous pressure, if not to win it all, to do everything they can. That stress distorts priorities and causes hiccups in rational thinking.

A couple years ago, Theo Epstein’s Chicago Cubs gave up the #2 rated prospect in baseball – a shortstop – and three other players (!) to the New York Yankees for a few months of Aroldis Chapman and his PR baggage. Would the Cubs have won without Chapman? Hard to say. They’d have had to find someone else to blow a 3-run lead in Game 7. Meanwhile, Chapman is back with the Yankees. That 21-year-old prospect is already starting at second base and blasting dramatic, game-winning homers in the Bronx.

But after 108 years of futility, that deal somehow made sense on Waveland Avenue. And flags do fly forever, even at the Friendly Confines. The Reds must find and exploit a similar situation this summer. In Raisel Iglesias, they have a much better package to offer than the Yankees did for the Cubs.

***

In return, the Reds should insist on a young player ready for the major leagues now or the start of 2019 at the latest. The list of possible trade partners isn’t as short as you might think.

Start with big-payroll teams staring at closing windows. The Washington Nationals, for example, face the prospect of Bryce Harper leaving without a World Series appearance, let alone a ring. The back end of their bullpen is stitched together with creaky veterans. A lack of effective relievers has contributed to their postseason failure before. The Nationals have depth in the outfield from which to deal. The Reds and Nationals were reported to have discussed Iglesias last summer. They’re more desperate this year.

Victor Robles, anyone?

Other trade matches include teams emerging from rebuilds. The Atlanta Braves and the Chicago White Sox come to mind. Neither has established closers. Both have amassed a pile of talented players at or just below the major league level from which they can deal.

Then there’s the category of contenders with struggling closers. Hello, Houston Astros. Their roster is set and stacked, with little room for Forrest Whitley and Kyle Tucker to break through. Also in that category you’ll find the Texas Rangers.

Low-payroll teams stocked with good young major league players would be another fit. Clubs like the Tampa Bay Rays and Minnesota Twins would be attracted to Iglesias because of his low cost.

And finally, any other contending team with an established closer is a torn ligament or frayed labrum away from needing Raisel Iglesias.

***

Skepticism about trading away a closer is understandable, if misplaced. It’s hard to imagine another pitcher doing the job. But we need to learn the lesson from the last time the Reds had to replace a Cuban closer. No one thought the answer would be Raisel Iglesias. And, if you remember, Chapman himself wasn’t supposed to be a reliever.

Michael Lorenzen, Tanner Rainey, Zack Weiss, Kevin Shackelford and Austin Brice are young relievers in the Reds system. One of them could be the next guy.

So might one of the starting pitchers who can’t break into the rotation. With DeSclafani, Bailey, Mahle and Castillo destined to start, that leaves one more slot to fill. Here’s the remaining list of candidates: Sal Romano, Amir Garrett, Brandon Finnegan, Cody Reed, Robert Stephenson, Keury Mella and Rookie Davis.

The Reds only need one to work out.

***

We’ll be able to judge the shrewdness of the organization by how they handle Raisel Iglesias. Odds are the front office will have the opportunity to trade him for the long-term solution at shortstop, centerfield or the rotation. Not more rebuilding. The Iglesias trade has to make the Reds better this year, next year and beyond.

But the entire organization must be ready. It can’t allow outdated thinking about closers, the gauzy promise of pipeline prospects or sentimentality for hometown players to weaken its motivation. If recent demand for top-tier relievers can be our guide, Dick Williams will be able to ask for and receive the sun, moon and a few habitable planets for Iglesias. It is imperative he does that.

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

Join the conversation! 93 Comments

  1. Great column. I disagree about making any more trades. We’ve shown to be horrible at evaluating talent in return. Look at the Aroldis Chapman trade? Johnny Cueto trade? So much risk giving up a proven commodity. I’d like to see better talent develpment through our own drafted players. Keep Iglesias since he’s relatively cheap and ours for 3 more years at least. Just no trust in the reutrn

    Reply
    • I totally agree!

      Reply
      • I don’t believe there is ever been a championship team that was built through the draft alone.

        Reply
        • Yeah, on that team Chad highlighted in last night’s recap (1976 World Champion Reds), Joe Morgan, Cesar Geronimo and George Foster from the “regular 8” were all trade acquisitions. Morgan and Geronimo along with key rotation member Jack Billingham were all acquired in the same deal.

          Reply
    • They sat tight content to wait on internal talent this last off season. The results to date suggest this is their worst all around team since the start of the rebuild cycle. The answer isn’t to quit trading, it is to figure out how to trade better then start doing it.

      Reply
    • The Red’s front office is equally horrible at evaluating talent they draft and then incapable of developing talent. Dick Williams must take off the training wheels and make some crucial moves to bring much needed talent to this ball club.

      Reply
    • This has been discussed here many times. The Chapman deal was not good, but the cause was panic and resulting por timing. Cueto was gone, and the return for a few months of him looked more than reasonable. It could still work out, in fact. The DeSclafani and Castillo trades showed better-than-horrible talent evaluation, as have our recent drafts (I said “our” as if I want to be identified with the team, and I’m not sure I do). I think Steve’s suggestion has tremendous merit.

      Reply
  2. Hate to say it, but we’ll get our best return out of trading Iglesias, Votto ,Schebler (or our top chip prospects). Votto obviously has the No Trade and it would pain me see him go, but might be best for both parties. Everyone else outside of those three will just return crumbs.

    Reply
    • Votto’s value can’t be replaced and there’s the no-trade clause. Schebler won’t have much value unless the free agent market rebounds. As I say in the post, relief pitchers are the one submarket that has remained strong. That, among other reasons, is why Iglesias is so important to trade.

      Reply
      • Votto’s hitting ability should age well, and as Steve noted, the NTC is a killer. Plus, as a Reds fan I love watching Votto do Votto. It’s one of the few bright spots we have.

        Reply
      • Also, any trading team would be trading for the back-end of Votto’s contract. He’s provided surplus value for the Reds so far but that trend isn’t likely to continue, especially on the last 2 years of that deal. In other words, Votto is still a good deal for the Reds but he might not be a very good deal for a buying team.

        Reply
    • Eugenio Suarez could return a lot more than crumbs, and his replacement is in the pipeline.

      Reply
      • Just to be clear, I’m not advocating a continuation of breaking the team down in pursuit of more prospects. I’m not for putting contending off further. Trading Iglesias could make the Reds better right now.

        Suarez would have value. But he has that same value to the Reds. With the uncertain free agent market, it’s unclear if the club could get full value for Suarez anyhow.

        As I point out in the article, trading away a reliever will bring back the most value.

        Reply
        • I think when a team starts the season 8-26 you have to at least think about breaking the team down. The Reds can go 8-26 with or without Suarez. Of course the situation has to be right and I wouldn’t really want them trading Suarez for prospects still in A ball, the team desperately needs an infusion of talent. If they could turn Iglesias into Robles and Suarez into someone like Alex Verdugo plus some other pieces, you’ve just dramatically improved your OF, helped your bench by making Schebler a 4th OF, opened up 2B for Herrera/Shed Long, and allowed Senzel to play his natural 3B. I don’t think the team is really any worse off with a move like that.

          Reply
          • There’s no case for trading Suarez. He has as much value to the Reds as he would other teams. He is under inexpensive team control for many years, so he’ll be around when the Reds are good again. Hard to find 4 WAR players.

          • Steve – Iglesias’ value is less due to managerial malfeasance. If he were used more appropriately, like the way Cleveland uses Andrew Miller, then Iglesias would be more valuable than most starters. Use him for multiple innings per game only in high leverage situations. He’d be far more valuable to the team than underperforming starters Bailey, Finnegan, and until the recent fix, Castillo.

            Votto’s value to the Reds is vastly overstated as long as the team performs horribly – which has been in part due to Votto’s inability to perform in key situations. Paying $25MM per year for ANY player on a 100 loss team is sheer stupidity.

        • Yes. The time for here and now is right here and right now. The returns need to be major league players or guys like Nick Senzel who are on the cusp and can miss only if they come up lame.

          Also I am not averse to adding some of the Reds talent at the low to mid minors to the trade mix for the right return. The Reds need to consider the timing and developmental risks of these younger prospects versus the immediacy of bringing on a player who is and established MLB player with substantive cost controlled time remaining.

          Take for instance the Yelich trade over this last off season. Yelich was moved with 4 tears plus a team option for a 5th season of team control. To a team in or hoping to soon enter a window of contention that makes Yelich more valuable than most any prospect not himself on the verge of moving MLB with the expectation of making an immediate impact. And yes, this includes even a Taylor Trammell or Hunter Greene type prospect at this point in time.

          Reply
        • Agree completely. I wasn’t advocating trading Suarez. Just pointing out that we have a few assets. Never say never when it comes trade possibilities.

          Reply
      • This team is hurting now for strong right handed hitting, we need to add Senzel to the mix but not by subtracting Suarez. The correct move is to trade Iglesias and jettison Duval and possibly Billy Ham.

        Reply
    • What about Gennet or Suarez? Why don’t we try trading him. Honestly right now I think the Reds should try bringing up Robert Stephenson or Jose Lopez. Those two don’t have great records or eras but I believe they are good strikeout pitchers.

      Reply
  3. Great article. One minor quibble as it relates to Brice and the theme of this piece as a whole. As a group, relievers exhibit the highest variability of season to season performance of any position. We don’t yet know that Brice will be a consistent, year to year 1.5+ WAR performer. Of course, we don’t know that Iglesias will continue to be such a player either, but we have a higher degree of confidence in that outcome. Totally agree with the general thrust that trading Iglesias is imperative for the FO. I’ve always argued that improving your bullpen is one of the easier tasks a club can do from year to year. There are always plenty of live arms in AAA or available in FA. When this club is finally ready to compete, there will be arms available for a good ‘pen.

    I’m not normally a fan of acquiring players via FA, but given the gaping holes in the Reds’ lineup at SS, CF, and SP, Castellini will need to open the pocketbook this winter to fill some needs.

    Reply
    • I’m not sure we disagree. I’m not suggesting Austin Brice = Raisel Iglesias. It may be that none of the internal candidates are quite as good as Iglesias. Just as Iglesias may not have been quite as good as Aroldis Chapman. On the other hand, there’s Iglesias’ shoulder to worry about.

      Agree 100% with the need for ownership to boost payroll. That’s going to be a big part of it.

      Reply
    • Good point in regards to Brice possibly not as good as Iglesias, but, he may be just as good or better. MLB teams cycle through closers and relievers at a high rate.
      If the Reds can get talent in return, they need to trade Iglesias.
      If the Reds do not trade Iglesias, it could be viewed as another player the Reds overvalue and are unwilling to part with.

      As Steve noted, the players the Reds want to unload are not players that teams want to acquire. There is no value to be gained by teams trading talent to obtain Hamilton, Duvall, Gennett, etc.

      Reply
  4. I hope the Reds blow some money on AJ Pollack and Patrick Corbin this offseason assuming neither is extended. But yeah I would be cool with trading relief pitchers I am so tired of watching this team suck.

    Reply
  5. Gotta agree. I was against trading him unless the deal was completely overwhelming but that was when I had the Reds winning 74 games this year. That was when I had the Reds playing .500 or better ball and contending for a playoff spot in 2019. Now, I think they have to move him. The talent on the team is not there. Too many holes.

    Iglesias needs to be moved. The deal doesn’t have to be overwhelming, just very good. There is no reason to think the Reds couldn’t get a top prospect, another top 20 guy, and a depth guy in any deal.

    Reply
    • Stop being reasonable.
      DW thinks all his players are baseball gods.
      But yes, you are correct.

      Reply
  6. Something to consider, the other teams know the Reds want to make a trade bad & may not want to give up much unless they have a very deep minor league system. Also what other reliever or closer may be available at the same time.

    Reply
    • The Reds have the luxury of being able to make such a move right now. Some other teams that may have a closer to move may not make the move because they still have a shot at competing for a postseason birth.

      Reply
  7. At this point, the Reds would be insanely ignorant and crazy not to trade Iglesias this summer. My preferred destination for him would be the Braves. Their farm system is littered with starting pitching prospects who are close to the majors. No reason a package of Kyle Wright, Kolby Allard, and another mid level prospect wouldn’t work.

    The only thing that might hold his value down a bit would be his walks. Other than that, SELL HIGH BUT MAKE A DEAL. If they screw this up again, then the dark ages of Reds baseball will continue

    Reply
    • We need a centerfielder and possibly an upgrade at shortstop. I believe the starting pitching is going to be fine. Maybe not yet this year but it is coming. If not spend some money on a decent free agent.

      Reply
    • The pitching in their farm system is pretty good but many of them are over-hyped prospects who have histories of injuries/conditioning concerns (Gohara); control issues (Gohara/Wright/Fried/Toussaint);low fastball velocity concerns (Allard); and several others that a long ways from the big leagues (Wentz/Wilson/Anderson). Soroka is probably the best, but he is already in major leagues.

      Reply
    • I noted before the year began that the Reds lineup was too lefty dominant (Votto, Winker, Schebler, Scooter, Hamilton and Barnhart most of the time). Now with Duvall in a semi-permanent funk, it is even worse. As noted above, trading Suarez would just make the issue much worse.

      When you have won 27% of your games to date, what good is a closer. Just wait for a couple of teams to get desperate around the break, and then make Iggy available. If you get what you need, great. If not, you still have team control for the proper trade for some years to come still.

      Not sure if Senzel can play 2nd or not, or insert Blandino there and try Senzel in LF. I would think Scooter would be a nice DH in the AL.

      Reply
  8. Steve ,It seemed at last year’s trade deadline that teams were willing to accept closers and setup men that were one notch below the top closers and didn’t give up a ton. Isn’t this also a recent trend?

    Reply
  9. IIRC it was a Bill James article which argued that the 61 Reds are the most dramatic example of a team trading its way into a pennant. It was largely thru changes to the pitching staff.

    Point being, don’t limit this to a trade Iglesias move – add a few more and see if teams will take flyers on some of the other arms. Many have noted that Cody Reed could benefit from a change of teams, if not leagues. Same goes for most of the young starters still trying to figure it out.

    It seems clear they’re setting up Amir to be the closer for the rest of this year and the next few, and the Bats have 3 closers already. The aggressive move to watch will be how they move some of the A+ and AA arms this mid-season.

    Also wonder if Billy still has some value to a big-market/big-park team as a supersub/350 PA player.

    Reply
  10. I agree totally Steve. We should trade Iggy and keep Suarez. We should also unload a outfielder. The return is our SS. If we are forced to keep Gennett he becomes a super utility type. He can not hit well enough to be a regular middle infielder on a championship club. Perraza is another bench piece unless he finds bit more plate discipline.

    Reply
    • Agree on OF if it’s Duvall. Has to be a gigantic return to trade Schebler with Iglesias. Peraza makes more sense as a utility player than Scooter Gennett. Gennett can only play 2B. Is a huge defensive liability in the field. And should only hit vs. RHP. He’s more of a Limited Utility player. Reds got a good season out of Gennett. Not sure he’ll ever repeat it.

      Reply
      • Yep some times you have to know when to fold them. The Reds should have folded the Gennett card in the offseason. Or now to an AL team.

        Reply
  11. Let me just say, that in the writing and analysis arena, Mancuso flat out rakes! Love reading your stuff…you will never be on the trading block and deserve a Votto-like contact extension.

    Reply
    • Thanks. For the record, I’d accept a Votto-like contract extension.

      Reply
      • What about a No Trade? You wouldn’t want to find out from Twitter that Chad had shipped you off to Red Reporter.

        Reply
        • Good point. That *would* be the worst. 😉

          Reply
          • Steve – At this point I think I would rather have Juan Soto for RF than Acuna in CF given the way he is raking in A ball and with all the CF prospects we have (Trammell/Siri/Friedl/Gordon/and others). The Reds are really lacking for RF in their system.

    • Cyrus – Welcome to Reds blogging club. Hope you are doing well.

      Reply
  12. Sell sell sell!! Cleveland blew a 4-0 lead in the 8th yesterday. Andrew Miller is out…not sure how long? Their outfield doesn’t produce much either. See if they’d take Duvall or Scooter along w/Iggy? The Twins are the only other team that could win that division. Try them if the Indians can’t ante up! If they could move Iggy…then call up Jeter and try to snag one of those power arms from the Fish to be our closer. Try for Realmuto too…why not? The Reds are supposed to have a strong farm system? I’d trade them whatever they wanted for Realmuto and RP Steckenrider. Tucker is scrappy but Realmuto could easily hit 20 HRs per year in GABP!

    Reply
    • Miller will probably be activated this Friday. I agree that Iglesias could fill the Brian Shaw role in bullpen whom they Tribe miss and keep Cody Allen from pitching multiple innings. As far as the outfield they just signed Melky Cabrera about a week ago & Lonnie Chisenhall should be off the DL soon. Brantley is playing well and Bradley Zimmer is playing good D in center and Tyler Naquin as been decent with the bat so Duvall probably wouldn’t be any more than a spare part corner outfielder that already filled with Brandon Guyer & Greg Allen and won’t draw any interest. I can’t see the Indians front office making a move until outfield is sorted out and if anyone from bullpen or minors can fill the Shaw role and also since having no competition in the Central are not in need to make a rash move . Also the Indians top prospects are mostly in Single/Double A and Francisco Mejia isn’t going anywhere.

      Reply
  13. Great post Steve. Boy, Forrest Whitley plus a lottery ticket throw-in would be a great move! I think we have a lot of closer options……developing relief pitchers seems to be the one thing the Reds don’t screw up in the pitching department.

    There also might be another path that might cast a wider net. If deployed around the infield based on pitching matchups, the positional versatility of Blandino/Peraza/Suarez/Senzel really opens up the possibility of a 3 for 1 type trade that could net a cost controlled core piece. Duvall/Hamilton/Gennett to a team with playoff aspirations would be difficult to pass up, especially if the Reds eat some money to sweeten the return.

    Reply
    • Really? Duvall, Hamilton and Gennett would be difficult to pass up? They take up 3, count them, 3 spots on a 25 man roster. And really, they don’t represent a lot of WAR value to any team. Why would any contending team with a sentient Front Office ever take those three guys and give us anything in return?
      Hamilton has a terrible career OPS. Duvall has power, but has been kind of lousy this year. Gennett is a mess as a 2nd baseman; the Reds are now seeing why the Brewers dumped him last year. Every team has scouting reports on these guys.

      Reply
    • I think Forest Whitley has a hurt wing. He hasn’t pitched this season.

      Reply
  14. Excellent, excellent summation.
    You are certainly correct that Austin Brice doesn’t equal Raisel Iglesias. But I think Brice could hold down the closer role from an Iglesias trade until the end of the season. Maybe with a little help from his friends, too, like Jimmy Herget down at Louisville. Rainey will be a bullpen fixture. Keury Mella may be the next best closer though. Like Iglesias, he has a starter’s repertoire and could transition to the closer role quickly. It might be his quickest lane to take to the Majors, too. The Reds have a plethora bullpen options in the minors that are nearly ready. They have replacements for bullpen assets at the Major League level.
    I mentioned this yesterday, that the Reds biggest trade chips this year will be Iglesias, Jared Hughes, and Davis Hernandez, all relievers. Hughes and Hernandez, if they pitch like they have, could be very good commodities at the deadline. Signed for next year also at a super reasonable rate.
    I don’t see the Reds getting much of anything back in return for Duvall, Gennett, Hamilton, or Mesoraco. It would be nice to get Gennett, Hamilton, and Mesoraco off of the books early sometime this year. It would be a nice chunk of change saved for this year. Hamilton and Gennett combined in 2019 will count close to $16-17MM towards payroll. It would be prudent to re-invest that money elsewhere. They have almost 3 months to try to regain a little trade value. Lots of players have already succumb to injury this season, so who knows what the market will look like come July. I just hope the Reds are out early marketing some players and not doing the Jocketty M.O. thing of waiting for the market to come to them. Some early trades in late May and June are not unheard of. Just hope the Reds front office is active, but for some reason I have very little belief that they are.
    The Reds have to have a razor sharp focus from now until the trade deadline on the relievers market. It is their best hope of rescuing and re-energizing this rebuild. The fate of this organization is at stake and the Reds front office and ownership group has dropped the ball more often than Dez Bryant, a soon to be Cincinnati Bengal.

    Reply
  15. look, the reds wont need a closer for the foreseeable future. lnstead of trading him lets try to transition him back to the starting rotation.

    Reply
    • Based on history, his arm will not hold up.
      More value on the trade market as a closer now.

      Reply
    • You should read the linked articles about Iglesias’ shoulder and the risk of another injury.

      Reply
  16. I’m surprised at the number of folks who want to move Eugenio Suarez. The length of the contract the Reds gave him (6years+ a team option on a 7th) suggests they see him as a centerpiece to the team even out beyond the end of Votto’s contract. Figure out how to get Nick Senzel and Suarez on the field at the same time; and, the heavy lifting of the RH side of the Reds offense appears to be settled for 6-7 years. Trading Suarez would just fill one hole at the cost of opening another very large one.

    Reply
    • Trading Suarez would be insane and a step in the completely wrong direction.

      Reply
      • I would not trade Eugenio. But if the right player was offered? Consider that trading Eugenio immediately opens 3rd base for Senzel, the Reds TOP prospect. It also reduces the logjam at 2nd base. Shed Long and Dilson Herrera are waiting in the wings for that job (and Gennett goes too).

        Reply
        • Honestly? I’d be more inclined to trade Long or even Senzel than I would Suarez. Suarez is a proven commodity and is on a very team friendly deal. If I was absolutely floored by an offer, I’d move him but otherwise, no way.

          Reply
    • 100% Agree

      Reply
  17. One thing a lot of commentators miss is what value the players on the ML roster actually have. Gennett’s value is very, very low. Duvall is zero (in fact, according to fWAR, less than zero). Hamilton is very low. If I were another ML team, the position players on our roster I’d target are: Votto, Suarez, Barnhart, Winker, Schebler, and (maybe) Peraza. Pitching wise: Castillo, Mahle, Iglesias, Garrett, and Romano.

    Of that group, the only ones I’d be interested in trading would be Iglesias and possibly Peraza. The problem with trading Peraza is that the FO has zero–and I mean ZERO–realistic depth at SS behind him.

    Reply
  18. This is good stuff, Steve. And I completely agree in all respects.

    If the Reds trade Iglesias, however, be ready for an outcry. It’ll be a PR disaster for the Reds. So this will definitely be a test for the front office (and ownership).

    Reply
  19. I agree with the whole article. It’s been apparent since about week 2 that the only chip the Reds really have is Iglesias, but it is a very good chip. Suarez has a valuable contract, but the Reds should and will keep his contract. Nobody else’s contract will really bring much. Hamilton might bring the Reds a 19-year-old B-level prospect from a team like the Astros, for which Hamilton’s unique skill set would be valuable in the playoffs.

    The question is what to get in return. I subscribe to the theory that there is no such thing as a pitching prospect, so I would look to a shortstop or outfielder. There are a lot of good MLB shortstops, and at least one or two contending organizations should have a young SS who is MLB-ready (or very near) but blocked by an incumbent.

    As for outfielders, Robles may be too much, but he is worth asking for. Unlike at shortstop, the Reds do have some outfield prospects on the way, in particular Taylor Trammell and Jose Siri, but they are late 2019 at best. The Reds need to laser-focus their pro scouts on identifying the best shortstops and outfielders to get in return for the Iglesias contract.

    And Riggleman in my mind will be a success, if the only thing he does is keep Iglesias healthy.

    Reply
    • I know, it seems like asking for Robles is crazy. But then, is he better than Gleyber Torres? The Cubs added three other players to that deal. And lost Chapman after a few months. It’s just hard to predict how nutty teams get in that situation. And the Nationals may be really squirrelly in July. I wouldn’t mind seeing a blown save or two in the nation’s Capitol.

      Reply
      • Or in Houston. Tucker and Whitley would be quite the haul, too. Tucker would be up this year and Whitley sometime next season.
        I am looking for the Curse of Dusty to be exorcised in Cincinnati and then moves east and quickly swarms DC. The Nats are looking at an ugly rebuild themselves coming around the corner. Lots of big contracts/aging stars after Harper leaves.

        Reply
  20. Good article. I don’t know how many other organizations roll the dice with drafting/signing players with the intention of switching them. Chapman, Iglesius, Lorenzen, Finnegan, Howard all come to mind. I hope that strategy leaves with Walt, as it seems like it’s too risky for a small market team to handle and has resulted in either lost time due to injury or ineffectiveness with the ones listed.

    Reply
    • You brought up a key factor in the Reds immediate future. Has Walt left yet?

      Reply
      • Nope… He went with Williams to give Price the news that he was being let go. Tells me all I need to know about how much he’s still involved in the decision making process.

        Reply
  21. Iggy to Cleveland for prospects Greg Allen and Shane Bieber. Both are MLB ready and blocked.

    Reply
  22. Iglesias at closer is like the Reds having a perennial Pro Bowl free safety or an All Star right winger. He’s great but he a) will not help the Reds make the playoffs or succeed in the post-season and b) is clearly of more value to other teams than he could be to the Reds. Yes, WHEN the Reds are a winning team again they’ll need a good closer. But they’re much more likely to become a winning team with a good shortstop or center fielder or starting pitcher than with a good closer. And a decent closer won’t be hard to find to fill most of Raisel’s shoes. I second your motion Steve.

    And for the record, I think the Reds are a LOT better than their record so far. Replace Gennett with Senzel, start Winker and Schebler every day. Add a healthy DeSclafani and Lorenzen, and give the kids (Castillo, Mahle, Romano and Garrett or Reed or Mella or Stephenson) time to find their sea legs. I predict the Reds are a .500 team in the second half. An Iglesias trade upgrade will only make that picture brighter in 2019 and beyond.

    Reply
    • I’ve been riddling with myself whether I thought this team is as bad as their record.

      Sadly, I’m coming to believe they are. On the last home stand they gave away one game and lost another they just as easily could have won. They are 1-5 on this homestand with a lot the same sort of muddling around and frittering away happening.

      The team is sporadic and inconsistent, at best, in all phases of the game. No phase is proving to be strong or reliable enough to carry the team when another phase is having an off game or poor run of games.

      There are a couple of good players and some promising players; but, too much of the time, the mix just doesn’t seem to work. We often hear that some product or effort is greater than the sum of its individual parts. I believe this team is proving to be the inverse of that proposition. It appears to be less than the sum of its individual parts.

      Reply
      • Yes, they are a bad team. They have holes and play with little confidence. Their starting pitching is pretty bad. Once the bullpen gets worn down, then ALL their pitching will be bad. They are not a good defensive team, overall.

        Reply
      • The Reds are bad but they aren’t as bad as their record indicates. The Reds expected record based upon run differential is 12-22 making them the unluckiest team in the league so far. Also, the Reds have played 28 games against teams .500 or better (5-23) and only 6 against teams under .500 (3-3).

        If you look up and down the line up Votto and Suarez, as expected, are the leaders in fWAR with 1.1 and .9. Third and fourth might be surprising as they are Pereza .5 fWAR and Hamilton.4 fWAR. The main problem is the pitching. Mahle .1 is the only starting pitcher with a positive fWAR.

        Reply
      • I’m not sure about that, a lot of the defensive inconsistency has come from second base and shortstop. We may have to live with short but Peraza also has a chance to improve in this area. Gennett is what he is at this point. The TV announcers were all over Votto yesterday for “trying to keep his foot on the bag” on one throw. But even good player I know wants to go for the out not just stop the ball. (Which he almost did on a ball in the dirt and way off to his left)
        The hitting inconsistencies are coming from Gennett in the four spot (ridiculous) Duvall and Hamilton. All the offense is basically coming from four players. Add a centerfielder that can hit and get on base, a 2cnd baseman that fields his position and can hit either right or left handers and play Winker and Schebler everyday and you get a lot more consistency.
        Nw to the pitching….?

        Reply
  23. “Never be a distressed buyer or seller.”

    Sage advice from my late grandfather, who saw a few things through the Great Depression.

    If the best deal for Iglesias happens to be at the Winter Meetings, so be it.

    The narrative that the Reds are close to a finished product and that this team (this 8-26 team) is going to be “in the hunt” in 2019 is optimism to the point of wishing upon a star.

    There is a reason only one team has ever has gone from 100 losses to the playoffs the next season. And, last year’s Twins only reached the play-in game, and made the jump by playing in a division with 3 also-rans. The Reds don’t have that good fortune.

    No need to rush on the only blue chip trade asset the Reds can afford to part with.

    Regarding Robles, old creaky Sean Doolittle as Nationals closer has outperformed Iglesias this season. Washington has a young Iglesias (Koda Glover) and he is expected back this season. All that, plus Harper leaving…very doubtful Robles is moved for anything.

    Reply
  24. Iglesias will be traded. Keury Mella, key piece in Leake trade, not Duvall, is throwing lights out. He should be called up. I also think it’s time to part ways with Scooter, for obvious reasons.

    Reply
  25. I’m all on board the trade Iglesias train IF (BIG IF) we get a top 25 prospect in return headlining the deal (or 2 top 50), and then a couple lower level fliers along with that. No more quantity over quality, we need that centerpiece talent. Options:

    Cleveland: Triston McKenzie
    Houston: Forrest Whitley or Kyle Tucker
    Los Angeles A: Jo Adell AND Griffin Canning
    Milwaukee: Keston Hiura AND Corbin Burnes
    Minnesota: Royce Lewis
    New York Y: Justus Sheffield AND Estevan Florial
    Oakland: Jesus Luzardo
    Philadelphia: Sixto Sanchez
    Pittsburgh: Mitch Keller
    Washington: Victor Robles or Juan Soto

    Reply
    • A lot of these teams don’t need Iglesias. We learned all about Milwaukee’s bullpen last week, for example, and Corey Kneble is due back soon. Ditto the Yankees. The Twins, A’s and Pirates aren’t competing this year, and won’t be in the market for him. The Indians will win their division by 11 games, and I don’t think any NL Central team will trade much to the Reds.

      I could see Houston, Washington, and maybe some teams like the D-Backs or Dodgers if their bullpens slump. We need closer injuries, to guys like Craig Kimbrell on the Red Sox or Cody Allen on the Indians.

      Reply
  26. Great Stuff Steve.Iggy has more value to other teams and should be traded this summer to the highest bidder.Take what you can get for Duvall,Billy and Scooter and lets move on.

    Reply
  27. Upgrading this lineup. Five seem locked in.
    1B– Joey Votto.
    2B–Nick Senzel.
    SS–
    3B– Eugenio Suarez.
    C—Tucker Barnhart.
    LF– Jesse Winker.
    CF–
    RF–
    Three positions to sort out. And sort out this season. Schebler and Peraza may make the grade, but that is still to be determined. They also could end up as utility pieces. A stud is needed at at least 1 of those positions, but preferably 2. Iglesias gets at least one of those studs.

    Reply
    • Agree with this appraisal. If in fact Schebler and Peraza step up this year and claim those spots, that just leaves CF. We have some good prospects in the minors, but they’re several years away. Would really like to see us trade Iglesias for a major-league-ready CF.

      Reply
    • This has been my thinking as well on the players that are locked in although I would include Schebler. Outside of July last year he has been an above average player. His 117 wRC+ when excluding July 2017 would put him around #55 in all MLB over that time.

      1B – Joey Votto (L) – signed through 2023
      2B – Nick Senzel (R) – team control though 2025
      SS –
      3B – Eugenio Suarez (R) – signed through 2025
      C – Tucker Barnhart (L) – signed through 2022
      LF – Jesse Winker (L) – team control though 2024
      CF –
      RF – Scott Schebler (L) – team control through 2022

      I don’t see Peraza ever being an offensive force but think he can be at least adequate on offense and defense at SS and is under team control through 2022. Billy Hamilton though is a free agent after 2019. Since the beginning of the 2016 season his wRC+ against left-handed pitching is an awful 46 while against right-handed pitching is a still below-average 82.

      My first trade offer to the Nationals would be Iglesias for Robles. Robles has been well above average offensively every year in the minors and hits right handed which would balance the line up. He is a plus defensive center fielder according to all scouting reports I’ve seen. He would also be on the same time frame as Senzel, under team control through 2025.

      If the Nats refuse to trade Robles I would ask them about Michael Taylor. He is also right-handed, plus defensively in center and an offensive upgrade from Hamilton. He does not have the upside of Robles though and is only under team control through 2020. I would not trade Iglesias straight up for Taylor but maybe Iglesias for Taylor and prospects Carter Keiboom and Erick Fedde? Or Taylor in exchange a couple relievers like Hughes or Hernandez? A platoon of Taylor and Hamilton could be adequate until one the Reds prospects is ready.

      Reply
  28. Robles is probably a couple of months away from coming back from the left elbow injury sustained when he dived for a flyball. He is a dynamic centerfielder. Nats have Soto coming fast to replace Harper if he bolts to another team. Add Fedde and lesser pieces for Iggy and the Nats have a dynamic pen entering the 2018 playoffs and beyond.

    Reply
  29. Every time we get a lock down closer all I hear is we need to trade him. It’s getting old. People like to use the Chapman/Iglesias situation to say that good or even great closers are a dime a dozen. I admit that, I didn’t want Chapman to go (despite his “PR baggage”. All I saw was his dominant closing skills and his 100 mpg heaters), bcuz I didn’t think we’d find anyone better. Obviously, I was wrong….THIS time! Iglesias may not have the flash and heat that Aroldis does but I think he just may be better than Chapman.

    That being said, I think there aren’t too many closers out there better than Iglesias, and the chances of finding one are slim. Even within our own system. Ppl can argue that a team doesn’t really need a lockdown closer (but I think that’d be a stupid argument). But it’s Russian Roulette imo. Eventually, our run of luck in the closer dept will run out. What if that luck runs out during a postseason game? Y’all be wishing for a lockdown like Iglesias then (assuming we trade him). I’ll never be convinced that “the next man up” in that closer role will be as good or better than his predecessor.

    But, whatever! Y’all can be confident in your opinion or belief or whatever you call it bcuz you were right this time and maybe you’ve even been right in the past. Maybe you can laugh me off as a know nothing. But I’m just not gonna take your word for it bcuz no one is right 💯% of the time (no matter how conceited they MIGHT be). But neither can I be wrong 💯% of the time as well.

    I also don’t buy into the premise that relievers aren’t as valuable as starting pitchers bcuz they pitch less innings. To base that belief or whatever you call it on innings pitched alone is too…easy or practical. Not fair really, either, bcuz not everyone can be a starting pitcher. Those bullpen roles were created for a reason. Obviously, they’re not gonna pitch as many innings as a SP. I think that it’s unfair to hold that against them by saying they’re not as valuable. I’m not saying that that belief is being used as a putdown but I just think ppl belittle the importance closers/relievers have until they blow late inning or important game leads or allow small deficits to become larger ones. Even if relievers are used in that revolutionary new way y’all are so big on that allows them to work more innings, they still wouldn’t work as many innings as any decent starter (sucky SP’s don’t count imo bcuz they suck and therefore won’t generally work a lot of innings. Not as much as decent or better SP’s theoretically would) and therefore by your thinking that relievers aren’t as valuable as SP’s bcuz they work less innings, the relievers would still not be viewed as as valuable as a SP. So it’s like they can’t win for losing.

    Reply
    • Teams do need a lockdown closer when they are competing for championships! Not when they are 8-27.

      The whole point is that relievers are extremely valuable to contending teams and more of just a luxury to a team like the Reds. No one is going to give up anything significant for a Scooter Gennett, Adam Duvall, or a Billy Hamilton. What a contending team will overpay for in today’s market is a good reliever. We happen to have a great one. I don’t think anyone is saying that Iglesias is not valuable and means nothing, he is just the one player we could deal that could accelerate the rebuild and add much needed talent.

      I think the Nationals are by far the ideal trade partner. They have a window that could be closing with Bryce Harper approaching FA. That could make them desperate and willing to give up a haul. If Robles is the headline, you have to do it.

      Reply
      • Jtburns11, I thought we were in the phase of the rebuild where we start identifying the plyrs we are supposed to be keeping for the next good/contending reds teams. Supposedly that’s next year. It seems to me that you’d wanna keep a good closer like Iglesias for next year when we’re supposed to get back to competitive baseball. You can’t just throw anybody into that closer’s role and assume they’ll succeed.

        Reply
  30. The Reds front office under Bob Castellini wears cement shoes. Unlike the Braves who will trade for player(s) and then trade them for other players until they get the mix of players they want. THAT is being aggressive. THAT is what the Reds need!

    Reply
  31. If the Reds can get Victor Robles, do it – do it now. Although with all the trouble finding a decent, healthy, stable rotation, I would rather see if they could get any two of the top 10 pitchers in Atlanta’s system. Forget the highest ranked guys (Kyle Wright, etc.), get multiple prospects to increase the chance of a productive, healthy return.

    Reply

Leave a Reply

About Steve Mancuso

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

Category

Hot Stove

Tags

, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,