With the July 31 trade deadline approaching, ownership and the front office of the Cincinnati Reds face an important next 30 days. The important question being: Should the Reds be a buyer or seller? Depending on what you read, you’ve run across the case for one or the other formula.

The right answer is both.

The Reds must be buyers and sellers. The club should look for opportunities to trade away players that will become free agents at the end of 2019 while at the same time shop for new pieces that will help them in and beyond 2019. A successful month for Dick Williams, Nick Krall, David Bell and their staff requires they accomplish both.

But no one trade is likely to accomplish those dual goals. Trading partners looking for final pieces of their post-season puzzle aren’t going to part with players contributing to that effort. Teams looking to shed salary by moving players in their arbitration years won’t be interested in rentals.

What will it look like if the Reds succeed?

The Reds may unload players like Yasiel Puig and Tanner Roark for little more than organizational depth. In isolation, those trades will smack (in two ways) of the pure rebuilding we’ve seen for a few years now. But in other trades the Reds would add important players with multiple years of team control. Those moves will cost prospects, maybe a major league relief pitcher, and look like buying.

It’s easy to imagine how that might appear like the front office lacks direction or resolve. That judgment would be wrong. If the front office can pull off trades of each kind, it would be a great accomplishment and exactly what the team needs.

It has been said that Reds fans deserve a front office with an aggressive approach to making deals. In recent days it has been reported that Dick Williams has indicated as much.

Of course, that should be the case every trade deadline and off-season.

Instead, Reds fans have witnessed plenty of inaction since 2013. For a couple years, ownership, and by extension the front office, was guilty of holding on to good players too long. Motivation for that ranges from All-Star games, to falling in love with players you see every day, to undue optimism and more. But the end result was an organization that waited until its tradable assets had lost most of their value. That idleness squandered the Reds chance to avoid a deep and patience-unraveling rebuilding process.

More recently, we experienced the not letting go of Matt Harvey because of “positive momentum” or some other pathetic nonsense.

It would be as big a miscalculation for Reds ownership and front office to over-correct now and start shedding assets for short-term gain based on the far-off notion that an all-in posture will bring about a 2019 play-in game.

What Reds fans really deserve from the front office is smart.

Here’s the lesson to learn from the recent past. Almost every successful major league organization turns over its roster. The few exceptions are clubs that are locks to contend for the World Series. Mid-market teams like the Cardinals and Brewers practice a deft combination of buying and selling at the same time. They cycle players in and out.

That’s what the Reds must accomplish over the next 30 days. That would be aggressive and smart. It’s not a choice between buying and selling. The imperative is to do both.

That brings us to today and the new trade deadline rules. As of 2019, there is one major league trade deadline: July 31, at 4 p.m. In previous seasons, players could be traded for another month if they cleared revocable waivers.

After August 31, trades could be made throughout September, but the acquired players are ineligible for the post-season roster. This is still the case. In 2010, because of late season injuries to Laynce Nix, Jay Bruce and Chris Heisey, the Reds traded for Willie Bloomquist on September 13.

In 2019 clubs face a single cut-off date. That should create greater urgency and focus throughout July. Front offices may finish deals earlier. We’ve already seen a couple former Reds move to contenders. Jay Bruce landed in Philadelphia and Edwin Encarnacion is now a New York Yankee.

The standings might encourage more trades. Several first-place teams have opened wide leads in their division and might feel confident to start shopping for those final post-season pieces. Likewise, clear bottom-dwellers, with 100-loss seasons on the horizon, are free to reshape rosters and save their owners cash.

The Reds reside in a major league in-between.

The month of June didn’t bring the Reds easy clarity. They aren’t a runaway top-tier team nor are they headed once again to baseball’s dark basement. Yes, the Reds have a chance to make the post-season as a Wild Card team. If everything breaks just right with performance and health, the Cincinnati Reds could qualify for the 50-50 play-in game. FanGraphs puts the number at 8% as of today. That’s eight times out of a hundred.

Fans don’t have to be clear-eyed about that. But the front office does.

2019 will be a season of progress for the Reds. But it will fall short of a miraculous breakthrough to the post-season. The Reds brass needs to act with that understanding during the next month. This isn’t the time to add pricey rental players to make a run. Nor should the Reds be resigned to more-of-the-same shedding, pushing the time horizon for success ever further into the future.

Bottom line: Reds fans should expect the front office to be active. We shouldn’t expect the team to accomplish all its goals with a single trade, because it can’t. Each trade will help in one direction or another. On the evening of July 31, the front office has to be judged on the totality of its moves.

This is the first part of a three-part series. From here we go from the theoretical to specific trade ideas for the Reds. Part two will deal with opportunities to sell. The final installment will cover ideas for buying, both small and audacious. You can find the second and third parts in upcoming days at Reds Content Plus, all content now free of charge.  

55 Responses

  1. Klugo

    IMO, anyone without the apellido Greene,Castillo,or Senzel should be tradeable.

  2. Steelerfan

    Steve, very much looking forward to the later parts of the series. At the risk of potential spoilers, what are your (and everyone’s) thoughts on what we have to sell? Unfortunately, due to the injuries I do not think you are going to be able to get much, if anything, for Scooter or Woods. When you take out the future building blocks and unattractive assets, I do not see anything we could move except for a couple of relievers, who do not seem likely to land much.

    I thought at the time trading for players with one year left on their contracts was a reasonable risk. Just didn’t work out in our favor. My prediction is that it will be a relatively quite deadline since we do not have much to sell and our chances at a playoff spot are too small to buy, but I am going to enjoy reading everyone’s thoughts.

  3. SultanofSwaff

    Well stated. Based on the confident talk from the front office all season I’m inclined to believe they will hold onto their impending free agents. What I’d like to see happen is a mix of trades and extensions. Given the lack of organizational depth at SS, Jose Iglesias should be an extension priority. Roark makes sense as well for the same depth reasoning.

    It’s entirely possible a hot Puig and Gennett could fix the offense and have the Reds near the top of the division by the deadline. I’m taking a wait and see approach with them. If the poor play of the team forces a trade, I’m PACKAGING them plus Hernandez to maximize the return—just get me one very good prospect. It’s a waste of time to trade them individually for the standard relief pitching prospect in AA.

  4. Sliotar

    There are a couple of potential challenges for the Reds to be a meaningful buyer or seller this month….

    1) Relievers are the dominant position moved in July…hitters with control are often an off-season transaction

    “Nearly half of all MLB players dealt at the past two deadlines have been relievers. ”

    https://www.theringer.com/mlb/2018/8/1/17639474/mlb-trade-deadline-relievers-busier-than-ever

    2) Selling any pending free agents would generate criticism that the Reds are giving up on 2019, IMO.

    I don’t think Gennett, Puig or Roark should be back in 2020, unless on 1-year deals while replacements are readied.

    But, I don’t think the average paying customer would appreciate “Fan Favorites” like Gennett and Puig traded, one just arrived/one back from injury, even if there is even a market for them.

    • Pete

      Interesting, the tough sell might be finishing in the basement for the foreseeable future.

      Yeah, I like Scooter and Puig but prefer winning to losing to a much greater degree. Puig has been mashing, there is either a market or soon to to be market for his services. Every new day, the Reds are risking a solid return by keeping Roark. Let Scooter go the FA route; if he gets no decent offers, resign on the cheap for another season but no more than one. My prediction is they will sign all three to new contracts and everyone will be happy…I guess. At least, until another season passes.

      Wonder if we could bring Jay Bruce back, he’s as hot as a firecracker. Go old and stay old. That was sarcasm folks.

    • Steve Mancuso

      Agree that it won’t be easy. Never is. Will discuss markets for Gennett and Puig elsewhere, but other pending free agents (Roark, Hernandez, Hughes) aren’t fan favorites.

      My post took your comment as a starting point. The Reds shouldn’t and aren’t going to just sell. They’ll do both. Fans need to judge them all together when finished. If all they do is sell pending free agents, they’ll deserve criticism, but I think that’s pretty unlikely. In fact, it’s more likely they’ll do the opposite and hold on too much.

      Overall, fans deserve smart moves. Not necessarily popular ones. And a certain segment of fans (well represented here) won’t be happy no matter what they do. So how can that be a guiding principle for them?

      • Pete

        I wish you had a pipeline to the FO. We may not agree on everything but the general course you set out is a good one. Holding on is also my fear and you can see it in some of the comments here. Keep talking Steve….

  5. Kyle

    With Winker and Senzel claiming left and center, Taylor Trammell looks to be expendable. This would the Reds chance to get a real difference maker, either to their lineup or rotation.

    • Jim Walker

      Senzel looks like a keeper, a core piece for as long as they control his contract status.

      However I think Winker is turning out to be one of those guys who teams like the Cards ride for a period then move for solid return when the next guy comes through the pipeline. His offense is his ticket to MLB; but, it terms of being a true long term core player, it doesn’t seem to be enough to override his deficiencies in defense and base running.

      • Ghettotrout1

        I agree with Jim. If we can deal him and get some real value I’m on board.

      • RojoBenjy

        I would not trade Trammell. Winker does not have LF locked down. He can stay until a team overpays for him, or get traded in the off-season, knowing that Ervin can play LF until Trammell is ready.

      • Charles Lackey

        I’ve been a Reds fan since 1955, I was 11 years old. My Dad took me to a barn storming game in Knoxville Tenn and Reds had just signed Frank Robinson. I was hooked then. The Reds have always been a top franchise team. Since Castellini & Jocketty took over the team the Reds have gone downhill ever since. Reds are now a permanent last place team. They rarely trade for players that can help out as the F O would lose than win games. To me Winker is a very good player and is DANG good on defense. He is alert, plays the game as it should be and stop using him in a platoon situation. The F-O needs to do their job and get some quality players to help NOW not later but NOW!!!???

      • Steve Mancuso

        Jocketty is retired. The Reds won two NL Central Championships under Castellini and Jocketty. They hadn’t done that since the Big Red Machine Era. Jocketty was good in his time, but that time ended around 2008. You must have missed most of the Reds teams in the 1990s and the first decade of the 21st century. The statement that the FO would rather lose than win games is about as nutty as it gets.

  6. Old-school

    It depends. The NL central is a mess. If the Reds take 3/4 from the Brewers and the Pirates take 3/4 from the Cubs and St Louis loses 2/3 on the left coast, the entire division is separated by only 2 games in the loss column becomes a free for all. The other NL central teams are very flawed. There could be 2 WC teams with 85-86 wins. See what things look like at the AS break

    • Sliotar

      Spot on, Old-School.

      You can hear folks on MLB Radio or MLB TV occasionally say, “5 games or less….you are still in it.”

      That’s for the Wild Card. The Reds are there for the division, too, at the moment.

      Now, I think they are so good at home/lousy on the road offensively, the 8% chance feels about right.

      But, selling at the moment….that will be a “tough sell” to fans.

  7. Old-school

    I would look at bad teams who are still years away from contention and see if the Reds can get a controllable player in their prime now – Marlins/ tigers/ royals. Hunter Greene is still an elite prospect and those teams would be willing to wait on his development. A package centered on Hunter Greene might get Matthew Boyd- an elite lefty entering his prime.

    • RojoBenjy

      Another strategy is to look at teams making a hard bid for the WS like Minnesota and Tampa Bay, and convincing them to part with someone(s) precious in order to bolster their own chances.

    • David

      I don’t think anyone is quite feverish enough to trade for a 19 year old pitcher that has just had TJ surgery. You would get pretty much nothing in return. Hunter Greene may one day again be considered an elite prospect, but right now he is a guy recovering from surgery, on the DL. I don’t even know if the rules allow players on the DL to be traded.

      • Old-school

        Greene is on every top 100 list. His age 19 is on his side not against him. Kevin Durant just got $164 million with a torn Achilles and he won’t play again till his age 32 season. The NFL drafts players with torn ACL’ s.

        Greene’s time frame fits another franchise better.

  8. Steve Schoenbaechler

    To trade or not to trade? One has to always consider all parts of the trade:

    – Does the other team have parts we need
    – Do we have parts the other team needs
    – Can we finalize a package
    – Do we have a plan B for who we trade off?

    For that last part, I will specifically state, do we have someone we would consider “major league ready” if not here already? For example, last season, we had Senzel ready. So, we knew we could let someone else go. We decided Hamilton. I believe we didn’t lose much at all there, overall.

    If we trade Scooter off, that would unload a big contract. But, then, who to plug in there? Well, we have Dietrich and Farmer.

    I say we keep Roark long term, Hernandez, and Jose I long term. All other FA’s I see online are expendible in my opinion. For the arbitration players, I’d possible extend Disco, I would extend Dietrick, Lorenzen, Casali, Bowman, and Schebler.

    This leaves out Scooter, Puig, Wood, Peraza, Duke, and Peralta. If Duke and Peralta are still around, that’s only because of being a left hander out of the pen. Scooter and Wood haven’t contributed much of anything this season, and we seem to be getting along fine. Peraza just simply hasn’t developed has we hoped. Apparently last season was a high point. That would leave Puig as possibly the only real “disappointment”. As in, I would hate to see him go. But, that’s business.

    Considering the non-FA and non-Arb players, I would also consider trying to let Raciel and Barnhardt go.

    Any I’m considering letting go, I believe we have replaceable parts in some way, shape, or form.

    • Colorado Red

      Just a note, DUKE just got DFA’d

  9. jreis

    imo, Puig became a long term Red over the weekend. no way this team is trading him now. he is a fan favorite, plays with great passion. he gives you gold glove caliber defense and may join the 30/30 club this year.

    Senzel is another player I would be disappointed if they trade. other than that everyone is fair game. I have watched enough minor league games the past couple years that know that no one is untouchable. Trammel is just so raw and Greene even before the surgery was very hittable with the dragons.

    • RojoBenjy

      I would be ok with keeping Puig if he agrees to a reasonable deal. Otherwise give him a QO on the chance he’ll stay for one more year. By then they will know for sure what they have in Aquino.

  10. matthew hendley

    The Reds are certainly not in pull the chute territory, so a massive sell off is a non starter.

    Wood effectively cant be traded at this point. If the Reds are not going to offer him a pillow contract i.e. 1y 3M Guaranteed 15 Mil in incentives, they should just play him out and pat him on the back as he leaves.

    Scooter is probably staying short of a massive takeoff at the plate. no one is giving anything of value for him, so for the Reds and this season he will stay too.

    If someone gives something of worth for DD, Jose P, Jose I, Roark, Disco, Hernandez Hughes, etc etc, then sure, but don’t say….. just accept any willy nilly offer that comes along like say…. a garbage Single A lotto ticket for a former #1 pitcher that was showing signs of stability on the mound, (yea the real reason that Matt Harvey didn’t get traded).

    Puig Should be extended. We are not keeping everyone, the Reds have announced they are entering their window. There is no one that can produce Puigs numbers in the minors right now. It really does make sense on so many levels. But if he must be traded than he goes FOR a package not as part of a package, in the return.

    Castillo, Winker and others are only available in ‘GODFATHER’ Trades (an offer you cant refuse type, not the chopped off horses head type)

    Since it (sadly) must be reminded again. With a Full NTC, no willingness to leave, monster cost left on his contract JV will not be traded.

    to many variations in play for deciding which minor leaguers are on the block. Reds should take the opertunity to shed some 40 Man holders that are never coming up again, (Schebler)

  11. Russell Stoner

    Mahle & Disco are both comparable to Roark. No way he gets a long term deal. Alex Wood was the only guy Going into the yr I wud have tried to sign. I doubt they try to sign him now. U sign Puig only if u want an OF of Puig, Senzel& Winker for a few yrs. Reds management isn’t dumb as Mancuso insinuates. The biggest problem going forward is Votto’s contract. (Yes i know it’s not trade able) but it’s taking tons of payroll & shud be a focal point.

    • Scott C

      I am not against trading Trammell if the right deal came along but I don’t see him as totally expendable. First of all he not yet 22 and at AA. He still has room to develop and grow as a hitter, both power wise and for average. Secondly, we don’t know how his hit tool will play out but defensively he would be an upgrade in left over Winker simply by mere speed. And thirdly by the time Trammell is ready Winker will already be in arbitration. Winker is probably my favorite player on this team but if you want to build a winning culture you can not allow favoritism to dictate holding on to a player too long.

      • RojoBenjy

        ” if you want to build a winning culture you can not allow favoritism to dictate holding on to a player too long.”

        And there is the key mistake that the Reds’ current ownership has been committing since 2013, as Steve Mancuso so poignantly elucidated in this article.

  12. Pete

    How the Reds farm system ranks:

    Fangraphs – 6
    Bleacher Report – 6
    MLB.com – 7

    Doug, I ‘m certain has a comprehensive list but this is pretty good. Most the talent may be a year or two away but still….. Do we want the Reds to add to this or trade some of this talent to make a run for it in 2019 & 2020. Where would this run end? WS, WC, etc… Here’s an alternative: how about the Reds build the team for a 2022-2024 run? A real run. Trade established older (27+) MLB players, where possible, to bolster the farm system. Play the youngsters now and suffer through a couple of very tough years while keeping their eyes on the prize.

    The team that can win a WS is not here yet, probably several years away but if a sound strategy prevails, Reds could be a force come 2022, 2023, 2024..

  13. Russell Stoner

    Gennett is the emotional leader of the team. Votto is not.
    Gennett, Senzel & Geno are all much more valuable ( and better players) than joey.

    • Michael Smith

      @russell

      How how has the emotional leadership worked out since Scooter has been here?

      • RojoBenjy

        @Michael Smith
        Since Scooter’s return, the Reds have smoked the Cubs 2 outta 3.

        @ Russell
        I don’t see Suarez as a leader. Too much not running out ground balls, and checking out mentally on routine defensive plays. He loses focus.

      • Doc

        The Reds took two series from the Cubs before Scooter returned. 2-1 with Scooter, 4-2, or something like that, without Scooter over three series. RojoBenjy hardly made a supportable point that Scooter’s emotional leadership led to a series win, and that’s giving Scooter credit for a win in a game he didn’t play.

      • greenmtred

        I’d guess pretty much every team has an emotional leader. How well the team plays depends upon how good the players are. This is not meant to denigrate the importance of intangibles.

  14. Cbus

    This post made me think of what would an all ex/current reds best possible lineup would look like today for only currently active players?

    CF – Nick Senzel
    1B – Joey Votto
    3B – Eugenio Suarez
    DH – Edwin Encarnacion
    LF – Jay Bruce
    C – Yasmani Grandal
    RF – Yasiel Puig
    SS – Didi Gregorius
    2B – Scooter Gennett

    • RojoBenjy

      Very cool list. I would make only one change.

      Remove Jay Bruce, add Shin Soo Choo.

  15. Eric Wormus

    The Reds are really in an unenviable situation, and were it not for the situation being entirely of their own making, I would almost feel sorry for the front office.

    I think the following things are both true:
    1) The Reds are more than one player away from contending in 2019 and will have several holes to fill in 2020.
    2) The impending free agents the Reds currently have are not good enough that the Reds could trade them for pieces that will be useful in 2020.

    The Reds probably have 2-3 players they could trade and get a haul for that could help in 2020-2021 (Suarez, Castillo, maybe Iglesias). Their best trade chip right now, by far, is Suarez. They could get by with Blandino at 3rd until Trammell is ready, and there is a decent chance Senzel will overall be a better 3rd baseman than Suarez in a year or two anyway. I think the front office fears a fan revolt if they trade Suarez, maybe understandably so, but I think it would be a great trade.

    The Puig/Scooter/Alex Wood/Hughes/Hernandez/J. Iglesias impending free agents will bring exactly 0 back in a trade. The only real way the Reds can get better for 2020 is trading someone under control for multiple years.

    • RojoBenjy

      I agree 100% on trading Suarez. I think you are right that the FO thinks there will be a “revolt” if he is traded. But that in and of itself is illogical. How could things get any worse for a 5 year loser team?

      And that is why they fail.

      Also, I would contend that Senzel is a better third baseman than Suarez at this very moment.

  16. matthew hendley

    STRAIGHT OFF THE PRESSES!!!!!

    ALL CAPS INFO!!!!

    ZACK DUKE DFAed

    JImmy Herget called up for MLB Debut.

    It has begun

    • Old-school

      Zach duke hosted a charity event last night with reds players helping. I’m sure the Reds wanted to get him past that.

      Jimmy Herget has a 3 year AAA career. Its long past time . What happened to Sal Romano? 2-7 5.95 ERA in AAA.

    • Redgoggles

      What is the latest on Cody Reed? I expected they would hold on to ZD until Cody was ready.

  17. Jim Walker

    Here is a practical issue. If the Reds trade Roark, who takes the innings? Wood? Santillan has not come along at AA. He recently went on the IL (shoulder issue). Neither has Gutierrez at AAA. Lucas Sims (AAA) has been inconsistent but might have to be the guy.

    • RojoBenjy

      I would guess Sims. Wisler got cut, maybe they can sign him to pitch in Louisville in his stead.

      The division is so close, and anything can happen, that I wonder if they should see how the month unfolds before dealing Roark, unless someone bowls them over with an offer.

  18. matthew hendley

    CR injury issues are not insignificant, since no 40 man Roster move was needed, it doesn’t hurt to get him a look.

    • Jim Walker

      Agree no 40 man for Herget. However, they DFAed Duke so that’s 40 man spot opened there.

  19. matthew hendley

    lineups posted. Puig Sits, WInker Deitrich, assume a normal off day for Puig.

    Lot of lefties

  20. Seat101

    Does anyone give the front office less than an A for the new hires on the field?

    Does anyone here give the Reds front office less than a solid B for the trades they did make over the off-season?

    We have four productive players from three trades. In toto we got a lot more than we gave up.

    I’ll bet we have our eyes on some under the radar pitching thanks to our new pitching coach. What we have to give up to get them well, there’s the rub.

    Is the front office doesn’t do anything by the deadline it’ll mean they didn’t have a good deal to make.

    • Lwblogger2

      I don’t know if I’d give them an “A” because a couple of the prospects they gave up are likely to have pretty good MLB careers but I feel they did a good job. They certainly made the team better this year. When Puig was really struggling people were hammering the Dodgers trade. It annoyed me because it was 100% hindsight. That was a solid move for 2019 and I saw a possible extension to Wood or Puig. Now Puig is really starting to hit and that trade is looking closer to be what I thought it was. The trade and extension for Sonny Gray looks really good. Trading for Roark was a solid move.

      I think the front-office is in an awkward position but I trust this front-office to not botch it. They may not get it 100% right but I don’t see this front-office having an epic-fail result at the deadline.

  21. Steven Ross

    This is probably a .500 team no matter what they do!

    Last 10 games: 5-5
    Last 20 games: 10-10
    Last 30 games: 15-15
    Last 40 games: 20-20

    • Lwblogger2

      Is that really a bad thing though?

      This year reminds me of 2006. Nobody is running away with the Central. Did anyone see the Cards winning the World Series that year? Even after they made the playoffs who was saying they were the team? Does anyone think they were the best team in 2006?

      Consistently being in the hunt and winning 81+ games keeps the team in the hunt and keeps fans engaged. It also means you get the occasional playoff spot and once you get there anything can happen.

      Then if you have a couple bad seasons and have to rebuild, you go all-in on the rebuild with a specific target date in mind to get back to where you want to be.

  22. Cyrus

    The two players I would look to trade before 7/31 are Votto and Castillo. I realize this sounds blasphemous but if Votto could go to a true contender (and agree to the destination) and we could get value in return, I see this as a win-win. Votto deserves a shot at a ring and every team in baseball considers him a quality individual so I think every team would see him as an asset…and his hitting has picked up at the perfect time for a trade.

    Castillo is young but there is something about him that concerns me. I don’t see him as a real #1. You need some moxie for that and I think we could get something really good for our only all-star this year.

    BTW, records inside the division thru yesterday:
    Brew 22-13
    Cubs 14-13
    Cards 15-17
    Bucs 13-16
    Reds 15-20

    • David

      Votto has a no trade clause. And a big contract with years to pay. He’s not going anywhere.

      Castillo is the closest thing the Reds have to an ace pitcher. They need mo bettah pitching than anything else.

  23. Doc

    Keep Castillo. He will be gold in 2022-24. Compare his 2017-9 seasons and trajectory to Bob Gibson’s first three. Times are different but it seems many of you guys would have been happy to trade Bob Gibson for unknown quantity and quality.