There’s been a lot of talk lately about the Reds trading for Cleveland shortstop and superstar Francisco Lindor. Among the names mentioned to attain Lindor’s unique talents to Cincinnati are Hunter Greene and Nick Senzel.

During the robust, healthy debate at Redleg Nation of a possible trade for Lindor, many of our readers have put forth their thoughts on this process. Who should be dealt, who should be kept. It’s been to fun to read.

But I go back to when the Reds drafted Greene, a young phenom, a powerful 17-year-old right-handed pitcher that, of course, had a “can’t miss” status by his name and after Cincinnati drafted him, he was the “Face of the Reds.”. Prior to the draft he had already made the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Sorry, I never bought into that. His ability to play shortstop muddled things for me as well since the Reds can’t figure out to do with Michael Lorenzen after two full seasons.

During all of this, I reflected on Don Gullett and his career with the Reds.

Gullett was drafted by the Reds right out of high school in Lynn, Kentucky where he was a local sports legend. He was a three-sport star. At high school In a perfect game he pitched, he struck out 20 of the 21 batters he faced. He once scored 72 points in a football game (11 rushing touchdowns and six extra points.) and the Reds drafted him in 1969.

During spring training in 1970, new Reds Manager Sparky Anderson saw what Don Gullett could do. He brought Gullett north with the Reds from Florida and put him in the bullpen. The then-baseball experts laughed at Sparky and said he couldn’t take a 19-year old kid and just put him on the roster.

Anderson had the last laugh. Gullett had a great rookie season. Sparky put him in the right spots. Gullett had a 5-2 record and an ERA of 2.43. In one game against the Mets, the southpaw struck out the first six hitters he faced. After facing Gullett, Pirate slugger Willie Stargell said the Reds lefty “throws wall to wall heat.” Against the Baltimore Orioles in the 1970 World Series, Gullett pitched very well, hurling 6 and 1/3 innings with an ERA of 1.35.

In 1971, it got even better. In a disastrous year for the defending National League champions, Gullett emerged as a starter for Cincinnati and put together a 16-6 record. His future looked incredible for the Reds.

But Gullett was set back by a bout with hepatitis in 1972. He finished with a 9-10 record. The next two years were his best for the Reds. He was 18-8 and 17-7. He was on the cusp of greatness.

In 1975, he started out on fire. It was going to be his career year. But a broken thumb caused by a come backer to the mound sidelined him and he finished with a 15-4 record and an ERA of 2.42. Still, his Game 5 start against the Red Sox in the World Series that season was incredibly dominant.

But in 1976, he showed up for spring training out of shape. That frustrated Anderson. It was Gullett’s final year under contract with the Reds and free agency was starting a new era in baseball. He finished 11-3 for Cincinnati but was dominant again in the post season as the Reds repeated as World Series champions.

The Reds offered Gullett a two-year contract but he wanted financial security. The New York Yankees gave it to him with a six-year, $2 million deal. Gullett’s leaving devastated Reds fans. It cost the Reds a third straight National League pennant and possibly a three-peat as World Champions, especially if Howsam had still pursued and traded for Tom Seaver in 1977.

Unfortunately, Gullett only had one good year with the Yanks, going 14-4 in 1977 and then shoulder injuries sidelined him. He was just 4-2 in 1978 and then finished with baseball.

And so it was when Hunter Green had the notorious Tommy John surgery on his elbow, I wasn’t shocked. Of course, he’s “fully recovered” they say. But if I were the Reds, I would showcase him in a potential Lindor trade. I wouldn’t budge on Senzel.

I didn’t think Nick Senzel would be another Kris Bryant. Still, I thought he would be a great player for the Reds and I love the fact that the Reds would have control of him for six years instead of just two for Frnacisco Lindor. So I would package Greene/India/Galvis and Iglesias and hope the Tribe bites.

And do I need to remind you of Jeremy Sowers, Dustin Mosely, Chris Gruler and Ryan Wagner?

Nah. Didn’t think so.

This is nothing against Hunter Greene. I met him by accident in Burlington, Iowa when he was pitching for the Reds Class A affiliate, the Dayton Dragons. I had interviewed Dragon outfielder Stuart Fairchild and was finished for the day. I was sending a text to a friend on a bench outside of the Dragons clubhouse when Hunter came out and sat down by me to do the same thing.

I recognized him but left him alone, other than asking, ‘You texting someone back home?” and he said he was. We went about our business and made small talk for about 10 minutes.

But when he got up to leave, I couldn’t resist it. I said, “Good luck in your career, Hunter.”

He turned around and smiled. I think he felt good that I recognized him.

And as for Don Gullett, he and Gary Nolan were my favorite pitchers on the Big Red Machine. I was glad he came back as the Reds pitching coach during the 1990s. I’ll always be a Don Gullett fan.

When he was healthy, he was dominant. There’s not much doubt about that.

63 Responses

  1. Hanawi

    Reds need Greene to become a stud. He’s obviously got the tools to do so and everything I’ve read about him makes me think he has the desire to compete at a high level. He and Lodolo could be the key to keeping a window open or having the next two years be the best of the next 10.

    His draft class also looks absolutely loaded (Lewis, Gore, Adell, Wright, McKay, Hiura, Ramos. Haseley, Evan White). I was hoping for the Reds to pick Gore or Adell, but was fine with Greene.

  2. MBS

    I’d pull that trigger, I’d pull the Senzel trigger, I just wouldn’t pull Senzel plus Green or Lodolo type of deal.

    • Fish

      Agreed. My limit is Senzel, Galvis and 2 outside the top 5 guys (I’m ok with someone like siri even though I like the tools) not giving up greene, lodolo, santillan or stephenson. Also not giving up winker in a deal that includes Senzel.

    • DAVID F. HERRMANN

      Im all for being “all in” this coming season,but I can’t justify selling the farm and Senzel for a two year player. Will there be a third year option?
      I

  3. VaRedsFan

    Thanks for the recap on Gullett. I’m old enough to remember the Machine as a boy, and never realized that DG was such a phenom.

    • Tomn

      I remember Gullett. He and Nolan were so tough and so sad that Simpson got hurt. What a staff that would have been.

      Those of us who were Reds baseball fans in those days were so spoiled. Such talent.

  4. Scott C

    I do think Hunter is going to be a good pitcher, but pitching prospects are the most unpredictable of prospects. Now he could turn into the next Stephen Strasburg but he could also be the next Chris Gruler. I have no problem trading him for Lindor. I just would not trade him and Senzel. I would add India if that gets it done, he has no place to play in Cincinnati. But not Senzel or no Lodolo. In fact putting Greene a #2 overall pick in a deal should not require much else.

  5. Hotto4Votto

    Isn’t Gullett’s track record and success with the Redsthe reason you don’t trade Greene? If he can repeat what Gullett did then you have a bonafide ace?

    If we’re making comparisons to recent Reds (acknowledging comparisons are often flawed). If Greene:Cueto and Senzel:Bruce who would you rather keep around?

    • Scott C

      I understand what you are saying, but Gullett had not had any surgeries on his arm at the point in his career. I’m all for keeping Greene, but I am also aware that in order to get what you need now you may have to give up something of value for the future.
      To answer your question though, you are right, I would rather give up- Senzel than Greene. I am totally opposed to giving up both even for Lindor. That price is too high.

      • Hotto4Votto

        Yeah, the surgery is a difference. But, with medical advancements, TJ surgery isn’t the same as it was even 20 years ago. Many guys have have gone through it twice and came back. He’s young and should bounce back without issue. Senzel has his own injury history to add in the discussion as well.
        But I do agree with there’s no way I’d include both in a trade.

    • Steve Schoenbaechler

      The thing is, for every Gullett, there may be a dozen or more who never even make it to the majors, much less have any success.

      • greenmtred

        That’s true for players at every position, though. Pitchers seem to be comparatively fragile, but it’s also very hard to be competitive without good ones. I’m dubious about a Lindor trade. It would give us lots to talk about, and lots of excitement going into 2020, but he’s a shiny object who won’t be here in two years.

  6. Bob Purkey

    I’ll add another name. . .Anyone remember Wayne Simpson in 1970? What a first half, what a future, done in 1/2 a year!

    Imagine an injury free Simpson, Nolan and Gullett leading your rotation!

    • Peter Onte

      Also on that ’70 roster, although he didn’t come up through the Reds’ farm system : Jim Merritt, who won 20 that year and 17 in ’69.

      • Mike in Ottawa

        I wouldn’t do any trade for Lindor without at least a two yr extension. They don’t have a lot of MLB projected talent down on the farm.

    • Rod Andrews

      Plus Jim Maloney was still reasonably young in 1970. Had he not hurt his arm, we would have had 4 of the hardest throwers in the game!

  7. John

    Gullet was a witch back in the day. Big fan of Gary Nolan as well as Rawly Eastwick for too short of a time! All managed by Cpt. Hook!

  8. Bob Purkey

    Yes, Jim Merritt received from Minn Twins in the Leo(Chico) Cardenas trade. His arm was shot by the end of the 1970 season, he was throwing up batting practice pitches by the end of the year. Everyone knew he was hurt, but he kept on taking the ball and throwing innings.

  9. RedNat

    thank you John, wonderful piece.

    I saw Hunter pitch multiple times in Dayton.

    my 2 cents are that

    1. he throws hard but is very hittable even in low A ball the kids were able to catch up to his fast ball and do damage.

    2. the guy is a great athlete. no doubt about it. he could play any position you put him in

    3. the fans love this guy. I went to a game on a cold spring weekday night in Dayton and the place was packed. fans were following his every move.

    my hope is that the reds give him a chance at shortstop or maybe even the outfield. I have no doubt he could be a great everyday player someday and he has such an appeal to the fans. he could boost reds attendance like Griffey Junior did in the 2000’s.

    • MBS

      That is the thing about Greene, if arm issues continue to happen, I could easily see him transition to SS or OF. If for some reason he has an arm issue early this year that prevents him from pitching, let him DH or actually play in the field. That was assuming it would not be an issue with his arm.

  10. Tomn

    You mean Gullett missed 5 extra points – in the day when the goal post was on the goal line? And still we signed him?

  11. David

    I think Don Gullett actually started the 1970 season in “A” ball, and then was called up in July of 1970.

    Yeah, his career was up and down. If he had not gotten his finger broken in the middle of the 1975 season (trying to snag a line drive through the pitchers box with his bare hand, pitching hand), he would have won 25 games that year and the Cy Young Award. I remember listening to that game on the radio and hearing from Joe Nuxhall how bad it was.
    Youngest pitcher to get to 100 victories. And then his shoulder got hurt.

    Sparky, for all his accolades, usually destroyed at least one pitcher a year. In 1970, he wrecked Jim Merritt and Wayne Simpson. Jim Maloney was supposed to be the “ace” if the 1970 staff, but tore his achilles tendon in Spring Training, and that was actually the end of his career. If he had not gotten hurt, they would have had a five man rotation, and maybe Simpson and Merritt don’t get over used.

    • Scott C

      That is pretty harsh on Sparky, I don’t think you can say that any manager actually ruined anyones arm. Wait though yeah I think Dusty ruined Harang’s arm.

      • Rude Onederful

        and Pete ruined Mario Soto’s…

      • Matt WI

        Most Cubs fans believe Dusty broke Mark Prior as well. And helped break Kerry Wood.

    • Colorado Red

      He was called Capt Hook.
      Reds had the fewest complete games in 75 if I recall.
      That would be more stress on the pen, not the starters.
      Still Back to Back titles was a lot of fun.

      • Dewey Roberts

        You need to look back at the number of complete games by Reds’ starters in 1970. In 1970 Sparky was not Captain Hook.

  12. catcard202

    You make a Senzel + Greene showcase deal for Lindor, only if the FO can get Lindor to sign an extended deal. If Lindor is open to signing beyond his control yrs…You lock him up long-term deal as part of the move & don’t look back.

    Senzel is nice & all, but has some flaws that are worrisome. The repeated Vertigo is troubling on several fronts. With Greene, yeah he could be a future ACE in 3yrs time…But could just as likely end up as a closer.

  13. Don

    would trade Greene not Senzel for Lindor.

    All of the moves this offseason reinforce the fact that the Reds Minor Leagues cannot/havenot developed talent recently. No starting pitchers came through the minors of the reds. A trade of Senzel to me means that the FO is admitting that have not been able to draft and train talent in the minor leagues for some time and can only get better with FAs and trades. Maybe that is a good thing to admit as the minor leagues are being changed dramatically this off season.

    I see lots of talent in Senzel, he was thinking to much last year at the plate like the entire team seemed to be doing at the plate.

    I kind of figure Senzel will be traded as I bought his shirt last year at the stadium. Every time I buy a players shirt for any team which I an a fan, that player leaves before the next season.

    If he is traded, let me know whom we want gone and I will buy that shirt

    • Redleg4life

      We need someone else to take the rest of votto’s contract.

  14. TMS

    It amazes me how many folks are ready to give up on Hunter Greene after less than 75 inning pitched. It’s like once he got hurt, everyone forgot just how good he was pitching in Dayton. He had a couple rough starts to begin the 2018 season, but then things kicked in, and the last six or eight weeks he was healthy, Greene was mowing down the opposing hitters like you would expect a top of the rotation ace to do … and he was doing it at 18 years old.

    Why all of a sudden is he trade bait?

    Think about it … if Hunter Greene truly is nothing but a huge question mark, then Cleveland isn’t realistically going to trade Lindor for a question mark. And if he is not a question mark, the Reds would be absolute idiots for trading Hunter Greene for two years of Lindor. Greene would probably be making his major league debut about the time Lindor is exiting Cincinnati. The Reds will have no SS … and no young pitching stud.

  15. RojoBenjy

    I would be ok with trading Greene.

    A prime example of a childhood designed to make him a millionaire via a professional sports draft.

    Ulnar collateral ligament? Just collateral damage along the way.

    Nick Senzel? A guy who has fought his way along for everything he has.

    I’d rather have Senzel.

    • Rod Andrews

      I agree with you. Greene is still a ways off, while Senzel is ready to make a big splash now.

  16. Ben Cobb

    It is great to reminisce about the glory days of the Big Red Machine. Don Gullett was my favorite pitcher and was a high school phenom not far from me in Greenup County, KY. I’m with you on trading unknowns who have had questionable health early on in favor of an established superstar shortstop up North. With Moose and Senzel, the Reds can possibly even revitalize Joey Votto’s bat as well. I’m not convinced that Galvis is our answer at shortstop anyway after his weak finish to 2019. Excellent article and perspective.

  17. My Beloved Reds

    Starting pitching is the most valuable commodity in MLB. That being said, the only way I would consider trading Greene or Lodolo for Lindor is if there is a lengthy contract extension signed prior to the trade. Yes, Lindor is a proven top tier MLB talent and neither of the aforementioned MiLB pitchers are, but we cannot trade pitching talent for position players and expect to have a balanced system. I’m not saying we should never trade a pitcher for a fielder. What I am saying is that starting pitching is much harder to come by than fielders. If the Indians demand one of those two pitchers for Lindor, that is fine, but we can’t afford to do that and give them much else in return. I’ve seen packages suggested on here of Greene, India, Senzel and Santillian. Come on!!! I know Lindor is a special player, but that would wipe out our entire rebuilding project. Be smart FO. Get Lindor if possible, but don’t give up too much. India is blocked, include him. Santillian is a promising prospect, but not a can’t miss, include him. Senzel has talent, but appears to be injury prone, include him if you have to. But, Lodolo, Greene and Tyler Stephenson should not be included. I would like to see us keep the young shortstop. Can’t remember his name. Rodriguez?

    • Earmbrister

      Jose Garcia. He should begin 2020 in AA.

      • My Beloved Reds

        Thanks Earmbrister! We should see how Garcia does at AA this year. BTW, does your name on here relate to the infamous interference play in the 75 WS? I can’t imagine it doesn’t.

  18. jon

    I think everyone is forgetting the reds can trade lindor mid-season 2021 and get another prospect or 2.

    • Bob Purkey

      Jon: Tru, but I really don’t think that your rationale applies here, as they would be getting Lindor to get them well into the playoffs and beyond. If they were to trade him midway through the 2021 season tells me that this potential trade was an abject disaster!

      • jon

        Not really. Lindor could play well while shogo and others don’t pan out.

    • Northern Ky Reds

      I don’t trust the reds talent evaluations. After the Chapman trade, I don’t trust the to make the right trade for Lindor.

  19. Bob Purkey

    Jon: True, but I really don’t think that your rationale applies here, as they would be getting Lindor to get them well into the playoffs and beyond. If they were to trade him midway through the 2021 season tells me that this potential trade was an abject disaster!

  20. Vegas Red

    Please don’t trade any top talent for only two years of anyone.

    • jon

      top talents are not guaranteed. Lindor is.

      • greenmtred

        He’s not guaranteed, either. He could get hurt in spring training and not play a game for the Reds. That sort of thing has happened before.

    • Corky Miller

      Agree. Don’t trade either, and especially don’t trade Greene or Lodolo, Lindor is not signing an extension. Why would he give up free agency for Cincinnati??? He’s going to get Bryce Harper, Manny Machado $$$

      There’s no guarantee Lindor is going to put the Reds over the top – and Lindor is not signing here for less than $300 mil.

      So giving up the future for a two year window is foolish. This isn’t New York. We have to let our talent develop. We have to draft, sign, and acquire all the pitching prospects we can get. We need to replicate what the Rays and A’s do.

      There is a reason Cleveland is willing to unload him. Their talent is as good as ours.

      • MBS

        Bryce Harper signed a 13 Y 330 M, which works out to be 25.38 M average per year.
        Machado signed a 10 Y 300 M, which works out to be 30 M average per year.
        Signing a 4 year deal now for Lindor, would be buying out his last 2 years of arbitration and picking up an extra 2, at a 30 M average per season.

        I don’t think that’s dreaming. The only real argument you could make is he’d want a 7 to 10 year deal when he becomes a free agent at age 28, as opposed to my scenario where he’d be a free agent at age 30.

  21. goat

    Everyone insists on trading for Lindor and I think that’s unnecessary. Hold onto what prospects we have left and avoid trading for Lindor or anyone else. Keep Senzel and play him at short. Sign a durable reliever, along with Marcell Ozuna, and you’ll be done with what you need to accomplish while still having your prospects for the future.

    • Jim t

      The future is NOW!!! Get Lindor and we can win Now!!

  22. MBS

    I wonder if Lindor would take a 5 year deal for 125M today. He’s projected to make what 17 this season and maybe 22 next. He’d pick up 11M these next two seasons, and have 3 seasons of 25 Guaranteed after. He’s 26 now, so he’d be 31 at the end of it. Maybe a 4 year 100M might be more appealing to him with an option on a 5th.

    • Hanawi

      Zero chance of that happening. He’s probably going to be closer to 20 and 25 the next two years and will be looking for a 35 per year long-term deal after that.

      • MBS

        Projections have him at 16.9 for the 20 season. If the projections are right we’re talking an 11m upgrade. So a 4 year deal would look like 17m, 20m 30m 33m. I’d say that’s a pretty strong contract. It still leaves him time to work 1 more big contract.

    • Corky Miller

      Dream On. Unless he gets hurt, he’ll get $300 million easily. You could argue he is more valuable than Harper and Machado because of his position.

  23. sixpack

    Yep, Simpson goes 10 and 0, then gets hurt. He could have been great.

    • Art Austin

      Sparky didn’t ruin his arm. Winter ball did.

  24. Ron Payne

    If the Reds fail to land Lindor, I think they should sign Jose Iglesias and try to trade for Starling Marte. An outfield of Senzel, Marte and Winker/Aquino would be pretty solid.

    • Northern Ky Reds

      Japanese guy? He’s in center.

    • My Beloved Reds

      Can’t do that now. Iglesias just signed with Baltimore, 1 year for 3 million.

  25. ChrisInVenice

    Interesting that the Reds need a SS & Greene was being compared to ARod out of HS.

    • Jim t

      What is interesting about that? If we started Green as a SS you think he would be ML ready now. SMDH!

  26. Northern Ky Reds

    Should I remind you of can’t miss Brandon Larson? Trade Senzel .