The Reds didn't pay the $250,000 for a PTNL. Stinnett had the $250 coming to him as an off-season buyout. You have to view it as part of his salary.
Presumably, nobody would agree to pick up both Stinnett's remaining salary and the $250 buy out. So the Reds took (from the Phils) relief from the remaining 2003 salary, but kept the obligation to pay the buy out.
In other words, even though the Reds paid money, it was a salary dump. I don't think a great prospect is coming back.