cincyinco, good points. I certainly thinks it's possible Austin Kearns has figured things out well enough to be the Tim Salmon-level player I once envisioned him as.
My clear preference would be that the Reds trade Jr. He's the guy who fits least well into the equation. If Kearns could be locked into relatively cheap three-year extension (under $12M says I), then I'd consider keeping him around.
Yet if he can't be locked into such a deal, keeping him has its consequences. IMO the Reds had better go out and find two starters for 2007 (and perish the notion that anyone from the farm or this draft will play an important role in a contender's rotation next year). Relievers need to be found from outside as well (though perhaps someone from the farm could help on that front, Guevara striking me as the most likely candidate). And then the offense and defense need to click. Is Felipe Lopez a SS for a contending ballclub? You don't have to answer that question prior to next year if you aren't counting on 2007. But holding Austin Kearns makes 2007 imperative. Not only does he have to produce, the team has to be ready too. Because if he walks after that season then you're left without the benefit of the talent he could have fetched you this summer or this coming winter. The Reds have precious little talent where they can afford to lose a guy like Kearns with no return on him. That's no a small market problem. It's a small talent problem.