Here are six trades worthy of serious consideration for both the Reds and their counterparties:
1. Braves Trade: Yunel Escobar SS
Reds Trade: Johnny Gomes OF, Zack Cozart SS, Chris Heisey OR Drew Stubbs CF
Here's why: Reds need a young SS for this year and beyond. Escobar's glove is above average and he has shown the potential to OPS > .750. The Braves have soured on Escobar's attitude as evidenced by his recent benching. They are also in the market for a cheap and productive (but not neccessarily young) OF bat- Gomes has been great this year. Meanwhile they get a future replacement for Escobar in Cozart and a top CF prospect to team with Jason Heyward.
2. A's Trade: Matt Holliday OF
Reds Trade: Edwin Encarnacion 3B, Pedro Viola LHP, Sean Henry OF
Here's why: Holliday in GAB could potentially push the Reds into contention. At year end, he either accepts arbitration (unlikely) and the Reds get a RH-cleanup hitter to hold down LF until Milledge or Alonso is ready for a full-time gig, or (more likely) he turns it down and the Reds get two high draft picks. The A's are presumably looking to get FA-to-be Holliday off their books. They also need a 3B for now and beyond after the demise of Eric Chavez. EE is signed cheaply for the next couple years, and the Reds could sign Julio Lugo for the league minimum to leadoff and improve the defense at 3B until Todd Frazier is ready to take over full-time next year. If Bill Bray can return healthy, Danny Ray Herrera continues to perform, and Alexander Smit continues his ascent, the loss of Viola is manageable. Henry is expendable, especially after...
3. Nationals Trade: Lastings Milledge OF and Elijah Dukes OF
Reds Trade: Matt Maloney LHP, Daryl Thompson RHP and Jerry Hairston, Jr. CF
Here's why: From all published reports, the Nats have had enough of the highly talented yet highly volatile young outfielders and are looking to shed them as soon as possible. They are looking for a speedy, defensive CF and young pitching. The Reds clear Hairston off the books and send Maloney and Thompson somewhere where they can get a real shot in the rotation. Milledge and Dukes still have tremendous upside and would be great defensive left fielders. I'd send Milledge to AAA to regain confidence in his stroke, and let Dukes spell Jay Bruce against lefties for the rest of the year. I would bet that at least one of Dukes/Milledge ends up being at least an above average player, and could man LF in GAB for years to come. While skeptics cite that this would be their third organization, I would point them to the example of the once-disgruntled bust Brandon Phillips (and Carlos Pena, and Adrian Gonzalez, etc.)
4. Pirates Trade: Ian Snell RHP
Reds Trade: Ramon Ramirez RHP and either Drew Sutton OR Adam Rosales INF
Here's why: When the GM publicly states that it was a mistake to sign you, you're days are probably numbered in the organization. This might be a gamble for the Reds considering the costs (Snell is owed $3MM this year and $4.2MM in 2010, with club options for ’11 and ’12), but it may be one worth taking. Snell struckout 17 in his first AAA outing since being demoted. I believe Snell really needs a change of scenery, and could be at worst a dominant (but slightly overpriced) arm in the 'pen as many scouts have long projected, or at best regain his #3 starter form. More realistically, he could be somewhere in between, and a better fifth starter option than Micah Owings, allowing Owings to dominate out of the ‘pen. The Pirates have acknowledged they are now willing to move Snell for just about anything.
5. Phillies Trade: Michael Taylor OF and J.A.Happ LHP
Reds Trade: Bronson Arroyo RHP and Juan Francisco 3B
Here’s Why: This is an either/or type situation. If the Reds make the Holliday deal, there is no sense in trading Arroyo. However, if they do not make the Holliday deal and fall out of contention over the next four weeks, this is a trade they should definitely make. This deal would also be redundant with the Nationals trade, as there is no reason to acquire yet another potential LF if the club already has Milledge and Dukes in the fold. Assuming they don’t, Taylor becomes the RH power hitting LF of the future, with a major league ETA sometime in 2010. Happ is a nice-looking young lefty who could immediately replace Arroyo in the rotation, and hold down a spot for a few years to come. For those of you who are skeptical as to whether or not Philly would be willing to trade these guys, I would refer you to here and here. With Encarnacion (and Frazier) still in the organization, there is no place for Francisco who has tantalized with his power but frustrated with his plate discipline. He is the quintessential high-risk, high-reward prospect, but he is probably 3rd or 4th on the organizational depth chart. Dealing Arroyo has been discussed ad nauseum on other threads, but if the Reds drop out of contention this year, I think it’s a must-do. With some of the other deals, the Reds would now have Cueto, Volquez, Harang, Bailey, Snell, Owings, and the youngsters (Stewart, Wood and Leake) all vying for spots in the rotation. They could take some of the money saved on Arroyo and use it towards…
6. Reds Trade: Willy Taveras CF
Blue Jays Trade: Alex Rios RF
Here’s Why: Likely to be the most controversial of the proposed trades as it has been discussed ad nauseum in other threads, Alex Rios is on the chopping block. This article points out that the Jays are about ready to give him away to anyone who will assume the $60MM owed to him over the next five years. While this is a mammoth risk that a team like the Reds will probably not be willing to take, there is some upside: Rios has had great success in the majors at a young age, is entering his prime years and plays some of the best OF defense in the league. While his production has fallen off in the last year or two, his speed, defense, and RH bat would fit in well with Jocketty’s plan, and if he recovers some of his power in GAB he could be worth his contract. Bruce would immediately shift to LF, giving the Reds the best OF defense in baseball. If Rios and Taylor both play up to their potential, you can package either one of them and/or one of the young CF for an upgrade at C. Once you go beyond Louisville, there doesn’t appear to be much OF help in the system until you get to the GCL, so it would be nice to lock in an OF for the next few years. Meanwhile, although it is miniscule in comparison to Rios’ behemoth of a contract, the Reds get to dump a player who is not worth his roster spot, let alone his contract.
Obviously some of these trades could become redundant (the Reds would acquire four young corner OFers if they did all of these moves). However each one involves trading away different pieces that I feel are expendable for some of the reasons mentioned above. All of the potential targets are readily available according to most published reports (with the possible exception of Escobar.) As far as I can tell, most of the proposals address the primary needs that the counterparties seem to be seeking. What do you think? Which of these moves make the most sense?