Come summertime, which pieces should the Reds be dangling as attractive trade bait in order to fill more pressing needs and strengthen weaker positions?
1. Yonder Alonso- It is becoming clear that Joey Votto isn't going anywhere. Whether or not Alonso can play anywhere but 1B, and whether he will ever be able to hit lefties remains to be seen. If he hits well to start the season, he should be used to attract a bigger need come June or July.
2. Travis Wood- While it is never advisable to trade away young talented pitching (especially southpaws), Wood's value may never be higher than it is right now. He is coming off a career year in the Southern League, and could perform well in Louisville to start the season. However, he is behind Bailey, Cueto, Volquez, Chapman, and Leake on the pitching depth chart, and most do not project him to be a major impact starter in the major leagues. If the young pitchers continue to progress in the first couple months of the season and Volquez looks good in rehab, I would like to sell high on Wood to get value in return.
3. Jared Burton- While he has been up and down at the major league level, the emergence of Nick Masset has made him expendable. I'd actually like to keep Francisco Cordero around until the end of his contract, particularly assuming this is Harang and Arroyo's last year in Cincy. We should have at least one veteran mentor for the staff, and while it would be nice to have a cheaper option, Cordero could provide great mentorship and tutelage for the young Hispanic pitchers like Cueto, Volquez, and of course Chapman. Additionally, Micah Owings should help in the 'Pen, Bill Bray should conceivably return from injury, and Carlos Fisher has proven he can contribute in the late innings.
4. Logan Ondrusek- Similar reasons to Burton, but also if/when Jose Arredondo shows that he is recovering nicely from TJ surgery, Ondrusek could be attractive as a young, late inning arm to another team. If there is one thing the Reds have been pretty good about being able to produce (either through development or acquisition), it is bullpen arms. Between Masset, Owings, Fisher, Arredondo, Burton, Ondrusek, and now Jordan Smith, there will only be room for so many to contribute going forward, especially if Cordero is still here.
5. Chris Heisey- This all depends on what we see from Chris Dickerson, Wladimir Balentien, Drew Stubbs, and Juan Francisco in the first couple months of 2010. If two or more of those guys look like major league regulars, there is no reason to keep so many young OFs with value. If Heisey continues to perform but is blocked by any/all of the above, move him for better value. He also probably doesn't have the upside that some of the others do. Coming off a career year, deal him if he continues to perform. He will be 26, and we have more talented guys who are younger. I could see the Billy Beane being interested (see Denorfia, Chris and Rosales, Adam).
6. Orlando Cabrera- If Zach Cozart can hit well consistently in Louisville, Cabrera and his postseason experience could be an attractive piece for a contender (that includes the Reds) come July. Billy Beane has been known to pull these kind of 1/2 year flips, so why shouldn't his mentor be able to? With Cozart, Janish, and possibly a young SS (R.Brignac, Y.Escobar, or G.Green?) from outside the organization coming over via trade, Cabrera and his relatively inexpensive deal could be expendable.
Of course, if the Reds are not contending come July, Bronson Arroyo, Aaron Harang, Arthur Rhodes, Orlando Cabrera, and possibly Brandon Phillips (only if Frazier proves he can play 2B well) could all be guys who could be dealt. Hopefully, that scenario does not come to fruition.