I have been wading through rapid fire unsubstantiated baseball trade rumors for over a week now and been loving every second of it. It appears that Jocketty and Co. are uncharacteristically of a mind to make one of the bigger splashes in the trade market in an effort to upgrade one of a couple roster deficiencies in a Reds team that despite lackluster play could still make noise. It’s a perfect storm of sorts for a trade geek like myself. Not only do I get to peruse rumor mills across the web, but I get to see my favorite team prominently involved in many said rumors. Fantastic. Also it’s not so bad to see (at least publicly) that the team is committed to getting better by other means than simply ‘wait and see’
That all said, the rumors have been sifted, filed, and tabulated and we’re going to have the Reds’ top rumored trade targets and whether they actually make sense for the team.
Probable Asking Price: Near Astronomical
Impact on Team: High
Trade Probability: 4.5/10
What seemed to me to have started as one of those hypothetical ‘what if” rumors, the Ubaldo Jimenez-to-the-Reds scenario has gained legs and seems to have been legitimately discussed by the teams. The Rockies’ ace, who has struggled to regain his ASG starter form from 2010 this season, has slowly began to round into form and seems to be one of the only top of the rotation starters being bandied about in rumors this season. Having a team-friendly contract and controllable through 2013 (with a team option-turned-player option in 2014 if traded from Colorado) any trade for Jimenez would most definitely not be a rental and would provide an ace for relatively cheap. Just so happens that is exactly one of the things the Reds are looking for. There is only one real qualm with the deal. With Jimenez playing better as of late, with a good contract, and the Rockies not exactly overflowing with great pitching…why would they entertain this deal? While interest in dealing is legitimate, the Rockies seem to be in a position to hold for only the most spectacular of offers for Ubaldo. The Reds are one of only 3 or 4 teams who seem top actually possess the prospects capable of putting together a deal that would satisfy Colorado and it would really take a package of at least 1 MLB player and 3 top and mid level prospects to begin talks. I put the probability of this trade happening at 4.5/10 simply because while the Reds could make this deal happen, the price just might be too much to bear.
Probable Asking Price: High
Impact on Team: High
Trade Probability: 5.5/10
The other ace on the block, the availability of the Rays’ James Shields is a recent development. The 29 year old first time All Star is pitching phenomenally for the Rays this year. Posting what would be career marks in ERA (2.53) and WHIP (1.011) in 2011, Shields has also posted more complete games (7) and shutouts (3) this season that his other 5 big league seasons combined. With Tampa Bay slipping further and further behind Boston and New York in the AL East and wildcard standings, they may continue their trend of dumping current successful pitchers for prospects and running with the next wave of wunderkind hurlers, ala Matt Garza. Shields is also under a decently friendly contract for the foreseeable future with team options until 2014, topping out at $12 mil/year. This is the deal for the Reds that gets me the most excited. The package needed to acquire Shields would not be as prohibitively excessive as that for Jimenez and the results could be just as impressive for the Reds. Any package for Shields would probably start with Yonder Alonso as Tampa Bay has a true deficiency at first with only Casey Kotchman there. The only issue with a deal for Shields would only be whether they actually wanted to part with him. Interest from the Reds end for him should be legitimate.
Probable Asking Price: Medium-High
Impact on Team: High
Trade Probability: 5/10
While I believe the Reds will try to make a trade for some sort of left field help, I graced the section with the name Hunter Pence for a reason. He may not be the most easily attainable and the Reds may not even be looking at him as a potential trade option, but I believe he would make the most sense and have the most impact on the team going forward almost over a top end starting pitcher. Watching the Astros as we do, being NL Central afficianados, we know exactly what Pence could bring to the Reds. Steve highlighted a Pence deal (and the full laundry list of Reds trade rumors) here in a post a couple days ago and has a similar feeling as myself. Pence is just an out-and-out player and does all the small things that have been markedly absent from the Reds outfield thus far. Since news has come down that the Astros ownership is instructing the team to reduce payroll, the idea of a Houston house cleaning is looking more likely. This makes it more likely that Pence could be traded as he would bring the biggest haul of any player on the roster. While he has become the face of the franchise, the right deal could move Houston to get his salary off the books and the Reds have the pieces to make things enticing for Houston. I do see a stumbling block of a trade within the division of course, but things are still possible. If a trade for Pence does not materialize, the Reds have also been mentioned having interest in Chone Figgins and Coco Crisp. This would be the old ‘acquiring a player identically crappy to the other 3 guys you have, hoping they won’t be quite as crappy’ move. Not all action is good action. If either of these players are acquired I may light myself on fire. You have been forewarned.
Mid Level Relief Pitcher
Probable Asking Price: Low-Medium
Impact on Team: Low-Medium
Trade Probability: 6.5/10
This section is listed as mid level relief pitcher because the breadth of the relief market is so wide that there are nearly too many names to fully list. While the Reds most certainly will not throw their hat into the Heath Bell/Mike Adams sweepstakes in San Diego (that’s all yours St. Louis, have fun giving up Shelby Miller), they may pursue one of the next level of relievers. A few of the relievers that have been linked to the Reds thus far: Grant Balfour, Jason Isringhausen (I distinctly remember him being with the Reds last year and sucking), Tyler Clippard, Jim Johnson, Todd Coffey, and Jason Frasor. There are only 2 of those names that would give the Reds any sort of benefit over what they currently have in the bullpen. Grant Balfour and Tyler Clippard would be good additions to the set up corps for the Reds. Neither would require a large package of players to acquire and would work to bolster the bullpen. I have only one real reservation about acquiring a bullpen arm. I don’t really know if it’s a real weakness compared to left field or starting pitching. The bullpen the Reds currently have has performed admirably to be honest (check your emotions toward CoCo at the door) but another arm wouldn’t hurt. Look for a small deal here though as there are enough easily attainable relief pieces for the Reds to make a relatively painless acquisition here the easiest if they actually want to make one.
So overall the Reds have cast a wide and varied net in the trading seas thus far. While all this means nothing in terms whether any deals will actually be made it’s worth noting that the Reds have cropped up in trade rumors an uncharacteristically high amount this season than in recent years. If there were a year where the Reds were to pull the trigger on a big time deal, this would probably be it. My prediction if anything happens? Reds get James Shields and a mid-level left fielder and reliever.