The trade deadline is just over two weeks away and the Reds have some holes to fill. One key addition could be enough to push them over the top in a tight NL Central race.
The biggest issue that needs to be addressed is the leadoff spot. Everybody knows this. Radio announcers, TV announcers, print media. It’s the elephant in the room. Through Friday night’s game, the top spot in the order has hit .202 with an on base percentage of .243. That is beyond abysmal.
At the same time, Drew Stubbs is just not getting it done. The other day, John Fay mentioned that the Reds may be looking to reduce his role. I think if they can acquire a good centerfielder, this may be the right move. Stubbs is having a terrible season, and Ryan Ludwick is quietly having a good year and is on a tear right now, hitting .364 in July. He has earned the right to play everyday in left field.
With those two things in mind, here are five of the guys I would most like to see the Reds try to acquire:
Justin Upton, RF, Diamondbacks. Obviously. Almost everybody wants him right now. This may be unlikely, but Arizona is said to be shopping him and the Reds have been mentioned as a possible match.
Pros: He is only 24 with a fairly team-friendly contract that runs through 2015. He can hit for power and get on base with a career OBP of .357. He has already finished in the top 25 in MVP voting twice and is just entering the start of his prime. He is hitting .273/.353/.401 and that’s a down year for him. Acquiring him and putting him in a lineup with Votto, Jay Bruce, and Brandon Phillips would give the Reds the best young lineup in the NL and would make Cincinnati a legitimate World Series contender this year and each of the next three years.
Cons: Any team that traded for him would have to give up a ton. More than what was dealt for Mat Latos. While he was a center fielder in the minors, he also has only played right field in the majors, so he would have to shift back to a position he hasn’t played in years.
Denard Span, CF, Twins. His name is being mentioned more and more as a potential fit for Cincinnati.
Pros: He is an excellent defensive centerfielder with a career UZR/150 of 4.2. He is also affordable and would be under team control for at least two more years after this season with a team option for 2015. At 28 years old, he would be a strong addition to the solid young core the Reds already have locked up for the next few years. He has a nice career slash line of .282/.357/.385.
Cons: His production has been declining. His first full MLB season in 2009 was terrific as he hit .311 with an OBP of .392. He has steadily dropped off in each of those categories since. Last year in only 70 games, he hit .264 with an OBP of .328. This year he has been only slightly better at .270/.334. This is still drastically better than what the Reds have had this year.
Dexter Fowler, CF, Rockies. The Colorado centerfielder is in the midst of a breakout season.
Pros: He is batting .300 with an OBP of .389. He has a career OBP of .360. He even younger than Span at just 26 years old and is under team control through 2015. He is only making $2.35 million this year. He leads the league with nine triples and has seen a power surge this season with 11 home runs. Perhaps best of all, he has a career walk rate over 12%.
Cons: He may not be available. The Rockies have not said he is untouchable, but they aren’t actively shopping him. Defensive metrics are not kind to him, as his career UZR/150 is -12.6. His home/road splits are also troubling. For his career, his home slash line is .291/.391/.495; away from Coors Field it’s .244/.328/.370. He would probably cost the Reds a valuable prospect or two at least.
David DeJesus, OF, Cubs. The veteran is still getting on base in his 10th MLB season.
Pros: He has been fairly consistent at getting on base throughout his career with an OBP of .356. He is right there again this season at .359. On days that he doesn’t play, he would be a good left-handed bat off the bench. He can play all three outfield positions.
Cons: He can play a serviceable centerfield, but would be a downgrade defensively from Stubbs. He doesn’t have a whole lot of speed.
Mark Kotsay, OF/1B, Padres. The journeyman may not be a flashy pickup, but he is the best available player to fit a need the Reds have.
Pros: I hadn’t even thought about Kotsay until I saw the rumor that the Reds were interested in him on Friday. It makes total sense. As an impending free agent, he could probably be acquired for next to nothing and is not making much money this year, and he would finally give the Reds a good left-handed hitter off the bench. In 276 career plate appearances off the bench, Kotsay has hit .315 with a .371 OBP. He would probably see limited time in the outfield, but could spell Joey Votto at first. He would essentially a slightly younger, better, left-handed Miguel Cairo.
Cons: He’s a free agent after the season, meaning the Reds could give up a prospect for a player who might walk after a few months.