Progress Report: Reds Offseason Trades

After yesterday’s game, a friend of mine mentioned how he was glad the Reds wound up winning—in spite of Mat Latos. Latos gave up five earned runs on 10 hits in 6.1 innings on Sunday and did not factor into the decision.

“He’s a dud,” he said, before adding what has by now become a familiar refrain: “We gave up too much for him.”

So, with the first month of the season in the books, I thought it would be a good time to take a look at the Latos deal and two other offseason trades made by the Reds and see how the players involved have performed so far.

Yonder Alonso, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal, and Brad Boxberger for Mat Latos

What we gave up: Yonder Alonso was the player that Reds fans were saddest to see leave, but he has struggled early on in San Diego, hitting .236 with just three RBI and no home runs. He has also only played first base this year, a position that will be filled in Cincinnati for the next decade and then some.

Unlike Alonso, few were too broken up to say goodbye to Edinson Volquez. I’m sure that if he needed help, Volquez could have found several volunteers to help him pack for the west coast and see him off. Not surprisingly, however, the move from Great American Ball Park to pitcher-friendly Petco Park has been beneficial to Volquez’s numbers. He has allowed only two home runs so far, as many as he allowed in the first two batters last season. Although he is still searching for his first win, he is on pace to have his best year since his 17-win, All-Star season in 2008. He has continued to strike out batters at a high rate, and opponents are hitting just .206 against him. He has a 3.60 ERA and a WHIP of just 1.267 despite issuing a National League-worst 16 walks.

In the minors, catcher Yasmani Grandal has played only six games so far at Triple-A Tucson due to a stint on the disabled list, but is batting .421 with a home run. Pitcher Brad Boxberger, also in Tucson, has made nine appearances and has walked nearly a batter an inning. He has a WHIP of 1.778 and an ERA of 5.00.

What we got: Outside of one outstanding start against the Giants, Mat Latos had a not-so-outstanding first month in Cincinnati, posting a 1-2 record with a 5.97 ERA. But as Michael Barr of Fangraphs pointed out last week, slow starts are the norm for Latos. April was his worst month in each of the past two—now three—years. Latos has always been a pitcher that has improved as the season has progressed. His strikeout rate and opponents’ batting average on balls in play are both much worse than his career numbers, suggesting a likely improvement for the 24-year old.

Trade grade: B-. I think Latos will get it together soon. I also think Volquez’s numbers are a product of his new environment; four of his five starts have been at home. As much as I wanted Alonso to work out in left field or at third base, it just wasn’t going to happen. Also, Latos is cheap. The Reds are paying him about a quarter of what Volquez alone is making this year. B- for now, but I expect that grade to improve.

Travis Wood, Dave Sappelt, and Ronald Torreyes for Sean Marshall

What we gave up: Not one of the three players the Reds lost in the deal has played a game in Chicago yet this year. And if they keep playing the way they have so far, not one of them will any time soon. Travis Wood, after losing a battle for a Cubs’ rotation spot in the spring, has been unspectacular but decent in four starts this year with a 1-2 record and 4.24 ERA, although he has allowed 28 hits in 23.1 innings at Triple-A Iowa. His teammate Dave Sappelt, who hit .313 at Louisville in 2011, is hitting just .221 so far. Infielder Ronald Torreyes, who hit .356 at Dayton in 2011, is hitting .246 at High-A Daytona. Only 19 years old, he is still a couple years away from the big leagues.

What we got: Sean Marshall was forced into the closer role after the injury to Ryan Madson, and has converted five of six save opportunities. While his ERA and WHIP are not impressive, he has looked dominant at times and should rack up many more saves if the Reds continue to play as they have the last week and a half, no matter what Leatherpants says.

Trade grade: A-. Reds fans have not seen the best of Marshall yet. Cubs fans have not seen anything from Wood, Sappelt, or Torreyes yet.

Juan Francisco for J.J. Hoover

What we gave up: Juan Francisco never lived up to his vast potential with the Reds. Although he was a great hitter in the minors, he never made the most of his opportunities in Cincinnati and spent a lot of time on the DL. The last straw was this spring when he arrived to camp overweight. So the Reds shipped him to Atlanta in late March, where he has seen extensive playing time due to an injury to Chipper Jones. While he already has three homers in 16 games, he is hitting just .229 and has committed three errors.

What we got: J.J. Hoover got off to a great start in Louisville and has continued his success so far in his first two major league appearances. In his three innings since his debut last week, he has allowed two walks and no hits or runs.

Trade grade: B. Hoover looks like he has what it takes to be a solid addition to a depleted bullpen that has suffered injuries to Madson, Nick Masset, and Bill Bray. However, while Francisco is hitting only .229, that‘s still considerably better than the Reds’ only left-handed option off the bench, Willie Harris, whose .100 batting average is worse than the averages of four of the team’s five starting pitchers.

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