Grading the 2012 Reds’ trades: Part 1

Early in the season, I took a look at a few of the trades that Reds general manager Walt Jocketty made in the offseason. Obviously the trades helped the Reds capture a division title, although they fell short of their ultimate goal of the World Series. But now that the 2012 season is in the books, let’s take another look back at the offseason deals, plus a few in-season moves, and see how the players involved compared to one another. Part 2 will run tomorrow morning.

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

What we gave up: All four players contributed to San Diego’s major league club this season, and should, with the exception of Volquez, continue to do so for several years.

Volquez was a drastically different pitcher in the second half than he was in the first. Volquez posted a first half ERA of 3.52 with a WHIP of 1.38. Those numbers rose to 5.02 and 1.55 in the second half. For the entire year, he was 11-11 with a 4.14 ERA. He also walked 105 batters, the most in baseball. Baseball-Reference valued his season at 0.7 wins above replacement, while Fangraphs had him at 1.3 WAR.

Mat Latos. Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

Alonso started at first base for the Padres and played 155 games. He hit .273 with a good on base percentage of .348, but his power numbers were lacking. Alonso hit just nine home runs and his slugging percentage was just .393 for a lackluster .741 OPS. Just 25 years old, he probably has better years ahead of him. His WAR: 1.1 B-R, 2.0 F.

Grandal started the year in the minors, but made his major league debut in June. He was sent back down after one plate appearance, but came back at the end of the month and eventually became the Padres’ primary catcher. Grandal, a switch-hitting 23-year old, made history when he homered from both sides of the plate in his first major league start. In 60 games in San Diego, Grandal hit .297 and also did a great job of drawing walks to post an OBP of .394. He hit eight home runs and finished with an OPS of .863. His WAR: 2.7 B-R, 2.6 F.

Boxberger also started the season in AAA, but was on the big league club for good by the end of July. He pitched well in his 24 games out of the bullpen, with an ERA of 2.60 and a WHIP of 1.45. He struck out batters at a high rate, with a K/9 of 10.7. His WAR: 0.1 B-R, -0.1 F.

Total WAR: 4.6 B-R, 5.8 F.

What we got: Latos struggled badly at the start of the year, which drew the ire of a lot of fans who thought too much was given up to obtain him. But he silenced those critics as the year went on and he got better and better. In the second half, Latos was 7-2 with a 2.84 ERA. For the year, he was 14-4 with a 3.48 ERA and a 1.16 WHIP as he posted his first career season over 200 innings pitched. As Johnny Cueto faded a bit from the impossibly high standard he set for much of the year, Latos was the anchor of the staff down the stretch. Only 24 years old, Latos is arbitration eligible this offseason, but will almost surely be offered an extension. His WAR: 4.2 B-R, 3.1 F.

Trade grade: A-. According to Baseball-Reference, Latos alone was worth nearly as much as all four other players combined this season. Latos was much better than the man he replaced in the rotation, and was an absolute bargain with a salary just barely north of half a million dollars. Alonso would have likely seen significant time at first base following the injury to Joey Votto, but the outstanding play of Todd Frazier and Scott Rolen in that period made Alonso’s departure meaningless. Boxberger pitched well, but likely wouldn’t have made much difference, or even earned a spot, in a Reds bullpen that was one of baseball’s best. Grandal, however, could have made a big impact as Ryan Hanigan’s backup this year, and is already making some fans wish Devin Mesoraco had been sent west instead. While that’s not fair to either player, Grandal has certainly looked better at the major league level than his fellow rookie after one season.

Juan Francisco for J.J. Hoover

What we gave up: Francisco wore out his welcome in the Cincinnati clubhouse and the Reds dealt him to Atlanta at the end of March.

J.J. Hoover. Frank Victores-US PRESSWIRE

He appeared in 93 games for the Braves this season, hitting .234 with nine home runs. His OPS was just .710. He struck out 70 times in 205 plate appearances for a staggering strikeout rate of .341. For the sake of comparison, that’s an even higher strikeout rate than Drew Stubbs (.305). He could play an even bigger role for the Braves in 2013 with the retirement of Chipper Jones, unless the club decides to look elsewhere. His WAR: 0.2 B-R, 0.8 F.

What we got: Hoover spent most of the year in Louisville, where he was 4-0 with a 1.22 ERA and a microscopic 0.73 WHIP. When he made it to Cincinnati, he was nearly as good against major league hitters. Hoover managed a 2.05 ERA and a similarly superb 0.98 WHIP in 28 appearances. Hoover is likely to stick in the Reds crowded bullpen in 2013, even with the probable return of Nick Masset, and could work his way into a meaningful set-up role later in the year if he continues his success. His WAR: 0.9 B-R, 0.4 F.

Trade grade: A+. Francisco was given ample opportunity to earn his spot in Cincinnati, and never did. He continued to disappoint in Atlanta. Jocketty flipped him for a promising young pitcher who played well and thrived in pressure situations.

Check back tomorrow for Part 2, where I will examine the trades for Sean Marshall, Wilson Valdez, and Jonathan Broxton.