Reds Must Take a Leap


Mandatory Credit: Jayne Kamin-Oncea-USA TODAY Sports

It is time the Cincinnati Reds pull the trigger and go all-in.

The window of opportunity may be slammed shut at the conclusion of the 2014 campaign, and who knows if it ever may return in the near future.  Sure, the core of Joey Votto, Jay Bruce and Brandon Phillips don’t seem to be going anywhere, but nearly the entire pitching staff needs new, shiny contracts.  From Homer Bailey, to Mat Latos, to even Aroldis Chapman. 

With the obscene amount of money being pumped into the bullpen this year, it is going to be as dominant as it has ever been.  Sam LeCure and J.J. Hoover seem ready to make the next big leap into stardom, and veterans Sean Marshall and Jonathan Broxton compliment them nicely.  This is also not to forget the aforementioned, “Cuban Missile,” Aroldis Chapman.

Enough of the foreshadowing and rehashing of obvious clichés about the roster, this is the deal the Reds should make before the first Spring Training game in 10 days. 

Homer Bailey to the Los Angeles Dodgers in exchange for Matt Kemp, and a large portion of his contract.

There is irony in all of this.  When Bailey was a youngster, he was on the precipice of being shipped out to the south side of Chicago in exchange for Jermaine Dye, who was the right-handed power bat the Reds so desperately needed, and even, still do. 

The absolutely stacked Los Angeles Dodgers roster has no flaws.  They don’t need anything, or anyone.  It is the type of team created in a video game where the difficulty is cranked down to Easy so that a dynasty can be built in as quick a time as possible. 

Granted, having four all-star outfielders is not the worst problem one could have with their franchise.  The same way that having Josh Beckett, a former World Series winning ace, as your #5 starter is not the end of the world. 

But, the deal makes sense for everyone involved.

The Reds are going to come into issues with their starting pitchers incredibly soon if this does not get resolved.  Both Mat Latos and Bailey are proud pitchers, devoted to their craft.  They have put up imposing numbers, regardless of playing in a pronounced hitter’s park for half of their starts.  Both will want to be paid, and paid handsomely.  When push comes to shove, Latos will be the pitcher they invest in long-term, and rightfully so.

That leaves an unhappy Homer Bailey.  This would all be so simple if the Reds had the budget of the Dodgers, Yankees, Red Sox, etc. but those dollars aren’t coming in any time soon.  Signing Homer long-term to the Dodgers, would be like reaching over into their Monopoly bank and grabbing as much money as he requested. 

Both teams are coming from two different perspectives, but ultimately, they have similar goals: don’t upset their players, and find a way to put the best team possible on the field. 

Mandatory Credit: Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Acquiring Matt Kemp may be a daunting task amidst his six years, and $128 million remaining on his lucrative contract.  Now, there would be no way this trade could occur without the Dodgers paying some of it, a la the Texas Rangers when they ditched Alex Rodriguez for higher ground.  For any rational team, trading one of the league’s finest players to play against you for a hefty sum seems irrational, but it’s important to remember that we are discussing the Dodgers here; they have managed to make the New York Yankees look cheap.

It was just a few short years ago that ESPN: The Magazine had Matt Kemp on the covering, comparing him to a modern day Willie Mays.  Injuries have certainly hampered that comparison, but his 2011 season was by far the best by a player playing on an even playing field.  When healthy, his combination of speed, power and defense is unmatched by any other in the game.

Why would the Dodgers part ways with such a commodity you may ask?  Simply, it’s a numbers game.  They have four outfielders for three spots in Carl Crawford, Andre Ethier, Yasiel Puig and Matt Kemp.  If they decide to go through with keeping all four, Ethier would likely be the odd man out; a blasphemous decision, considering he could probably bat clean up on half the teams in the National League.  From the Dodgers perspective, Kemp is the most high octane element as he makes the most money, and has played the least.  His potential is there, but with the win now culture in LA, they may not be willing to wait for his hamstrings to strengthen.

If the deal is completed, it affects multiple facets of the club: a new #5 starter will have to be called up, whether it be Chien-Ming Wang, Jeff Francis, David Holmberg, Robert Stephenson, the possibilities are endless; and Billy Hamilton will not be playing every day.  As of this moment, many Reds fans have it engrained in their brain that for the foreseeable future, we will be watching “Billy the Kid” zoom around the basepaths and the green centerfield grass, but if acquiring Matt Kemp is possible, that daydream can be put on hold.

Not only does a 3-4-5 of Votto, Kemp and Bruce sound extremely potent, but it will mean the new age Big Red Machine will finally have arrived.