Three Scenarios After the Chris Heisey Trade

The deal that sent Chris Heisey to the Los Angeles Dodgers last evening came as a surprise. If the season were to begin tomorrow, it almost assuredly would have been Heisey and Skip Schumaker sharing a majority of the duties out in left field.

On the surface, dealing Heisey and getting back Matt Magill seems like a curious move. The Dodgers are stocked to the brim with outfielders, while the Redlegs currently employ more pitching than what they know to do with.

Many have harped on the fact that Magill had a 5+ ERA last season down at Triple-A. This goes to show two things: A.) Those willing to make a point will always pick the smallest sample size possible, and B.) That it’s really difficult to pitch in the Pacific Coast League with the way some stadiums are configured/conducive to offense. Before we get a look at Magill in some capacity—whether it is Spring Training, or at Louisville—it’s best to hold off judgment.

To some, this may seem like an innoxious deal with very minor implications, if any at all. Yet, there is a much deeper meaning to this trade than what we are seeing. As with any exhilarating off-season, the first domino had to fall before we could begin.

Scenario #1: The Reds Acquire a Left Fielder

Even with Nelson Cruz and Torii Hunter recently coming off the market, the field is still log-jammed full of candidates. Whether you’re a fan of Michael Morse, Nori Aoki, Ichiro Suzuki or even Jonny Gomes being the man to step in, this seems like the most plausible scenario.

I cannot think that general manager Walt Jocketty would have traded Heisey unless he had a backup plan concretely in place. The issue with a player like Morse or Aoki is that both are going to want deals that are more than a yearlong. With next off-season being pivotal in the future of the Cincinnati Reds with 4/5ths of their starting rotation hitting the market, having cash on the books for a slight upgrade in left field may not be worth it.

Scenario #2: Kristopher Negron and Donald Lutz Get Considerable Playing Time

This scenario could include just Negron, as he would take Heisey’s role of platooning with Schumaker out in left field, but with the way Bryan Price managed it last season, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Lutz find his way into the equation as well. (For as many opportunities as Heisey had, big Lutz has had the exact opposite. If he gets hot in Spring Training or starts ablaze down on the farm, expect to see him getting some considerable time out there.)

For whatever reason, folks are borderline obsessed with acquiring a new left fielder to fill the void Ryan Ludwick left—wait, he didn’t leave much of a void at all over the past two seasons. This convoluted mess has been happening in left field since the day Adam Dunn was traded; it’s nothing new. The Reds don’t need a Justin Upton or Nelson Cruz in left field to win a World Series. They won 97 games in 2012 with Ludwick. They won the division in 2010 with a platoon of Jonny Gomes and Laynce Nix. Giving Negron and Lutz (and a healthy Schumaker) the reins in left field is a decision that is both business savvy and performance intelligent. This would be the path I would take.

Scenario #3: Something Big is Coming…

I don’t actually believe this and you shouldn’t either, but let’s go into dream mode for a moment…

The Reds are somehow willing to take on the contract of either Justin Upton or Matt Kemp and are willing to deal either Mat Latos or Johnny Cueto for their services. Acquiring Magill was really the plan all along, not dumping Heisey, as the team will need more emergency starters heading into 2015.

It’s not so much that the deal isn’t plausible, as it is that’s it’s just unlikely. Major swaps like those listed above just don’t occur very often in baseball. I suppose theoretically it could happen, but I would be shocked. Don’t look for the Reds to pull off a trade-of-the-decade type move.