Cincinnati Reds Joey Votto vs former prospect Yonder Alonso – What If?

(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images)
(Photo by Rob Tringali/Getty Images) /

Looking back in time for the Cincinnati Reds, there is an interesting choice that the front office made.

Following the 2011 season, the Cincinnati Reds needed pitching.  The San Diego Padres had the pitcher that the Reds wanted in Mat Latos.  The rumors were that the Reds had a choice between sending former MVP Joey Votto and the prospects that they sent.

The Reds sent Brad Boxberger, Edinson Volquez, Yasmani Grandal, and Yonder Alonso to the Padres for Mat Latos, after a deal of Alonso for Josh Tomlin fell through.  At the time those were three of the Reds’ best prospects and Volquez ,who had trouble staying healthy.  Votto was coming off of a season in which he led the National League in doubles and won his only Gold Glove.

In 2010 Votto won the National League MVP and the Philadelphia Phillies swept the Reds in the LDS, 3-0.  The Phillies lost in the next round to the San Francisco Giants.  The Reds however discovered in 2011 that they needed something else to continue to compete.

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The Reds ranked 12th out of 16 NL teams in ERA in 2011, so the Reds needed to do something.  Volquez and Travis Wood combined to form a substandard option as a fifth starter in 2011.  The trade for Latos made sense, but they could have stayed younger and potentially still made the deal.

The Cincinnati Reds would look very different now, if they had kept the prospects.

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The team would have a completely different direction, if Alonso stayed and played first base.  Alonso is a better defensive first baseman, but hits for less power generally.  His OBP, while good, at .340, is still not comparable to Votto’s.

What the Reds would have had is more pitching depth.  Boxberger and Volquez would have provided more depth as the team tried to reclaim a playoff spot the following two years.  Volquez would have become a swingman.

The larger change is that Grandal would have been around to challenge Devin Mesoraco for the catching role.  He would have stepped up when Mesoraco had his injury issues.

That would have stabilized the catching position.

The presence of Boxberger would have let the Reds hold onto to Wood, instead of trading him for Sean Marshall.  That deal was an epic fail.  Sometimes, one deal impacts two or three.

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Overall, the gap between Alsonso and Votto is just too great for the other three players to cover the difference in production, even though the Padres traded Anthony Rizzo after they acquired Alonso.  While the additional salary would have allowed the Reds to re-sign their pitchers, the offense would have been damaged.  The deal worked then and it still works in hindsight.