Raisel Iglesias, at times, has been one of the best closers in the game. With the Cincinnati Reds struggling to contend, is it time to trade Iglesias?
The Cincinnati Reds have the luxury of employing one of the best closers in the game. Raisel Iglesias saved 30 games for the Reds this year in 34 opportunities. With Cincinnati still in the cellar of the NL Central and struggling to break through, is it time to trade Iglesias?
Since being moved to the closer’s role, Raisel Iglesias has been dominant in the back end of the bullpen. For his career, Iglesias has 64 saves in 72 opportunities. That means 89% of the time that Iglesias steps on the mound with the lead, the Reds are walking out with a victory. But, with the current situation the Reds are in, do they need a dominant closer like Iglesias?
The decision to keep or trade Iglesias is not so much about his ability as a pitcher, but rather the club’s ability to compete and their need for a pitcher like Iggy to close out games. A strong closer is needed to help ball clubs win those tight games when the pressure is ramped up. Are the Reds at that point? Will they be there any time in the near future?
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Cincinnati is coming off their fifth consecutive losing season, and the fourth season in a row in which they’ve lost 90-plus games. Add to that the fact that the Reds play in the most difficult division in baseball, and the deck appears to be stacked against them.
Both the Milwaukee Brewers and Chicago Cubs made the playoffs with 90-plus wins, and the St. Louis Cardinals were in contention for the postseason until the last week of the season. The Pittsburgh Pirates have a good, young starting rotation and also finished with a winning record.
Now, let’s be clear, I’m not advocating for the Reds to just take their ball and go home because the competition is too tough. This is professional baseball. If you’re going to compete and win games at the highest level, it’s not going to be an easy task. The question isn’t the team’s drive or desire to win, but rather about their talent. More specifically, the talent of the Reds starting pitchers.
The infield is set. There are All-Stars at three positions, a Gold Glove-caliber catcher behind the plate, and an emerging star at shortstop. The outfield has question marks but is still solid. The Reds bullpen is very good, especially in the back end.
The Cincinnati Reds have the players to compete, but only if they fix the starting rotation. The Reds have expressed their intentions of entering the free agent market with hopes of improving just that. If the Reds upgrade their starting rotation, then I believe that they can compete in 2019.
If that’s the case, then there’s no reason for the Reds to trade away Iglesias. He’s on a team-friendly contract through the 2021 season. However, if the Reds don’t make enough changes with the starting rotation this offseason, trading Iglesias may be a necessary move with the intent of trading him for starting pitching.
The Reds have adequate, yet unspectacular replacements should Iglesias be moved. Jared Hughes had 7 saves last season. Cincinnati also has a young gun by the name of Jimmy Herget in Triple-A Louisville. Herget will likely make the team out of Spring Training this year.
Iglesias has been a great closer for the Cincinnati Reds over the last two years. But, an elite-level closer like Iglesias is a luxury for a non-winning team. The Reds need to make adjustments to the starting rotation via free agency first, and then make a decision on what to do with Iglesias.