The Cincinnati Reds and Los Angeles Dodgers pulled off a blockbuster trade last week. Let’s wrap up this early Christmas present and put a grade on it.
The Cincinnati Reds sent Homer Bailey, Jeter Downs, and Josiah Gray to the Los Angeles Dodgers last week. In exchange, the Reds received slugger Yasiel Puig, left-handed starter Alex Wood, veteran outfielder Matt Kemp, utility infielder Kyle Farmer and cash considerations. So, what grade so the Reds deserve?
Instant reaction says A+, right? I mean, c’mon, the Reds off-loaded Homer Bailey and his $28-million contract. That’s enough, right? While some fans may agree, it’s not that simple. Yes, dumping Bailey, his attitude, and his salary are huge pluses for the ball club, but let’s look a little closer.
In addition to losing Bailey, who was ultimately released by the Dodgers, the Reds also lost two prospects who ranked in the Top 20 of their farm system. Jeter Downs was ranked No. 7 and Gray was ranked No. 20. Both were highly-touted young prospects, but both were also several years away from making their big league debuts.
Downs is a talented middle infielder, but don’t the Reds have enough of those. There’s already conversations among fans about whether to extend Scooter Gennett or just hand his job to Nick Senzel. The Reds also have Jonathan India, Shed Long, and Jose Israel Garcia in their farm system. All three play middle infield positions. Downs may have been the best of the group, but in order to improve your ball club, sometimes you have to make sacrifices.
So, onto what the Reds received in return for Bailey and their two prospects. The biggest name, of course, is Yasiel Puig. Puig slugged 21 homers last year and that number figures to increase this coming year with 81 of his games slated to be played at Great American Ball Park, where routine fly balls become big flies in the heat of the summer.
While Jesse Winker was slated to start this coming season in right field, plans change. You can go ahead and plug in Puig as the Reds’ starting right fielder on March 28th against the Pirates. I’d expect Winker to be part of a platoon with Kemp and Scott Schebler in left field.
Speaking of Kemp, his $21.75 million salary is a but tough to swallow, but remember, Cincinnati sent Bailey’s $23 million contract to LA, as well as his $5 million buyout. Oh yeah, the Dodgers also sent $7 million to Cincinnati as part of the deal. I don’t think salary is going to be a big issue with regards to this deal.
Expect to see Kemp as rotational piece in the Cincinnati Reds outfield this coming season, unless, our course, the Reds are able to turn around and squeeze Kemp in as part of another trade this offseason. Having Winker, Puig, Schebler, Ervin, and Kemp essentially gives the Reds five corner outfielders and no true centerfielder heading into 2019.
Alex Wood is the most underrated, yet most intriguing piece of the Reds trade with the Dodgers. Wood had a decent season last year, but fell out of favor with Los Angeles as the season went along and eventually ended up in the Dodgers bullpen. That will not be the case in Cincinnati. Look for Wood to be plugged in as the Reds No. 1 or No. 2 starter to start the season.
Having a reliable, left-handed starter in the rotation is something this club desperately needs, but has been unable to find with prospects like Cody Reed and Brandon Finnegan. Wood brings postseason experience, a winning record, and a career-ERA of 3.29 to Cincinnati. While I don’t believe the Reds are done making improvements to the starting rotation, Wood is the best the team has at the moment.
Kyle Farmer saw himself on the Dodgers Opening Day roster, due mostly to the fact that Justin Turner began the season on the disabled list. Farmer only accrued 100-plus days of service time and still have one Minor League option remaining. Expect Farmer to start the season at Triple-A Louisville next season.
In addition to the players, the Cincinnati Reds also acquired $7M in cash consideration from the Dodgers. Whether the Reds use that money to offset the arbitration raises that Puig and Wood are due or whether they use it for something else, that amount of money can’t be ignored and should help the Reds continue to acquire more help this offseason.
As far as a grade goes, I’m going to say a B+ is in order for the Reds with this one. Had Puig or Wood had another year of team-control this trade would’ve been an A. Essentially the Reds have three of these four players for this year, and that may be it. However, don’t discount the idea of Puig or Wood signing an extension with Cincinnati either.
Reds fans should be excited about this trade. Bailey gets a fresh start elsewhere and his massive contract is no longer the Reds’ concern. Puig will bring the wood and excitement to the Cincinnati Reds this season. Wood could shine as one of the key rotation pieces for the Reds, and Kemp could provide a necessary veteran presence and power off the bench. This was a good trade for the Cincinnati Reds.