Reds: Grading the trade with Yankees for Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson

The Cincinnati Reds have pulled off two trades in recent days, both of which were designed to bolster the team’s lowly bullpen. Late Monday night, Cincinnati added relievers Justin Wilson and Luis Cessa to the roster and sent a player to be named later to the New York Yankees.

Cessa, a right-hander from Mexico, originally signed as a shortstop with the New York Mets in 2008. Cessa eventually transitioned into a pitcher and bounced from the Tigers to the Yankees, and is now a member of the Reds.

Wilson, a southpaw from Anaheim, California is a veteran pitcher who’s made his rounds through the league. Cincinnati is J-Willy’s sixth franchise, and the veteran left-hander has a career-ERA of 3.43 and 490 total punch outs.

Grading the Reds trade with the Yankees for Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson.

Trading Cessa and Wilson to Cincinnati served two purposes for the New York Yankees. First, it cleared some payroll space, as News York was dangerously close to the luxury tax threshold. Second, it freed up two spots on the team’s 40-man roster, which it appears the Yankees are going to use for the new addition of former Rangers’ slugger Joey Gallo.

Who’s the player to be named later in this transaction? Who know? We’ll find out later, but it’s hard to imagine that this trade will net New York anyone in the Reds’ Top 30 prospects. I’m thinking of a player like Miguel Medrano or Mariel Bautista.

Reds Get
RHP, Luis Cessa
LHP, Justin Wilson
Yankees Get
Player to be named later

Justin Wilson’s contract is a bit complex, but let’s see if I can break it down. Wilson receives $2.85M this season, of which the Reds’ are on the hook for about one-third (~$950K). Wilson has a $2.3M player-option for next season. If Wilson turns down thee player-option, Cincinnati then has a $7.15M team-option with a $1.15M buyout. Are you still with me?

Now, seeing as how Wilson owns a 7.11 ERA at this point in the 2021 season, it’s a good bet that the left-hander exercises his players-option this offseason. However, if Wilson does exercise his player-option, the Reds then maintain a team-option in 2023 that would pay the southpaw the league minimum, plus $500K (~$1M). Confused yet? It’s okay, we’ll get there.

Onto Luis Cessa. The right-hander is under team-control through the 2023 season, meaning he has two years of arbitration eligibility remaining. Cessa was trending in the right direction last season, and it appears that things finally clicked in 2021, as he owned 2.82 ERA in 29 games this season with the Bronx Bombers.

Cessa was the key piece of this deal. In order to land Cessa for a low-level prospect, Cincinnati was  going to have to take on Wilson’s contract. In all honesty, however, it gives the Reds two reliable relievers for the stretch run this season and both will likely be with the Redlegs beyond next year as well.

Seeing as how the Cincinnati Reds have the worst bullpen in the league and gave up virtually nothing to land both Luis Cessa and Justin Wilson, I’m going to give this trade a solid B. Anything that upgrades the relief corps has to receive a better-than-average grade, and the fact that Cessa can be a long-term piece in the bullpen only adds value to the trade. Nick job, Nick Krall.