2 trade deadline moves the Reds should already be eyeing, 1 they must avoid

The MLB trade deadline is July 30th.
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena
Tampa Bay Rays outfielder Randy Arozarena / Julio Aguilar/GettyImages

Some Reds fans will look at the team's win-loss record and declare that the 2024 season is already over. After all, it's now June and the Cincinnati Reds are in familiar territory — last place in the National League Central. Same song, seventh verse, right?

But before all of Reds Country gives up on Cincinnati's 2024 campaign, it seems like a great time to remind fans that there are over 100 games left on the schedule. There's also the upcoming MLB trade deadline; something that will be very intriguing to the Reds fanbase this season.

In recent years, the Reds have been sellers rather than buyers. But this year might be quite different. Although the team is struggling at the moment, the added Wild Card spot in the MLB Postseason makes a run at the playoffs all the more attainable. More clubs are now inclined to look for opportunities to improve the roster rather than tear it down.

So what MLB trade deadline moves should the Reds already be eyeing this summer? Will the Reds part with some of their top prospects? Is anyone on the 40-man roster at risk of being sent elsewhere? Let's look at two moves the Reds should make ahead of the July 30th deadline and one transaction they must avoid.

Reds should piece together a trade package for A's RHP Mason Miller

One of the most sought-after players at this year's trade deadline is going to be Oakland A's reliever Mason Miller. The right-hander has been one of the best pitchers in baseball this season, and it just so happens that he's pitching for one of the worst teams.

The A's are hopelessly out of the AL West race and will be looking to acquire a number of top minor leaguers ahead of their upcoming move to Las Vegas. In short, the A's are where the Reds were back in 2022 — they're rebuilding.

Miller is a lights-out reliever who's still pre-arbitration eligible. The price tag will be high, but if there's any team that can match the A's ludicrous demands, it'll be the Reds. Cincinnati has an extremely deep and talented farm system from which to offer Oakland a hefty return for Miller's services.

While the Reds have Alexis Diaz, Fernando Cruz, and Lucas Sims at the backend of the bullpen, the Cincinnati's relief corps is not without its problems. Diaz has been shaky at best, Cruz has struggled outside of high-leverage situations, and Sims will be a free agent after this season. Adding Miller could bolster the entire the Reds bullpen and doesn't become a free agent until after the 2029 season.

Reds should buy-low on Rays' OF Randy Arozarena

The Reds have been lacking for power all season. Nobody on the Reds roster has an OPS over .800 and the team ranks 27th in slugging percentage this season. That's a problem, and it's one that Reds President of Baseball Operations Nick Krall needs to rectify at the MLB trade deadline.

While most baseball fans always advise against trading with the Tampa Bay Rays, this could be an instance when it actually makes sense. Why? Because the Reds would be buying low on one of the most electric players in the game.

Randy Arozarena, who rose to stardom during the 2020 postseason, is off to a rough start in 2024. The Rays' star outfielder is hitting below the Mendoza line and for the first time in his career, has a wRC+ below 120.

Historically, however, Arozarena has been an All-Star caliber player. The past three seasons saw the 29-year-old hit .264/.349/.443 with 63 home runs and 241 RBI. Arozarena is a difference maker, and Cincinnati needs a bat like that in the middle of the order.

The Rays wouldn't just give Arozarena away for free, but the price tag isn't near what it would have been a year ago. Arozarena has two years of team control remaining, meaning that Cincinnati would be acquiring more than a two-month rental. This is a deal that Krall should at least kick the tires on and see what type of return Tampa Bay would be seeking in exchange for the All-Star.

The Reds should avoid rentals like Pete Alonso, Alex Bregman & Tanner Scott

If you'll notice, the two previous trade targets were both players who could help the Reds this season and beyond. Those are the types of players that Krall and Co. should be targeting this summer when looking to improve the roster.

Every year, there are any number of players who are deemed rentals. In other words, those players are in the final year of their existing contract and will enter free agency after the season. Teams who are out of contention and looking to shed payroll, while also getting a prospect or two in return, will trade those types of players to teams looking to add a spark for a postseason run.

The Reds are not in position to do that this season. If Cincinnati was sitting in the catbird's seat atop the NL Central, perhaps they'd be taking that type of approach. As it is, the Reds are in last-place and any roster upgrade should come with at least an extra year of team-control beyond 2024 — much like the Sam Moll acquisition in 2023.

Krall has some work to do in the coming weeks, but he and the rest of the Reds' front office had better start early. If Cincinnati is just sitting around waiting for the likes of Noelvi Marte, Matt McLain, and Christian Encarnacion-Strand to save their season, it might be too late.

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