3 ways the Cincinnati Reds can win the trade deadline

Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tyler Mahle (30) reacts after striking out a batter.
Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tyler Mahle (30) reacts after striking out a batter. / Kareem Elgazzar/The Enquirer / USA TODAY
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In sports, there are winners and losers. Unfortunately, the Cincinnati Reds have been doing a lot more losing than winning of late. But, if the Redlegs make the right moves at the trade deadline, they can emerge as the big winners and accelerate the team's rebuild heading into next season.

Fans throughout Reds Country know that Cincinnati will indeed be sellers at the trade deadline. Aside from the now-available All-Star outfielder Juan Soto, the Reds have the most sought-after trade target in starting pitcher Luis Castillo.

The Reds also have some players on one-year deals who are playing quite well this season. Brandon Drury, Tommy Pham, and Tyler Naquin could all be on the move in the next couple of weeks. So how can the Cincinnati Reds become winners at this year's trade deadline?

1. The Reds must be patient and trade Luis Castillo for the best package of prospects available.

I know that Reds fans are tired of hearing the word prospect, but that's where the team at this point in time. I'll also remind you that at one point, Luis Castillo was a top prospect in the Cincinnati farm system. So were Jonathan India and Tyler Stephenson; both of whom look to be key pieces of the organization moving forward.

The bottom line is this; the Reds need to get as much in return for Luis Castillo as possible. I know that sounds rather elementary, so let me expand on that thought just a bit. The Reds cannot worry about what team they're negotiating with. I don't care if it's the Los Angeles Dodgers, New York Yankees, or even the St. Louis Cardinals. Whoever offers the best return - take it.

Whether the Reds are looking for quality or quantity is irrelevant. The Reds No. 1 goal during trade discussions is to get the best package of prospects available. If that's two Top 100 prospects, so be it. If it's four prospects from a deep farm system, that's fine too. But there's no reason to jump at the first offer. The longer this goes on, the more desperate teams will become.

I'd also caution fans not to overreact to the return. There's a chance that the best player from this offseason's trade with the Seattle Mariners could be the player to be named later; right-hander Connor Phillips. Phillips dominated at High-A this season and is now getting his feet wet at the Double-A level.

2. The Reds cannot include Mike Moustakas in any trade this summer.

Unless the Cincinnati Reds are just giving away Mike Moustakas, and only Mike Moustakas, to the highest bidder, the third baseman should not be traded this summer. I'm well aware of his $16M salary this season, and I'm also aware that the Reds will owe him $22M next year.

But Cincinnati cannot make the same mistake with Moustakas that they made earlier this offseason with Eugenio Suárez. Nick Krall talked about the team's desire not to include prospects in trade just to get a player's high salary off the books. But he never mentioned using a high-performing major leaguer in order to accomplish that goal.

Jesse Winker was traded to the Seattle Mariners this offseason for one reason; in order to get the remaining three years of Suárez's contract off the books. Period! I don't care what kind of lame excuse Nick Krall wants to give about liking the players they received in return, trading Winker and Suárez was about saving money.

The Cincinnati Reds cannot afford to do that with Mike Moustakas. Attaching Moose to any potential trade will automatically diminish the return. In fact, it would destroy whatever value a player like Luis Castillo or Tyler Mahle may have.

At this point, Cincinnati should accept the fact that they'll be paying a combined $54M (that include the combined $11M in buyouts for both contracts) for Joey Votto and Mike Moustakas next season. With no other guaranteed contracts on the payroll, I think Bob Castellini can stomach that one.

3. The Reds should not trade Tyler Mahle at the deadline.

One player who's been rumored to be a trade target for other clubs this summer has been Cincinnati Reds starting pitcher Tyler Mahle. But I'm suggesting that Nick Krall and Company should resist the urge to deal the right-hander at the upcoming trade deadline.

Mahle, who's currently on the IL, has underperformed this season. He's not having a horrendous season, but any fan who's seen Mahle pitch for the last several years knows that's better than the numbers that he's put up this season.

Other clubs know that as well, but oftentimes teams will cite performance over potential. In other words, just because we all know that Tyler Mahle is better than the 3-7 win-loss record and 4.48 ERA, that's not going to be how other GMs see it.

Mahle could probably fetch a larger return this winter. There's also the slim possibility that Cincinnati could look to lock-up Mahle with a multi-year extension. While so many Reds fans would like to see the team extend Luis Castillo, he'll command nearly twice what Mahle would on the open market.

Tyler Mahle certainly has trade value, and if the Reds are able to get a good haul for his services, they should take it. But there shouldn't be a rush on the part of the Reds brass to deal Mahle this summer. He's still just 27 years old and is under team control through next season.

Next. 5 bold predictions for the Reds after the All-Star break. dark