On Monday, the Cincinnati Reds finalized a deal that sent Eugenio Suárez, and Jesse Winker to the Seattle Mariners. The Reds, in return, will receive pitching prospect Brandon Williamson, outfielder Jake Fraley, pitcher Justin Dunn, and the option to either receive a player to be named later or cash.
At a quick glance, this appears to be the makings of yet another rebuild for Cincinnati. In reality, this trade just may have massive upside, assuming proper transactions are executed following this "blockbuster" trade.
Examining the details of the Reds trade with the Mariners.
For many years, Reds fans have witnessed Eugenio Suárez dominate at the plate and on the field. After a strong season in 2017, the Reds signed Suárez to a seven-year /$66M deal. That deal became a nuisance once his value dipped dramatically in 2020, and worsened last season. The Reds owed Suárez about $35M over the span of the next three seasons.
In order to alleviate the financial burden, the Cincinnati Reds presented an offer that would effectively dump Geno's contract on Seattle, at the expense of losing Jesse Winker. The motive is to free up resources to potentially make a move this free agency. Per Reds GM Nick Krall via Cincinnati.com, the Reds are looking to sign players prior to this season.
""This was a move that we looked at from a future standpoint and we also looked at it as a move to bring back some talent right now.""- Nick Krall via Cincinatti.com
The Reds gained three players as part of the deal and a player to be named later. Krall has previously stated an interest in the this future piece, so it's safe to say the cash option will not be exercised, meaning this trade will eventually include four young players.
Jake Fraley is a 26-year-old left handed hitter with a 6-foot, 195-pound frame. Being that he's a southpaw, he's primarily used in the outfield, and showcases above average speed. Fraley produced a high 17.4% walk-rate, but struck out in 26% of his at-bats.
Fraley slashed .210/.352/.369 in 78 games. Until Fraley increases his offensive production, he'll likely be a bench bat, and provide as a legitimate base stealing threat. A backup in centerfielder could be beneficial, given the health concerns of former Reds first-round pick Nick Senzel.
The Reds gained two starting pitchers in the trade as well.
Justin Dunn is a 25-year-old right-handed pitcher. Dunn offers a four-pitch mix, including a fastball that sits around 94 MPH. Aside from a rocky second year, Dunns' made massive improvements to his game, including increasing his strikeout-rate and velocity.
Dunn will likely be used as a starter, unless the Reds make moves at that position in free agency. The right-hander is a very solid pick-up, and will certainly provide an improvement to the pitching staff. Don't expect many deep starts due to his high walk-rate, but his ability to get out of jams can keep him from owning a high ERA.
Brandon Williamson is easily the most valuable piece in this trade. The left-hander is a highly-regarded prospect; one that has potential to move through the farm system exceptionally quickly. At 6-foot-6, the southpaw can generate great velocity in the high 90's.
Williamson's major downside is commanding his fastball, which can become trouble at higher levels. Once the 23-year-old improves in this area, you can expect him to be yet another addition to this seemingly-young future starting rotation.
Now, Nick Krall and Bob Castellini need to make moves. This deal won't cash out the intended upside unless a big signing is used with the money saved from this trade. Cincinnati Reds fans shouldn't worry about the loss, but focus on the extremely high potential this deal has.