Reds division rival makes trade for Rays pitcher as deadline action gets early start

The Reds may have gotten a gift, as their division rival made a very curious trade for a starter on Wednesday.

Chicago Cubs v Tampa Bay Rays
Chicago Cubs v Tampa Bay Rays / Mike Carlson/GettyImages

The Cincinnati Reds are in a weird position at the moment. When they are playing well, they can beat anyone, and their run differential suggests they have the best chance of any third Wild Card contender going forward. However, there are also plenty of games where the offense fails to show up and they lose to teams that they really, really shouldn't. While they shouldn't enter a sell-off at the trade deadline, the question of exactly how they should tackle their roster over their next month doesn't have an easy answer.

Complicating matters, the division rival Brewers clearly smell blood in the water and want to put even more distance between themselves and the rest of the division. However, they arrived at a very curious answer to one of their roster needs when they swung a trade for Rays starter Aaron Civale on Wednesday.

Reds News: Brewers trade for struggling Aaron Civale in early trade season move

There is a decent bit to unpack here. There is no denying that Civale has real upside on the mound, as he was one of the better pitchers in the American League in 2023 before he was traded to the Rays at last year's trade deadline. If he can be THAT guy again, he does make the Brewers a strictly better baseball team.

However, Civale has decidedly not been nearly as good in his time with Tampa. After the trade in 2023, Civale only managed a 5.36 ERA in his 10 starts the rest of the season, and 2024 has been more of the same, with a 5.07 ERA in 17 starts this season, due in large part to a noticeable uptick in issues with giving up the long ball.

Honestly, this could be a best-case scenario for the Reds if current trends hold. Milwaukee has been the better team this year without question. However, if their big pitching addition is a guy that has been a 5.00-ERA starter for nearly a calendar year, this presents a real opportunity for Cincinnati if that trend holds. If the Reds can be more consistent and Milwaukee's move falls flat, chasing the Brewers down in the division isn't out of the question.

Unfortunately, there is still a lot of time before the trade deadline, so we don't know exactly how this will shake out. The Reds may still be forced to throw a hail mary to give their offense a boost, and Milwaukee is going to keep searching for roster upgrades ahead of the deadline. Still, the Brewers' move on Wednesday could end up being a plus for Cincy the rest of the way.

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