The Cincinnati Reds are in the market for another starting pitcher. While the team has high hopes for the trio of Graham Ashcraft, Hunter Greene, and Nick Lodolo, a veteran arm would be a prudent addition this offseason.
According to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal (subscription required), one of the biggest reasons the free agent market has been so quiet is the desire of several clubs to move players with inflated contracts in order to free up more payroll flexibility.
The Cincinnati Reds find themselves in this category with the $18M owed to Mike Moustakas in 2023. However, another team who'll be looking to offload a bad contract or two would be the Seattle Mariners. The Reds and Mariners have done a lot of deals lately; might another one be on the horizon?
The Reds could trade for Mariners' LHP Marco Gonzales.
The Cincinnati Reds and Seattle Mariners represent two teams that couldn't be headed in more different directions. The Reds are rebuilding from the inside out and the Mariners are looking to build off of last season's success and become a World Series contender.
However, both clubs have this in common; they're hamstrung by some bad contracts. While it'll be nearly impossible for the Reds to rid themselves of Mike Moustakas, the Mariners might be able to pass off the remaining two years and $18.5M owed to left-hander Marco Gonzales.
Gonzales signed a four-year/$30M contract in 2021 and has a club-option, with no buyout, for the 2025 season. Might the Mariners be willing to trade Gonzales to the Reds in exchange for a lower-level prospect in order to get his salary off the books for the next two seasons?
In return, Cincinnati could sacrifice a low-level prospect or even a player like Nick Senzel or Luis Cessa if Seattle were willing to send back some cash in return. Rosenthal is reporting that those teams looking to offload those inflated contracts are willing to include cash or take back another bad contract as well.
It's doubtful that Nick Krall could convince Mariners President of Baseball Operations Jerry Dipoto to take on Mike Moustakas in exchange for Marco Gonzales, but cash considerations could definitely be on the table.
Gonzales pitched very well during his first three seasons (3.85 ERA and 14.8% K-BB) in Seattle, but over the last two seasons, his performance took a hit. During that span, Gonzales posted an ERA of 4.05 and a K/BB% of 8.7%.
If the Cincinnati Reds were able to acquire an additional prospect or two in such a deal or offset Marco Gonzales' salary with additional cash provided by the Seattle Mariners, this would be the type of deal Krall should consider.
Yes, it would add some money to to the payroll for the 2024 season, but Cincinnati has no guaranteed contracts beyond 2023. Depending on the other starters the Reds are investigating on the free agent market, adding Marco Gonzales could be a viable option.