2 starting pitchers the Reds should target at the trade deadline & 2 they should avoid

The Cincinnati Reds may be looking to add to their starting rotation at the trade deadline. Who might be on Nick Krall's shortlist?

Oakland Athletics pitcher JP Sears
Oakland Athletics pitcher JP Sears / John Fisher/GettyImages
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If the Cincinnati Reds plan to be buyers at this year's trade deadline, most fans would agree that starting pitching should be atop the list of needs. Reds starters have a combined ERA near 5.75 this season, which ranks next-to-last in the National League.

There's also the matter of injuries to starters like Hunter Greene, Nick Lodolo, Justin Dunn, and Connor Overton. Greene could be back in a few weeks, but Lodolo won't be back on the field until August at the earliest and Overton has been shut down for the season.

So, if Reds General Manager Nick Krall is in the market for starting pitching, where might he look? Who are are two starters that Krall should target in a potential trade and two pitchers who should be off his radar?

Reds should target Athletics starter JP Sears in a potential trade

The Oakland Athletics are an absolute mess. The franchise is in rebuild mode, occupies the cellar of the AL West, and readying to move to Las Vegas. If there's a team looking to sell at this year's trade deadline, it's the A's.

But is there any player on Oakland's roster that would even be an upgrade for this Reds starting rotation? JP Sears has had a solid season in O-Town, and could be a nice addition at the back end of the Cincinnati rotation.

Sears, a left-hander who was once part of the New York Yankees organization, was part of the Frankie Montas deal last summer that sent tthe former A's ace to the Bronx. This season, Sears has made 14 starts and owns a 4.24 ERA.

The benefit of a pitcher like Sears is his impressive strikeout-to-walk ratio (18.0-percent). Sears has kept the free passes to a minimum, with a 5.1-percent walk-rate according to FanGraphs.

Landing a player like JP Sears in a trade wouldn't require a major return. Sears has minor league options remaining and doesn't even reach arbitration until 2026. Unless a trade like this has a ridiculous asking price, it's certainly one that Reds GM Nick Krall should consider.

Reds should not target Nationals starter Trevor Williams in a potential trade

Trevor Williams is a name that is sure to attract attention at this year's trade deadline. Much like the aforementioned Oakland Athletics, the Washington Nationals are rebuilding and will likely be sellers later this summer.

Williams, who most Reds fans probably remember from his time with the Pittsburgh Pirates, could be an option for Cincinnati at the trade deadline. Williams isn't going to put up gaudy numbers, but he is going to compete and give his manager five solid innings each time he toes the rubber.

Williams has gone five innings or more in 12 of his 15 starts this season. The right-hander currently has a 4.14 ERA and 5.17 FIP. Williams has a four-pitch repertoire, and will mix in a cutter from time to time as well, giving him a fifth offering.

Williams wouldn't cost that much in terms of prospect capital, but after signing a two-year/$13-million contract with Washington during the offseason, Cincinnati would be on the hook for the veteran's $7-million salary in 2024.

This feels like the type of deal that the Cincinnati Reds front office would typically avoid, as the club is rebuilding with a young nucleus in mind. So, while the return for Trevor Williams would be extremely low, taking on addition money heading into next season for a veteran starter seems unwise with the young nucleus of starters currently in the organization.

Reds should target Tigers starter Michael Lorenzen in a potential trade

How bout it, Reds fans? Would you like to see Mikey Biceps back in a Cincinnati uniform? Michael Lorenzen could be an intriguing option for the Cincinnati Reds at the trade deadline, and one that the team could possibly consider.

Lorenzen signed a free agent contract prior to 2022 with the Los Angeles Angels after spending his entire major league career with the Reds. This past offseason, Lorenzen agreed to terms with the Detroit Tigers on a one-year deal.

Lorenzen expressed interest to start during his time with the Reds, and while he was given a handful of opportunities, it never really materialized. Since joining the Halos last season, all of Lorenzen's appearances have come as a starter.

This season, Lorenzen is 2-5 in 12 starts with a 4.00 ERA and 4.42 FIP. Reds fans may remember that flame-throwing version of Lorenzen from his days in the Queen City, but that's not who the right-hander is anymore.

During the 2020 season as a reliever, Lorenzen's fastball was in the 85th percentile according to Baseball Savant. Fast forward to this season, and the right-hander is now in the 62nd percentile. Lorenzen's strikeout-rate is down, but so is his walk-rate.

The beauty of trading for a starter like Michael Lorenzen is knowing that the versatility is there should a move to the bullpen become necessary. Trading for Lorenzen might cost the Reds a low-level prospect. That could be worth it if it means adding more depth to the Cincinnati Reds starting rotation.

Reds should not target Tigers starter Eduardo Rodriguez in a potential trade

Speaking of the Detroit Tigers, another one of their top starters could be on the move at the trade deadline as well. Eduardo Rodriguez, who's currently on the IL after suffering a finger injury earlier this month.

Now, this injury is not a blister or anything relatively simple, but rather a ruptured pulley. In short, the pulley attaches to a tendon in the finger meaning hat Rodriguez's ability to grip the baseball is in question.

The recovery timeline for this injury is extremely variable. Are the Tigers hoping to have E-Rod back in a month? Two months? Longer? This uncertainty, more than anything else, should give Nick Krall and the entire Reds front office cause to pause before swinging a trade with Detroit for Rodriguez.

At 30 years old, Rodriguez is also signed a five-year/$77-million contract last offseason. While the contract, according to Spotrac, maintains an opt-out for Rodriguez should he choose to exercise it after the season, it still contains nearly $50-million of guaranteed money.

While Eduardo Rodriguez could be on the trade block, the risk far outweighs the reward in this instance. Even if Rodriguez returns to health prior to the trade deadline, this is a bidding war that the Reds should bow out of before it even begins.

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