Cincinnati Reds: Breaking Down the Latest Trade Deadline Buzz
At 55-40 and in first place in the NL Central, the Reds are looking to make the postseason for the second time in three seasons.
When the team swept the St. Louis Cardinals last weekend, it looked like they were ready to make a run. However, All-Star first baseman Joey Votto went on the disabled list with a knee injury on Monday.
It appeared the team would need to make a move quickly when Votto went down, but the team went on a run since the injury. In the first week without Votto, the team won five of seven games because of great pitching and timely hitting.
According to MLB.com, the Reds have the third-best pitching staff in the major leagues (including the No. 1 ranked bullpen). Pitching in Great American Ball Park for half of the team's games makes their pitching staff look even better.
The offense struggled at times even with their first baseman healthy, so they may look to improve their roster.
Since Votto went down, Brandon Phillips has stepped up and led the offense. The rest of the lineup has come through with clutch hits, and they have won 10 of their past 12 games.
While the team is in first place, MLB.com has the Reds ranked last in batting average and on-base percentage out of the leadoff spot.
Drew Stubbs and Zack Cozart have spent the majority of the time at the top of the lineup, but neither player has performed well in the leadoff role. Ideally, Cincinnati would like Stubbs to be the leadoff man of the future.
Outside of Votto and Jay Bruce, the Reds do not have a left-handed hitter in their lineup. They have gone through several left-handed bench players, but they have not had any success with those players.
After an offseason of big moves, the team does not have many top prospects they will be willing to trade.
The team will consider trading for either a left-handed bat for the bench or a left fielder who can bat leadoff for the team.
The Reds would probably be fine without making a move, but they will at least explore other options in order to help their postseason chances.
*Stats are from MLB.com*
The most reasonable target would probably be Philadelphia's Juan Pierre.
The soon-to-be 35-year-old left fielder would give the Reds a productive leadoff hitter. His .305 average and .344 OBP makes him attractive to a team like the Reds, and they will probably consider dealing for him.
Because he only makes $800,000 in 2012, Pierre is a perfect fit for a team that does not have much money to spend.
Philadelphia would want some prospects back in return, but they would not demand any top prospects for Pierre. After an offseason of moves, Cincinnati does not have many top prospects they would be willing to part with.
Last week, ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted about the Reds possibly having interest in Pierre.
Something the Reds will kick around: Juan Pierre hitting .345 vs. right-handed pitchers this year, .385 OBP. Pierre/Ludwick platoon?— Buster Olney (@Buster_ESPN) July 16, 2012
His ability to get on base would give the Reds the ability to have Votto, Phillips and Bruce hit with more runners aboard. The middle of their lineup is one of the best in the league, so a reliable leadoff hitter would boost the trio's numbers even better.
Now that left fielder Ryan Ludwick is starting to heat up, the Reds may not go after someone to split time with him. Chris Heisey has been a good platoon player, but he serves mainly as a right-handed hitter off the bench.
The next week without Votto will determine management's strategy. If they continue to play well without him, they will likely stick with what they have. If they start to struggle, the team may look to add a leadoff hitter.
Unlike Pierre, the Phillies would probably ask for some top prospects in return for Shane Victorino.
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal (per MLBTradeRumors.com) has Victorino linked to the Reds, but it probably will not happen.
Although he would be a good addition, the Reds are probably unlikely to trade away top prospects for a rental player.
The switch-hitting outfielder would give the team another player from the left side of the plate.
In his career, Victorino has been a good hitter at the top of the lineup. However, he is only hitting .253 with a .317 OBP this season. That is pretty much the same as what rookie Zack Cozart has hit this season.
Victorino has some pop in his bat, but the Reds need somebody to get on base consistently. With 21 stolen bases, he would give the team some steals. Drew Stubbs has better speed, so it is not worth giving up prospects to get Victorino for the rest of the season. Stubbs is due to improve slightly at the plate, and he can do about what Victorino has done this season.
In the field, Victorino has won three Gold Gloves. The Reds boast one of the best defensive outfields in the league, so he would not provide much of an upgrade in the field.
He is a good player, but he is not worth giving up some future pieces for two months.
Of the players linked to Cincinnati, San Diego's Mark Kotsay may be the easiest to acquire.
Jon Morosi of Fox Sports reports the Reds are interested in Kotsay, so this could be a possible player to keep an eye on.
In limited time, he has managed to hit .289 this season. He used to be able to hit home runs, but he does not have the same power he used to have.
With no productive left-handed bat off the bench, the team will see what it will take to get Kotsay. Since he will be a free agent after this season, the Padres may not ask for much in return.
He can play in the outfield or at first base, so he gives a team versatility when they decide to give him a start.
Unlike the rest of the team's targets, Kotsay will not be a starter. He also would not be a leadoff hitter, and he may be a last-minute resort if the team decides not to make any major deals.
Although he will not be a starter, he could be very valuable down the stretch. Since the team is mainly right-handed, he would be used in late-game situations against right-handed relievers.
With just over a week until the trade deadline, the team needs to make a decision on what prospects they are willing to part with to bring in veterans.
If the team decides to look for a long-term solution in the leadoff position, Minnesota's Denard Span would be the most logical choice.
The Cincinnati Enquirer's John Fay mentions Pierre and Span as possibilities for the Reds.
Like Victorino, Span is having a down season by his standards. In the past, he has hit around .300 a few times. This season, he is at .275 with a .340 OBP.
The Twins may be looking to move Span, but he would require many prospects in return. However, Cincinnati probably does not have enough prospects to give up to acquire him.
Span plays great defense, and he would fit in nicely at Great American Ball Park. If the Reds make a deal for him, it would likely include Stubbs. Both play center field and possess great speed.
As a left-handed hitter, he is very attractive to the Reds. The 28-year-old outfielder is a good player, but the Twins will be seeking great prospects in return.
His contract runs through 2015 and is pretty team-friendly until the final year.
Stubbs and Span are very similar players, but Span gets on base more frequently and strikes out less. Span does not strike out much, and the Reds are looking for a leadoff hitter who puts the ball in play.
Although unlikely, the team could decide to trade away even more prospects and rely on Span for the future.
The Reds are looking for a cheap left-handed bat, and Boston's Ryan Sweeney fits the description.
Sports Illustrated's Tom Verducci threw out Sweeney as a possible option for Cincinnati. Boston is hoovering around the .500 mark, but they are only three-and-a-half games out in the wild-card race.
Should the Red Sox decide to sell (unlikely), Sweeney may be available. The left-handed hitting right fielder has dealt with a concussion and a foot injury this season. The injuries may hurt his trade value, so the Reds could get him for cheap.
Sweeney would be valuable because he can play every outfield position. The Reds could use him as a pinch-hitter or to give one of their starting outfielders a day off.
Although he does not hit many home runs, he manages to get on base. His .272 average is good considering the injuries he has suffered this season.
The Reds do not need a power hitter, but they do need someone to hit for average. At Great American Ball Park, Sweeney's power numbers would increase.
Sweeney is probably not going to be traded considering the Red Sox are still in contention. MLBTradeRumors.com's Ben Nicholson-Smith reports Michael Silverman of the Boston Herald believes Sweeney will not be traded.