MLB Trade Rumors: Cincinnati Reds Were Right to Reject Shane Victorino Deal
On Monday, the Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Daugherty reported that a team insider claimed the team turned down a deal with the Phillies. The deal would have sent Victorino to Cincinnati in exchange for Reds reliever Logan Ondrusek.
As of July 24th, the Reds are 56-40 and own a 1.5-game lead over the Pittsburgh Pirates for first place in the National League Central.
The Reds need someone to hit ahead of Joey Votto, and Victorino seemed like a logical fit. However, Cincinnati reportedly rejected the deal.
Did they make a mistake by not pulling the trigger? Easy answer: No.
MLB.com lists Victorino as a .276 hitter with a .342 on-base percentage in his career. It sounds like a great fit, and Victorino has been a popular player in the league for several years. However, he is having the worst season of his career.
Currently hitting .253, the switch-hitting outfielder is not an improvement over center fielder Drew Stubbs and reserve outfielder Chris Heisey.
Stubbs is currently hitting .220, but he dealt with an injury earlier this season. Stubbs is also having a career-worst season and went through an 0-for-32 stretch, but he has been getting on base more recently.
His speed is great, and he is arguably the most valuable player to the team. The Reds are 33-2 when Stubbs scores a run.
Chris Heisey is hitting .275 this season, and he usually hits near the top of the lineup when he plays. The team would be better off letting Heisey play rather than acquiring a declining Victorino.
Virtually all of Victorino's numbers are down, and he is not the same player he used to be. The 31-year-old outfielder does not provide the Reds with anything they do not already have.
If the Reds are serious about trading for a leadoff hitter, they need to find a player with a higher batting average and on-base percentage.
Based on MLB.com's numbers, the Reds have the best bullpen in the majors. Since Great American Ball Park is the most homer-friendly stadium in baseball, that accomplishment looks even better.
When Cincinnati has a lead late in the game, it is nearly impossible to do anything against their bullpen. Ondrusek, Sean Marshall and Aroldis Chapman are great at shutting teams down to end games.
Should the Reds have traded Logan Ondrusek for Shane Victorino?
Ondrusek is used in the seventh or eighth inning to keep the lead intact. Outside of an ugly appearance in May against the New York Mets, Ondrusek has been great out of the bullpen.
He is 3-2 with a 2.70 ERA in 36.2 innings pitched this season, and he is starting to heat up again.
It took him until his 18th appearance to allow a run, and it ended up being his worst game of the season. Outside of the May 17th game against the Mets where he allowed five runs, his ERA is 1.51 in the 42 other games.
With the ability to get ground balls, Ondrusek is also used to get other pitchers out of jams—he is able to come into bases-loaded situations and get hitters out in late-game situations.
He has proven to be a durable pitcher in his career and has made at least 60 appearances in consecutive seasons.
When he enters a game, he occasionally pitches more than one inning. In five appearances in which he has pitched more than one inning this season, he has yet to allow a run. A reliever who can pitch multiple innings helps save the rest of the bullpen.
When Marshall or Chapman are unavailable, Ondrusek steps into the vacant role with ease.
However, the team struggles to replace Ondrusek when he is not available. Jose Arredondo, Sam LeCure and Bill Bray have all been used in key situations this season, and they all have failed to consistently stay out of jams or get the team out of tough spots.
Former setup man Nick Masset is currently rehabbing, but there is no guarantee he will pitch the way he has in the past.
Cincinnati was smart to hold on to Ondrusek because it know it has a reliable pitcher to help close out games.
CSNPhilly.com's Leslie Gudel reported earlier this year that Victorino's contract situation has affected his play. He hopes to remain with Philadelphia, so this trade would have resulted in only two months of his services.
When the season ends, he will listen to offers from Philadelphia and other teams in free agency. With no guarantee of him being productive for the rest of this season or re-signing for next season, it would be a short-term gamble for the Reds.
On the other hand, Ondrusek is under team control through 2016 and at a reasonable salary ($492,500 in 2012).
The 27-year-old reliever will be a stable presence in the bullpen for years to come, so the team decided to keep him for a cheap salary.
Although some fans will not agree, Victorino is not worth giving up Ondrusek.
An outfielder on the decline will not give the team a better chance to win this year, but the young reliever gives the team the ability to close games out.
Cincinnati needs its leadoff hitters to get on base more, but the Reds do not need to make a deal that involves giving up a key member of their team.
The team rarely makes a deal for a rental player, and it continues to build with young players. While the team looks to improve its roster this season, it will look to add players who will contribute in the future as well.
The Reds look poised to make the playoffs, so the team was right to nix this deal.
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