Let’s make one thing clear: The Cincinnati Reds are a playoff team as currently constructed.
They hit their stride in July, winning 14 of their last 16 games and sweeping three division foes since the All-Star break.
But it’s no secret the bench is thin, and the lack of left-handed hitting is laughable. They have fielded a lineup that didn’t feature a single left-handed hitter this season.
That’s why rumors are swirling recently that the Reds want to add a left-handed hitting outfielder who won’t break the bank.
According to Rosenthal, the 28-year-old is due $3 million this season, $4.75 million in 2013 and $6.5 million in 2014 with a club option for $9 million in 2015.
On paper that sounds like a rather affordable price for a player who has hit .285 with 26 doubles, 30 RBI, 45 runs scored and .348 OBP in 402 plate appearances in a dreadful Twins lineup.
There is no doubt he is an upgrade over Drew Stubbs at the top of the lineup, but he comes at a price that should scare off Reds G.M. Walt Jocketty.
Rosenthal reports that the Twins are desperately seeking help in the starting pitching department, and the Reds would likely have to include Tony Cingrani (10-3, 1.62 ERA at Single and Double A) in a trade.
That would be just one player the Reds would have to surrender.
After giving up three terrific prospects in exchange for Mat Latos, the surplus of minor league talent simply isn’t there. They can’t afford to pay another king's ransom for a potential leadoff hitter who has never swiped more than 26 bases.
Span would likely take over for Stubbs, who has been maddeningly inconsistent for the Reds. Despite teasing fans with incredible speed and decent power, he still can’t consistently make contact. This is sort of a problem when you are batting either first or second in the lineup.
But it’s still too early to give up on the 27-year-old.
Sure he struck out 205 times last season, and he only sports a .230 average and a .298 OBP. He is beginning to show signs of seeing the light. He knocked in the eventual game-winning run in two straight games this week, and has raised his average 13 points in the last 10 days.
I’m not here to suggest he is magically a .300 hitter now, but clearly progress is being made. He is one of the fastest players in baseball, covers a ton of ground in centerfield and has cut down on his strikeouts significantly (89 in 296 at-bats).
Who Should the Reds Trade For?
The price tag is not worth it for Span, and the Reds should instead be looking at Shane Victorino or Juan Pierre as cheaper alternatives.
With Bronson Arroyo’s time running out, now is not the time to part ways with a premiere pitching prospect, while also gutting the farm system of strong position players.
The Reds are on the cusp of something special this fall, and they need to find a player at the deadline who won’t ransack the minor league cupboard.
Go after the cheaper Victorino or Pierre, not Span.