Showing the patience to avoid making a big splash at the trade deadline can sometimes be harder than actually pulling the trigger on a deal.
It’s no secret that the National League Central-leading Cincinnati Reds were desperately looking to add a leadoff hitter who could actually get on base, but a deal could not be struck without giving up an arm and a leg.
The 28-year-old righty has a 1-2 record with 23 saves, a 2.27 ERA while striking out 25 and walking 14 in 35.2 innings this season. He has only pitched twice in the last 17 days.
He’ll be joining a Reds bullpen that leads the National League in ERA, and will become a free agent at the end of this season.
On the surface, it sounds rather odd that the only move G.M. Walt Jocketty made was to improve the best area of the team. However, acquiring a proven veteran (107 career saves) for only two mid-level prospects is a strong move.
Jocketty didn’t single out that specific deal, but he certainly made it sound like the asking price was simply too high for his team's liking (via MLB.com):
We have several deals for position players that we looked at. The deals just didn't make sense for us, so we focused on pitching. We said at the beginning we were looking for a leadoff hitter, a cleanup hitter and bench help or try to strengthen our pitching. The position-player deals just weren't right for us. We felt good having an arm like Broxton.
Read between the lines and it’s easy to understand. The Reds weren’t giving up the farm for somebody that wasn’t an All-Star.
Cincinnati is a small-market team with a small-market budget. After handing out mega deals to Joey Votto and Brandon Phillips, and doling out a slew of prospects for Mat Latos, the Reds aren’t exactly in a position to surrender more minor league talent and take on a sizeable chunk of money.
Besides, there is still a chance that a player like Juan Pierre of the Philadelphia Phillies is able to clear waivers. There will be plenty of options before the August 31 waiver deadline, and all of them will come at a fraction of the price that a guy like Span would have cost.
I know fans want to see a big name join their first-place club in the same way San Francisco Giants fans were given Hunter Pence. However, the club improved without sacrificing the future today.
July 31 is only one deadline. The real shrewd moves will occur in the next 31 days.
The Reds aren’t finished tinkering with this roster just yet, but give them credit for refusing to give in to the high demands of teams looking to sell.