The Cincinnati Reds have already been involved in a few trade rumors this offseason, so here are a few of the best-case scenarios on the trade market for the club this winter.
After making the playoffs in three of the past four seasons, there wouldn't figure to be many moves made. However, the team has yet to make it past the NLDS in any of its three postseason appearances. It appears that the early exits have management looking to shake things up.
Depending on what happens with Shin-Soo Choo, the team could become very aggressive on the trade market.
Let's take a look at some of the ideal trade scenarios the Reds could check out.
Ryan Hanigan for a Power-Hitting Left Field Prospect
ESPN's Buster Olney tweeted that catcher Ryan Hanigan is "going to be traded" and that multiple teams are interested, but it's not clear what the Reds would be able to get for the veteran.
Olney also said that the Reds are looking for a good prospect. If that's the case, they should try to get a power-hitting left fielder or a solid catching prospect.
If the Reds trade a catcher, who should go?
Devin Mesoraco is still young and showed improvement at the plate in 2013, so getting a power-hitting prospect for left field would be a better fit for the Reds.
Ryan Ludwick is signed through next season, and there is an option for 2015. They don't necessarily need a bat that is ready for next year, but one that is close to being ready would be ideal.
There have been reports that most of the American League East has interest in Hanigan.
The catcher saw his average drop 76 points down to .198 last season, but he has always been good at getting on base. He has a career OBP of .359.
Hanigan's offense isn't spectacular, but his defense is incredible. The 33-year-old has led the majors in throwing out runners in each of the past two seasons and has caught two no-hitters during that time. His 3.05 catcher's ERA in 2012 led the majors, via MLB.com's Mark Sheldon.
He is a stud behind the plate, which will help the Reds get a good prospect. If they can get a power hitter, that would be the best move possible.
This deal is only possible if free agent Robinson Cano leaves the New York Yankees. They are the favorites to sign the second baseman, but if he signs elsewhere, the Yankees will have to look for a replacement.
CBSSports.com's Jon Heyman reported earlier this month that the Yankees have inquired about Phillips, but the asking price was "very steep."
Should the Reds trade Brandon Phillips?
Fox Sports' Ken Rosenthal recently wrote that the Reds remain intent on trading Phillips. If that's the case, they may have to wait to see what happens with Cano.
Cano appeared to have lost a potential suitor in the Detroit Tigers on Wednesday night. Heyman reported that the Tigers have agreed to trade first baseman Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler, which takes them out of the running for Cano. The superstar just lost a little bit of leverage, meaning New York's chances of re-signing him got even better.
If he signs elsewhere, the Yankees would be back in play for Phillips. They are one of the only teams that could take on his contract, which still has $50 million over four years left. Not many teams that need a second baseman can afford that.
Any deal that the Reds talk about with the Yankees should involve top prospects Gary Sanchez and/or Mason Williams. New York would have to throw in more prospects, but one of those players would be a good start.
Sanchez, who MLB.com lists as the organization's No. 1 prospect, is expected to be a big-time power hitter. The 20-year-old hit .253/.324/.412 with 15 home runs and 27 doubles between Single-A and Double-A in 2013. The catcher has a strong arm, so he has potential behind the plate.
Williams is a more realistic option. The outfielder has the makings of a five-tool player, and he is a speedster. He hit only .245/.304/.337 with four homers, 24 doubles and four triples between Single-A and Double-A this past season. He has 64 stolen bases in four seasons, and he is still working on his baserunning.
The Yankees are looking for help at catcher, so they are unlikely to deal one of the best catching prospects in baseball. Williams would be a good option in center field for the Reds, which would allow them to try Billy Hamilton at second base.
Cincinnati lacked speed this past season, so having Hamilton and Williams on the roster would be a big improvement.
Phillips' bat and defense—three All-Star appearances, a Silver Slugger and four Gold Gloves—would be extremely tough to replace, but the Yankees are the most realistic option if Cano doesn't re-sign there.
Trade Pitching for Washington Nations CF Denard Span
If the Reds lose Choo, they could either turn to Billy Hamilton in center or look for external options. One external option would be Washington Nationals center fielder Denard Span.
The 29-year-old will make $6.5 million next season and has a $9 million club option for 2015.
Span's career slash line is .283/.351/.387. He has 47 home runs, 133 doubles, 47 triples and 110 stolen bases in his six-year career. He has led the league in triples twice, including in 2013. He was also named the Nationals' defensive player of the year by Wilson.
Heyman reported that the Nationals are willing to listen to offers for their center fielder. They would likely want pitching in return, and the Reds could be willing to move a pitcher.
If Cincinnati can't lock up Homer Bailey or Aroldis Chapman this offseason, they could be dangled on the trading block. If the team couldn't reach extensions and dealt either pitcher, it would need a big return.
Span would give the team a solid leadoff hitter for at least the next two years, and at a reasonable price. It would allow Hamilton to develop in the minors for a few more months. In 2015, the Reds could then have an outfield of Hamilton, Span and Jay Bruce. It would be pretty tough for a ball to find the gaps in that outfield.
There has been absolutely zero talk about Span to Cincinnati. This idea is all about what would be good for the team. It's not clear what Washington wants in return or what Cincinnati is willing to give up, but it could be worth a call at some point.
All stats are via MLB.com.