The Reds are taking necessary but underwhelming steps to address an underachieving bench by signing veterans Skip Schumaker and Brayan Pena. But, while Cincinnati plugs holes with gum, the division rival St. Louis Cardinals are filling potholes with concrete. Jhonny Peralta will join an offense that can already swap offensive numbers with any American League team. While the team does return its core in 2014, which will enable them to compete for the NL Central, it's becoming increasingly more evident that they'll need to play add-on in order to do more.
The first priority should be keeping Choo. But to accomplish this, they'll likely need to shed payroll. The favorite to aide in doing so at this juncture would be Brandon Phillips, but Homer Bailey's name is starting to circulate among MLB rumor sites. The opportunity will present itself for the Reds to leverage its talent and make significant moves to bolster its roster while maintaining cost. Here are three trades that realistically make sense and are fiscally plausible.
According to MLB Trade Rumors, the Twins have expressed interest in Homer Bailey.
The Minnesota Twins are fond of the right-handed Texan, according to ESPN's Darren Wolfson. Wayne Krivsky, special assistant to the Twins' general manager, knows Bailey well from his days with the Reds. Krivsky took over as the Red's general manager two years after the Reds drafted Bailey and oversaw his transition into the MLB.
While the Reds will definitely look to maintain the rotation that earned the third best ERA in baseball, the team's need to retain Shin Soo-Choo or a replacement will demand extra funds. And the ability to avoid an arbitration that will more than likely result in a $4 million raise for Homer Bailey, as suggested by the research done by MLB Trade Rumors, may prove too tempting, especially if it means securing baseball's No. 3-ranked prospect.
Miguel Sano is a 20-year-old right-handed power-hitting third baseman who is expected to be MLB-ready by 2015. Could he potentially be the clean-up hitter that the Reds are seeking to punish pitchers for the egregious amount of times they make Joey trot to first?
If Bailey isn't enough, the Reds could even consider including Todd Frazier. While his batting average (.234) is crippling to his value, he's only a third-year player with tremendous upside. His career batting average is .249 and career OBP is .318, which is right at league average. Frazier is pretty comparable with Twins current third baseman, Trevor Plouffe, who hit .254 last season but only had an OBP of .309. Frazier hit five more home runs than Plouffe, too.
Should the Reds successfully deal Homer Bailey, that would be nearly $10 million of payroll reduced, assuming MLB Trade Rumors arbitration projections are somewhat accurate.
While there is reportedly interest from the New York Yankees regarding Brandon Phillips (BP), the fact of that matter is that one of the only realistic suitors for Phillips is a Yankees team that offers little to give in return. Should the Reds decide to move Phillips to New York, it would more than likely be a salary dump.
The Yankees' farm is loaded with bats and very few arms, which makes the return on Phillips already less enticing. Trading a marquee name like BP will demand substantial return, at least for the farm. And since Arroyo is gone, and Bailey's name is being whispered around the web, the Reds will need to ensure it stocks up on talent that will one day take the role of baseball's No. 3 starting ERA in 2012, making the Yankees a poor partner.
But since trading BP seems to be a real initiative, the Reds will need to cater to the buyer.
Therefore, should Phillips be dealt to New York, you'd have to think the Reds gain one of their biggest prospects, Tyler Austin, a hard-hitting right-handed batter who is due to arrive in 2014. He's No. 67 in MLB's Top 100 Prospects and offers a strong bat from the right side. Along with Austin, the Reds could probably get a few other prospects, including a right-handed pitcher Rafael De Paula, the Yank's No. 4 prospect.
On another front, and because the only way the Reds can move Phillips is if it's done with a team that can take on the accompanying payroll, the Detroit Tigers are in the market for another second baseman following the likely departure of Omar Infante to free agency. While there isn't much on the stove, any deal with the Tigers and BP would probably center around No. 11 prospect Nick Castellanos, a right-handed outfielder who hit .276 in the minors last season. In 11 games with the Tiger last season, he hit .278.
If the Reds can move Phillips, they save themselves $11 million in 2014, $50 million moving forward.
Appreciate Aroldis Chapman as a closer or not, the Reds are not a team that needs to be devoting the kind of resources it is for a pitcher that will work just one inning. From an efficiency stance, Chapman's save conversion rate was 88.4 percent. Francisco Cordero's was 86 percent his last year here. Chapman will make twice what Cordero made here next year. He'll earn $3 million, including the extra $1.25 million he'll receive every year until his contract is up.
For a starter, this is fine. But an 88.4 percent save conversion rate can be obtained from a much cheaper bullpen arm.
Therefore, it makes sense to deal Chapman now to a team that would have no problems converting him to a starter. Miami becomes an interesting option. And if the Reds were to move Chapman, it would be foolish not to ask for the ever-coveted Giancarlo Stanton, easily one of the most familiar names this offseason. The 24-year-old outfielder will be arbitration eligible this year, so his price is going to rocket from its previous sub-seven digit mark.
Sure, Marlins General Manager Dan Jennings told SiriusXM's Jim Bowden in an interview Sunday that Giancarlo Stanton is "not available" for trade this offseason. But that seems almost rudimentary nowadays in trade rumors. Players are seldom available, until they are.
It's probably not likely that Chapman could land Stanton straight up. To compensate, the Reds could throw Ryan Ludwick in the trade, opening left field for Stanton and giving the Marlins a power bat to replace Stanton's. That's also another $7 million freed up in space, about $12 million between Chapman and Ludwick together.
If that still isn't enticing enough for the Marlins to consider, might the Reds try moving Billy Hamilton (No. 15 MLB prospect) as well? Does it make sense to secure a proven MLB-caliber player like Stanton at the expense of one of the most exciting base runners in history, if not the most?
This trade would package all the sideshow entertainment the Reds have to offer, sure, but the return is too much for the Reds to not consider trying.