The Definitive Case for Trading Alfredo Simon at the Deadline
If the Cincinnati Reds are going to make a midseason trade to help their postseason chances, they have a pretty good trade chip in Alfredo Simon.
It's been incredible to watch Simon turn into the pitcher he is today. The Reds claimed him off of waivers from the Baltimore Orioles right before the start of the 2012 season, and he has been everything from a reliable reliever to a very good starter for the Reds.
Some fans may question why a team would trade a player like Simon if he has been so effective. Let's be honest here for a moment. There aren't many players on this roster that other teams would want and that the Reds would be able to get much for. Cincinnati won't trade any of its star players, so teams will have to evaluate some of the role players on this roster.
As good as Simon has been since joining the Reds, he is expendable if it means bringing back some valuable pieces. He's not going to be able to be swapped for a guy like Giancarlo Stanton, but he could be used to bring back depth at certain positions.
Alfredo Simon Easily Has Most Value of Any Tradable Player on Roster
In order to make a trade, there have to be two parties willing to agree on a deal. When looking at Cincinnati's roster, there aren't many players the Reds would be willing to trade that other teams would be willing to give up much for.
Cincinnati isn't going to trade guys like Joey Votto, Jay Bruce, Billy Hamilton or Brandon Phillips. Todd Frazier and Zack Cozart aren't likely to be moved given their age and low salaries. That doesn't leave much else the club could dangle on the trade block.
The Reds will have several starting pitchers—Johnny Cueto, Mat Latos and Mike Leake—entering the final year of their contract next season, so they could flirt with the idea of trading one of them. However, the goal is to get stronger with a trade. Dealing one of those guys would be tough to get fair value back in return.
That leaves Alfredo Simon as the most attractive player the Reds have to offer.
Right now, the Reds need other pieces more than they need a sixth starter. Simon could be used to bring in a quality bat for the bench or a strong, young arm for the bullpen.
Mat Latos' Return Makes Alfredo Simon a Great Trade Chip
When Alfredo Simon was moved to the rotation, Cincinnati had hoped that he would make one or two starts while Mat Latos finished recovering from two different injuries. Unfortunately, that plan didn't work out, and Simon has been able to stay in the rotation for the first two months of the season.
There's no question about it that he has earned a spot in the rotation with his early-season performance. Through his first nine starts, Simon is 6-2 with a 2.31 ERA and a 1.011 WHIP through 58.1 innings pitched.
Those numbers will give manager Bryan Price an interesting decision to make once Latos returns. Given how mightily southpaws Sean Marshall and Manny Parra have struggled out of the bullpen this season, one could argue that Tony Cingrani would be more valuable to the bullpen than Simon.
Cincinnati's rotation is close to getting back to full strength, barring any further setbacks to Latos. The right-hander is currently on a rehab assignment at Triple-A and is likely on track to return in the second week of June.
Once Latos returns to the rotation, the Reds will have to decide what to do with Cingrani and Simon. Cingrani is younger and is certainly viewed as part of the team's future rotation, so it would be tough to impede his development and move him to the bullpen.
If Simon does indeed get moved back to the bullpen when Latos returns, the Reds could dangle him on the trading block to other teams that need starting pitching.
Sure, a team can never have too much starting pitching. The way the Reds have dealt with injuries this season, it wouldn't be a bad idea to have a nice fallback option should another starter get hurt this season. However, this team clearly needs help on the bench and in the bullpen. Simon or Cingrani moving to the bullpen would be a short-term solution, but trading Simon for a younger arm or two could pay off down the road.
Hopefully, the Reds will be healthy enough around the trade deadline to at least check around the league to see what kind of value Simon has on the market.
Contract Status Makes Alfredo Simon Attractive to Teams
Teams are willing to give up more in a deal if they control the player they are getting in return for more than just the rest of the season. That is the case with Simon.
After the 2014 season, Simon will be eligible for arbitration for the third time in his career and will still be very affordable next season. The 33-year-old is only making $1.5 million this season, so it will be tough for him to receive an incredibly large raise even if he stays in a team's rotation for the remainder of the season.
Simon is due to be a free agent after the 2015 season. Any team willing to make a deal for him in July would be able to get eight months out of the veteran for a very reasonable price. Most quality starting pitchers on the market will have quite a bit of money due to them come next season.
Small-market teams aren't going to be able to afford the likes of Jeff Samardzija, but they might be willing to make a deal for a low-cost alternative such as Simon.
Starting Pitching Will Be Valued More Than Ever
Pitching is always valuable at the trade deadline, but teams may be looking for arms more than ever this season due to the number of serious injuries.
Through May 14, according to Newsday's Steven Marcus, there were 17 pitchers who underwent Tommy John surgery this season. Many contenders have lost key arms to the surgery. The Miami Marlins, the Texas Rangers and the Oakland Athletics are among the teams that have been hit by the injury bug.
With the rash of Tommy John surgeries, teams may be more willing to pursue cheaper options, like Simon, rather than chasing a high-profile pitcher. Those teams just need a quality starting pitcher to fill a spot in the rotation until their injured player returns at some point in the future. A team could acquire a pitcher like Simon for the short term and let him try to earn a spot in the rotation for the future.
For whatever reason, it seems like pitchers are getting injured this season with more frequency than in years past. Simon has proven to be durable no matter what his role has been. He can go deep into games every fifth game, and he can pitch consecutive games out of the bullpen when necessary.
Starting pitching figures to be tough to find on the trade market given that few teams have fallen out of contention early on. Depending on where the Reds are in the standings and in terms of health at the deadline, they could decide to make a deal involving Simon.
*All stats are via MLB.com