Perfect Trade Scenarios for the Cincinnati Reds at the Deadline
The Cincinnati Reds made people forget about the offensive woes the team had been enduring for most of the season with its recent run. But the San Diego Padres provided a painful reminder of just how streaky this offense can be. Furthermore, a bullpen that has been surrounded in doubt, and rightfully so (4.24 ERA, second-worst in the NL), has proven unreliable for now over half the season.
If the Reds were to indeed make some deals at the deadline, Walt Jocketty will probably aim to improve the following areas: left field, shortstop, backup first baseman and middle-relief pitcher.
It's worth noting that on July 1, the Reds website confirmed the team traded RHP Jair Jurrjens for minor league first baseman Harold Riggins. And with the Reds site reporting that Jack Hannahan is close to being healthy, that probably means the backup first baseman is taken care of.
Here are a few other perfect trade scenarios for the Reds at this year's deadline.
It's not that current Reds shortstop Zack Cozart is awful; for the No. 8 hitter on the team, Cozart's .230/.277/.305 slash line is fine considering his .985 fielding percentage. But if the Reds can improve anywhere offensively at a decent price, they'll probably consider.
Chris Owings is hitting .277/.314/.458—a notable offensive improvement from Cozart, though his fielding percentage is notably lower, too, at just .957.
Owings is on the disabled list with a shoulder injury; however, the Associated Press, via KFFL.com, reports that an MRI found no structural damage and that Diamondbacks manager Kirk Gibson expects him to return to the lineup after he's reinstated.
The Diamondbacks are obviously in need of pitching. The team's collective ERA stands at 4.36, No. 28 in baseball. Also, the Diamondbacks have Didi Gregorious and Cliff Pennington, so the shortstop becomes a bit more expendable. Any trade for Owings would probably start with Reds' pitching prospects Michael Lorenzen or Carlos Contreras.
Owings is making just $500,000 this season, according to Spotrac.com.
Left Field Help
It's not as if the Reds left field has become a void in the lineup. Quite the contrary, as Ryan Ludwick is silently having a decent year. His slash line is currently .264/.324/.393. But questions concerning Ludwick's health and his lack of power are enough for the Reds to at least look for possible assistance.
Josh Willingham is in the final year of a three-year, $21 million contract and is set to be a free agent at the end of the year. Willingham missed the first few months of the season with a fractured wrist, but he's been solid since his return.
In just 35 games this season, Willingham's slash line rests at .236/.386/.455. While the average is lower than Ludwick's, there is no denying how exponentially better his OBP and slugging are. His career numbers at Great American Ball Park are notable at .286/.403/.490.
The Twins would probably demand a suitable MLB-ready replacement in return. It's not far-fetched to assume the Reds would extend Willingham considering that Ludwick will be a free agent at the end of the season, so they could even swap Ludwick (Reds would likely have to eat salary) or Chris Heisey along with minor league outfielder Felix Perez, who is currently hitting .302/.353/.522.
The Courier-Journal reports that Perez was recently named to the International League roster for the Triple-A All-Star Game.
Relief Pitching Help
The Reds bullpen is one of the primary reasons the team has struggled to gain any serious traction. It's simply too unreliable. Its 4.24 ERA is the second-worst in the NL. Beyond Jonathan Broxton and Aroldis Chapman, there are simply no reliable relievers to call upon with any certainty.
Because of the tumultuous season both Logan Ondrusek and Sam LeCure are having, the Reds should consider bringing in another right-handed relief pitcher, and a cheap one. A certain team within their own division has all the relief pitching needed to bolster any contender's bullpen.
Brian Schlitter is having a great season. In 37.2 innings of work, Schlitter has an ERA of 2.63 and a WHIP of just .90. He has a current WAR of 1.1, making him an enticing option.
The rebuilding Cubs will probably demand a mix of mid- to low-level prospects in return for a veteran with virtually no elongated record of MLB success. A package containing RHP Drew Cisco and possibly a name like RHP Daniel Corcino might be enough.
According to Spotrac.com, Schlitter is making just $500,000 this year and is set to become a free agent at the end of the season.
All stats courtesy of ESPN.com.