Alex Rios, OF, Texas Rangers
Though he doesn't necessarily solve the Reds' need for a power-hitting righty, Alex Rios would be a nice fit in left field for the Reds. The Reds lack a true No. 2 hitter, and although Todd Frazier has done an outstanding job there, his bat would be better suited near the cleanup spot.
The Reds could slot Rios into the second spot in the order, which also gives them the ability to bat Frazier third or, in Votto's absence, fourth or fifth.
Rios makes contact at an absurdly high rate (82.1 percent in 2014 with an 11-year average of 79.4 percent) and puts the ball in play at an equally impressive rate (76 percent in 2014 with an 11-year average of 69 percent). In addition to his sky-high contact and in-play rates, Rios generally makes hard contact, producing a 29 percent line-drive rate in 2014 compared to a 19 percent average over his career.
This year Rios has made productive outs in 30 percent of his plate appearances, compared to the 32 percent league average over the course of his 11-year career.
Rios doesn't hit for much power, but he gets on base at a solid rate (.333 in 2014 and .325 for his career), and he is capable of swiping 15-plus bags over the remainder of the 2014 season.
Even better about Rios is that the 33-year-old possesses an affordable $13.5 million club option for 2014.
James Russell, LHP, Chicago Cubs
Last month the Reds lost lefty Sean Marshall for the remainder of the 2014 season. However, the former Chicago Cub could be replaced by a current Cub: James Russell.
Russell is in the midst of a career year, gathering a 2.84 ERA and 1.11 WHIP over 35 appearances (25.1 innings pitched). The 28-year-old boasts career-best marks in H/9, ERA+ and strikeout percentage.
Some of that success could be based on good luck, as he's allowed a career-best .212 BAbip (his career average is .282) despite allowing an 80.5 percent contact rate and a 10.5 percent walk rate.
Nevertheless, Russell would be a nice addition to a floundering Reds bullpen which has allowed the second-worst ERA (4.13) in the entire National League.
Marlon Byrd, OF, Philadelphia Phillies
Remember that time the Reds could have probably gotten Marlon Byrd last year? Or at least blocked him from going to the rival Pittsburgh Pirates? Yeah.
Well, this year, the Reds can atone for that mistake by acquiring Marlon Byrd at the July 31 trade deadline.
Byrd isn't the same high-profile trade target he was during the 2013 season, but the 36-year-old is still a productive player. Over 89 games played (368 plate appearances), Byrd boasts a .263/.313/.488 triple slash with 18 home runs, 19 doubles, 52 RBI, 45 runs scored and a 106-22 K/BB ratio.
Byrd is signed through the 2015 season and has a modest $8 million price tag for that season. The only major drawback to his current contract—and it could be a deal breaker—is his 2016 vesting option, which kicks in if he amasses 600 plate appearances in 2014 or 550 in 2015 and a total of 1100 between 2014 and 2015.
Byrd's contract status could cause the Reds to explore other avenues in their attempt to fix their left-field situation. However, the 13-year veteran could fill a major void in the Reds' lineup should they choose to pursue him.
Starlin Castro, SS, Chicago Cubs
Maybe a bit of a stretch, but Starlin Castro could be just what the Reds need at shortstop. Sure, the 24-year-old is a pretty poor fielder. He's posted negative UZR values in four of five seasons as well as four of five seasons with RZR values below .800.
Fortunately, Castro makes up for a lot of his defensive woes with some solid work at the plate. This year the Dominican Republic native owns a .280/.326/.452 slash line with 11 home runs, 26 doubles, 51 RBI and 40 runs scored.
Castro is an adept hitter and, like Rios, would slot well into the second spot in the Reds' order. Castro's current season includes a number of career-bests, including a 5.8 percent walk rate, a 10 percent extra-base hit rate, a 28 percent line-drive rate and a productive-out rate of 34 percent.
The price tag to acquire Castro would be lofty, but he's signed through the 2019 season and holds a 2020 team option for $16 million. Castro's salary would be very affordable, especially if he continues to hit like one of the top shortstops in baseball; by the end of his contract, Castro is only slated to make $11 million.
Other Possible Targets:
- Ben Zobrist, INF, Tampa Bay Rays
- Huston Street, RHP, San Diego Padres
- Joaquin Benoit, RHP, San Diego Padres
- Michael Cuddyer, OF, Colorado Rockies
- Josh Willingham, OF, Minnesota Twins