4 Bold Predictions for Reds at the 2014 Trade Deadline
The Cincinnati Reds are in the midst of a tailspin. After losing a season-high six consecutive games, the Reds have dropped to 5.5 games back of the first-place Milwaukee Brewers and four games behind the leaders of the National League Wild Card.
All of this is happening without the services of arguably their two best players—former All-Star and Gold Glove second baseman Brandon Phillips and former MVP, All-Star and Gold Glove first baseman Joey Votto.
The problem for the Reds is that, as per Jim Bowden of ESPN (h/t SportsIllustrated.com), both are reportedly out for at least another five weeks. That would indicate that the soonest either would return would be middle-to-late August, with just about 30 games or so remaining.
In the meantime, the Reds may have to make a move (or two) to salvage a fading season. The following are four bold predictions for the Reds at the 2014 trading deadline. The order will go from most likely to shocking development.
Rather than reiterate every package, just know that any deal the Reds make will likely involve expendable MLB talent like Ryan Ludwick (they would have to eat salary) or a Chris Heisey, but also their top prospects in Robert Stephenson, Ben Lively, Michael Lorenzen, Phillip Ervin or Jesse Winker.
No.1: Daniel Murphy, New York Mets
This 29-year-old utility extraordinaire may be at the top of Reds general manager Walt Jocketty's list. He is everything the Reds are missing at the moment. His slash line is .287/.335/.406. That .287 would officially be the second-best batting average on the Reds roster.
Beyond what he's doing offensively, Daniel Murphy can play virtually anywhere. He can fill in at second or first, he can play in the corner outfield, and he's versatile enough to keep in the lineup as guys get healthy and return.
Murphy is probably the most likely candidate for Jocketty to land because the Mets are eight games back from first place in the National League East and are seven games back of a wild-card spot.
Cincinnati Enquirer beat writer Jon Fay has listed Daniel Murphy as a current target.
No. 2: Marlon Byrd, Philadelphia Phillies
Marlon Byrd is a name that Reds fans should be quite familiar with. The Reds were in a similar position last year. While competing neck-and-neck with other National League teams for the wild card, their offense was performing less than ideal and many thought the Reds needed to make a trade.
They didn't. Instead, division-rival Pittsburgh made a few moves. One of the moves included the acquisition of Byrd. Pittsburgh went on to win home-field advantage in a one-game playoff with the Reds, and the rest was history.
This year, the Reds are in a similar situation, albeit more dire. The Phillies are 12 games out from the wild card and are sitting dead last in the National League East.
Byrd's slash line as of July 23 is .266/.318/.478. The 36-year-old corner outfielder has 19 home runs and 58 RBI on the season. Per Rotoworld.com, he's owed $8 million in 2015 and $8 million in 2016.
No. 3: Ben Zobrist, Tampa Bay Rays
Ben Zobrist may have at one time been the favorite in terms of the Reds' targets. Akin to Murphy, Zobrist is a utility man extraordinaire. The 33-year-old right-hander's slash line is .257/.346/.393. He also has seven home runs and 27 RBI.
The problem is, he's playing for a team that is one of the hottest teams in baseball. In mere weeks, the Tampa Bay Rays have gone from certain sellers to probable buyers at the deadline. They're seven games back in the American League East but only 4.5 games back of the AL Wild Card.
Per Rotoworld.com, Zobrist is owed $7.5 million next season. But as of July 23, the Rays have now won 17 of their last 22 games, and it's possible Zobrist is no longer on the market—at least until the Rays get a better idea of where their season is headed.
No. 4: Charlie Blackmon, Colorado Rockies
First off, there hasn't been so much as an Internet rumor floating around that Charlie Blackmon is on the market. But Rockies ownership has been in the news of late, via Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports, as owner Dick Monfort has started playing the blame game in public.
The Rockies are a mess. They own the NL's worst record. You get the sense this team is getting ready to blow it all up, and just maybe, the Reds can be right there to pick up some of the pieces.
The 28-year-old outfielder has an impressive slash line of .304/.348/.472. Per Rotoworld.com, he'll be arbitration eligible next season. The first-time All-Star would come at a high price, probably for a top pitching prospect, but future pitching has to be what the Rockies are searching for considering how abysmal their staff is.
They statistically have the worst ERA (5.04) in all of baseball. According to Baseball Prospectus, the Rockies' top two prospects are pitchers, but those are the only two notable pitching prospects, which means there's plenty of room to add for the Rockies' future rotation.