Yonder Alonso can flat-out hit a baseball. This is not debatable. He can rake it in the 80th-percentile range of any major league batter in the game today. That may be debatable—but probably not.
There is a problem, though. The 24-year-old Cincinnati Reds outfielder/first baseman's name has been bandied about in trade rumors since, well, the day he was chosen as the seventh overall pick in the first round of the 2008 amateur draft.
When he was drafted out of the University of Miami, many Reds' fans were left scratching their heads, wondering why in the world the team would draft another first baseman when they already had budding uber-star, Joey Votto, manning the position.
Alonso is still blocked at first base, rightfully so. Votto is one year removed from a NL MVP season and has shown nothing to signify he will stop hitting anytime until his 50th birthday—okay, that's a stretch—but he could easily be an offensive machine for the next 12 years.
Votto is under contract for the next two years and will make himself available to the highest bidder in 2014.
That's bad news for Cincinnati fans. Being a small-market team, there is absolutely no chance the Reds will nail a Prince Albert-like deal. That's not even considering what the market will demand for a stud first baseman in 2014.
So unless owner Bob Castellini has a buried treasure chest of gold somewhere, the Reds do not have the funds to offer a 10-year, $250 million dollar contract.
Why even consider trading Alonso? Put him in left field until Votto walks.
Alonso's run production will far outweigh his lack of defensive ability. He's a hard worker who knows the left field job is his—if he remains with the club. So it is pretty safe to assume he's been working his caboose off to better learn the position.
Additionally, there have been many teams who have survived slipshod corner outfielders. The first that comes to mind is the Red Sox, and they won the World Series with futile-fielding Manny Ramirez in left.
Next is the Reds' lack of depth in the outfield. Barring a free-agent signing, they are looking at Alonso, Drew Stubbs and Jay Bruce, with Chris Heisey serving as the backup and defensive replacement.
If Alonso is traded, who will backup Heisey, Stubbs and Bruce? Dave Sappelt? Miguel Cairo? Any Reds fan would admit that to be a dreadful pickle.
Now let's compare some numbers—specifically those of Votto's 2007 season versus Alonso's 2011 season:
In 2007, Votto had 84 at-bats. In 2011, Alonso had 88 at-bats. So we're looking at an almost identical sample size.
Votto ended 2007 with a .321 batting average, four home runs, finished with a .360 OBP and a .907 OPS.
Alonso ended 2011 hitting .330, five home runs, got on base at a .398 clip and a .943 OPS.
The 2008 season saw Votto finish second to Cubs catcher Geovany Soto in the Rookie of the Year balloting.
Like Votto's first full season, the 2012 version of Alonso will smack the snot out of the ball. Whether or not he will finish second as Rookie of the Year remains to be seen—but there is little doubt he will be in the running.
And it would be a bloody shame to see him accomplish this in a uniform other than the Cincinnati Reds.
So, Mr. General Manager, please, please, pretty pretty please stop shopping Yonder Alonso!