Many expected the Cincinnati Reds would deal Johnny Cueto before the MLB trade deadline. The only real question was what the team would receive in return for what will likely be a rental player in 2015.
The Reds announced Sunday they traded Cueto the Kansas City Royals for a trio of pitchers:
Both ESPN's Jayson Stark and Yahoo Sports' Jeff Passan believed the Reds got a solid haul:
Brandon Finnegan is the headliner of the trade from a Cincinnati perspective. FanGraphs' Kiley McDaniel ranked him the 56th-best prospect in baseball entering the season, while Baseball Prospectus listed him No. 87 overall and No. 4 in the Royals' system.
In 24.1 innings for Kansas City, Finnegan hasn't exactly been dominant on the mound. His 2.96 ERA isn't poor, but his 4.67 FIP and 3.87 xFIP, per FanGraphs, are better indicators as to his overall performance.
Andy McCullough of the Kansas City Star brought up one of the key issues regarding Finnegan's future value:
He made 12 starts in the minors over two years, but TCU used him as a starting pitcher in his final two years at the school. You'd expect Cincinnati will at least experiment with Finnegan in the rotation, but if he proves to excel more in a relief role, the trade might not look quite as good.
Like Finnegan, John Lamb should provide an immediate impact for the Reds as well.
After showing a lot of promise early in his career, he had Tommy John surgery in 2011, which slowed his development. Lamb is still just 25 years old, and after going 9-1 with a 2.67 ERA in 17 Triple-A starts this year, Cincinnati could potentially call him up right now. Cueto's departure will leave a hole in the Reds' rotation.
Cody Reed, meanwhile, is at least another year or two away from the majors. He split time in High-A and Double-A this year, going 7-7 with a 2.53 ERA in 96 innings. MLB.com's Jim Callis hinted Reed could be the hidden gem of the trade:
McDaniel added the 22-year-old has made strong strides in 2015:
All in all, you have to praise the Reds. Everybody knew they were likely to trade Cueto. Cincinnati had little leverage in the situation and still walked away with a high-ceiling prospect in Reed and two pitchers who should contribute right away in Finnegan and Lamb.
It's always frustrating watching an ace like Cueto walk out the door, but the Reds ensured they didn't wind up empty-handed.