Making out the Reds' shopping list at the trade deadline

With a late All Star Game and an extra off-day, the trade deadline snuck up on me. In about 2 1/2 weeks, teams can no longer swap players without passing them through waivers first. Although, put that way, it sounds kind of boring.

Really, it's the last chance for the Reds to make a free and clear trade to improve their team. To have a fresh new face around. To go SHOPPING!!!!!

This trade deadline is a little different than in years past. For one, based on the new Collective Bargaining Agreement, you can no longer get draft picks in exchange for a soon-to-be-free agent you acquired mid-season. That makes rental players less attractive, which might also lower their price.

Cutting against that possible discount is the fact that there may be fewer sellers this season. The parity of a month a go has started to erode, but there are still only 10 teams that are an arbitrary 8.0 games out (or more). Six or seven games can be a lot - especially when you have several teams in front of you - but the addition of another play-off spot at least gives more teams the mirage of competitiveness.

Last year's dueling comebacks (and collapses) might also contribute to the delusion, as may the fact that every team in the AL East is at .500 or above. I've got the following teams firmly in the expected "seller" camp, give or take a Blue Jays. All of these teams have losing records and are at least 9.0 games back:

Kansas City Royals
Minnesota Twins
Seattle Mariners
Philadelphia Phillies
Chicago Cubs
Houston Astros
Colorado Rockies
San Diego Padres

You can probably add the A's, Red Sox, Blue Jays and Brewers if you're being less conservative (or if they fall much farther in two weeks), but I wanted to allow for the fact that some teams fortunes could turn, some might just be in denial and it's kinda hard to make trades.

These are the teams the Reds are going to have to shake down.

And these are the needs I think the team has right now, in order:

  1. An outfielder who can get on base. The outfield has put together a Jay Bruce-heavy .238/.303/.424 line. Obviously, and thankfully, Bruce is staying put. LF and CF combined are safely below a .300 OBP. This is a tricky proposition, since CF (defense + offense) is hard to replace, while the left fielders are starting to hit. Todd Frazier is also capable of playing LF.
  2. Or, maybe, a 3B. This is less immediately appealing, with Todd Frazier and two other 3B on the team. But Frazier could move to LF if the best hitter the Reds can acquire plays 3B.
  3. Utility/bench guy. If we're being honest, Rolen should be on the bench. And Heisey should be there about half the time, if not more. That leaves two non-catcher bench spots, occupied by Valdez and Cairo. Who have a combined OPS+ of 23.
  4. Depth starter. After losing Francis to an out-clause and Tomko to injury, the Reds' starting depth is thin. Hoover could start, but is currently relieving in Louisville. LeCure isn't stretched out either. Pedro Villareal and Chad Reineke are about it among pitchers you can (kinda) trust for a major league spot start or two.

Putting the two lists together, I pulled some names that both weren't revolting and had a chance of being acquired by the Reds (considering payroll and team willingness). I don't see players like Alex Gordon and Josh Willingham coming on the market.

Outfielders

  • Justin Upton, RF, Diamondbacks. Obviously, want. But he's probably out there as a tease (again). Reds also don't really have the salary to jettison unless they somehow got Arroyo into the deal.
  • David DeJesus, OF, Cubs. It's risky to tangle with Theo, but DeJesus could be the best outfield bat that's actually available.
  • Shane Victorino, CF, Phillies. He might be the next most WANT-able after Upton, but he might not really be on the block either.
  • Carlos Quentin, LF, Padres. Opinion tends to be divided on Quentin, but I have no doubt he'd improve the LF picture. There will be a lot of bidders, though he's only a rental. Bob C would probably have to open his wallet a little.
  • Denard Span, CF, Twins. His major advantage over Pierre is that he can actually play CF. I left Pierre off the list because I don't think, in LF, he's actually an upgrade over the composite outfielder the team could be putting out there. Especially in a slap-hitter-unfriendly park. Meanwhile, I don't think the Reds would consider him a bench bat.
  • Reed Johnson, OF, Cubs. Rental. He plays all three OF positions and is getting on base better than any current Reds OF.
  • Laynce Nix OF, Phillies. I'm serious. He's injured right now, but if you could get him for peanuts and delay deciding on what to do with him while he rehabs, he'd be a good left-handed bat to have on the bench.
  • Jason Bourgeois, CF/LF, Royals. He has three years of control left, but also had some injury troubles and is 30 years old. A lot of fun Marxist humor to be had if he was traded from the Royals to the Reds. That might be his main selling point.

Third basemen

  • Chase Headley, 3B, Padres. I'm not really sure why the Padres would trade Headley - and I'm not eager to see the Reds send more budding prospects to San Diego - but he's by far the best name being thrown around at third.

Utility

  • Darren Mastroianni, Twins. Can play 2B and across the OF. Gets on base. Bats righty. Has the perfect Fellini last name.
  • Mike Fontenot, UT, Phillies. An improvement.
  • Sean Rodriguez, IF, Rays. Rays aren't sellers, but they could be clearing the way for Longoria's return. And I always put Sean Rodriguez on these lists.

Starters

Have to be able to either park them at AAA (with options, preferable) or hide them in the bullpen.

  • Brian Matusz, SP, Orioles. He's at AAA now and in the midst of a major setback to a very promising career, but he'd be great way to inject some upside into the Reds' upper minors. I doubt the Reds are willing to part with MLB-ready players the Orioles would be seeking.
  • Kevin Millwood, SP, Mariners. Only making $1M. Really only a contingency plan if there's an injury in the next few weeks, though he could maybe start out in the 'pen and moved to the rotation to keep innings down on another starter.
  • Everett Teaford, SP, Royals. A lefty.
  • Samuel Deduno, SP, Twins. Misses a lot of bats, but with serious control problems. Stuff could play up in the 'pen and allow LeCure or Simon to make starts in the even of an injury.
  • Eulogio de la Cruz, SP, Cubs. I'd be afraid to face a pitcher whose name was basically "Eulogy."
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