Remember last winter when Walt Jocketty dealt blocked prospects Yonder Alonso and Yasmani Grandal to get an ace-caliber pitcher in Mat Latos? He could do it again this winter, only this time with shortstops. JP Morosi is reporting the Reds are talking about Zack Cozart and Didi Gregorius in trades talks at the GM meetings this week. Jocketty says the Reds are targeting closers and lead-off hitters, and he could use one of his young shortstops to get what he needs.
I am fully on board with this plan. The question, of course, is which young shortstop should the Reds let go? Cozart is the safe bet, the 27-year-old with a full, relatively successful season in the big leagues under his belt. He hit .246/.288/.399 this year and played very good defense. This is likely close to his ceiling, though. Which is a pretty good ceiling, all things considered, but he will likely never make an All-Star team or whatever. He's the bird in hand.
Didi is the gamble. He'll be just 23 next season, and he has the tools to be a big star someday. He may be even better than Cozart with the glove, and he has the potential to be quite a hitter, too. He's a bit raw still, but if he can develop his skills he could really be something. He hit .265/.324/.393 between AA and AAA last season, which is decent. But again, he's still young, and oh boy the tools. He's two in the bush.
So which should the Reds keep and which should they flip? If I were running the Reds (and someday I will), I'd trade Didi. And it doesn't really have as much to do with the players themselves as it does the state of the franchise. As players, I value them both about the same. I would wager most competing GMs do, too. The big difference is that Cozart has established his cred in the big leagues, and Didi is still a prospect. The Reds are going to be competing for the division again next season, and so it is important to field the strongest team now. Didi could quite possibly be the better player in two or three years, but the Reds should be in full win-now mode. That means taking the bird in hand.
But honestly, I can make the argument both ways. I mean, it's not like Cozart is that much better than Didi right now. I bet Didi could hold his own if given the starting job next spring. And a lot depends on what other teams are looking for. If a trade partner is totally bonkers for Go Cart and is willing to offer the moon, you need to keep that on the table. But one thing is for certain: the Reds definitely should deal one of them. Sitting on a surplus is always an option if the right deal isn't available, but it's hardly the best option. Remember the Rangers' catcher surplus a few years back? Yeah, me neither.