The month of November is, in many ways, a lost month for baseball fans and enthusiasts. The World Series concludes in October, the Hot Stove season generally kickstarts with the Winter Meetings in early December, and all November leaves us with is football, daylight savings time, and, well, leaves. But that doesn't mean there's absolutely nothing to chew on, and many writers use the year's eleventh month as a time to speculate about future speculation, which means that the early twinges of rosterbation get their start. Fortunately for us, that's begun in earnest, and several folks have mentioned the Cincinnati Reds as potential landing spots in their own fabricated trade scenarios.
We'll begin with ESPN SweetSpot's David Schoenfield, who focuses on the logjam in the outfield that the Colorado Rockies must address this winter. With the oddly extended $15.3 qualifying offer on the table to would-be free agent Michael Cuddyer almost assuredly about to be accepted, that would leave Cuddyer, Brandon Barnes, Corey Dickerson, Charlie Blackmon, Drew Stubbs, and Carlos Gonzalez all looking for playing time in the expansive Coors Field depths, and with their pitching in shambles and Justin Morneau still under contract at 1B, there's a glut that will need to be alleviated prior to the start of the 2015 season. Unless Morneau is shipped out as a bargain 1B to a team in need and Cuddyer is penciled in as the full-time uber-expensive 1B, the most likely trade candidate appears to be Gonzalez, in Schoenfield's mind. The 29 year old is coming off his worst statistical season, and he's owed $54.2 million over the next 3 years, yet the Reds are mentioned first and foremost as a team that should have interest in the former Silver Slugger and two-time All Star. His knee issues scare me almost as much as his contract, and his career home/road splits freak me the hell out, but there's no denying that he'd add something to the Reds depleted OF. I get the impression that the Rockies would be asking for a ridiculous return, however, and I'm not sure he's worth it for the presumed price; then again, this is the same organization that offered Cuddyer a QO, so maybe they're just crazy enough to give him away.
Next up is Mike Petriello's look at the Los Angeles Dodgers outfield mess, as he took a look at the crowded jam that the NL West winners will be facing for the second consecutive season. They opted to avoid trading away any of Andre Ethier, Carl Crawford, Yasiel Puig, Matt Kemp, Scott Van Slyke, or Joc Pederson during their run to the playoffs last season, but Petriello - like most of the rest of us - thinks that won't be the same strategy this offseason thanks to the additions of GM Andrew Friedman and his newly minted front office. Petriello lists potential scenarios on a least-likely to most-likely scale, concluding that moving Crawford would be the easiest to do with the most sensible of returns, and he clearly thinks the Reds would be a decent fit for the former Boston Red Sox and Tampa Bay Rays LF. Crawford can't throw, can't stay healthy, can't run like he used to, can't play anything but LF, can't take a walk, and will be a 33 year old with 3 years and $63.25 million left on his contract on Opening Day 2015, which means that even if the the Dodgers kicked in, say, $50 million to trade him for scraps, he still wouldn't bring a ton to the table for the Reds in the grand scheme. Yes, he rebounded to hit a solid .300/.339/.429 in 2015, but that was in just 370 PA as injuries again derailed his season. Meh. Too much of a gamble, especially for 3 seasons.
Over at Foxsports.com, serial Johnny Cueto underappreciator Dave Cameron makes the case that the Reds should trade their ace to the Red Sox for Yoenis Cespedes (with a few other pieces involved to make things more reasonable). Both Cespedes and Cueto will be free agents following the 2015 season should extensions not be hammered out before, yet Cespedes cannot be given a QO based on the contract he signed as a free agent after leaving Cuba, meaning that even if their expected production was equal in 2015, Cueto's contract situation stipulates that he's at least a Top 35-ish pick more valuable than Cespedes. They both make the same money next season and are both roughly the same age, yet Cueto both projects to - and has experience in - posting 6 bWAR seasons (twice), while Cespedes has never topped 4.7 bWAR. That leads Cameron to suggest that dumping Sean Marshall and his $6.5 million contract in addition to Cueto in exchange for Cespedes and a decent pitching prospect makes things palatable, but I disagree wholeheartedly. If Cueto's 2 WAR better than Cespedes, that's worth closer to $12 million than $6.5, for one, and the Reds need hitting prospects, not additional pitching prospects. Also, they need more arms in the bullpen, not less. Not to mention that they don't need HR power as a priority, they need players who can get on base and not strikeout 20+% of the time, and neither of those is a strength Cespedes brings to the table. While I'd opine that the Reds should pass on this deal 10 times out of 10, Redleg Nation's Steve Mancuso seems to think it wouldn't be a terrible idea.
In other news, it appears that Farmer's Only name favorite Jamodrick McGruder has been released by the organization. Since the Dayton Dragons twitter account is apparently in the business of dropping hot ledes, they also noted that former Reds' farmhand and perennial not-get-a-hitter-in-the-big-leagues Neftali Soto is now a minor league free agent, too. I still remember when the Fake Reds GMs traded Soto to the Fake Rays straight up for David DeJesus last winter. #neverforget
A-Rod took steroids. WOMP, WOMP.
Finally, in addition to seeking Jon Lester (and a potential package signing in Jake Peavy), the Chicago Cubs are also looking at acquiring Cole Hamels from the Philadelphia Phillies. The Phillies have done a solid job of making us all forget they exist in recent seasons, but one look at Hamels' career numbers against the Reds should make each and every one of you shiver at the thought of having him in the division for the next few seasons.