The San Francisco Giants are the reigning World Series champs, the reigning best franchise of the last five years, the home team in one of the nation's best cities, boast the most beautiful stadium in all the land, and have enough money in their big market pockets to go get pretty much whomever they choose or need. But somehow, the champs failed to land Jon Lester yesterday despite a very intense pursuit, and now they're on the lookout for another stud starting pitcher to pair with Madison Bumgarner.
What's funny, though, is that while there may be more quality pitchers available this winter than at any point in recent memory, very few serve as both alternatives to Lester and decent fits for the Giants. For instance, Jayson Stark mentioned that the Giants now have interest in Cole Hamels, but Grant Brisbee wonders if the lack of top-flight prospects in the San Francisco system will be good enough to land the Phillies ace even if the Giants aren't afraid of taking on his entire salary.
So the Giants obviously want another elite arm, and that makes perfect sense. Bumgarner's as good as they get, but their rotation gets murky quickly after him. Matt Cain will enter 2015 coming off a down half year that torpedoed by season-ending elbow surgery and a subsequent ankle surgery, Tim Hudson will turn 40 in July, Ryan Vogelsong is now a free agent, and who the hell knows what Tim Lincecum is anymore. If Brian Sabean thinks James Shields is too old for a 5 year contract and that Max Scherzer isn't worth the $200 million being asked for by Scott Boras, a trade becomes the only way to bring in a top of the rotation starter. But, as Brisbee noted, if a farm system devoid of Grade A prospects won't get Hamels in return, where the hell else can they turn?
Well, Johnny Cueto's an ace, and though the Cincinnati Reds are buying ramen with change in order to shave enough payroll to keep he and his pitching buddies in town, the arms race in the NL Central is looking more and more daunting for their limits by the minute. And while Hamels' 4 years of team control at what appears to be reasonable market rate for an ace would require quite a oomphy package, getting Cueto for just a single season - even at a cut rate price - may not demand quite as much.
So, ask yourself, "what's a Kyle Crick, and is that something that would look shiny enough in GABP to wave goodbye to Johnny Cueto?"
Good question. Crick's got an Uncle Rico arm that can sniff 100 mph and could've won state, and that paired with a plus slider have allowed him to strike out an impressive 342 hitters in his 277.1 career innings in the minors. He turned 22 a week ago, has already pummeled Double A hitters, was a universal Top 50 prospect prior to fanning 11.1 hitters per 9 innings in 2014, and looks like he could take a major league mound as early as 2015. That's exactly the kind of return the Reds should hope for in exchange for Cue...
...wait a minute. Did I forget to mention the walks? Damnit, I forgot to mention the walks.
Crick walked over 6 guys per 9 innings last season, threw 12 wild pitches in his 90.1 innings in Richmond, and beaned 12 guys in 111.1 innings of A ball back in 2012. Those are numbers that make Edinson Volquez look like Greg Maddux, and it makes you wonder if he'll end up a tantalizing reliever instead of one of those super duper starters. But Crick's likely still the top prospect in their system, and potentially the prospect the Reds would have the most interest in if they were considering shipping a pitcher to the left coast.
Hmm. Not exactly overwhelming, especially with the Qualifying Offer turn-down-for-what-draft-pick that would come along with him. Not to mention that the Reds have a cache of near-majors arms and the same number of good hitting prospects as noses. So, barring both teams adding in additional big leaguers to make this some conflagration I'm not enlightened enough to fathom, it doesn't appear that the Reds could trade Cueto to the Giants merely for those cheap prospects the Reds' payroll so desires.
No, you cannot have those five minutes back. This is what happens to my blogability when this is the primary news I see about the Reds:
<blockquote class="twitter-tweet" lang="en"><p>Pretty much only talk about <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/Reds?src=hash">#Reds</a> at <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/WinterMeetings?src=hash">#WinterMeetings</a> is how they're screwed after this season</p>— ctrent (@ctrent) <a href="https://twitter.com/ctrent/status/542441962201026560">December 9, 2014</a></blockquote>
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Mat Latos for Crick would be interesting, though, because the only thing more enjoyable than watching the Reds win in 2015 would be trolling the hell out of Brisbee.