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A look back at the Scott Rolen trade, 5 years later

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5 trade deadlines ago, the Reds made a head-scratching move to acquire a 34-year-old Scott Rolen from Toronto. We look back on the trade and how it ended up working out for both teams involved.

Jonathan Daniel

Ed. note: Our friends over at The Good Phight have deemed today Scott Rolen Honorary Retirement Day. Check them out.

Scott Rolen's Reds era began at the 2009 trade deadline. After some mid-summer hope, the Reds floundered in late July and were safely out of contention by the deadline. Deadline day saw a couple of minor moves, like the departure of Jerry Hairston Jr. and the arrival of Wladimir Balentien, but the major news of the day centered around the Reds' acquisition of Scott Rolen.

At the time, Rolen was having a pretty good season at the plate for the Toronto Blue Jays. He was hitting .320/.370/.476 in 373 PA, especially impressive as a 34-year-old coming off of a few average years to close out his time in St. Louis. However, the move to acquire him was a suspect one from a Reds perspective.

To acquire Rolen, the Reds sent Edwin Encarnacion, Josh Roenicke, and Zach Stewart to Toronto. Encarnacion was coming off of a career year (at the time) offensively, slugging 26 dingers, but had floundered much of the 2009 season at the plate, hitting only .209 at the time of the trade. It's hard to tell if the Jays were buying low on EdE, or if the Reds were just grateful to get someone to take them off their hands.

The real value in the trade came from the two pitching prospects, Roenicke and Stewart. Roenicke was percieved as closer to the majors, and during his time in Cincinnati was even thought of as a closer of the future. Stewart was the Reds' top pitching prospect at the time, and had just completed a swing up 3 minor league levels in one season, dominating everywhere he'd been.

How did we feel about it here at RR? Not great. To the wayback machine!

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This was the prevailing attitude, I think. From the Reds fan perspective, Scott Rolen was a washed up has-been, a significant injury risk, making too much money for the small market Reds. (Remember when we'd be aghast at someone making $11M in one season?)

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'Credsy's assessment was another big point to influence our thinking on it. A lot of us at the time saw Rolen as a one year rental, and didn't see the value of giving up prospects for that. Could the fact that the deal Walt gave to extend Rolen worked have anything to do with his insistence on giving two year deals to aging players now?

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Your infield dream never came true, Farney.

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RR sage Caleb points out just how bad things were in 2009. No faith in ownership. At all. And there really wasn't any reason to have any at that point.

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Look at Brendan making good points. He called the Pirates being good!

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5 years later, I'm still kind of wondering the same thing.

I liked 'tHan's answer to this, though.

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Yep.

Rolen didn't win any championships in Cincinnati, but proved a lot of doubters wrong. He ended up being worth 7.8 bWAR with the Reds, where Stewart and Roenicke were worth 0.2 bWAR combined. Edwin ended up being the major shock of this trade, honestly, worth 16.0 bWAR so far in Toronto. He found his power stroke with his new team, but was a better fit positionally there, too. His defense was much maligned in Cincy, and with Joey Votto the answer at 1B for the foreseeable future, there really wasn't a place for him here. In Toronto he's been able to play a lot of 1B, as well as DHing, giving him two positions to get at bats instead of zero.

If I would have guessed how much value these players would have had after the trade when the trade happened, I would have probably guessed that the order would have been completely flip-flopped. It's hard to say there's a winner or a loser in this trade, as the Reds got what they needed to finally be a contending team without giving up any prospects that would come back to bite them, and the Jays got a hitter that would anchor the middle of their lineup for years to come (although that was unexpected).

That trade deadline thread has a lot of gems in it from a time with a different mindset, but I'll leave you with this.

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Some things never change.