I don't wanna do this. I know you don't wanna do this. Nobody wants this. But, much like a tetanus shot before vacationing in Toledo, it is necessary. It's a double-level of do-not-want. But here goes.
The Reds are my favorite team, and I desperately want them to go. But the sun has set for this great collection of players. I really want you to take a minute here to think back on just how fun it has been to watch Reds baseball for the last five years or so. It has been so much fun. Like this. And this. And this one. And this, this, and this. And this one. Aaaaaand this. So. Much. Fun.
But as of today, the Reds have one of the worst records in the National League and are 12 games behind the Cardinals. Writing conventions suggest that when expressing numbers, it is best to spell out one through ten and to enumerate anything higher than that. So you'd say six, eight, nine, 13, 24, and 272. If writing conventions urge you to enumerate the number of games behind first place your team is, then your team is a seller. Especially if it is early June.
Back in the day, Native American tribes were masters of their environments. The vast, fertile plains of the the American Middle are considered the breadbasket of the world today, but this is no accident or natural happenstance. Tribes from Saskatchewan to Oklahoma would impose their collective wills on the rolling flatlands with controlled fires. Left to its own devices, the natural fields would eventually give way to natural forests, as the sky-reaching oaks and maples choked out the swaying grasses. But the Natives didn't like that, because they wanted to make sure the roaming bison had grass to eat. They tried to feed acorns to the bison, but it gave them the runs. Not diarrhea, but actually running away. Unfortunately for your heroic narrator, the English language doesn't have a less gross way of saying that.
And so it came to pass that the fertile grasslands of Reds Country from 2010 to 2014 withered and became grossly unappealing to the bison. (In this metaphor, the Reds front office is the Natives, the team is the grass, and winning is the bison. I never said I was good at this so just shut up okay.) And so it must be cleansed with fire (sale).
So what do the Reds have that can be traded for future value? It turns out, there is a ton. This team has some really valuable pieces that should be traded this summer. Let's take a look (in order of projected value).
This stinks because everybody knows Johnny Beisbol and he es bueno and mucho beloved. But there is no chance that the Reds will sign him to a long-term extension, nor does that make any sense. He will likely be one of the most sought-after assets on the market this summer. The Reds should be able to get at least one primo prospect in return for him, maybe even more.
You know, if I had an editor, she would put Chapman above Cueto in terms of projected value on the market. But I don't, so this shit gets printed. The best relief pitcher in baseball doesn't go on the market too dang often. Also, teams pay a premium for shutdown relievers down the stretch of a pennant race. Relief pitchers are disproportionately valuable to contending teams, and since the Reds aren't a contending team anymore, they don't need him. He also comes with one more year of contract control than Cueto. He should fetch a very handsome haul, as well.
Word is that the Reds never even had a conversation with Mike Leake about a contract extension. Which, I mean, is probably for the best, but still. I'm sure he is sour enough on the idea to not entertain it for a minute before free agency. Which is probably for the best. He's an innings-eater with a league-average ERA. That kinda player ain't Dime a Dozen, but he ain't exactly the kinda guy you lock up for five years, neither. In trade, he should fetch a quality prospect, at least one decently better than the supplemental first-round pick the Reds would receive in next year's draft if he were given a qualifying offer and turn it down. And yeah, he'd do that and he'd still get a decent contract if that came to pass. But it won't because the Reds will trade him.
Bruce looks like he is finally recovered from the knee injury that spawned so much hatred. He's walking a lot, but he's not slugging anything. The important thing though is that teams will look at him and say, "Yes, we are willing to give you some prospects in exchange." He is yet due about $20 mil and can be a free agent after next season, so he is effective, affordable, and affable. He won't bring the kind of haul that the top-tier chips will bring, but that's okay. My heart will go on.
I think Red Reporter has been trying to trade Brandon Phillips for nearly a decade. But he just keeps gettin' at dem Debbies. First we were all like, "WE GOT HIM FOR NOTHING TURN HIM OVER FOR VALUE" and then we were all like, "DON'T GIVE HIM AN EXTENSION FLIP HIM FOR PROSPECTS" and then it was all, "DON'T GIVE HIM ANOTHER EXTENSION MIDDLE INFIELDERS IN THEIR 30S CANNOT BE TRUSTED" and then we went all, "DUMP HIM BEFORE HE GETS 10/5 RIGHTS" and now we are here. It would be responsible of me to admit that I have been wrong about him many times and for a very long time.
He still has a decent bat and a good glove, so he still has value. He will make over $30 mil before his contract is up after 2017 and he also has 10/5 no-trade rights as a player with more than ten years of MLB experience and at least the last five of those with the same team. So trading him won't be as clean and simple as some of these other guys, but I get the feel that DatDude would be amenable to playing for a winning team again. Some may wag fingers at his personality flaws, but he is not a stupid man.
If I could draw a line here between Phillips and Cozart, I would. But the internet is not a chalk board. Or some other suitable surface for line-drawing. I don't think the Reds are interested in/going to trade Cozart, but he is among the players on the team that aren't nailed down. He is scheduled to be a free agent after 2017 and he is having a pretty dang good year after battling injuries and suck last season. Guys like Cozart are not easy to find, believe it or not. It is fashionable in Reds Country to bag on the Go-Kart for his Mark Belanger Bat. But he has hit reasonably well this season and has also been his slick-fielding self at SS. In fact, he ranks among the top tier of major-league shortstops with such luminaries as Brandon Crawford, Adieny Hechavarria, Brad Miller, and Marcus Semien.
Yeah, that's where the Baseball Short Stop is right now.
So a guy like Cozart with a few years of team control and a low salary could fetch a decent bit on the trade market. It could definitely be worth exploring.
This is the special "OH SUCKS" part of the list. I'm not at all about trading Todd Frazier. He is cool, he is awesome, he is good, AND he is cool. He is a keeping kind of guy. The kind of guy you want you sister to marry and then she is sitting in the family section at the park and watching him hit 40 jaggers a year.
But, c'mon. He can be a free agent after 2017, and it is becoming more and more realistic by the minute that the Reds will not compete between now and then. So the prudent move is to cash in on his career season and get some prospects for building. If the Reds decide to make a move with Frazier, he would probably fetch the best looking return of anyone else on this list. My heart skips a beat at the thought of it, but my brain thinks it and says, "hmm."
Just as he began to actually hit the ball kinda decently, he went and broke his wrist. Oh, well. Maybe he'll be back before the trade deadline, but I'm not betting on it. Either way, he wouldn't bring much in return.
Pena is cool as heck and is a totally #goodperson. I don't want to trade him at all. But he is a catcher and he is hitting decently well, so he is a tradeable asset. If the whole idea here is to talk about the players that aren't nailed down, then yeah, I guess Pena isn't exactly nailed down. He's a free agent after this season.
So yeah, when you look at it, the Reds could build the best farm system in baseball this summer. That isn't hyperbole, so I will say it again.
The Reds could build the best farm system in baseball this summer.
That kinda sucks, because it means they won't win a World Series this year. But it's not nothing. Each and every one of these players is at least a realistic target for trade, and there is a ton of value here. That's the kind of situation in which you find yourself when you have a team that is good enough to have a number of really good players but, for one reason or another, it doesn't work out. I can't remember the last time a team had this good of a team but wasn't competing. It's a rare opportunity to set up the franchise for a really bright future and hopefully they don't pass it up.
All those highlights up top will always be remembered. But we can make better ones.