There are 17 days left in the month of July, which means the MLB trade deadline has two and a half weeks to drive teams into a frenzy. The Cincinnati Reds are going to be front and center in that frenzy whether they actually do anything or not, and that's simply because the bulk of the baseball world sees a club with very tradeable assets that is ripe for a rebuild. Of course, one or both of Bob Castellini or Walt Jocketty can rule out a firesale as quickly as they want to, but that still won't stop the speculation from running rampant.
One such example: Johnny Cueto to the Houston Astros for Mark Appel. The NY Post's Joel Sherman lined up a few trade ideas he found sensible, and sending Cueto to the talented and break-out Astros to pair with Dallas Keuchel is one that does produce a slight nod of the head. You'll remember Appel as the first overall draft pick from 2013 - taken just before Kris Bryant - and as Sherman notes, he's struggled a bit in the minors. He does possess the kind of top-shelf upside that makes a deal like this somewhat fathomable since it's his "makeup," not talent, that reportedly has led to his struggles (Kevin Towers trading Trevor Bauer, anyone?), and if that's the case, perhaps a change of scenery would be enough to unlock his top of the rotation prowess. The Jocketty/Luhnow conundrum would be fun to watch in this, but there's obviously little to no chance of it materializing...
...or, is there? According to a handful of reports from various sources, each of the Astros, Royals, and Toronto Blue Jays have their eyes on Cueto as the piece that may get them over their respective humps in 2015, and given the talent levels in each of their farm systems, that's pretty saucy to think about. Houston has graduated the likes of Carlos Correa, George Springer, & Jake Marisnick to the big leagues of late, but while they may be off-limits, the Astros have still got Appel, power hitting OF Domingo Santana, UK product A.J. Reed, and a bevy of talented young pitchers. Kansas City sports Raul Mondesi, Sean Manaea, Brandon Finnegan, and Kyle Zimmer as top-tier future pieces, while the Blue Jays can boast Daniel Norris, Dalton Pompey, and Aaron Sanchez as young potential trade pieces.
Speaking of that potential firesale, Jay Bruce is apparently a piece that's "available in trade, league sources say," at least according to the league sources that talk to CBS's Jon Heyman. Bruce's bounce-back 2015 season has likely helped assuage the fears that his 2014 knee injury had ruined his ability to field well and hit for power, and his career-best walk rate and feasible contract combine to make him a pretty dang attractive trade piece, really. He's not a bank-breaker at just under $13 million for 2016, and his option year in 2017 provides the kind of flexibility to any potential acquiring team that should be viewed as a plus. And, of course, Bruce is still just 28 years old, which makes him a rare combination of being a proven power threat, still young, and apparently available in trade. I still think the Kansas City Royals are a perfect fit for Bruce, what with Alex Gordon's injury and likely free agency and Alex Rios' continued struggles. I wonder what a Bruce/Cueto package could extract from them.
One piece the Reds have that would look bright and shiny on the trade market is closer Aroldis Chapman, but while teams are surely interested in the fireballing lefty, there haven't really been many rumors about his availability. So, instead of digging into those, just take a look at how he's been effectively trolling MLB's statcast databases. Reds fans have been truly spoiled having him around for the last six seasons.
Bryan Price told ESPN's Jerry Crasnick that he's the right man for the Reds managerial job. Well, at least he's confident. There's a head-scratching quote from the Cincinnati skipper near the end of that article where he says, "But it does bother me that my family and people that care about me have to read things that aren't based on fact." So, Price gets bothered when things are written that aren't based on fact, and he obviously gets bothered when things are written that are based on fact...like, for instance, that Tucker Barnhart is getting on a plane bound to a city where the big league Reds are playing baseball games. Maybe just don't read anything anymore, Bryan.
SI.com's Tom Verducci ditched talking about his effect (for a day) and hopped in a car with Pete Rose, and this piece documents their discussions during a four hour drive from Las Vegas to the Los Angeles suburbs. I generally wince a bit when I hear Pete's name brought up these days, but I'll admit to finding this article a worthwhile read. Love him or loathe him, Rose is a mystifying, fascinating specimen that I've never quite been able to figure out.
Finally, Todd Frazier won the Dinger Derby last night in a display that was as entertaining and awesome as any I can remember. Dingers + Star Wars =
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