With a little over a week until the trade deadline, the first major move has been made. The Houston Astros got lefty Scott Kazmir from the A's in exchange for a coupla fellas named Mengden and Nottingham. Since the Reds have starting pitchers to sell, this kinda means something to them.
Firstly, it means that perhaps the Astros aren't going to be as interested in Johnny Cueto and Mike Leake anymore. They have been connected as one of the major suitors of the Reds' availables over the past few weeks, but with Kazmir on board, their need isn't nearly as strong.
Secondly, I think Kazmir serves as a really instructive comp for both Cueto and Leake. In terms of value, I'd say he's part near smack dab in the middle between 'em. He's not as acey as Cueto, but he's more frontline production than Leake is. He has more of an injury history than either, and he also has more cash remaining on his contract. The Astros and A's have given baseball a datapoint to set a market here.
What that means for the Reds is all about the return the A's got. The two prospects heading to Oakland are Daniel Mengden and Jacob Nottingham. Both have split the 2015 season between the low-A Midwest League and the high-A California League. Mengden is a righty pitcher and a fourth-round pick in last year's draft while Nottingham is a bat-first catcher type. They were ranked 19th and 22nd in the Astros system.
Those of you who were hoping to get at least a top-50 prospect for Cueto and a top-100 prospect for Leake will likely be disappointed. Nottingham is an interesting hitter, but he might not be able to stay behind the plate. Mengden isn't awful, but he has been knocked around a bit in A-ball as a 22-year-old. Of course, it is worth mentioning that this deal could prove an unreliable market indicator because, as we all know, Billy Beane lives in a different universe.