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So the Reds traded Johnny Cueto. Now what?

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Chris Humphreys-USA TODAY Sports

Did you see the news yesterday and wonder why that happened? Did you see the trade talk on Twitter or Facebook and wonder what the heck was going on? We're here to clear things up.

Johnny Cueto was like, their best player. Why would the Reds trade their best player?

Good question! So in the current structure of baseball, players are under contract for a finite amount of time. Johnny Cueto's contract happens to be up at the end of this year, so he'd be a free agent. It's unlikely that the Reds would be able to sign him for next year, so the best strategy is to get what they can for him now.

Also, in case you haven't been paying attention, the Reds haven't been very good this year. They are a 1000-1 shot to make the playoffs right now, which is pretty much saying that they aren't a playoff team. Sorry if you're reading this for the first time and are shocked, but that's what reality looks like right now.

Why couldn't the Reds just keep him for next year?

His contract is up after this year, so he could either be a free agent, or the Reds could re-sign him. They've been negotiating with him over the last year or so to get a long term deal done so Cueto could stay, but it never happened. So, it's better to trade him now so that you get something for him rather than letting him leave.

Do they have to trade him, though? Why can't they just keep him for the rest of the year?

If they keep him and he leaves, they have to extend a Qualifying Offer to him, which he could accept and stay, or reject and leave to become a free agent (for probably more money). If he rejects, then the Reds get a draft pick, somewhere between rounds 1 and 2.

That said, the return for trading him right now far overshadows whatever pick they would have got, and the Reds did a good job of maximizing that.

Okay, so they're going to trade him. Do they have to trade him?

Yes.

Fiiiine. So what did they get back? I haven't heard of any of these guys, they'd better be as good as Cueto!

They got back 3 lefty pitching prospects, which looks to be a pretty good return. Realistically, two of the three guys could pitch in the Reds' rotation in 2016, and that's not even taking into account the other guy, who could end up being the best of the bunch.

So wait... if Cueto was a candidate for a trade, do the Reds have OTHER players who could be traded?

They sure do! Mike Leake is in basically the same exact situation, and should also be pitching for a new team in a week. Other expiring contracts like Brayan Pena, Burke Badenhop, and Marlon Byrd are also prime candidates to help a team down the stretch. Manny Parra too, once he gets healthy.

Oh man. What are the Reds going to look like next year?

Different.

Good?

Probably not.

But they still have plenty of good players under contract, right?

To an extent, yeah, but not nearly enough. There's a slim, slim chance that the Reds are good in 2016, which is why there could be other players to be on the trading block, too.

Other players? Like who?!

Like Aroldis Chapman, who the Reds don't really need anymore now that he's a closer and they aren't good. Even guys with longer contracts could be on the block, like Jay Bruce, Brandon Phillips, and Todd Frazier.

Whoa. The Reds should NOT get rid of Todd Frazier, right? He's awesome! Home Run Derby champ!

He is awesome. But, will he still be here and awesome by the next time the Reds are good? That's debatable. He could easily be a guy who the Reds could sell high on, and get a huge return. Like, more than they got for Cueto. A lot more.

Should the Reds just trade every veteran they can right now?

You could make that argument, yeah.

Dang.

I know, but think of all of the young talent we'll get to watch in the next few years! Remember all of the exciting debuts from 2008-10? We get to do that again!

That might be fun. Who's making the decision to do that?

Oh. Right.

Yeah.