Anytime a player of consequence is both traded for and traded from a franchise, their name will have left an indelible mark on team history regardless of their accomplishments on the field. In the case of Mat Latos and the Cincinnati Reds, that couldn't be more true. The Reds flipped three former 1st round draft picks and fomer All Star (and perennial Rookie of the Year contender) Edinson Volquez to the San Diego Padres to acquire Latos prior to the 2012 season, and that trade spurred a series of moves that have helped change the entire landscape of the National League.
At that time, Yonder Alonso was largely though of as the biggest prospect going to San Diego in the trade, and the team thought highly enough of him as their 1B of the future that they flipped Anthony Rizzo to the Chicago Cubs for Andrew Cashner less than one month later. Yasmani Grandal, the second most regarded former 1st round pick in the deal, spent a pair of seasons at the big league level with the Padres before becoming the centerpiece of the deal that moved Matt Kemp down I-5 from the Los Angeles Dodgers, and the young catcher made his first All Star team in 2015. Joining Grandal both in the original trade and in the 2015 All Star Game was Brad Boxberger, the third of the three 1st round picks sent from Cincinnati, and the hard throwing reliever flourished first in San Diego before being traded to the Tampa Bay Rays for Jesse Hahn, among others (and Hahn eventually was flipped to the Oakland A's in the deal that brought former All Star Derek Norris to the Padres).
That's a long way of saying that the Reds' decision to make Latos a cog in their rotation came at quite a cost. However, it wasn't without reward, as he fit right next to Johnny Cueto at the top of a starting rotation that won 97 games in 2012, made the playoffs again in 2013, and not only put Cincinnati Reds baseball back on the national radar, but did so as a team fueled by pitching for one of the only times in the franchise's long history.
For three seasons, Latos busted his butt for the Reds, as I detailed in depth after he was traded to the Miami Marlins last December for Anthony DeSclafani and Chad Wallach.
Latos' tenure in Miami was a rocky one, one that began with him doing his best to throw much of the Reds' franchise under the bus and ended when the Marlins - as they are quite often wont to do - cut the cord on their new experiment after a surprisingly short amount of time and traded him to the Dodgers in one of the more complex deals in recent memory. Now, it's with the Dodgers that he'll finally face off against the Reds on Thursday night for the first time since August 12, 2011, when he threw 7 innings of 2 ER, got a no decision, and yielded doubles to both Jay Bruce and Paul Janish (!).
Mat's legacy with the Reds will probably look better and better as time distances itself from his disparaging marks from February, and that's how it should be, really. He provided the club with 9 bWAR in his 3 seasons with the club, threw 522.1 innings of 3.31 ERA and 117 ERA+ ball for them, took the mound in a rather desperate situation in the club's first playoff game in ages, and netted in return six seasons of team control of the promising DeSclafani. He cost what a prized young pitcher should cost, he provided what a prized young pitcher should have provided, and he brought back in return a haul well worth one season of a prized young pitcher on the brink of free agency.
And, in the process, the Reds reaching to acquire him helped change the face of no fewer than five different franchises.