You could make a pretty cohesive argument that Anthony DeSclafani has been the single best player to play for the Cincinnati Reds this season. No, the counting stats aren't there due to the oblique injury that derailed the first few months of the season. Yes, Adam Duvall has belted plenty of dingers, Joey Votto has shrugged off a terrible start, and Jay Bruce has flashed the solid offensive production we'd seen in prior years. When Disco has been on the field, however, he's been as or more potent than any of them, finally providing a rudder to a pitching staff that was as lost as any I may have ever witnessed.
What isn't splitting hairs, though, is that DeSclafani is the single most valuable asset the Reds have at the moment once you factor in his years of team control and the insatiable thirst for solid starting pitching across the league - something we discussed briefly just 10 days ago. Disco won't even be arbitration eligible until 2018 and is under team control through the 2020 season, and at 26 years old that's a perfect match of being cheap while being in-prime. Votto, for instance, certainly cannot claim that. So while the Reds certainly have, hold, and appreciate the fact that they pilfered such an asset for a single season of Mat Latos, it's not at all outlandish to suggest that other teams would hold such an asset in equally high - if not higher - regards.
Yahoo's Jeff Passan touched on the idea of shopping DeSclafani during this July tradeavaganza in his most recent 10 Degrees column, openly stating "shouldn’t Cincinnati at least make Anthony DeSclafani available to see what a 26-year-old with four years of club control might bring?" It came in reference to reports that the Angels are considering trading Matt Shoemaker, another talented starter with multiple years of team control pitching for a team that's not going anywhere anytime soon. Look, the idea of trading DeSclafani when he's been one of the very few bright spots on this Reds team and when he's got years of cheap control is enough to make you grumble, but given the returns the Atlanta Braves got for Shelby Miller and the San Diego Padres got for Drew Pomeranz, it's enough to make a rebuilding team at least consider the option.
No, I don't think DeSclafani will be traded at this juncture, especially given the patterns and history of the current Reds front office and their unwillingness to dump players before they get expensive. But in a world where Pomeranz and his 2+ years of team control nets a consensus Top 20 prospect in all of baseball, considering what Disco and his 4+ years of control would fetch when there's no ace on the trade block is exactly what teams in full rebuild mode should go to be dreaming about.
DeSclafani, for what it's worth, is producing at such a rate that if he maintained it for a typical 30+ start year, he'd have posted between 4 and 6 WAR, depending upon if you trust FanGraphs or Baseball Reference more.
In other news, the deadline for teams to have signed their 2016 draftees passed over the weekend, and the Reds did well in signing each and every one of their picks from the first 10 rounds, as MLB.com tracked. In all, Cincinnati spend just the 4th most of all teams in getting those picks signed (despite having been allotted the most money with which to sign them), in large part due to drafting several college seniors in latter rounds who signed super inexpensively given their lack of bargaining power. That afforded the Reds the ability to front-load their bonuses, something they did effectively in signing each of Nick Senzel, Taylor Trammell, and Chris Okey.
As Doug Gray noted at RedsMinorLeagues.com, the Reds had signed each of their first 17 picks as of Friday, with 17th rounder Mitchell Traver (who opted to return to TCU) being the highest unsigned pick.
David Laurila dropped a ton of great information prior to yesterday's games in his Sunday Notes column, including an extensive look at talenty RHP Robert Stephenson. The piece includes quotes from Ted Power on Bob Steve's development, most of which were obtained when Power was still the Louisville Bats pitching coach prior to his promotion to the big leagues. It provides pretty damn awesome insight into the tweaks and minutia involved in pitching that go light years beyond "grab ball, throw ball," and also lets you in on a snippet of the vast pitching knowledge Power possesses.
Finally, the Atlanta Braves roll in to town to start a three game series with the Reds on Monday, with the #1 overall pick in the 2017 Draft firmly in the sights of both squads. Brandon Finnegan will be making his first start in almost two weeks, with hopes that the added rest will both help him last longer into the season and allow him to pitch refreshed after a taxing first half. For more on the Braves, check out our friends at Talking Chop.