Raisel Iglesias averages 96.2 mph with his fastball, has a slider that has indirectly caused between two and thirty ACL tears, and throws from enough arm angles to make even Bronson Arroyo jealous. When the Cincinnati Reds signed Iglesias to an initial 7 year, $27 million contract back in 2014, they were interested in him for all of these reasons, with dreams of him anchoring their starting rotation for years to come.
While Iglesias’ shoulder hasn’t afforded him the chance to stick as a starter, he’s become one of the more electric relievers in all of baseball instead, his 2.21 ERA and 196 ERA+ over the last two seasons serving as evidence. So, it’s no surprise to hear that it’s not just the Reds who’d like to employ his services.
The semi-complicated contract Iglesias signed back in 2014 runs through the 2020 season, but the Reds will still have team control of him through 2021 via the arbitration process, too. That means he’s got 4.5 years of team control still left, with something in the range of $16 million guaranteed through 2020 currently on the dotted line. Given the exorbitant contracts doled out to other elite closers in recent years (Mark Melancon to San Francisco at 4 years, $62 million; Aroldis Chapman to New York at 5 years, $86 million; Kenley Jansen to Los Angeles at 5 years, $80 million), it’s clear that Iglesias is an absolute steal on his current contract, even if you chalk up that he’s not as established as those other three.
Of course, establishment also comes with age, and at just 27 years old, he’s at least 2 years younger than all of those three.
A quick perusal of bullpen production from the 2017 season shows that Washington’s crew ranks dead last in many categories, specifically ERA and fWAR. Ever since bringing in nutjob Jonathan Papelbon and displacing an effective Drew Storen as their closer during the stretch-run in 2015, the Nationals have been searching for both stability and a lockdown closer in their bullpen, especially with Bryce Harper growing ever closer to free agency and a roster built to win a World Series ASAP.
At issue here, however, is that in building that dominant roster and making repeated playoff pushes in recent years, they’ve emptied out their farm system in a dam-opening way. They patched their bullpen last year going for Melancon and Mark Rzepczynski, and then swung big to bring in Adam Eaton from the Chicago White Sox this past offseason. That’s left them with stud OF prospect Victor Robles, decent RHP Erick Fedde, and not a whole lot else. And Robles, unfortunately, is still just in A-ball.
For the Reds, it’s surely nice to know that the players they prize the most are also sought after by other clubs. However, in Iglesias’ case, this isn’t another flip rental to help overhaul the roster mid-rebuild. He’s a bona fide cog on the roster, signed for years to come, and not commanding an overwhelming salary. In other words, he’s a piece that’s been kept around specifically for the Reds to build around, not to be leveraged for other pieces that might well turn in to what he already is. So for the Reds to trade him, they’d need a ransom as the return, and I’m not so certain the Nationals can swing that with prospects alone.
Stay tuned for another rumor-fueled July trade season.