It appears that the era of Adam Duvall bonking mammoth dingers for the Cincinnati Reds as their largely everyday LF are now over. It also appears that the days of the Cincinnati Reds front office keeping their dealings close to the vest are far from over, despite the transition from Walt Jocketty to the pairing of Dick Williams and Nick Krall.
As the team announced on Monday night without even a sniff of a rumor preceding it, the Reds have traded Duvall to the Atlanta Braves for a trio of players in OF Preston Tucker and RHPs Lucas Sims and Matt Wisler.
There’s obviously a lot to unpack here, specifically regarding the return the Reds got for Duvall, who had struggled to a .205/.286/.399 line so far in 2018 and a .209/.280/.394 line in 592 PA over the last 365 days.
For one, nary a player the Reds received in return cracked the stacked Top 30 overall prospect list for Atlanta, but there are a pair of really good reasons for that. For one, they have an incredibly stacked farm, but that’s less important when you realize that nary a one of them was actually still eligible as a prospect - all three have long since exceeded their rookie eligibility, and each occupied a spot on the Braves’ 40-man roster.
Hmm. Trades like that just don’t seem to go down anymore.
In Wisler, the Reds get a RHP from Bryan, OH, who has appeared for Atlanta in each of the previous four seasons as both a starter and reliever, most recently almost exclusively in a relief role. The 25 year old hasn’t exactly featured great strikeout stuff at the big league level, but was a consensus Top 100 overall prospect prior to both 2014 and 2015 and carries a decent track record in the minors. He’ll be arbitration-eligible for the first time in 2019, and has team control through the 2022 season.
Similarly, Lucas Sims is a 24 year old who has cracked Top 100 prospect lists in both 2014 and 2015 and spent time in the bigs in each of the last two seasons, and owns a 2.84 ERA in 15 G (14 GS) for AAA Gwinnett so far in 2018. He has struggled mightily in his early big league action - sound like any other current Reds ptiching prospects? - but his prospect pedigree and recent AAA success might actually make him the most intriguing piece of this return. He’s not yet arbitration-eligible, and won’t be until the 2021 season, having team control through 2023.
As for Preston Tucker, the 28 year old might well be filler for the loss of Duvall in the wake of the OF injuries to both Scott Schebler and Jesse Winker. He’s hit decently in 2018 - better than Duvall, in many respects - posting a .752 OPS in 127 PA for Atlanta in mostly bit-part time, and has spent the bulk of his minors time as a corner OF. He won’t be arbitration-eligible until 2020, and the Reds can control him through the 2022 season, should they so choose.
For the most part, this seems like the following type of deal for the Reds: a) it adds a trio of prospects that could very well be seen as similar to how Duvall was when he came to the Reds in the Mike Leake deal a few years back, b) one that will shed Duvall to open future OF playing time to the prospect glut currently in the Cincinnati system, c) serves as move to cash-in on Duvall before he reaches arbitration this winter, since given his proclivity for HR and RBI he might well have been due up to $3-4 million for 2019 salary, and d) adding as much cheap, controllable pitching depth as they could.
The only real question here, though, is how the Reds will manage their 40-man roster to accommodate the three players who will all need roster spots. For the time being, both Jackson Stephens and Jesse Winker could be moved from the 10-day DL to the 60-day DL to facilitate the moves until at least the end of the season, which is what’s likely to happen - unless we see more moves from Dick, Nick, and the Reds before tomorrow’s official non-waiver deadline.